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Bostalsee: Lake of opportunity

Swim, fish, dive, sail, bike or just relax on large German lake

Bostalsee bills itself as the largest recreational lake in southwest Germany. Upon hearing the claim, I couldn’t help but hearken back to the words of venerable family man Clark W. Griswold in "National Lampoon’s Vacation," when he excitedly told his kids that they had a chance to see "the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth."

I don’t mean that as a dig on Bostalsee. I just like mocking superlative-filled statements made in a cheap effort to attract tourists.

Actually, Bostalsee is quite the recreation destination. You can swim, sun on the beach, rent boats, fish, dive, sail, bike around the lake, play volleyball, let the kids run wild on playgrounds and more. The sizeable lake near Bosen, down Autobahn 62 from Baumholder, should be taken advantage of on nice-weather days — and if you’ve been in Germany long enough, you know the only thing consistent about the weather is that it’s inconsistent.

Getting to Bostalsee is easy. The hard part is figuring out what you’ll do when you get there so you know what gear you need to pack before leaving home.

A seven-kilometer paved path offers bicyclists and walkers a leisurely way to circle the lake. Two beaches have plenty of sand to lounge on. If you’re itching to get on the water, there are pedal boats and electric boats for rent. If you’d rather someone else be in control on the water, a 50-minute trip around the lake on a solar-powered boat leaves near the tourist information center several times a day.

The main beach (Strandbad Bosen) has a massive grassy area dotted with trees to accommodate those looking to get out of the sand and sun but still be close to the water. You can even tote your own grill to the area for a picnic.

Not far away is a 3,000-seat beer garden that overlooks the beach. A short walk from the main beach is the visitor information center, another restaurant, a boat rental kiosk, music pavilion and festival area.

All that being said, the thing that amazed me the most about Bostalsee is that you don’t have to pay to use the bathrooms there. And they are not bad.

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Basically, a day on the Bostalsee is a day filled with opportunities. Just figure out what you want to do before you head there, so you’ll know what to take and how to budget your time.

Otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed and, perhaps, twisted around like a gigantic ball of twine.


On the QT

Directions
From Kaiserslautern, take Autobahn 6 toward Saarbrücken and then Autobahn 62 toward Trier. Take the exit for Nohfelden-Türkismühle toward Sötern/Türkismühle/Oberthal (on the exit sign, you’ll see a sign for Bostalsee). Follow small brown signs for Bostalsee, passing through the small town of Bosen. Just after the town, you’ll see a huge sign for the lake. Turn left into a parking lot near the main beach.

Times
Open 8 a.m. to midnight daily from April through October, with lifeguards on duty from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The park is open the rest of the year, but not for water sports.

Costs
Entrance to the beach is 2.50 euros a day for adults, 1 euro for ages between 6 and 16 and free for children younger than 6. Pedal boats are 2.50 euros a day, electric boats start at 7.50 euros for 30 minutes. A 50-minute boat ride around the lake is 6 euros for adults, 3 euros for children 4-14. Parking costs 2 euros.

Food
At the main beach, there is a beer garden/restaurant with lots of outdoor seating. There also is a big restaurant near the tourist information center not far from the main parking lot and visitor information center.

Information
A visitor information center, near the main parking lot outside Bosen, has plenty of free pamphlets, maps and details on activities.

Call the center at 06852-90-10-0 (the staff speaks English) or see www.bostalsee.de (some parts in English) for more details.

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