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Our Four Favourite Lakes in North Rhine-Westphalia

From fjord-like feelings at Rursee to remote bathing spots at Biggesee: We reveal a shortlist of our all-time favourite lakes and bodies of water in NRW.

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1 Cologne


Cologne city centre 79 km
Car < 75 min
PT < 120 min

take Me To The Lakes Nordrhein Westfalenedition Koeln Duesseldorf Dortmund Essen Seen Guide Badeseen Koeln Rursee 7

Rursee’s blue waters shimmer forth from Eiffel Forests’s green landscapes. These waters are formed by a dam in Rur River, which is incidentally one of Germany’s largest reservoirs. Three designated bathing spots line these scenic shorelines. The lawn and rocks at the public beach on the north are ideal for anyone looking to soak up some sun. If you’re searching for solitude, we recommend swimming to the little island. Rent SUP boards, paddleboats and kayaks to explore more of this breathtaking lake. You can also rent canoes in Rurberg (50.607493, 6.383253) and Woffelsbach (50.627352, 6.384697). More bathing spots are located at Eiserbachsee and in the natural public pool in EInruhr. We also recommend biking the 27-kilometre-long circular tour that leads around Rursee’s shores. If you add Obersee and Urftsee to your cycling tour, you’ll extend your trip to 42-kilometres. A series of hidden bays and spots to lie down await you en route.

Köln Edition
p. 176

Directions Rursee



Düsseldorf city centre 24 km
Car < 30 min
PT < 45 min

take Me To The Lakes Nordrhein Westfalenedition Koeln Duesseldorf Dortmund Essen Seen Guide Badeseen Duesseldorf Wolfssee 6

This natural paradise is tucked away in the heart of the Ruhr Area. Just south of Duisberg, Wolfsee forms the centrepiece of the region’s renowned Six-Lake-Plateau. A number of bathing spots are spread out along its shoreline, the official one being the natural public pool on its northern shore. To escape the public beach’s bustling crowds on hot summer’s days, head through the forest and take a walk along the water’s edge. Here, you’ll stumble across a series of quiet, little places where you can set up camp for the day. A platform offering spectacular views of the lake and its surroundings awaits you in Wolfsberg (51.378125, 6.801333). In addition to taking in Wolfsee’s surrounding scenery, you’ll also be able to see the other five members of the Six-Lakes-Plateau and the Rhine River’s industrial steel complex from here. To round off the perfect day, we recommend heading over to the neighbouring lake, Warnbachsee (51.386736, 6.797259), and renting a paddleboat.

Düsseldorf Edition
p. 42

Directions Wolfssee



Köln city centre 82 km
Car < 75 min
PT < 105 min

take Me To The Lakes Nordrhein Westfalenedition Koeln Duesseldorf Dortmund Essen Seen Guide Badeseen Dortmund Biggetalsperre 15

If you haven’t fallen for Sauerland just yet, one day at Biggesee is bound to seal the deal. This staggering 800-hectare reservoir is the largest in the region. Not only does Biggessee act as a flood control mechanism for the region, but it’s also the primary source of the Ruhr Area’s water supply. Due to the high number of easily accessible areas along its shorelines, even at the height of summer, it’s not hard to find a quiet place by the water here. We recommend taking the time to walk or bike a section of the Bikker-Lister-Weg hiking trail before treating yourself to a refreshing tip. If, however, you’d rather settle down in one place for the day, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for over at Strandbad Sondern. It’s entertaining to watch the MS Westfalen ferry taxiing passengers across the lake here. To get to Biggesee’s more remote bathing spots, cycle or walk towards the peninsulas. The lawn in front of the campsite—which is also a lovely place to spend a long weekend—provides excellent views of the magnificent surroundings. Before heading home, stop by the viewing platform that’s a 15-minute walk from the dam’s eastern shore to snap some (mental) photographs and admire the scenery.

Köln Edition
p. 82

Directions Biggesee



Düsseldorf city centre 87 km
Car <60 min
PT <105 min

take Me To The Lakes Nordrhein Westfalenedition Koeln Duesseldorf Dortmund Essen Seen Guide Badeseen Norden Proebstingersee 4

Pröbstingsee takes its name from an old manor house nearby that was built in the 70s’. The lake is located at the heart of Borken-Hoxfeld’s recreation area, making it one of Münstlerland’s most popular attractions in the region. Picnics and BBQs are all the rage in this expansive park-like landscape. By law, swimming is only permitted in the western part of the lake. Hence, most visitors spread out their belongings on the lawn over by the sandy beach. If you’re interested in exploring more of these waters, rent a paddleboat, kayak, or SUP boards at the boathouse on Pröbstingsee’s eastern shore (51.838009, 6.802953). You can also take to the treetops and experience the lake from above in the neighbouring climbing park in Borken (51.833092, 6.787946). 

Düsseldorf Edition
p. 32

Directions Pröbstinger See

Köln, Düsseldorf, Ruhrgebiet and Münsterland:
Our Favourite Lakes in North Rhine-Westphalia

We spent an entire summer retracing our fondest childhood memories in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).  This densely populated and urbanised region of western Germany is characterised by industrial romanticism and working-class communities. It wasn’t until we embarked on more extended trips out into the countryside that we truly began to grasp how diverse the landscapes between Weser River and Rhein River really are. Why drive all the way to Norway when Rursee evokes fjord-like feelings? Is it really necessary to fly to the Provence’s lavender fields, if the moor in the Rothaar Mountains erupts into an equally mesmerising pale sea of pink? And who really wants to traverse Germany’s Alps if hikes in the Eifel are right at your doorstep? 

We biked through Heider Bergsee’s forests, rented pedal boats in Borken, and got great tans at Baldeneysee’s public beach in Essen. In no other region in Europe will you come across such a high density of reservoirs as in Bergisch Land. And we can’t think of a lake with waters as turquoise as Venekotensee’s—a glittering gemstone the border to the Netherlands. Setting out from Cologne and Düsseldorf, here are our favourite lakes to swim in throughout NRW. 

Our Take Me to the Lakes – Köln Edition and Take Me to the Lakes – Düsseldorf Edition each feature 25 stunning lakes and over 70 bathing spots. Beyond tips for swimming and hiking, we also provide you with a small selection of holiday home and hotel recommendations near the water’s edge. Guided by slow living principles, we selected nine unforgettable getaways between Lüttich and Sauerland. You are invited to engage with your environment, start a dialogue with nature, and live sustainably. 

Please note that the Köln Edition and Düsseldorf Edition are currently only available in German.



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