A boating holiday is not limited to sailing or motorboating. Lacking a skipper's license is no limit either. If you love spending time on and by the water but prefer a stress-free experience, a canal boat holiday is the perfect option. Combining leisurely drifting with sightseeing, swimming in clean waters, and observing untouched nature can turn into a surprisingly attractive vacation.

Canal Boat or Houseboat?

In German, a canal boat is commonly referred to as a houseboat or "hausboot." Therefore, in this article, we will use both terms interchangeably to accommodate this common terminology.

Why Choose a Canal Boat Holiday?

One of the main attractions of a canal boat holiday is its hassle-free nature. Unpredictable weather conditions, unstable winds, or large waves are not a concern. You won’t need to worry about adjusting sails, anchoring, mooring, replanning your route due to a storm or lack of berths, or dealing with mechanical issues.

Houseboat on lake in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, Summer vacations

There’s no need for a crash course for your crew. No one gets seasick (unless they drink too much beer), and the likelihood of onboard conflicts is much lower than on a sailing boat. You can comfortably bring your mother-in-law, kids, and friends. Most canal boats are pet-friendly, allowing your four-legged friends to enjoy long lakeside walks.

No license is required; simply rent a canal boat and start exploring. Parking the boat is as easy and steady as parking a car. Entering locks is not intimidating, as a lockmaster is available to assist you. Moreover, drifting from lock to lock offers opportunities to meet fellow boaters and exchange tips on what to see.

Modern canal boats are well-equipped with solar panels, electric toilets, bathing platforms, and even bow thrusters, making your stay very smooth. The average rental price for a week is slightly lower than that of a sailing boat – a new canal boat for six people costs around 2200 EUR in the summer.

Where to Go - The Land of Thousands of Lakes

A top destination for a canal boat holiday in Europe is the magical Mecklenburg Lake District in northeastern Germany, home to 2000 lakes. For an easy start, rent a canal boat in Müritzsee, Germany's largest inland lake, covering 110 km².

Roebel, Mueritz, Mecklenburg Lake District, Germany
Roebel, Mueritz, Mecklenburg Lake District

This “little sea” area offers countless hidden and idyllic bays, romantic villages and picture-perfect towns, lakeside restaurants, historical buildings and long beaches. There is hardly any light pollution and it's enchanting to observe the sun going down with sea eagles and crannies flying in the backdrop. Not to mention the clear sky littered with stars.  

A canal boat vacation is meant to be slow and easy, with a maximum speed of 8 km/hour, ensuring you don’t miss the breathtaking nature and impressive towns around.

The east part of Müritz´s shore is listed on the UNESCO Heritage List and creates a Müritz National Park. The town of Rechlin is the entry point to the park. If you love walking in the forest and observing animals and birds, the park is a must. Those keen on windsurfing or kitesurfing will have a blast on the eastern shore of Müritz as well.

Around the lake, there are a few must-see towns. The town of Waren offers a Mediterranean atmosphere, the historic town of Röbel features picturesque architecture, and the island town of Malchow boasts a nice harbour promenade, a swing bridge, and a colourful butterfly park.

When to Go and What to Do

The Mecklenburg Lake District is most captivating from early spring to autumn. Spring and the “Indian summer” in autumn offer a lovely spectacle with vibrant colors.

The usual rental period is one week, from Saturday to Saturday. The check-in can take 2-3 hours because of instructions on how to use and drive the houseboat. In case you have a license, you save time. 

Suggested 1-week Itinerary around Müritzsee

The route is pretty straightforward - you sail around Lake Müritz, pass to Fleesensee or further to Plauer See and return to Buchholz's home port. You can make as many stops en route as needed. 

All in all, this blue waterway avenue covers 110 -120 km. There are no locks in this itinerary. See the link here

boat

Marieholm Folkboat | IF

Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Naturhafen Krummin
from 86 € /day
boat

Nordic Folkboat 370 | Gertrud

Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Naturhafen Krummin
from 86 € /day
boat

Tom Sawyer TS1000 | Cassy

6 OK  |  1 Review
Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Marina Loitz
from 89 € /day

We suggest starting your canal boat vacation in Buchholz marina, conveniently located in a peaceful environment, about 1.5 hours by car from Berlin.

Day 1: Saturday - Buchholz

In case you don't own a boating license, count with 2-3 hours of crash course on steering the houseboat in addition to your check-in. Usually, the check-in starts in the afternoon so most probably you won´t have much time to explore the lake already on your first day. Use your evening to get to know your new home better and to adjust your itinerary according to the actual weather. In the evening, order tasty food at the Gaststätte Seerose restaurant and enjoy the lake view.

Day 2: Sunday - Buchholz to Rechlin (Marina Müritz) - 13 km

After familiarizing yourself with your houseboat, head to the Rechlin town to the marina Müritz. This short 1.5-hour route will give you a nice glimpse of what is coming next in the week. You will sail through a channel to the Small Müritz (Klein Müritz See) with clear water inviting you to jump in. Those with a sweet tooth can pay a visit to Café Loni with mouthwatering cakes and strong coffee. 

Rechlin is a small town known for its old airport that served as the Luftwaffe´s testing base for new aircraft. Today the town is popular among aviation fans thanks to its superb Aviation Technology Museum we recommend visiting. 

Where to stay?

If you are running out of time, you can spend a night directly in Rechlin (Seebrücke marina). In this scenario, take an evening stroll on the long pier. 

Your final destination can be Marina Müritz, situated slightly north of Rechlin town. It is here where the Müritz Park starts - the territory of deer, wild pigs and cranes. The marina is bigger than the two previous ones and you can enjoy a view of a calm Lake Claassensee. Have dinner at the Captain's Inn and plan your activities for the next day. 

Day 3: Monday - Rechlin to Waren - 16 km

The southern part of Müritz is lined with sandy and flat beaches. Take a morning swim and visit the aviation museum if you haven't done so already. Before aiming for the Waren town situated in the east-north, take a small detour to the east to the settlement called Müritzufer. 

What to see

Stop by the hidden channel entrance Bolter Kanal, where you may find a spot for anchoring. Then walk 10 minutes through the camping site to the Feriendorf Müritzufer - a settlement consisting of a few holiday houses, playgrounds for kids and even for dogs, small beach and relaxing areas. You can take a hiking trail if you are up to it. 

Panoramic picture of the harbour and the old town of Waren an der Müritz at the Blue Hour in the evening.
Waren an der Müritz

Later on, move up north. Today you will arrive at the harbour town with typical German architecture combined with a Mediterranean flair. You will not get bored in this beautiful town of Waren. The promenade is very lively, with plenty of shops and cafés. The old wooden and picturesque houses and cobblestone streets are an attraction itself. Easily you can spend hours strolling around and observing. The cozy harbor with a long promenade offers ample and scenic views. If you don't want to walk anymore, take a break and pay for a city tour with a small train to explore the town. The “Müritz-Tschu-Tschu-Bahn (railway) ride takes less than 1 hour and departs from the Steinmole pier. 

Except for an idyllic stroll at the lakeside, you can walk inland and visit a botanical garden Schaugarten am Tiefwarensee. This charming little garden hides exhibitions of orquideas, cactuses and Japanese gardens. The view on a lake is more than appealing.  

TIP: If you speak German, we highly recommend adding an entertaining cultural event to your itinerary. An open-air theater Müritz Saga performs from Wednesday to Saturday from 19:30 and on Sunday from 17:00. The theater is a stone-throw away from the botanical garden. Get your tickets some days in advance or at the cashier. The theatre also provides simple catering. The whole experience with an outdoor theatre, historical costumes and good acting is unforgettable.

Where to stay

The marina in Waren is modern and well-equipped. Take a walk to the pier and enjoy the panoramic view of the harbour, old town and of course, the lake.

Harbor of Waren (Müritz), Mecklenburg Lake District, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Harbor of Waren (Müritz)

Your dining options are vast. We recommend getting fish sandwiches and rolls in the place called Müritzfischer-Fischerhof. Not only will you be blessed with a wonderful view but you can also taste many fresh fish directly caught from the Müritz lake and learn a lot about the fish world in the Müritz area. For those of you preferring wine and fine dining, make a reservation in the restaurant Leddermann located right next to the marina.

Day 4: Tuesday - Waren to Kletterwald to Malchow - 21 km

Let’s continue with a sightseeing mode and move to a different location. Today you will end up in the “island town”.The center of Malchow lies on an island between two lakes and you can reach it on foot across a swing bridge. On your way there, allow time for some fun. 

Malchow Monastery on Lake Malchow in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Germany)
Malchow Monastery on Lake Malchow

What to see?

To add some sport and fun activity, why not try climbing in the forest? Close to the Water Sports Club „Stille Bucht von Kamerun'' is a perfect place to test your climbing abilities. The Kletterwald Müritz (translated as climbing forest) has several routes inside the forest you can choose from. The park is open daily in the season from the end of June to the end of September, in other months it is not open every day of the week.  

Malchow is indeed an unmissable place in the Mecklenburg Lake District. The highlight of the town is a long swing bridge connecting the island with an impressive old town centre with the shore. The bridge opens every hour for boats, so get a beer or ice cream and enjoy the performance. 

You can take a tour inside the huge windmill and in the abbey. Those curious about recent history can set foot in the DDR museum. Crews with kids will have a blast in the monkey forest with a summer toboggan track. Either take a taxi there or go by bike there. There are plenty of monkeys sitting and jumping around in the forest. After observing these calm creatures, slide down the toboggan. You can then grab surprisingly tasty food in the bakery shop at the venue, with good value for money.  

Where to stay?

Marina Malchow is the best option to park for tonight. Book the berth in advance. The harbour lies approximately 30 minutes from the island town, so prepare for a long walking day in Malchow. For a change, you can order delicious Greek food in the popular restaurant Der Grieche am See or taste Italian cuisine in the Ristorante Don Camillo. 

Day 5: Wednesday - Malchow to Klink - 22 km

It's time to start returning to your base marina. From Malchow go back to the south of the lake Müritz. We suggest stopping by in the town of s and then the next day in Röbel.

What to see?

A 5-minute walk from the harbour you will spot a gorgeous neo-Renaissance castle Klink that serves as a hotel nowadays. After observing its attractive architecture, go to the small sandy beach situated close by (Badestelle Klink in Google Maps). The water is shallow and the sand is soft enough for small kids. 

 Vacationers and tourists walk along the boardwalk at the castle Klink on June 09, 2013 in Waren.
Castle Klink

Where to stay?

Park in Marina Klink (Hafen Klink) - you will be met by kind personnel and surrounded by a nice and clean harbour. Klink is small and everything interesting is situated within walking distance from the harbour. We recommend visiting Kells for lunch or early dinner. You are guaranteed to get only local quality since the restaurant cooks from a local farm´s products. Shopaholics will be thrilled to have a chance to purchase many products from Mecklenburg such as home-made pasta, spices, honey, jams and various decorations. 

Day 6: Thursday - Klink to Röbel - 11 km

For tonight you will move your new “water home” to the Röbel - a colourful town on the Little Sea as named by people from the area. The town is known for its bright-coloured downtown and idyllic waterfront promenade close to the port. No wonder it's a popular vacation resort.  

Church of Our Lady in Röbel/Müritz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Church of Our Lady in Röbel

What to see

A walk to the old restored windmill built on the castle hill is worth it. Architecture and art aficionados will appreciate the local town park (Bürgerpark) with old buildings, huge trees and various art sculptures of animals made of used metal and wood. Those more fit can train by climbing the stairs - the almost 60-meter-high (and rather steep) church of St.Mary rewards people with a nice panoramic view.

Old town of Roebel in the Mecklenburg Lake District
Old town of Roebel

Good food is an essential part of every travel trip. The small town of Röbel is a great spot to try out Mecklenburg´s cuisine. A popular side dish is “Tüften” – that’s what locals call potatoes. Freshly caught fish such as catfish, pike or eel are a must. Cabbage, kale and beets are German classics when it comes to vegetables as a side dish. 

Where to stay

For your overnight stay, pick the town harbour (Stadthafen Röbel) situated on the southeast side of the Binnensee (inner lake). You will be as close to the centre as possible. Take a walk around the town centre, enjoy the typical maritime vibes and after the romantic stroll enter the Hotel Am Markt with a family-run restaurant. Here you can once again experience the local Mecklenburg cuisine.

Day 7: Friday - Röbel to Buchholz - 24 km

Time to say goodbye to your house boating week. On your way back from Röbel you can stop by for lunch at a fish restaurant Gaststätte Regattahaus (close to Marina Röbel) or slightly further at Müritzfischer Fischerhof Röbel. Fish sandwiches are a must. For those keen on the beach relaxing, continue alongside the shore. Take a break close to the Bootshafen Röbel and go to the small public beach Strandbad des Müritz Strandhotel.

boat

Marieholm Folkboat | IF

Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Naturhafen Krummin
from 86 € /day
boat

Nordic Folkboat 370 | Gertrud

Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Naturhafen Krummin
from 86 € /day
boat

Tom Sawyer TS1000 | Cassy

6 OK  |  1 Review
Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Marina Loitz
from 89 € /day

The German “Auf Wiedersehen” literally means “until we see each other again”.  That is definitely what the Mecklenburg Lake district asks for. This pretty, safe and clean area will always call you to come back. 

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