East frisian islands: 7 islands at a glance

From Borkum to Wangerooge East Frisian islands: Which island is right for which vacation type

Table of contents

  • Borkum: plenty of space for vacations
  • Juist: the car-free island
  • Norderney: Recreation on the North Sea coast
  • Baltrum: Beach singing in the middle of nature
  • Langeoog: largest herring gull colony on the North Sea coast
  • Spiekeroog: the only East Frisian island without an airport
  • Wangerooge: Island for stand-up paddlers and surfers

The good news: With seven islands in total the selection for the vacation at the North Sea coast is large. The even better news: The East Frisian Islands offer something for every vacation taste and promise pure relaxation with manageable travel distances. The islands in the Wadden Sea are each only four to ten kilometers from the North Sea coast and are easy to reach by ferry.

sandy beaches and the Wadden Sea

Even when choosing the type of vacation, the seven different islands off the coast of East Frisia offer great variety. There is both the car-free island and the island where you can take your car with you. But all East Frisian islands have one thing in common: wonderful sandy beaches.

With the names it is like with all things that are in a sequence after or next to each other: From five names it becomes difficult to remember them all. This also applies to the German islands in the North Sea off the coast of East Frisia.

Map of the East Frisian Islands

It is best to travel by set: At every North Sea island, funny seagulls besiege lugworms. Then you have the island chain from west to east:

  • Borkum
  • Norderney
  • Baltrum
  • Langeoog
  • Wangerooge

Recreation off the coast of East Frisia

But which is the most beautiful of the East Frisian islands?? This is really in the eye of the beholder and the individual vacation wishes. One thing is certain: You can find relaxation on any of the East Frisian islands. Each has its own unique character – from North Sea spa and North Sea health resort to dune hiking paradise. Some of the islands also have a small airfield, so you can also arrive by air, which is a good opportunity for great vacation pictures.

East Frisian island only about 8000 years old

Borkum is located in the very west of the island chain and is also the largest of the East Frisian islands. In fact, the islands are not a former part of the mainland, but formed after the end of the last ice age about 8000 years ago. Originally the sea level here was 120 meters below today’s level. Due to the melting of the glaciers, water heights and coastlines have changed and shifted.

Borkum: plenty of space for your vacation

With an area of a good 31 square kilometers, Borkum offers plenty of space for an island. No wonder you can take your car here on vacation. From Emden there is a ferry connection. For 20 euros per adult you can get to the island in just under two hours.

Lighthouse on the island of Borkum

But be careful: the nature on the North Sea coast also influences the travel times due to the tides. It can take two hours and 45 minutes to reach your vacation destination in the North Sea. And: at night or in the center of Borkum there may be seasonal driving bans for cars.

Borkum is known above all as North Sea spa known. There are numerous health resorts here, from clinics to rehabilitation facilities. The clean and salty sea air and the North Sea are, however, naturally also accessible to vacation guests. This also applies to the landmark of the island: the lighthouse from 1576, which offers an excellent view over Borkum.

Easter egg rolling and kite festival

Besides beach chair fun, the sound of the sea and a small railroad, Borkum also offers cultural events that are worth a visit. Besides the famous jazz festival at Whitsun or the kite festival in August, also the traditional hurling and rolling of Easter eggs on the meadow an eye-catcher.

The goal: to break as few eggs as possible. If then someone stands next to you and loudly "oy" When a man calls out, he is not frightened. This is the traditional greeting on Borkum. But you can also simply "Moin" say.

Juist: the car-free island

What Borkum has in the width, distinguishes the neighboring island Juist in the other direction: It is with 17 kilometers the longest East Frisian island. Apart from this, Juist has another unique selling point: the historic white beach hotel "Kurhaus Juist", on which a miniature version of the glass dome of the German Reichstag has been enthroned since its recent renovation. Together with the beach hall, the seawater adventure pool and the "Haus des Kurgastes" (spa guest house) the architectural silhouette of Juist is already clearly visible during the 90-minute ferry ride from Norddeich.

Cyclists and horse-drawn carriages on Juist

There are no cars on Juist. But there are four beautiful cycling routes, and at an altitude of three meters above zero, the car-free island is a good place to teach your children to ride a bike. What a vacation memory. This also applies to the carriage rides, which are possible on island as a traditional means of transport.

So Juist is rather quiet, has fantastic beaches and a special offer for fish fansThe surf fishing, where from the beach with the fishing rod as in fly fishing the bait is thrown far out into the surf. There is no guarantee of a catch, but there is the odd sea bass on the hook.

Norderney: Recreation on the North Sea coast

Norderney has one of the largest range of leisure activities among the East Frisian islands. From the children’s play park to the cuddly cinema with red plush seats in the historic Kurtheater to the Wadden Sea Visitor Center. You can take your car by ferry from Norddeich to the island – but it is usually parked there, because there are many restrictions between Easter and autumn vacations.

Landscape with fields and pond on Norderney

With busses or bicycles you can have a good vacation here – like on all East Frisian islands. 26 kilometers of cycling through dunes and along the beach on Norderney offer a nice outing for the whole family.

If you want to top the beach experience of the day with sand, waves and sea breeze on the island, rents itself best a sleep beach chair. For 89 euros you can spend the night here nicely snuggled up for two under the starry sky. Tip: Do not forget champagne!

Baltrum: Singing on the beach in the middle of nature

On Baltrum many things are different. The island is with a length of five kilometers and only 1.4 kilometers wide the smallest of the East Frisian Islands. Perhaps the reason why the dunes here are particularly striking and beautiful. In general, the entire island is rather laid out in bumps, which also provides space and shelter for small woods. The vibration of the island goes so far that even a public beach singing takes place: Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. everyone who wants to, sings along directly at the seaside.

Beach with dunes and dune grass on Baltrum

Baltrum is especially suitable for families. Because of the small size of the island, you cannot lose your children here and there is no danger from cars. On Baltrum everything is transported very leisurely by horse-drawn carts – even the holidaymakers.

The only thing that moves a little faster are the kitesurfers, who have good conditions here. The beach fun is not affected. On the contrary: beaches are reserved for bathers and by the long, flat course into the water a paradise for younger sand castle and splash fans.

Langeoog: largest herring gull colony on the North Sea coast

The neighboring island Langeoog bears its name rightly: the "Lange". Even the sandy beaches here are particularly long – 14 kilometers – out of a total length of the island of 11 kilometers. The flat island in the North Sea also sets standards upwards. The dunes are up to 20 meters high and therefore also an attraction of the island.

Birds fly over Langeoog

On nature trails like "Flinthorn visitors learn a lot about the unique nature. It is better not to carry your food openly in your hand during outings. At around 30.000 herring gulls, the island has the largest colony of these seabirds in Germany.

The water slide at the adventure pool is also inspired by the name of the island. With a length of 42 meters, it provides bathing fun. As well as the seawater wave surf. And sent by the island’s administration: The individual beach sections are assigned to visitors with certain preferences, so that smokers don’t run into dragon drivers, dogs don’t run through the legs of sports fans, and teenagers without adults are among themselves.

Spiekeroog: only East Frisian island without an airfield

Spiekeroog is definitely an island to switch off. It is the only one of the seven inhabited East Frisian islands that has no airfield. There are also no cars, but horse-drawn carriages. If you like cycling, you can bring your own bike on the ferry from Neuharlingersiel.

Pedestrian street on the island of Spiekeroog

But you won’t get far on the ten kilometer long and two kilometer wide island. The shrub-covered dune landscape has beautiful hiking trails and the breathing through falls on the absolutely quiet island easily.

Panoramic sauna with a view of the sea

If you suddenly see a deer running past, it’s not something of an apparition. The population is estimated at 50 animals, which originally migrated from the mainland over the dry mudflats and were released into the wild. Beside the beaches there is the island bath with panorama sauna and view of the North Sea.

How quiet it is on Spiekeroog, shows the latest application of the island administration: Spiekeroog wants to become an officially recognized star park – so a place for the best view of the night sky. The reason: There is no light pollution at night on Spiekeroog. The island is one of the positively darkest places in Germany.

Wangerooge: Island for StandUp-Paddlers and Surfers

Although eight kilometers long, but only one kilometer wide is the island of Wangerooge. It is the last of the East Frisian Islands in the 90 kilometer long band of German islands on the North Sea coast in East Frisia towards the east. The ferry ride from Harlesiel takes a good hour and a half.

Beach of Wangerooge with lighthouse

The island has only about 1000 inhabitants, but still a railroad. The narrow-gauge railroad takes you from the ferry pier to the main town. It is the only narrow-gauge railroad in Germany, operated by Deutsche Bahn.

On Wangerooge itself, nature is the real vacation experience. The beach and dunes are only a few minutes walk from the island village. The time out with sun, wind and waves provides the vacation experience.

Speaking of waves: Wangerooge is a hotspot for surfers StandUp Paddling is also offered on the island. If you have visited the island museum and want to do something when it rains, the small island cinema or the seawater leisure pool is a good place to be.

East Frisian Islands in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage Site

But no matter where you vacation on the East Frisian Islands – mudflat hiking is definitely part of the experience. After all, the islands are located in the Wadden Sea and thus directly in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guided tours at low tide with a lot of knowledge and fun at the Barefoot walk over the seabed are offered on every island. Also the salt marshes as unique biotopes with many special plants, insects and birds are an exciting topic.

Dogs welcome on vacation on all East Frisian islands

Who wants to take his dog with him on vacation is welcome on all East Frisian Islands. There are dog beaches everywhere and many hotels that see dogs as room guests. The best time to travel for sun-seekers and bathing fans is from May to August. The water of the North Sea can get up to 20 degrees warm.

Man walks with dog along the beach at sunrise

You should book your accomodation at best for a longer time in advance. The hotels on the islands are quickly sometimes full – especially at vacation times.

If you want to experience the East Frisian Islands in a different way, just wait until late autumn or winter. Then it is not so good to swim, but with luck something unique is waiting for you: Experiencing a storm tide – in the middle of the sea.

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