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The East Frisian North Sea island of Borkum has a long tradition as a sought-after destination for a maritime vacation. Borkum is one of the seven East Frisian islands off the North Sea coast between Emden and Wilhelmshaven. The German ferry port is the seaside town of Emden. In the neighboring Netherlands, Borkum can be reached by ship from Eemshaven. In the mid-1950s, the island was granted city rights. Today, Borkum is a district town in the Leer district.

Borkum is located in the midst of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Wadden Sea has always been a state-recognized North Sea spa and thus a health resort. A good 5,000 inhabitants currently live on the island. In addition, there are thousands of spa guests, vacationers and also day visitors throughout the year. The summer months are still considered the main season with the largest rush of visitors. But Borkum is also becoming increasingly popular in the other seasons. Here in the open North Sea, every season has its special charm; from the stormy autumn weeks to the wet and cold winter days. The long carnival weekend or even the Easter vacations have become a popular pre-season on the island.

Helpful is the meanwhile very good infrastructure with rail and road traffic. The Borkum vacationer is well advised to book his desired accommodation on the island well in advance, and in connection with this also the ferry for the outward and return journey. Besides Norderney, Borkum is the only East Frisian island with car traffic, which is severely limited seasonally. For the island visitor it is always worth experiencing, on the occasion of a beach walk, to feel and smell the open North Sea at low tide.

The following tips should help you to prepare your stay on Borkum in the best possible way, knowing that anticipation is the best joy!

Arrival from Germany

The hub of the island is East Frisia’s largest city, Emden. About 40 kilometers north of Emden, the 370-kilometer-long Ems River flows into the North Sea.

  • With the small aircraft of Ostfriesischer Flugdienst GmbH OFD, the flight from the Emden airfield to the Borkum airfield takes a quarter of an hour. From here, a scheduled bus provides transfer to the town center.
  • The ferry traffic with ferries and catamarans of the Emder Reederei AG Ems is handled from the outer harbor of Emden. The Emden-Borkum crossing takes two and a half hours by ferry and one hour by catamaran. The shipping company recommends that Borkum passengers make advance reservations for the catamaran and car ferry.
  • The car journey to Emden is made from the south via the A 31 federal freeway with the destination “Emden jetty in the outer harbor”. The address for the car navigation device is “Zum Borkumanleger 6, D-26723 Emden”. If the car is not taken to the island, there are parking facilities for a fee in the immediate vicinity of the jetty.
  • The outer harbor is connected to the rail traffic of the Deutsche Bahn AG. Depending on the rail connection, the journey leads directly to the terminus Emden-Außenhafen, or to Emden-Hauptbahnhof with a change of trains and subsequent transfer to the outer harbor.
  • On the island of Borkum, the island train provides transfer to the town center from the Borkumer Reede. The seven-kilometer ride on the historic narrow-gauge railroad from the 1880s is the ideal way to get in the mood for your upcoming North Sea vacation.

Accommodation from hotels to bed and breakfasts to vacation apartments
The island of Borkum appears to the guest as a self-contained vacation town. For your stay you can choose between comfortable 3* and 4* hotels. Most of them are Garni-Hotels; they offer their guests a pleasant to individual stay together with a rich breakfast. One of the differences between the guesthouses spread across the island is the significantly smaller number of rooms and the personal and family character, which is particularly cultivated by the operators.

The selection of vacation apartments as well as detached vacation homes is also as large as it is varied. On the basis of the various selection criteria, suitable accommodation can be found for every wish, need and taste. The maritime ambience is provided by whitewashed buildings from the last century, while the East Frisian character is emphasized by the single-story houses in red clinker and often with thatched roofs. The accommodations are divided into the two categories hotel & pension and vacation home & vacation apartment. The Tourist-Information Borkum under the address Georg-Schütte-Platz is a first contact point for the guest who arrives without a fixed room booking. At borkum.de each of the offered accommodations is described in detail and most of them have their own homepage. Finding an accommodation on Borkum is not difficult, but the decision to choose the most beautiful among the many beautiful ones is.

Pure beach life on Borkum

  • There are four guarded and supervised beaches on the island: the north beach, the south beach, the nudist beach and the youth beach.
  • The north beach offers a lively beach life, the open North Sea with a view of sunbathing seals as well as the lively hustle and bustle of the town of Borkum at the back of the island.
  • The south beach offers everything a vacationer could imagine for a beach vacation; beach chairs, milk stalls, dog beach, strolling, seeing and being seen in a tranquil environment with an electric lighthouse and impressive ships passing by in sight.
  • The nudist beach is a bit off the beaten track, one could say almost romantic. All around is only vastness, silence and nature. Here the friends of the nudist culture can really feel comfortable.
  • Beach action purely at the youth beach Borkum is the slogan for Teenies, which want to live out the beach vacation completely under itself. The youth beach is located east of the north beach. Loud music is permitted here, and beach sports and campfires are part of everyday life on the beach.

The Borkum vacationer is recommended not only to reserve his beach chair or beach tent six to eight weeks in advance, but to book it firmly. Away from these main beaches, there are other secluded stretches of beach to discover on walks.

Fun and games for children and teenagers

Borkum is like one big play island for the little ones in both senses. Outdoors, sandcastles are built on the beach, and indoors, the play island is a favorite hangout for the youngest and youngest. Those who are older really feel at home in the culture island. Play facilities include a ball pool, slide, board games, and climbing room with a rung and climbing wall. In summer, beach gymnastics and beach entertainment are held twice a week on all beaches. There are several children’s playgrounds spread across the island in the dyke road, in the Moormerland road, in the Kiebitzdelle dunes and of course on each of the guarded beaches. The colorful animation program includes lantern parades, puppet shows, creative classes and plenty of sheep to pet in nature.

Beach sports and activities for every generation

Those who spend the best weeks of the year on Borkum naturally want to spend as much time as possible outdoors by the beach and water. This includes sporting activities such as beach sports with volleyball and soccer, like kitebuggy and kitesurfing, beach sailing, kitelandboarding, hang gliding, windsurfing or a guided mudflat hike at low tide through the North Sea. More than 100 kilometers of cycling and hiking trails are designated and signposted on the 10-kilometer-long island. They all lead through untouched nature with its dune landscape, through small forests and past freshwater lakes, fields and meadows. Those who are not yet familiar with the East Frisian national sport will be introduced to it here on Borkum at the latest. This is boßeln, where a ball is thrown over a fixed distance with as few throws as possible. Boßeln, alternatively also called Klootschießen, is a typical East Frisian fun and the best opportunity for a good conversation with the islanders. In short, the sports and leisure activities on Borkum are guaranteed to be enough for more than just an island vacation.

Tradition and customs on Borkum

Regular spa concerts from spring to autumn are part of every spa and recreation resort. Here on Borkum, the music pavilion in front of the Wandelhalle on the spa promenade is a rendezvous for the cultural entertainment program. From the end of March to the end of October, entertaining spa concerts under the title “Music & Sea” take place in the music pavilion every day except Mondays.

  • The Borkum tea ceremony in the Toornhuus is a traditional East Frisian tea hour every Wednesday. If you are on vacation in East Frisia, you should not miss this experience around the secrets of tea with Kluntje and cream.
  • Easter bonfires have a centuries-old tradition throughout East Frisia and thus also on Borkum. At the three locations Reedestraße/stop Jakob-van-Dyken-Weg, Kaap/Knappschaft as well as Markantdünen the three Easter fires are lit simultaneously on Easter Saturday evening. Immediately before lighting, the respective woodpile is crowned with a rag doll named Tom Dooley. Nowadays, this island tradition is an attraction for locals and guests alike.
  • The Borkum maypole is not erected on May 1, as is otherwise customary, but on Whit Saturday. The maypole’s long-standing home is visible from afar in the town center on Süderstraße. The ceremony is accompanied by the Borkum traditional costume group as well as the male choir of the Borkum boys. The one presents Frisian dance, the other sings atmospheric sea shanties. Traditionally, the “Börkumer Maiboom” has the shape of a ship’s mast. In the tree a basket is attached, in which over Pentecost a cock must hold out. If he crows as usual on Whitsunday, it is an indication that a good season is coming.
  • Getting married on Borkum is possible in several ways. For their civil ceremony, the couple-to-be can choose between the tasteful council chamber in the town hall, the historic emperor’s carriage of the island railroad and the officers’ mess of the national park ship Borkumriff, complete with romantic sea view. The Borkumer Kleinbahn rents out a vintage bus to transport the wedding party to the venue. The Mercedes Benz 0 3500 from the year of construction 1951 has 27 seats and offers a lot of charm for this eventful day.

Doctors and pharmacies

The health of the Borkum vacationer is well taken care of island-wide. Three doctors and four dentists are available to patients throughout the year. Three pharmacies are spread across the island in Neue Straße 2 and 35 as well as in Georg-Schütte-Platz. The medical care center in Gartenstraße is also the island hospital. It was reopened in the mid-2010s and offers a specialist internal medicine practice with two dozen beds. A rescue station of the German Red Cross is located here. The modern helipad ensures that patients can be flown to the mainland at any time and at short notice.

Wellness, recreation and cures

Whether with or without a prescription from a health insurance company, whether privately or without a prescription, Borkum offers a wide range of baths, wellness, massages, treatments and cosmetics, as well as various cures. The Gezeitenland is an adventure pool with sauna, fitness, physiotherapy and much more. Attached is the Biomaris as an institute for applied marine cosmetics. And in the Alphasphere the AlphaLiege is a multi-sensory sound couch, which provides by the interaction of color, form and light with sound, vibration together with warmth for deepest relaxation.


A vacation on the North Sea island of Borkum can be made as relaxing as it is entertaining in a variety of ways. Borkum is a worthwhile destination at any time of the year. In winter, the air is even more iodine and aerosol rich due to the high waves than at other times of the year. And the mud flats as the region between Borkum and the mainland are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a unique experience that the island vacationer simply must have seen. Historically, the Wadden Sea is still a very young landscape with salt marshes and dunes, with mudflats as well as beaches, which is constantly reshaped by wind and daily tides.