I’ve never been a big fan of beaches and coastlines. The open spaces around them and a dearth of activities — other than a few relating to water, and of a millennial romantic odyssey — scare me. So during my recent blog trip with Germany Tourism, when we were told that we are going to spend almost two days exploring the German island of Rügen, I was feeling more hopeless than ever.
But as we escaped from mainland Germany and made our way to Rügen, after quickly scanning through the Hanseatic town of Stralsund, I realised that Rügen was unlike any other island I’d visited before. There was more to see and do here than I could ever imagine. Other than a few white sand beaches, Rügen offered its own national park, historical towns and uncountable walking trails. No wonder, Rügen had something for everyone.
Rügen For Everyone
With its white-sand beaches; ghost-towns; canopies of oak, elm and poplar trees; charming architecture; and national parks, Rügen offers myriad options to enjoy your holiday. In its southeast, lies a grandeur of resorts and a place that that speaks highly of a luxurious and a relaxing stay. In the north, lies the county’s smallest but a UNESCO heritage recognized Jasmund National Park. Travel a few kilometres in the west and you will step back into history when Hitler was still envisioning the world’s largest tourist resort. Right across is a 2km long canopy that offers amazing views of the islands landscape and a place to spot the majestic Whitetail Eagle. Other places of interest will moreover keep unravelling as you’ll venture in other directions.
With the gaining popularity Rügen, in summer, draws thousands of tourists to its shores, but its 1000-sq-km surface area fringed by 574km of coastline guarantees plenty of quiet corners to escape the crowds.
Places To Visit & Experiences To Try
For History Buffs
The Town Of Prora: Though the town of Prora may not be a place meant for rejuvenation, especially if you’re on a short holiday, the fact that it has its own historical significance makes it a no miss. Notorious for its tourist complex with identical buildings lined up along the beach for as far as 4.5km, Prora is where Hitler once envisioned to have the world’s biggest seaside resort facility. Though the original plan was a lot more ambitious, with other buildings spanning 8 kilometres and above along the coastline, with all rooms having a seaside view, the war put it all to halt and the facility was never used.
Today, this 4.5km expanse of deserted buildings is taking another shape and is slowly being transforming into luxury apartments.
Schloss Ralswiek: Built-in 1893 for Graf Douglas, this neo-renaissance castle can easily be distinguished and moreover adored by its extraordinary exterior. But it’s worth taking a look inside the castle too, as the original decor has largely been preserved. After years of restoration work, the original building has only been reopened recently in 2002, as a fully operational hotel and restaurant.
Standing on the flight of steps, surveying the open-air stage of the famous Störtebeker Festspiele and the great Jasmund landscape, you can’t help feeling like the grand old dukes of yore.
For Nature-Lovers & Outdoor Enthusiasts
Nationalpark Center of Prora & The Treetop Walk: Right next to the notorious beachside resort facility, lies a 2km long canopy-walk that ends at an 82m high ‘Eagle’s Next’ viewing tower, offering breathtaking views of the island of Rügen and its marine surrounding.
For those interesting in bird-watching, ‘Eagle’s Nest’ perhaps offers the best spot to observe some of the rarest migratory birds and the native white-tailed Sea Eagle. Visit the exhibition centre of The NatureLab soon afterwards, to immerse yourself into a variety of nature-related subjects and to know a bit more of the world we live in, in an interactive way.
Jasmund National Park: Perhaps the highlight and the very reason why so many tourists visit Rügen at first place. Popular for its white-chalk cliffs and a rare beech forest reserve, a part of which has also been secured as UNESCO heritage, Jasmund National Park takes you to the world much unknown.
For Family Friendly Fun Vacations
Rügensche Kleinbahn: Also known as The Racing Roland, Rügensche Kleinbahn is a steam-powered narrow gauge railway and one of Rügen’s main attractions. It runs from Putbus by way of Binz and Baabe to Göhren and serves several other holiday destinations on its way, mainly the bathing resorts in Rügen’s Southeast.
King’s Chair (Koenigsstuhl): If you’re not much of a walker, but still not miss anything about the Jasmund National Park, visit the Koenigsstuhl (Kings Chair) visitor centre, a 2,000sqm exhibition which, combining natural elements and modern technology, reveals the secrets of the Jasmund National Park. A few dozen steps outside the visitor centre, and towards the sea, takes you to the highest point of the national park, and to a place known as King’s Chair, that brings to you the island’s one of the most magnificent and easily accessible white chalk-cliffs.
For Archaeology Buffs
The town of Stralsund: Though officially only a gateway to Rügen and not a part of it, Stralsund is still a must-visit town while visiting Rügen. With its Gothic red-brick churches dotting the skyline, the many beautiful cobblestoned streets, and the blue Baltic lapping at the harbour, Stralsund is simply inspiring and heaven for street and architecture photographers.
Wandering around the city you’ll find scenic squares with colourful gabled houses, narrow streets that open to scenic vistas, and ornate remnants that hint of Stralsund’s 155-year Swedish occupation. If short on time visit the popular St. Nicholas Church, St. Mary’s, The Town Hall (in the Alter Markt), the street of Badstüberstraße and Stralsund’s harbour, and cover all the highlights on a fast-track.
If driving to Rügen, it is at the town of Stralsund where the popular 2,800m-long bridge, is located that Rügen to mainland Germany.
How To Travel & Where To Stay
If you’re looking for a place that is more centralized and easily accessible via public transport make Binz your base. Regular buses and trains from Binz to Berlin can easily be found. Take a train from Berlin to Binz for about 50 Euros, or a bus for as less as 15 Euros. Flixbus is one of the cheapest bus services available.
However, for something fancier and the best of a Rügen experience, consider the beachside resort of Sellin. We stayed at Travel Charme Hotel Kurhaus, in Sellin, located right next to the beach and the highlighted restaurant and bar of ‘Seebrüce’.
The town of Sellin offers a laid-back locale, with spectacular views of the sunrise over the majestic Baltic and a high-end shopping street. Other towns for a memorable stay include Badehaus Goor in the south or the Aquamaris-Strandresidenz in the north.
Disclaimer: I wrote this post during my blog trip with Germany Tourism. Though my trip was hosted, all suggestions and endorsements are solely personal. I only recommend what I personally like, and experience.