Admittedly, the Edersee was not necessarily high on my travel bucket list. But as is well known, the year 2020 went a little differently for all of us than planned and so I (like probably most of us) went on many small trips and excursions in Germany in this strange year . Since the Edersee is only a good 2 hours drive from me, I spontaneously decided to take a short break at Hesse’s largest reservoir on a hot late summer weekend. And what can I say – despite the somewhat dusty 80s flair of the Edersee, I really liked it there!
The Ederstausee is not a naturally grown lake, but was created with the construction of a dam, the Edertalsperre, in the Eder river of the same name at the beginning of the 20th century. It is located in the middle of one of Germany’s largest nature reserves, the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, and is the second largest reservoir in Germany in terms of area. And that means: There is a lot to discover here. You can now find out which highlights, sights and excursions on the Edersee you shouldn’t miss out on. Be curious!
The Edersee dam – the Edertalsperre
The Edersee dam, the Edertalsperre, was built in the years 1908 to 1914, which is what made the Ederstausee possible in the first place. It is still used today to regulate the water level of the Weser and the Mittelland Canal, primarily to ensure the water supply and thus the navigation on these waters in the summer months.
With its 400 meters length, the dam is a really impressive structure, which you can walk like a bridge and simply use to cross the Edersee. There are numerous hotels, restaurants and cafés around the dam, and some boat rental companies have also set up shop there.
My tip: Visiting the Edersee dam is particularly worthwhile in the evening, because after dark the dam is illuminated and you can enjoy a wonderful light show for free (in the summer months this is the case from around 9 p.m.). The perfect spot for this is on the side of the Edersee car park, where there is even a small viewing platform. In addition to your daytime visit, you should definitely make a short detour to the Edertalsperre in the evening, it’s worth it!
With the Waldecker Bergbahn up to Waldeck Castle
One of the most famous sights on Edersee is Waldeck Castle , a castle from the 11th century. It towers 120m high above the Edersee on the edge of the village of Waldeck and offers one of the most beautiful views of the entire Edersee. You can either drive up to Waldeck by car or – and that is definitely the funnier alternative – with the Waldecker Bergbahn.
“Yeah, a cable car… not sooooo exciting” you will think now, and you are right: The adrenaline thrill will most likely not be there when you ride the Waldecker Bergbahn (at least for those without fear of heights. And there is no great view either However, the mountain railway first elicited an incredulous shake of the head and then quite a flash of laughter, because what you can experience here is history live: The Waldecker Bergbahn was put into operation in 1961 and has not really changed since then. So you climb into a brightly colored egg-shaped gondola, which only offers space for two people, then someone turns on the engine and you rattle upstairs in your retro time capsule.
Once at the top, Waldeck Castle is just a few minutes’ walk away. Today it houses a hotel and restaurant as well as a museum and you can visit parts of the complex and learn a lot about the sometimes gruesome history. Due to time constraints, we limited ourselves to the wonderful view of the Edersee.
My tip: A short walk through the village of Waldeck is also worthwhile. Get yourself an ice cream and discover the great viewpoints at Waldeck Castle and take a look at the cute half-timbered houses. In one of them, the old city fountain has even been exposed.
A boat trip on the Edersee
If the Waldecker Bergbahn has already given you a good dose of retro feeling, here’s the next highlight that will instantly transport you back to the 80s: with coffee in a pot, biscuit rolls and an average age of around 65 of the other passengers relaxed on a small 2-hour boat trip across the Edersee.
And I don’t mean that in a cynical way: a boat trip across the Edersee is really relaxing and you will learn a lot about its origins and the submerged villages that are known today as Edersee Atlantis. These had to be flooded over 110 years ago in the course of the construction of the Edertalsperre and the newly emerging lake. However, they reappear every summer at low tide and reveal fragments of the history of the Edersee. Some of these otherwise submerged places are particularly easy to see from the ship, which alone is worth the tour. And the cake is delicious too ?
Two passenger ships operate on the Edersee, and the landing and drop-off point is at the Waldeck lido. A 2-hour round trip costs € 12.50 per person (as of 2020). The tickets can be bought on site at the counter. More information at personenschifffahrt-edersee.de.
Edersee Atlantis: The sunken villages in the Edersee
In the course of the construction of the dam, the villages of Asel, Berich and Bringhausen , which were on the banks of the Eder, had to give way to the newly emerging Edersee. Most of them were relocated, but some buildings were simply sunk because relocation would not have made sense. These buildings become visible again every summer when the water is low and are known as Edersee Atlantis – an absolute highlight and one of the most famous sights of the Edersee.
Before my visit, I thought that the water level of the Edersee would drop so much due to the sun’s rays, but that is not the case: During the summer months, water from the reservoir is directed via the Edertalsperre into the Weser to raise the water level there and secure shipping. The level in the Edersee continues to fall and gradually exposes the old buildings. You can find out the current water level and which parts of Edersee Atlantis are already visible here . Here is a small overview of the ruins of Edersee Atlantis:
The Aseler Bridge
The old 4-arch bridge of Asel was built between 1887 and 1890 and is the best preserved structure in the old Edertal. Today it is a listed building and can be walked on. It becomes visible from a water level of 235m above sea level. NN.
The village of Bringhausen
At the village Alt-Bringhausen are from a water level of 231 m above sea level. NN you can still see some foundation walls, grave fields and the Bringhausen bridge, which used to connect the places Bringhausen and Nieder-Werbe. The Love Island, which is otherwise not accessible on foot, is also fully visible. Admittedly, for some of the ruins you need a lot of imagination to have an idea of what it might have looked like here in the past.
Incidentally, over the summer the areas that are otherwise covered with water are wonderfully green and blooming, we unexpectedly discovered a really nice photo spot here near Alt-Bringhausen, but see for yourself <3
The Bericher Hut and the barrier wall model
At the entrance to Werber Bay was the Bericher Hut, which was abandoned in 1875 and was already in ruins at the time the barrier was built. The barrier wall model was a 1:40 scale device for testing the water drainage of the newly constructed barrier wall. Both ruins are from a water level of 223 or 221m above sea level. NN visible. During our visit, the model of the barrier was not yet visible.
The Berich village and the Berich burial ground
At the place of the village Berich is today from 232m above sea level. NN can still be seen a cemetery. Originally there was also a rich nunnery and the church of Berich, but this was demolished by the residents and rebuilt in Neu-Berich.
Gut Vornhagen was at the foot of Waldeck’s Schlossberg. The remains are visible from 218m above sea level. NN, which is why nothing was to be seen during our visit.
At the time of the construction of the dam, the mill was already neglected and allegedly the former owner was not unhappy about the expropriation and the related compensation payments. The ruins are visible from 219m above sea level. NN, we couldn’t see anything yet.
The church in the Edersee
Another attraction on the Edersee is the so-called Kirche im See, a steeple that protrudes from a reservoir of the Edersee in Nieder-Werbe. Contrary to the assumption, this is not another part of Edersee Atlantis, but a reconstruction. The church of Nieder-Werbe actually had to give way to the construction of the holding basin in 1912, but it was simply removed and not flooded. In memory of the former location of the church, a replica of the church tower was built in its previous position in 2014.
Hiking on the Edersee: a mini hike to two fantastic viewpoints
Hiking on the Edersee? Yeah, that works. After all, we are in one of the largest forest areas in Germany, the Kellerwald-Edersee Nature Park. If you really want to go hiking extensively, then around the Edersee there is the 68km long Urwaldsteig , which you can walk in several daily stages. For the short vacationers among you, however, there is a less time-consuming and more relaxing way of not having to forego a little hiking pleasure and great views.
Hike to the clock head pulpit
The clock head pulpit is located directly above the Edersee dam wall and offers a really impressive view of the imposing structure and the lake. If you look closely, you can see the pulpit from below high up in the mountainside above the dam – but don’t worry, the hike is really uncomplicated. The starting point is directly on the road opposite the Hotel Ederseeblick * , there is a small path into the forest. Just follow the signs or the paths marked on Google Maps.
The route is quite steep, but really not long, after about 15 minutes you will already reach the Uhrenkopfkanzel. Once at the top, you have what is probably the most beautiful view of the dam wall that the Edersee has to offer.
My tip: Do you remember the illuminated dam wall in the evening? Grab a flashlight, a pair of sturdy shoes and go on a short night hike to the Uhrenkopfkanzel. The view of the illuminated wall from up here must be breathtaking (unfortunately I couldn’t test it myself, as we only discovered this great view spot on the last day).
Hike to the lookout point Kanzel am Edersee
If you just continue to follow the signposted Kanzel-Rundweg from the Uhrenkopfkanzel, after another 25 minutes you will come to the lookout point Kanzel am Edersee. This is a little further away from the dam towards Waldeck, but also offers a great view of the Edersee.
Then you can simply start the way back, the signs will lead you safely back to the starting point. We needed about 2 hours for this mini hike at a leisurely pace and with a lot of photo time.
If you fancy extensive hikes on the Edersee, then I can recommend a look at the Urwaldsteig & Edersee * hiking guide .
Even more view: the treetop path on the Edersee
For a few years now, the Edersee has had another attraction, the TreeTopWalk canopy walk directly on the edge of the Edersee. It goes through the forest at treetop height on footbridges, along the way there are always display boards and small interactive stations that illustrate the life of the forest dwellers. This is of course particularly exciting for children, but the treetop path is quite entertaining for adults.
At the end you will reach a viewing platform with a view over the Edersee. Unfortunately the picture is quite disturbed by the ugly (sorry) campsite on the opposite side. All in all, the TreeTopWalk is very cute and educational, but personally I would have expected more from it.
Admission for adults costs € 8.50 (as of 2020), but there are combination tickets and discounts for seniors, students and families. If treetop trails are generally your thing, here is an overview of all treetop trails in Germany .
The great house on the Edersee
I have to admit – the point of this sight on the Edersee did not fully open up to me. The Tolle Haus is a house that was built upside down, including all furnishings. So table and sofa on the ceiling, ceiling lamps on the floor, etc. This is probably another thing that is particularly interesting for families with children, a quick look from the outside was enough for me.
Entry costs € 5 and the Tolle Haus is open all year round. The Eder draisine also starts at the Tollen Haus . For € 15 (as of 2020) you can rent a trolley for up to 4 people and thus jet along a section of the old railway line (unfortunately no circular route).
Restaurants and hotels on the Edersee – my tips
When it comes to hotels and restaurants on the Edersee, you have to – you already guessed it – be content with 80s charm. You won’t find any fancy boutique hotels or vegan restaurants here. That doesn’t bother me personally, but I would like to give you a few recommendations that offer more than rustic oak and schnitzel with fries.
As the name suggests, all variations of pancakes are on the menu at the Pfannkuchenhaus restaurant. The restaurant is located in the old train station in the village of Netze and is really nicely decorated, the pancakes are also very tasty. Definitely something that at least I don’t eat every day since I no longer live with mom and that’s why it’s worth a recommendation for me.
Another unusual location is Zündstoff City * , a not quite classic biker meeting place in the style of an American western town, right near the Edersee dam. There is not only a restaurant (with a very tasty pastrami sandwich), but also a motel with smart and clean rooms at reasonable prices.
>>> View rooms & prices of Motel Zündstoff City here *
Otherwise, you should pay attention to a central location near the Edersee when choosing your accommodation. Here are some recommended hotels (some not really modern, but central and well-kept):
- Hotel Ederseeblick * – located directly on the Edersee and the Edertalsperre
- Bio-Hotel Belvedere * – rustic organic hotel in the hills of Waldeck
- Hotel Seeschlösschen * – located in the hills of Waldeck, with pool and sauna
- Waldhotel Wiesemann * – directly on the Edersee with a view of the lake
Nothing included or too expensive? Then an Airbnb might be an alternative. If you register via my link, there is a discount of up to € 25 for the first booking:
More tips for the Edersee and the surrounding area
I was surprised how many excursions and attractions the Edersee has to offer and unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for everything on our short Edersee vacation. For the sake of completeness, here are a few more tips that I would have liked to have looked at with more time:
The Edersee Wildlife Park: It is right near the TreeTopWalk and is particularly interesting for children. There are many different wild animals and a bird of prey show to marvel at. As a combined ticket together with the Baumkronenweg, entry is cheaper.
The funicular to the Peterskopf: It goes up to the Peterskopf, a 500m high mountain in the Edertal. From above you have a phenomenal view of the Edersee and the Edertal, and a hike should also be very nice. Unfortunately, the funicular was closed for us and there wasn’t enough time to hike up.
The maize labyrinth in Vöhl am Edersee: A labyrinth in a maize field – actually self-explanatory, right? That sounds like a lot of fun to me (and one or two ticks: p), but time was too short for that too. Next time. The maize maze is only open in the summer months (logical).
Finally, a practical tip for parking at the Edersee : There is sufficient parking space along the lake. These are signposted and chargeable, the prices are okay. The best thing: you can continue to use the parking ticket you have started (you pay every hour, two-hourly, four-hourly) in one of the other public parking spaces and don’t have to take a new ticket every time you change parking spaces. So you don’t waste parking time that has already been paid for. That’s a nice move – thank you Edersee! ?