half term ruegen deutschland

For Fall Family Fun : Run to Rügen, Germany

Come with me. Close your eyes. Ok – open them again. Kind of hard to read along with them closed. But picture this. Imagine Copenhagen. If you live here – not that hard. Take your finger and draw a virtual circle around the Baltic Sea beginning in Denmark. Move around to your right and you are bound to hit Rügen, Germany near the bottom. On the opposite side of this imaginary arc lies a beautiful Baltic island sitting off the eastern corner of northern Germany. That’s northeastern Germany peeps. Here they call it Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Rügen is an island in this German province. In fact, it is the largest island in Germany. Don’t think of islands when you think of Germany? Me neither to be honest. And while Rügen is no tropical palm-treed island paradise, there are huge swaths of beautiful sugar fine white sandy beaches here. Place these beaches smack in front of charming little resort towns like popular Binz and then add boardwalks, ice cream shops, iconic wooden piers extending out into the blue Baltic beyond and you can see why this German island is worthy of a week’s respite come July and August.

POMERANIA: No, not the miniature dog – I’m talking about an area that spans the southern Baltic across borders between Germany and Poland: “The name derives from the Slavic po more, meaning “by the sea”.[1]

Beautiful sandy beaches at Binz
You can still use the beach chairs at Binz if you stay at the nearby resort. The fine sand is beautiful for exploring even in Autumn.

But it’s not July OR August. It’s October. I hear you. And while Rügen is super popular among Germans and other Europeans during the peak summer months, I’m here to show you that it is just as valid for a visit off-season. Come to Rügen in the Autumn. We visited last year on our Fall break (half-term, if you will, an expression I had never heard before moving to Denmark and sending children to a British International school.) With a week off from school mid-October and no pre-booked plans, we wanted (read: we NEEDED) a wee escape from Copenhagen. We rented a car and drove south, heading ultimately for Berlin to see “Light Weeks.” But for us, a cultured city break needs a side of nature. Living smack dab in a city, we crave a little unstructured outdoor experiencing to keep it balanced and found it on Rügen. Germany.

WHY GO TO RÜGEN IN AUTUMN
FALL COLORS

Rügen wears autumn’s wardrobe well. Brilliant white chalk cliffs on the easternmost shore at 

HIKING

Jasmund National Park is modeled after the American National Park system, inspired by the likes of Yellowstone and Yosemite. From the National Park there are miles and miles (or rather kilometers and kilometers) of hiking trails that take you to vistas like this:

Fall Autumn trees whilk chalk cliffs Ruegen Germany
You can still use the beach chairs at Binz if you stay at the nearby resort. The fine sand is beautiful for exploring even in Autumn.

The old growth beech forest here is a world heritage site and even has it’s own app. We didn’t use it – but if you do try it, make sure you have marked all the sites you are interested beforehand as coverage is spotty at best out here on this corner of Germany.

World Heritage Beech Forest of Jasmund National Park

The main parking lot is at Hagen. From here you can take shuttle busses out to Königsstuhl – the King’s Seat – to see the white chalk cliffs. OR – you can walk. Which we did. It was beautiful, scenic and peaceful – save for the moaning of teens. How much longer may have been the mantra. It’s up to you. But we walked it both ways – there and back – a little over 3km each way. For littler ones – maybe plan a hike one way and shuttle back or vice versa.

Easter to 31 Oct 9 am – 7 pm
1 Nov to Easter 10 am – 5 pm

Admission: includes all indoor and outdoor activities

Adults €8.50
Families* = 2 adults + children up to 14 €17.00
Children
6-14 years
€4.00
Children
under 5
– free –

NOTE: You do not have to visit visitor’s center to take steps to go down to the beach, which can be reached for free from parking lot. But to get to viewpoint and visit interactive center, entrance fee is required.

 

WILDLIFE

The nature of the National Park is to let wild space be wild. This allows for lots of wildlife. Bird watchers will be happy to spot eagles and peregrine falcons along the cliffs. Elsewhere you may encounter otter crossings and crane migrations. 25,000-60,000 cranes rest in this area every fall on their way south.

LOCAL FLAVOR:

One of the things that we loved about visiting Rügen was it’s authenticity. Compared to Copenhagen, very few locals speak English. They are very friendly and appreciate any attempts at German and are happy to help. We loved the idea that no one understood us while we chatted as a family in English. Haha!

GETTING HERE:

Danish bridge Farø Møn bro BogøFrom Copenhagen to Rügen, it requires taking the ferry between Gedser, Denmark and Rostock, Germany via Scandilines. There are other routes (via Rødby, DK and Puttgarden, DE or driving through Jutland via Hamburg and around) but the Gedser-Rostock route is the most convenient if targeting Rügen from most points north.

NOTE: Book ahead – more than 14 days in advance and you can save BIG with economy ferry tickets. You can buy tickets at the ferry landing, but expect to pay a premium and not be guaranteed a spot. Ferry crossing is only 1 hour and 45 minutes and there are newer vessel options with more amenities to keep your family having fun while afloat. Check Scandilines website for updated sailing times, routes prices and vessels.

WHERE TO STAY:

We loved the cozy feel of having our own apartment in the less busy than Binz seaside village of Sassnitz. Further up the coast, but closer to Königsstuhl and Jasmund National Park. We had a wonderful time at the Seaside Apartments there with views of the water, comfortable beds, a wood fire stove and a well appointed kitchen for cooking.

WHERE TO EAT:

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Colorful Berlin : Take Your Family to see the Lights for Berlin Leuchtet

Illuminated Berlin Shines in Fall

Have you been? To Berlin? (That rhymes in my accent. I can’t guarantee in yours.)

Berlin is all sorts of cool and sits like an island alone for its uniqueness in Germany. West Berlin did actually sit alone, after World War II in the middle of East Germany. The powerful march of history on this place is undeniable. Modern Berlin – which now luckily includes both east and west offers a kaleidoscope of options for every traveler. From gritty, graffitied, super funky Kreuzenberg for cafes and coffee along the canals to posh Charlottenburg for epic shopping and restaurants along Ku’damm (Kurfürstendamm avenue.) History seeps deep here and there are more museums than you could possibly shake a stick at or visit in a weekend, but rest assured there is one for every motivation if you should desire to try.

REASONS TO VISIT BERLIN IN AUTUMN:

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