From crystal clear lakes nestled in the Alps to numerous World War II wrecks to the north in the Baltic Sea, Germany has plenty of diving and is a great example of divers making the most of local aquatic resources.
Germany covers more than 350,000 square kilometres/137,500 square miles of central Europe. It’s a major European economic and political force with a population of more than 80 million and the country, and the tourists who visit, benefit from the associated infrastructure. There’s a great deal to do, from exploring many a modern metropolis and attending the world’s largest festival, Oktoberfest, to wandering through the Bavarian Forest National Park or mud hiking the UNESCO biosphere reserve of the Wadden Sea.
From a scuba diver’s point of view, what stands out is that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, there’s likely an underwater adventure waiting close by. With the exception of the Baltic Sea wrecks, most of these are freshwater dives, many at altitude in stunning surroundings.
- The Helland This large steel motor yacht resting at about 18 metres/60 feet, is one of many in the Baltic Sea, which is literally littered with wrecks, some dating as far back as the ninth or tenth century. Due to the reasonable depth, and the fact that she’s readily accessible from Kiel by rigid hulled inflatables (RIBs), which are fast dive boats and an adventure in themselves, the Helland is an ideal site for new wreck divers.
- The Hanau This German steam powered cargo ship some 137 metres/450 feet in length struck a mine in 1944 and sank. Today she’s a popular wreck in about 15 metres/45 feet of water..
- Kreidesee Located close to Warstade, this flooded 117-year-old quarry was used to excavate and process lime from 1862 to 1976. When the factory closed, the quarry filled with ground water. The lake now offers depths to 60 metres/200 feet and covers around 33 hectares/82 acres. You can still see part of the factory, various wrecks and even a Piper PA-28 airplane, which used to belong to United States astronaut Alan Shepard. The water is crystal clear and divers regularly encounter trout and salmon. Cold water, drop-offs and depth, make appropriate training and equipment a necessity.
- Sundhäuser See Found in Nordhausen, this is a great example of making the most of local dive opportunities. This lake has its own underwater city, complete with a church, a wreck and even an underwater graveyard. Visibility is generally good and the cold water makes this an ideal spot to try out your dry suit. Keep an eye out for pike, perch, sturgeon, eels and crayfish while cruising the submerged streets.
- Walchensee One of the largest Alpine lakes in Germany, Walchensee sits at 800 metres/2625 feet above sea level in the Bavarian Alps and is more than 180 metres/600 feet deep. Formed by massive tectonic forces and subsequent glacial erosion, the scenery will have divers gasping in wonder. Clear water, some steep drop-offs and more than a few wrecks make for great diving. Carp, eels, trout and other freshwater species are part of nearly every dive. Cold water diving at altitude requires proper training so you'll want to consult a local PADI Dive Center or Resort.
- Bodensee (Lake Constance) Nestled at 395 metres/1296 feet above sea level in the Alps on the border of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, this is the third largest Central European lake. Its stunning scenery and great diving make it an excellent destination for traveling divers. It has three distinct areas: Obersee (Upper Lake), Untersee (Lower Lake) and Seerhein (a connecting section of the Rhine River). It is a massive body of water more than 60 kilometres/36 miles long and in places nearly 14 kilometres/9 miles wide. In places, it also reaches a maximum depth of more than 250 metres/820 feet. You can choose from wall dives, wreck dives and even drift dives options, with many dive sites easily reached from shore. The dramatic Alpine landscape continues underwater with steep drop-offs that plunge to well beyond recreational depths. Divers make good use of dry suits to stay warm and comfortable below the thermocline even in the summer, when most of the diving takes place. Char, pike, turbot and other freshwater fish species may join the dive.
- Kulkwitzer See At this lake near Leipzig, you’ll find camping, waterskiing, sailing, and hiking trails to fill in the hours between dives. Maximum depths of around 32 metres/105 feet along with plenty of interesting shallower sites make it suitable for all divers. The average visibility is from 10-20 metres/35-70 feet and shore access is easy. Pike and large perch are regular dive buddies, with freshwater eels and crayfish coming out at night.
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Visibility – Depending on location and time of year, from 3-18 metres/10-60 feet.
Water Temperature – Baltic dive conditions vary with water temperatures ranging from a low of 2° C/36° F in March to 20°C/68° F on the surface in summer. Alpine lakes can reach 15° C/60° F on the surface in summer but will be cold below the thermocline.
Weather – Varies significantly with location and altitude, check locally. Generally, cold winters and comfortable summers.
Featured Creatures – Expect to see the full range of European freshwater species such as pike, perch, carp, freshwater turbot, trout, char (which rival the most colorful marine species when in spawning regalia), eels, bream and chub.
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – German. Most Germans know some English, especially in the tourist areas, but the country functions in German.
Currency – Euro (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted.
Major Airports – The three largest are Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC) and Düsseldorf (DUS).
Electricity and Internet – 230 volt 50 Hz. Type C plug. Internet service is widely available.
Topside Attractions – Explore Jasmund National Park where chalk cliffs plunge straight into the Baltic Sea and pristine forest beckon hikers. Wander through Lindau, near the Austrian, German and Swiss borders on Lake Constance and take in the medieval buildings that dot this popular tourist attraction. Join some six million visitors for Oktoberfest (which begins in September) and enjoy some Würstel, Knödel and German beer.