Houseboat holidays are a new, delightfully relaxing trend as a holiday destination in Germany. Extensive lake districts and romantic rivers invite you to relaxing holidays on the water.

The sun is smiling in the sky, birds are singing on the shore and the waves are lapping softly against the side of the boat: this is what heavenly holiday pleasures look like. No wonder, then, that an ever increasing number of people seeking relaxation are opting for a holiday on a houseboat. Those who slowly glide across the water soon find inner peace and see nature with new eyes. An extra bonus: more than 700 kilometres of navigable waterways are designated as "charter licence areas" in Destination Germany, especially in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. There everyone is their own captain, as the houseboats can be driven without a license after a roughly three hour long induction session. The nautical requirements for skippers and crew in these districts are very low and the handling of the rented vessels is easy. Depending on your budget, the number of guests and your own preferences, there are different models to choose from - from a small boat with an outboard motor to a 15-metre luxury yacht.

A dream destination for skipper and crew

The Mecklenburg Lake District in north-eastern Germany with its more than a thousand interconnected lakes is magnificent - and also the largest networked water sports area in Europe. Visitors on houseboat holidays here can see white-tailed eagles circling in the sky, ospreys swooping into the water to catch their prey, and hear the cranes' bugling song in spring and autumn. The glittering lakes are lined with thick forests and secret moorlands. The Müritz, the huge Plauer Lake, the Fleesen Lake, the Kölpin lake, the Schwanensee and many others can be explored at one's own leisure. Whoever drops anchor can enjoy the surrounding nature for themselves, or can find variety in the picturesque towns along the banks of the river – some with lively harbour life, others with medieval city centres or romantic half-timbered houses. The Müritz National Park and seven other nature parks offer enticing shore excursions.

Blue paradise

The Brandenburg lake district to the north of Berlin, with the Ruppiner Seenland, the Havel and the Uckermark lakes, is known as the "blue paradise" and is also a dream destination for houseboat enthusiasts. In Brandenburg and even just outside Berlin, there are guided tours for recreational captains. In Berlin, it is mandatory to have a boating license, but boaters who start off in Potsdam can still travel along the waterways without this official document. A popular tour leads from there on the Havel to Lake Plauer See. Along the way, what awaits is not just idyllic nature, but also cultural treasures like medieval churches, castles, and magnificent manor houses. A gem with maritime flair is the city of Brandenburg, which is crisscrossed by bodies of water and has more than a thousand years worth of history. The Neustädtischer Markt (New Town Market) with the richly decorated St. Catherine's Church and the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul are particularly impressive cultural monuments. A wonderful two-day tour for beginners not requiring a special sailing licence awaits in the Lusatian Lake District between Berlin and Dresden. The region was formerly a lignite mining area and is now being transformed into a holiday paradise, with Europe's largest man-made water landscape.

Here I am captain

If you have always dreamed of being at the helm yourself, Lake Constance, the "small sea in the four-country region" of Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein, is also an ideal houseboat destination. With a view of the alpine landscape, houseboats bob softly on the waves, passing beaches, boardwalks, and densely overgrown shorelines. Numerous cultural highlights such as the flower island of Mainau (Blumeninsel Mainau) tempt you to go ashore. Another gem is the Monastic Island of Reichenau. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an idyllic synthesis of the arts with three Romanesque churches, flowering meadows and picturesque riverside paths. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site are the prehistoric pile dwellings, the remains of which still rest at the bottom of Lake Constance and tell of a time long past.

The Lahn, a tributary of the Rhine, also invites you to enjoy wonderfully relaxing houseboat tours. "Goodbye to everyday life" is the motto for all those who want to make themselves comfortable in their "river cottage" and leisurely sail along the Lahn. As if on a jungle tour, it passes through dense greenery that proliferates along the banks and past small half-timbered houses as well as wooded hillsides. Highlights are the little town of Bad Ems, which has Baroque and Classical architecture, and Limburg, where the seven-tower cathedral and historical Old Town is visible from the water.