When you think of a trip to Germany, you're typically thinking about beer, saurkraut, and the Autobahn. Now, you can add beaches to that list. That's right, beaches. Turns out Germany's northeastern seafront is the place to see and be seen when summer's heat tops the mercury. While completely frigid during the winter, the beaches along the North and Baltic Seas begin to sizzle once the sun comes out, making resorts in this area a popular destination for Germans, especially Berliners. Off-limits to Westerners during the Cold War, the rest of the world is slowly beginning to catch on that Europe has a new beach hotspot, and it's not on the Mediterranean.
As the largest German island, R?gen is one of the most popular spots for summer beach vacations in Germany. The island is famous for its white chalk cliffs, which surpass the famed ones in Dover in terms of size, including the most dramatic cliffs in Jasmund National Park.
The most popular beach resorts can be found on the Schaabe beaches and between the eastern beaches of Sassnitz and G?hren, which include Binz, the most visited resort in R?gen, and home to the neo-gothic hunting castle of Jagdschloss Granitz, is not far from Prora, the Nazi-built tourism complex that has been empty for decades. Aside from the chalk cliffs and excessive sunshine, Rugen's other seaside attractions include windsurfing and kitesurfing. If you can read German, have a look at Surfen auf R?gen for lessons and rentals.
In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is Heiligendamm, Germany's first Baltic seaside resort. Built as a playground for the wealthy and aristocratic, Heiligendamm remains a place of beautiful coastal luxury. It is known as the "white town by the sea" thanks to the elegant classic architecture along the promenade, and today, the main seafront area is occupied by the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, a five-star hotel.
The Grand Hotel offers an exceptional array of activities and excursions, including hiking, golfing, tennis, and exploration journeys throughout the area. After spending the day being active, visitors can head back to the hotel for some relaxation. Within the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm is a healing spa that has been talked about for centuries. Treatments at the spa include soaking in the thermal waters, and a Baltic Sea Hammam exfoliation and relaxation session.
Right on the North Sea side of Germany's border with Denmark, Sylt, the northernmost island in Germany, is a long sand dune with endless beaches and extensive leisure trails. Visitors can enjoy cycling, hiking, and walking trails throughout the island, and then head to the beach for a relaxing rest. For the most traditional experience, find a Strandk?rbe, a wicker beach basket.
While the temperatures in Sylt may not break the thermometer like other German beach resorts, it offers a lot of other ecotourism draws. Birds and butterflies are everywhere on the island, including over 600 species of butterflies and a large contingency of migrating birds. Many birds also use Sylt as hatching ground, so ornithologists will have a grand time visiting Sylt.
Ecotourism in Germany
The Germans are efficient. We all know that. That's why it's not surprising that green travel and ecotourism are big priorities in Germany, and not just by the beach. The whole country has plenty of ecotourism opportunities to explore. The official German tourism website has a substantial section devoted to ecotourism in Germany, including options for transportation, accommodation, activities, and even organic food. Ecotourism in Germany is comprehensive and efficient, and if you're there in the summer, best done by the beach.
Photo Credit: Eddy H