The approximately 1000km long German Baltic coast is one of my favorite parts of Germany and although it remains relatively unknown in international tourist circles, it is extremely popular among domestic guests. In the last ten years of living in this part of Europe, I have had the chance to visit it many times, mostly for an extended weekend, and once as part of a longer road trip. I always end up enchanted by its endless white sandy beaches, traditional fish culinary delicacies, fragrant pine forests, and last but not least, the rich tourist and recreational offer as well. In this article, I have collected all the important, most famous and most beautiful corners of the German Baltic Sea coast. From islands, peninsulas, national parks to cities and towns – for an easier geographical understanding, the places mentioned in the post start in the very east, on the border with Poland and end in the very north, at the border with Denmark.
USEDOM island | the 2nd largest German island, bordered by Poland
The second largest German island is located in the far east of the country, right next to Poland. In fact, the state border runs approximately in the middle of the island and you can make an interesting day trip over to SWINJOUŠCIE, either with a bicycle or your vehicle. Usedom is still quite wild on the one hand, especially in the western part, but on the other hand we also find a huge variety of theme and amusement parks for children, including circuses and similar places. For those who like to spend their holidays actively by participating in such activities, this is a real paradise. We were more attracted by the lovely white sandy beaches (the loneliest and wildest are around PEENEMÜNDE) and nature (especially the GNITZ PENINSULA), as well as the local cuisine (make sure to try the specialties of smoked fish according to traditional recipes, for example in KOSEROWER SALZHÜTTE). Of the places, be sure to visit the most developed tourist town called ZINNOWITZ, three beautiful coastal spa towns with typical wooden piers, BANSIN, HERINGSDORF and AHLBECK, also interesting is the castle MELLENTIN and windmills PUDAGLA. Near Peenemünde there is also a great HISTORICAL & TECHNICAL MUSEUM, the PHÄNOMENTA Museum and a SUBMARINE museum.
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GREIFSWALD | smaller Hanseatic town on the way to Stralsund
One of the smaller Hanseatic towns on the Baltic coast, located between Usedom island and Stralsund town, is a great place for a short stop. One of the more attractive, lively and historically interesting areas is the museum port, the so-called. MUSEUMSHAFEN, where we can see many museum ships. We can also visit the ruins and remains of the ELDEN MONASTERY, numerous CHURCHES and MUSEUMS, architecturally interesting BRIDGES, among which the most famous is the WICKER bridge, and more.
STRALSUND | picturesque and architectually interesting Hanseatic town with a bridge connection to Rügen island
Stralsund is a picturesque Hanseatic town, connecting RÜGEN, the largest German island, with the mainland. So if you plan to visit the mentioned island, make sure to stop here in Stralsund too, since the city offers quite a few attractions. Stroll through the old town with the ALTMARKT square and the beautiful Gothic TOWN HOUSE, visit the church of ST. NIKOLAIKIRCHE, JOHANNISKLOSTER convent, HANSEGALERIE gallery, VORPOMMERN THEATER theater, remains of the city walls (STADTMAUER), interesting buildings WULFLAMHAUS and COMMANDANTENHAUS and over 20m high city gates KNIEPERTOR, historically important museum ship GORCH FOCK, the impressive MARITIME MUSEUM and of course, the attraction number one, the OZEANEUM.
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RÜGEN island | the largest and one of the most beautiful German islands
RÜGEN is, as already mentioned, the largest German island, as well as one of my favorites. Unlike the otherwise distinctly flat northern German landscape, the island is quite hilly (smaller hills were covered in fields of yellow rape seed fields at the time of our spring visit), but there are also the famous white chalk cliffs in some parts. Take a look at the famous historical wooden piers in SELLIN, GÖHREN, BINZ, DRANSKE and elsewhere, at the end of which there is often a fancy restaurant or a bar. Some of them also feature the so-called TAUCHGONDEL, a special glass structure which takes you under the sea level. Treat yourself with a little beach time and rent one of the traditional STRANDKORB beach baskets to protect you from the strong winds and go swimming if you are brave enough for the slightly colder sea. Also visit the beautiful UNESCO JASMUND NATIONAL PARK with impressive cliffs, the canopy tree walk in NATURERBE ZENTRUM, history lovers might be interesting in visiting a former Nazi resort PRORA, and for our youngest there is a lot to do as well – for example the DINOSAURIERLAND and many other family orientated amusement parks.
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NP VORPOMMERSCHE BODDENLANDSCHAFT | Fischland – Darß – Zingst peninsula, Hiddensee island and a part of the sea near Rügen
This lesser-known national park includes FISCHLAND – DARß – ZINGST PENINSULA, with the most famous places WUSTROW, AHRENSHOOP (spectacular cliffs and abandoned bunkers), PREROW (a beautiful tourist town with an infinitely long white sand beach and a great camp site called Regenbogen) and BORN AM DARß (great location for bird lovers). In the vicinity of the latter there are many beautiful CYCLING AND EASY HIKING TRAILS, for example Rundwanderweg Darßer Ort. As far as beaches are concerned, the most beautiful, lonely and wild ones are to be found on the NW side, for example around WESTSTRAND area. Not to be missed is the famous DARßWALD wild forest, which is really something special. Between the peninsula and the mainland there are two important aquatic habitats, SAALER BODDEN and BARTHER BODDEN, and the national park also includes the HIDDENSEE ISLAND with important bird nesting sites and part of the BALTIC SEA along the neighboring island of RÜGEN.
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ROSTOCK | larger Hanseatic city with a strong maritime character
The former Hanseatic city with its distinctive architecture can be a pleasant place for a short stop, during which you must treat yourself to a traditional fish sandwich or FISCHBRÖTCHEN. Otherwise, don’t miss the following points: NEUER MARKT central town square, TOWN HALL, interesting MARITIME MUSEUM, CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL MUSEUM in the former monastery, DEFENSIVE CITY WALLS and CITY GATES, among which the most famous are KRÖPELINER TOR, city port STADTHAFEN, former prison STATI-KNAST, a pedestrian zone with UNIVERSITÄTSPLATZ square (Rostock also hosts one of the oldest universities in the world), many city churches and more.
HEILIGENDAMM & KÜHLUNGSBORN | one of the oldest coastal spa towns in Germany with rich history and stunning architecture
HEILIGENDAMM is basically the coastal part of a larger town called BAD DOBERAN and is one of the MOST KNOWN GERMAN SEASIDE RESORTS, with rich history, beautiful CLASSICIST BUILDINGS and associated gardens. Once a popular holiday destination for the upper classes, it is also the OLDEST SPA PLACE in continental Europe, founded in 1793. Today, the most important building is the GRAND HOTEL HEILIGENDAMM, a prestigious 5-star hotel. Just a little further along the coast we arrive at another charming seaside resort, KÜHLUNGSBORN, where we are greeted by a beautiful white sandy beach featuring a longer typical wooden pier SEEBRÜCKE, a huge number of CYCLING and WALKING TRAILS, a beautiful marina, many hotels, campsites and campsites and for a unique experience you can also take the historic MOLLI STEAM RAILWAY.
POEL island | smaller, flat island close to Wismar town
Just before we arrive in WISMAR town we can visit a smaller, flat island POEL nearby. It is one of the very few destinations on this list that I haven’t visited yet, but I think it deserves a mention. In addition to the BEACHES, which are supposedly not among the most beautiful on this part of the German coast, there are some CYCLING and WALKING TRAILS and a few historical and cultural attractions. The most famous is the brick church from the 13th century with a nearly 50m high bell tower, called INSELKIRCHE POEL, followed by the LIGHTHOUSE in TIMMENDORF, the Homeland Museum called HEIMATSMUSEUM, the CAP ARCONA monument and more.
WISMAR | harbour Hanseatic town with rich Gothic architecture legacy
Another fascinating 12th-century HANSEATIC PORT TOWN, built in a natural bay about halfway between Rostock and Lübeck, has a rich history and hosts an abundance of architecturally interesting buildings in the typical red brick-Gothic style. The city is also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The story of the city is best presented in the city museum in the house SCHABBELHAUS, other important attractions include the perfectly preserved CHURCH ST. NIKOLAIKIRCHE and the impressive remains of the MARIENKIRCHE CHURCH, a lively PORT WITH MARINA, where, in addition to MUSEUM VESSELS, there are also many restaurants and bars, the old HOUSE GRUBE in the traditional “Fachwerk” style, many MUSEUMS and other MONUMENTS and sculptures. Since the city is not large, you can visit all of the above as part of a short stop and treat yourself to a delicious fish snack during the walk.
SCHWERIN | short detour to one of the most known castles in Germany
The interesting town of SCHWERIN is not located directly on the coast, but it is still worth a short detour drive. The buildings in the OLD TOWN CENTER are beautifully preserved, despite the bombing during WWII, and the local North German ARCHITECTURE with a touch of the East makes it rather special. In addition, there is a whole bunch of MUSEUMS, GALLERIES and CHURCHES, as well as a huge lake called SCHWERINER SEE. Around the lake there are many great spots for picnics and walks in the beautifully landscaped BAROQUE GARDENS. There are also many longer CYCLING AND WALKING PATHS, you can SAIL on the lake or take part in other ACTIVITIES ON THE WATER. But by far the most famous building is definitely the beautiful romantic palace, SCHWERIN CASTLE, located on a tiny island on the lake. Today, the rooms house the SEAT OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE GERMAN STATE OF MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN, but parts of the palace are also open to outside visitors. In addition, there is also a beautiful CAFE WITH GARDEN and an excellent RESTAURANT.
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LÜBECK | wonderful Unesco Hanseatic city known for great architecture and marzipan
Another important Hanseatic northern German city, on the UNESCO heritage list and also known as the “city of seven towers”, after the 7 TOWERS OF THE FIVE MAIN GOTHIC CHURCHES, which are an important symbol of the city today. The most impressive entrance to the city is through the mighty famous famous gate HOLSTENTOR, otherwise there is another gate on the north side of the city, BURGTOR. There is much to see and do, from the architecturally extremely interesting TOWN HALL, to the famous NIEDEREGGER MARZIPAN MANUFACTORY with a museum, the lively AN DER OBERTRAVE promenade with many bars and restaurants, many cathedrals and churches, museums (eg HANSAMUSEUM, SALZSPEICHALUN WANDDING HISTORICAL WAREHOUSES) and other galleries), interesting bridges and more.
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SCHARBEUTZ & TIMMENDORFER STRAND | some of the most popular beachside (family) resorts close to Lübeck
Very close to the town of LÜBECK, right next to each other are two very popular and well-visited resorts on the Baltic coast, namely SCHARBEUTZ and TIMMENDORFER STRAND. The main attraction of both is of course the long white SANDY BEACH, dotted with beach bars, wooden piers, restaurants, playgrounds and shops, focused primarily on families with children. In addition to the CULINARY OFFER and LEISURE ACTIVITIES (beautifully landscaped parks, a lot of children’s playgrounds, mini golf courses, swimming pools, trampolines, etc.), there is a wonderful NETWORK OF CYCLING AND WALKING TRAILS and a very diverse offer of ACCOMMODATION. Both locations are therefore great for a short stop and break on the beach, lunch and a short walk, a cycling tour by the sea or a longer stop and fun for our youngest.
FEHMARN island | the 3rd largest German island with great ferry connections to Denmark
The third largest German island is among the most popular tourist destinations in these parts of Germany, and it is also a good point to visit DENMARK with thePuttgarden (DE) – Rodby (DK) ferry connection. In the summer months, of course, the main attraction of the SANDY BEACH with its stypical STRANDKORB baskets that protect us against the wind, otherwise the landscape is very interesting to visit in the spring, when the endless fields of rapeseed bloom. The biggest attractions include the FEHMARNBRÜCKE bridge, which connects the island with the German mainland, the beautiful red-brick TOWN HALL, FLÜGGE LIGHTHOUSE, numerous CHURCHES and MUSEUMS, the WALLNAU nature bird sanctuary and the GRÜNER BRINK protected area. Fehmarn is also famous as a paradise for WATER SPORTS, such as kiting and windsurfing.
KIEL | important port city and the capital of Schleswig – Holstein state
In the city of KIEL, the capital of the federal state of SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN, everything has always revolved around maritime affairs, and this is still the case today. The city, which also hosts the German navy and is famous for being one of the busiest artificial water channels (Kieler Kanal), lies in a longer fjord that acts as a natural harbor. Every June, the LARGEST SAILING REGATTA IN THE WORLD takes place here, as part of the so-called KIELER WOCHE week. Otherwise we can see and visit HISTORICAL SUBMARINES and other MUSEUM SHIPS, many LIGHTHOUSES, MARITIME MUSEUM, various MARITIME MONUMENTS, interesting TOWN HALL, churches, other museums, galleries and more. Also, don´t miss out on traditional seafood dishes and drinks here, there are a few great local beer breweries. The city also has excellent FERRY CONNECTIONS with Norway and Sweden, and in addition, there is also one of the largest PORTS FOR CRUISESHIPS in this part of Europe.
SCHLESWIG | architecturally interesting town on the way to Flensburg
The historically important city of SCHLESWIG, where you can see several MUSEUMS (City Museum, Viking Museum and others) and GALLERIES, is another great point for a short stop while traveling along the coast here. My favorite areas are the so-called FISCHERVIERTEL HOLM with idyllic houses of former fishermen, ALTSTADT old town with the TOWN HALL and SQUARE, as well as the surroundings of the MARINA with KÖNIGSWIESEN PARK. Then there is GOTTORF CASTLE, a loads of restaurants and bars and there are also a few beach spots nearby.
MAASHOLM | idyllic laid back coastal town with cute shops and good recreation possibilities
The former islet on which the small, idyllic town of MAASHOLM stands is well accessible via a dam these days and it makes a cute stop on the way between Schleswig and Flensburg. You will not find any big tourist attractions here, but therefore you will also not meet international tourists. The place is full of beautiful BOUTIQUE SHOPS, nice RESTAURANTS and BARS, many WALKING PATHS, statues, monuments and cottages like from a fairy tale. For water sports lovers there are excellent conditions for KITEING AND SURFING in the lagoon, you can spend the night in a CAMP SITE or rent one of the apartments, and in the immediate vicinity there is also a protected nature area with a special STATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF SEA BIRDS. In short, Maasholm is a great choice for a short stop or overnight stay in a beautiful lesser known place on the way towards the north.
FLENSBURG FJORD | lonely Baltic beaches and unspoilt nature close to Flensburg
Driving further north along the coast from MAASHOLM we soon reach the area of the FLENSBURG FJORD, which is about 50km long and lies between Germany and Denmark, ending with the most famous and largest German city in the fjord area, the port of FLENSBURG. The coast in this part is very pleasant, there is a whole range of affordable CAMPSITES, there are well-kept BEACHES and other attractions such as GELTING and GLÜCKSBURG CASTLES, GELTINGER BIRK protected area, CHARLOTTE WIND MILL, FALSHÖFT LIGHTHOUSE, wild HOLNIS PENINSULA, tourist town area WESTERHOLZ and other smaller seaside resorts. Definitely one of those less visited parts as well but we loved it for its peace and remoteness.
FLENSBURG | larger maritime city close to Danish border with a uniqe vibe
Just around 5 km before the DENMARK BORDER lies the historically and architecturally interesting town of FLENSBURG with a strong maritime character and a Danish minority. You can feel the pulse of the city at its best in the HISTORICAL MARINA, where we can refresh ourselves with a traditional fish sandwich accompanied with the sounds of sailing boats swaying in the wind. Other sights of the city include many churches, museums (MUSEUMSBERG, PHÄNOMENTA, MUSEUMSWERFT, maritime museum SCHIFFFAHRTSMUSEUM), various monuments, MARKETS and lively pedestrian areas (especially ROTE STRAßE and NORDERSTRAßE). Flensburg is also famous for its good LOCAL BEER and surprisingly for the PRODUCTION OF RUM – the tradition dates back to the times of maritime trade with the Caribbean islands, bringing back exotic goods such as sugar cane. There used to be over 200 t.i. RUM HOUSES, but only a couple of them have survived until today. You can visit an interesting museum with a shop and treat yourself to a RUM TASTING EXPERIENCE in RUMHAUS BRAASCH for example.
So, we have virtually traveled the entire German Baltic coast in this post, from the far east to the far north. If you ever find yourself in these parts of Germany, intentionally or simply on your way to Scandinavia or Poland, take some time and visit one of the mentioned islands and coastal places. I hope I have once again inspired some of you to visit this northern part of Germany, which fascinates me again and again.