Recently I spent a day on Borkum, a beautiful German island in the North Sea. We picked a day with fantastic weather (so fantastic that I left as red as a tomato). I would definitely recommend a visit if you have the chance! Today I’ll share seven tips for what to do on Borkum, based on how I spent my day there. Are you ready for a virtual visit to this idyllic island?
How to get to Borkum: the ferry
There are two ferries that take you to Borkum. One from Eemshaven in the Netherlands and one from Emden in Germany. Both ferries take approximately 50 minutes and in the summer season there are multiple options per day. From Eemshaven a return ticket costs €18,50 and from Emden €20,30. At least at the moment of writing those are the prices – you can find the current ferry prices here.
Tip 1: take the nostalgic train to the center
The best way to get from the boat to the center is to take the nostalgic train. A ride on this colourful train is included in the price of the ferry ticket. While sitting on the old-fashioned wooden benches, you already get to see some of the island’s nature. The train calmly rumbles on and gives you a holiday feeling. You’re on an island where life is still peaceful and where people aren’t in a hurry all the time. After about 15 minutes you will arrive in the center of Borkum.
Be aware: the departure time on the ferry ticket is when the train leaves the center. So it’s not the time the boat departs from the port.
Tip 2: have a look at all the seals
The most important thing to do on Borkum – at least for all children and animal lovers – is to have a look at the seals. The island has a sand bank that is home to many seals, who peacefully hang out there and make silly movements to get back into the water. People can watch the seals from the beach, but are not allowed to go on the sand bank. This way the seals can live calmly without being disturbed. The sand bank with the seals is right at the beach when you come from the center, which makes it really easy to visit.
Tip 3: eat at one of the many restaurants
Depending on the hour at which you arrive on Borkum, it might already be German lunch time. On Borkum, you find many restaurants that serve warm food from 12:00 o’clock and onward. If you’re into eating fish, you have come to the right place! Borkum has many fish restaurants where you can eat fresh seafood. For vegetarian people like me the options are a bit more limited, but at most restaurants you’ll be able to find at least a veggie pasta. I didn’t eat here, but I saw a “flexitarian restaurant” called Ria’s Beachcuisine. I’m assuming there should be good vegetarian options there.
Tip 4: visit the center of the town
After eating, you’re most likely in the center of Borkum and it’s worth to have a look around. There are plenty of interesting buildings and for the shopping enthusiasts, there are many stores to visit. In the center you can find – among other things – a fence completely made out of wale bones and there is an island museum.
Tip 5: visit all three lighthouses of the island
On Borkum you can find three different lighthouses. One of them was build in 1576, but it burned down in 1979. This lighthouse was rebuilt and you can still visit it. Looking for a good view? Climb all 308 steps to the top! While walking around the center and along the beach, you’ll most likely be able to spot all three of them, even if it’s from the distance.
Tip 6: a long walk on the beach & through the dunes
If you’re a beach person, you might want to bring your swimsuit and towel when visiting Borkum. There are plenty of comfortable beach chairs and on a sunny day a swim in the North Sea is refreshing. Another option is to explore the coastline by going for a long walk on the beach and through the dunes. When you come from the center, the seals are a little to the left, but for a longer walk going to the right is the nicest. You can walk through the dunes while looking over the North Sea and every once in a while there’s a lonely bench for a break. This route is also great for cyclists.
Tip 7: have a (big) ice cream at Il Faro
After all that walking and exploring, there is no better way to end the day than with an ice cream at Il Faro. This is not only a pizzeria, but also a gelateria with amazing ice creams. You can pick up some scoops of ice cream to take with you, but you can also a big ice cream bowl in the garden. The garden is behind the restaurant – slightly hidden – and it’s the perfect place to sit down and enjoy one of their ice cream creations before taking the nostalgic train back to the ferry.
Enjoy your day on Borkum ♡
I hope my seven tips and the photos below get you excited to visit Borkum this summer (or any other season). If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer them!
If you’re interested in the North Sea islands, you might also like this post: One day on Schiermonnikoog that felt like an entire vacation0