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Mecklenburg: A Guide to Houseboat Sailing in Germany’s Friesland

Did you know that you can experience the ultimate boating holiday in Germany without a license? We went to the Mecklenburg Lake District in the north for this. You could call this wetland area the Friesland of Germany and you will find it about 1.5 to 2 hours drive above Berlin. Mecklenburg Lake District is bursting with beautiful lakes, which is actually an understatement, because you can find more than 1000! Germany’s largest lake, Müritz, is also located here. Many lakes are connected with fairways, so you can make a special round trip and really sail from lake to lake. For your overnight stay you can moor in the harbor of cozy towns in the evening or just drop anchor in the middle of nowhere and stay in the middle of nature.

Planning a Trip to the Friesland of Germany Yourself?

This boating holiday is ideal to do with a group of friends, but with your family or just the two of you, this is also a really cool experience not too far from home. Oh and good to mention: You don’t need a license for a houseboat. A bit of sailing experience is a plus, but it is not mandatory and everything is well explained to you on the spot, so that you can also set out without a license. Curious how you can plan such a sailing holiday? Where can you rent a good houseboat? And where do you really need to go next? We tell you all about it below!

On a Sailing Holiday With a Real Houseboat

During our sailing holiday in Germany we went out with a houseboat for a few days. And as literal as it sounds, it really is a floating house. Our houseboat had a kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a living room that could be converted into a bedroom, 3 bathrooms and 3 toilets. With a bit of luck you could sleep there with 9 people, although it seemed to us the most comfortable with max 6. Are you with a smaller group? Then you can also rent smaller house boats, there are also sauna boats with only one bedroom and living room or smaller sailing houses that are reminiscent of red cabins from Norway.

You can rent and pick up a houseboat in the place Rechlin and a good landlord there is Kuhnle Tours† This organization is located in several places in Germany, but if you want to discover the Mecklenburg Lake District, it is best to rent your boat in Rechlin and pick it up there. And as we also said above: A sailing license is not necessary. Even without it you can rent such a boat and set out on your own.

What to See and Do in Mecklenburg

Our route in Mecklenburg Lake District started in Rechlin and consisted mainly of Waren, Malchow and the lakes and fairways in between. We also had a canoe on board and we also sailed on the lakes from our house boat. Also a really nice experience. First you stand on such a huge ship that you pilot yourself and later you are paddling in a small canoe.


The town of Waren is our first stop during our boating holiday. From Rechlin you can sail here in about 2 hours. You can walk straight into the town from the harbor in the center and you will soon discover that this town consists of dozens of colorful streets. Get lost and just dive into any street that seems nice to you, that way you will automatically come to nice pieces. Take a stroll across the large Neuer Markt square and of course along the pier from where you can spot the most beautiful sunsets. Oh and do you want a nice view? Then you have to go to the Marienkirche.

If you are in Waren on a rainy day, the Müritzeum is an option, especially for children this is funny. You can spot many types of fish. Prefer to eat out? Nice restaurants in Waren are: Restaurant & Café Leddermann (located on the harbor, at Müritzstraße 16) or U-nautic (this restaurant has an undersea theme and can be found at Lange Straße 15). It is also nice to stop at Fischerhof-Damerow on your way to Waren from, for example, Malchow. Here you can have a nice lunch with kibbeling on the water!


Another place you really want to stop at is the island town of Malchow! This islet is located in the river Elbe, 25 km from Waren. The island literally consists of a few streets, but it is certainly nice to stroll through. Places where you can sit down for a bite to eat are Ristorante Don Camillo where you can score pizza and prosecco or go to Beach Burger or Doc’s Beach Beach Bar, where you can imagine yourself at a beach bar.

Spotting Castles Close to the Water

Did you know that Mecklenburg is bursting with beautiful castles and palatial houses? If you want to cruise along or around the water along or really visit some of the beautiful ones, you can check out Gutshaus Ludorf, Schlosshotel Klink, Schlosshotel Fleesensee, Schloss Mirow, Schloss Retzow or Kultur Schloss Priborn.

Route & Overnight Stays

Our route in the Mecklenburg Lake District looked like this: Rechlin, Waren, Malchow, Waren, Rechlin. We ended up staying twice in the harbor of Waren because it was raining a little too hard to spend the night somewhere in the middle of nowhere, but that was originally our plan. We ended up spending three nights in Mecklenburg and on the boat. Twice in the harbor of Waren and once in the harbor at Malchow. By the way, if you want to sleep in a harbor with a houseboat, it is best to book in advance by calling the harbor master of the port in question. In the low season you can find spots spontaneously, but in the high season it is better to call in advance to do.

This Is How You Plan Your Boating Holiday in Mecklenburg in Germany

Curious how you can plan such a trip yourself? Some tips for a good approach:

  • Drive from the Netherlands to Rechlin (possibly with a stopover in Hamburg, read more about what to do in Hamburg here, because the car journey can be quite long), it takes you about 8 hours from Utrecht with breaks and no traffic jam.
  • Renting a boat on which you can also sleep is best rented through Kuhnle Tours, they rent out various house boats from 2 to 9 people.
  • You do not need a license for a house boat from Kunhnle Tours, you will receive an explanation on the spot about the boat, how everything works, sailing rules and a bit of theory so that you can set off without worries.
  • We did groceries on the way in villages such as Waren and Malchow, but you can also do your own shopping in advance and take it with you on the boat.
  • On the boats are sheets, blankets, pillows and towels available, there is also a kitchen with lots of kitchen stuff, you only have to think about the food yourself.
  • You can spend the night in harbors near nice villages such as Waren or Malchow, but it is also possible to spend the night in the middle of nature and just drop anchor somewhere.
  • If you want to sleep in a harbor with a houseboat, it is best to reserve a spot in advance by calling the harbor master of the relevant harbor.
  • You pay for a harbor spot at the harbor master or at a vending machine. In Waren, for example, you have a kind of card that you also have to charge if you want electricity on the boat.

In terms of route, you can ask for tips on the spot or follow our route, we sailed from Rechlin to Waren, then we went to Malchow and via Waren back to Rechlin.

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