With or without a boat: travel to the German freshwater islands and discover dreamlike scenery on and near the water.

To put it simply: there are a multitude of lakes and rivers in Germany, and even more islands. So: how do you perfectly create that pure holiday feeling? On the water! Water has an indescribable allure, invites us to enjoy many activities on or in it, and offers relaxation just by gazing at it. This combination is perfect for an inspiring holiday on and in the water!

City break with island hopping

Berlin: Museum Island on the Spree Berlin: Museum Island on the Spree ©Getty Images (Tomas Sereda)

Who would have thought that during your Berlin city break you could do some refreshing island hopping as well? In addition to the Museum Island, the UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of five museums that form the historical centre in the middle of the Spree River, there is a lot of water in and around Berlin. The Tegeler See in Reinickendorf, for example, has a total area of 450 hectares, making it the second largest lake in Berlin. There are nine islands in total and you can reach them by rowing, paddling or by rubber dinghy: the artificial islands of Baumwerder, Hasselwerder, Lindwerder, Maienwerder, Reiswerder, Scharfenberg and Valentinswerder, as well as the Humboldt Island and the Tegel Island are all waiting to be "conquered". The Greenwich Promenade is also home to numerous boat docks from which water enthusiasts can set out on a steamboat trip across the lake and along the Havel River during the summer months.

Harriersand, Lower Saxony

You can find Germany's largest river island between Bremen and Bremerhaven. Directly opposite the town of Brake lies the 11-kilometer-long and approximately 500-meter-wide Harriersand island. It can be reached by passenger ferry (on foot or by bike) from March to the end of October, or you can use the pedestrian bridge in the small village of Rade. This island on the Weser beckons with kilometres of natural sites for swimming and walking. Or you can watch big and small ships on their way out to the North Sea. As well as a bird sanctuary, you can also reach a small mudflat area in the north of the island on foot. A restaurant, located right on the sandy beach, takes care of all beach goers' appetites, no matter how hungry.

The Maininsel and its wine

Vineyards along the river Main, Mainschleife Vineyards along the river Main, Mainschleife ©Because You Are Hungry (Benedikt Steinle)

Between the Franconian wine towns of Volkach and Schwarzach am Main, the river forms a big loop and creates a gorgeous wine island with villages Nordheim and Sommerach. Wine lovers will certainly be familiar with the Nordheimer Vögelein (mountain number one) and the Sommeracher Katzenkopf (mountain number two) – or at least know the delicious Silvaner grapes that grow and flourish there. Walks, bike tours, wine tastings, river cruises and great culinary delights are all possible on the Maininsel in Franconia. All you need to decide is in which order to visit them!

The beauty of the unknown on the Rhine

Boasting 68 hectares, it is larger than Mainau Island in Lake Constance, but only a few people know of it: the Mariannenaue on the Rhine. It is located between Eltville and Oestrich-Winkel in the Rheingau, stretches over approximately 3.3 kilometres and measures about 300 metres at its widest point. The Mariannenaue was formed over 10,000 years ago from washed-up limestone brought down by the Rhine from up in the Alps. An ideal soil for viticulture: today the Mariannenaue belongs to Schloss Reinhartshausen and wine is cultivated there. Deer and wild boar from the mainland can even be seen swimming across the Rhine to get to the delicious grapes. We humans do not have to muster that much courage, and can more easily enjoy the liquid delights of the Mariannenaue at the Schloss Reinhartshausen winery in Erbach. Unfortunately, it's not possible to visit the Mariannenaue – but the view over the island from the vineyards is genuinely beautiful!

Eight letters and great holiday vibes

Lake Constance: Aerial view of the Island of Mainau Island in summer Lake Constance: Aerial view of the Island of Mainau Island in summer ©Mainau GmbH (Achim Mende)

Many crossword puzzles have this clue: the Swabian Sea, eight letters. The answer is Bodensee, or Lake Constance and that's not the only interesting thing about it: located in the "four-country region" of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, this lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Germany. You can experience great moments of indulgence all in one place on Lake Constance – or rather, in many places here. Water and mountains, sports and culture, city and country. And: islands! The Reichenau Island is the largest island on Lake Constance and, together with Reichenau Monastery, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000. Reichenau is like a huge vegetable garden, lush and fertile. Its "little sister", the island of Mainau , is in comparison more of an island for contemplation, rest and enjoying plenty of flowers and trees. You don't have to choose between the two island sisters: it is much better to experience and enjoy both!

Popular with artists: Fraueninsel on Lake Chiemsee

Chiemsee:Fraueninsel from bird`s eye view Chiemsee:Fraueninsel from bird`s eye view ©Getty Images (Michael Malorny)

One of the three inland islands in Lake Chiemsee is the 12-hectare Fraueninsel. The island village features small alleys with beautiful flower-filled houses and gardens of the approximately 250 islanders, as well as traditional businesses such as potteries and fisheries. Germany's oldest monastery convent, the Benedictine Frauenwörth from which the island gets its name, is also well worth a visit. The unique flair that surrounds the island attracted artists and writers even before the first holiday makers arrived. There they found a secluded retreat with a view of the mountains and surrounding landscape. Today, boats regularly dock at the island's jetty, bringing day or overnight guests to the island in comfort.