Sailing Holidays in IJsselmeer - Peaceful boating in the Netherlands

Charter Area IJsselmeer |

Boats for rent in: Ijsselmeer


With charming villages, picturesque Dutch scenery, and a long history of fishing and boating, the IJsselmeer lake is the Netherlands’ most popular sailing destination. Whether you’re looking for a thrilling water sports vacation or a peaceful wander around local harbour towns, a holiday on this lake has it all.

The beautiful inlet of IJsselmeer

IJsselmeer was not always a lake. Until 1932, the Zuiderzee salt-water inlet filled the bay, opening out into the North Sea and operating as a fishing route for numerous small villages. However, with the construction of the 32-km Afsluitdijk dam, the sea became a fresh-water lake and a wonderful resource for agriculture, drinking water, and, of course, boating opportunities. Although the lake still provides popular grounds for fishing today, it now also plays host to many other leisure activities. The shores of IJsselmeer are scattered with small harbour villages, making for ideal exploring off the water. In the north of Friesland, the former fishing town of Makkum is famous for its ceramics—the coat of arms shows a mermaid holding a boat in one hand and a lime kiln in the other. Here, there are plenty of modern marinas for docking, many of which also offer water sports facilities. As well as traditional boating experiences, surfing, tubing, canoeing and jet-skiing are extremely popular.


A beauty like no other, IJsselmeer stole my heart

IJsselmeer - Catering to all interests!

Further south, the cobbled streets and market square of Workum are considered some of the most beautiful in the country. Dock in one of the marinas on the Het Zool canal or by the Schutsluis lock in order to explore the village, formerly a hub of eel-trading with England. IJsselmeer is also considered a haven for bird life, and bird-watching is very popular. In particular, winter sees many species of water bird return to the area, such as the Smew and Goosander. Cormorants are also common in the lake, and bird-watching tours run from the surrounding villages. Engineering and boating enthusiasts will want to visit the Afsluitdijk dam, a manmade causeway which created the lake from the sea. There are impressive locks where the fresh water and sea water meet at the village of Den Oever, at the Dutch end of the dike, and Kornwerderzand, in its centre.

Sailing conditions of the lake

Due to its geographical history, sailing conditions on IJsselmeer can sometimes be difficult. The seabed is the same as it was a thousand years ago and the varied topography, combining deep tides with shallow areas, means the wind can greatly affect the swell. Short swells are particularly common and occasionally the waters can become extremely rough. Motor yachts may even capsize in bad weather, so be sure to check nautical charts and weather forecasts before setting out on the lake.


A surprisingly challenging sailing trip in inclement weather! We were thrilled every minute!
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  • Stavoren Marina (Stavoren)
  • Stichting Jachthaven Medemblik (Medemblik)
  • Jachthaven Marina Makkum (Makkum)
  • Marina Makkum (Makkum)
  • Jachthaven Friese Hoek BV (Lemmer)
  • Lelystad Haven BV (Lelystad)

Sailing Routes Ijsselmeer

Become inspired for your next charter on the Ijsselmeer and check out our recommended route suggestion below:

Ijsselmeer: Route Suggestion The Netherlands

Airports nearby Ijsselmeer

  • Lelystad Airport
  • Amsterdam Airport Schipol
  • Gronigen Airoprt Eelde
  • Rotterdam The Hague Airport
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Climate & Weather in Ijsselmeer

IJsselmeer has a moderate maritime climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The best months to visit are between May and September, when you can expect a high change of reasonably warm weather. July and August are the hottest months, with average highs of 21º and a water temperature of up to 20º. In winter, temperatures may drop below freezing—in both 1963 and 1996 the lake froze over entirely—and even in the years when it does not freeze, winter is likely to be chilly. Due to the shallowness of the lake, the cool water temperatures have a greater than average effect on the surrounding mainland, so you can expect sweeping cold winds. In the north of the lake, the effects of the North Sea also lead to cooler temperatures in general.