Germany is a well-known destination for outdoor activities: from the snow-capped Alps to the Black Forest as well as hiking and cycling pretty much everywhere. But foreigners might think of Spain, Greece or the south of France first when considering beach spots. Rethink that attitude! Consider Rügen, the German island that is on My Must See List.
Germany’s northern border is primarily ocean. The North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east. Just off the northeastern coast of the German mainland, in the Baltic Sea, is Rügen, the country’s largest island. The island is linked back to the continent at the city of Stralsund, via a causeway that is nearly a mile and a half long. With the island so close and easily accessible, it comes as no surprise that Rügen is one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations.
In addition to plenty of sandy beaches and lagoons on and in which visitors can explore, Rügen features chalk cliff formations and forests. The country’s largest chalk cliffs – the Königsstuhl (or king’s chair) – are actually found in Jasmund National Park on the island. It may be the smallest national park in Germany but it is certainly worth exploring. Not just for the beautiful chalk cliffs but also for a UNESCO World Heritage list recognized forest of beech trees. The park also features many unique and rare plants and animals.
Speaking of exploring, the island is also home to some megalithic tombs and altar stones among other stone monuments from the Stone Age. One group of tombs, the Lanchen-Granitz dolmens can be visited.
Rügen also has history that is more recent. The Nazis began building a resort on the island. Like many Nazi building projects, it was intended to be a massive project. Prora, as the resort was named, was never completed.
If you are looking for a more relaxed visit to Rügen then there is certainly no shortage of options there. The seaside resort features plenty of Bäderarchitektur, or resort architecture. Charming and colorful buildings, many from the early 1900s, dot the coast of the island while on the beaches Germany’s traditional beach basket chairs (Strandkorb) dot the sand.
Maybe it is the two feet of snow that fell a couple weeks ago and is still in the process of melting or the fact that Puxatawny Phil has predicted an early spring but a beach vacation sounds pretty good right about now. For now though, I will simply have to day dream about dipping my toes in the Baltic Sea from one of those dreamy beach basket chairs on Rügen.
Top photo Königsstuhl mit Schiff ©TZR. Bottom photo Strandkorb Sonne Mirko Boy ©TZR.