Autumn is Awesome on this German Belle of the Baltic
SEE THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND OF RÜGEN OFF-SEASON
(Originally posted in October 2016, updated September 2018)
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”.
Rügen is beautiful in Autumn as well
But you went somewhere else for your summer holidays. And now 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 during our Fall break (or half-term if you’re British.) 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 we found it and more on Rügen. Germany.
Why Go to Rügen In Autumn
Rügen wears autumn’s wardrobe well. Brilliant white chalk cliffs on the easternmost shore at Jasmund National Park near Sassnitz gleam against the russets and golds and coppers clinging to the trees on your descent down to the beach. The blue Baltic shimmers and swells against autumn’s display and offers swoon worthy imagery. Bring your camera! And stamina – 412 steps down to the beach from the bus drop off at Königsstuhl. The King’s Seat.
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:
The old growth beech forest here is a world heritage site and even has its 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 buses 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
|Families* = 2 adults + children up to 14||€17.00|
|– free –|
NOTE: You do not have to visit the visitor’s center to take steps to go down to the beach, which can be reached for free from the parking lot. But to get to the viewpoint and visit the interactive center, an entrance fee is required.
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.
One of the things that we loved about visiting Rügen was its 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 to Rügen, Germany
From 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 in Rügen
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 in Rügen
Konditor & Bäcker Peters
Strandpromenade 8a, 18546 Sassnitz, Germany
An excellent start to your day – right on the waterfront with tables outside if it is nice and lots of windows to watch the wave if it isn’t. Delicious baked goods and coffee. Try to pick just one! Take a bag of the thin buttery and crispy cookies to go. It’s ok – you’ve been hiking. Try the sea buckthorn with cranberry or lavender hearts – we loved those!
Fischbrötchen – Fish sandwiches
Stadthafen Sassnitz, 18546 Sassnitz, Germany
The harbor in Sassnitz has many boats all along the pier selling fischbrötchen. These yummy sandwiches are made in crusty white bread rolls filled with – you guessed it – fish. Fischbrötchen is as popular in this area as bratwurst in southern Germany and currywurst in Berlin. The sandwiches are small enough to try a few and share. Fillings might include locally caught eel, mackerel, crab and can be prepared smoked and fried normally. Watch the seagulls ever at the ready to pick up your scraps!
Fischrestaurant at Kutterfisch
Hafenstraße 12D, 18546 Sassnitz, Germany
If you are looking for something a little more substantial than take away – walk to the other side of the harbor for sit-down service at nearby Kutterfisch. According to Angie at German travel blog Reisefreunde – they also have one of the best fischbrötchen on Rügen. Kutterfisch also sells fresh fish and other local specialties like sanddorn (sea buckthorn or havtorn) liquors, jams or syrups in their market up front.
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38 thoughts on “For Fall Family Fun : Run to Rügen, Germany”
Such spectacular scenery! Well worth the long drive. I do love a road trip. I think people in the UK think we are crazy to pack up and drive half way across Europe but it’s such an adventure discovering new landscapes and cultures. Great find Erin!
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Stunning, I have always wanted to go to Rugen
Thanks Catherine! It is really very charming! Thanks for engaging with #FarawayFiles – so happy to have you part of the community!
Those seaside apartments are so close to the water – and gorgeous to hear about their open wood fires! I’d never heard of Rugen but it sounds perfect for us. Like you, as a city-dwelling family we like to experience a bit of nature in our breaks. #FarawayFiles
The only thing about living in Qatar is the lack of seasons and fall is my favourite. I just love all of the colours and was the main reason we had an October wedding. This looks like a beautiful place for Autumn! #farawayfiles
It really was – we had a great time. I am definitely a seasons person too – but just remind me mid-Danish winter that I like them – k? Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles
a German island? interesting! #farawayfiles
Yes – I know! Not the first thing you think of when you hear Germany? Cheers!
It’s the first I’ve heard of Rügen so thanks for alerting us to it! I never associate Germany with much coastline at all but I’m all for discovering new islands! Sounds so cosy for Autumn #FarawayFiles
It really was! We had a ball! And it would definitely fit your “different shores” mantra! Cheers and thank you kindly for being part of the #farawayfiles community – glad to have you on board! Erin
A few years ago we deliberated about a holiday on the German coast. It’s still on my to do list but this has given it another nudge up the list. Looks stunning.
Thanks Trish! Funny how that works – I know the feeling. Portugal is that for me – I really want to go, but it keeps falling off short list until someone posts about it! And it nudges up quite quickly again! Thanks for engaging with #FarawayFiles – happy to have you part of the community! Erin
I have never heard of Rúgen but it sounds wonderful. I fell in love with Germany the first two times I went and I can’t wait to get back and explore more of it- including Rúgen. #farawayfiles
I don’t think that many people know of Rügen outside the area, but it is definitely worth a visit! Cheers and thanks for joining #FarawayFiles!
You do find the most wonderful places for exploring, Erin. I love the sound of this German island – white cliffs, stunning tree-filled countryside, beaches and fish sandwiches. Like the idea of exploring outside of the main tourist season too. A perfect #FarawayFiles destination!
It was kind of one of those fell into places, but so happy we did!
Looks like a nice place to visit. So glad you provided a map. Being an American I just couldn’t pictures where all of those places were. 🙂 I love Germany and seriously don’t need an excuse to return (though this island is a great one!).
I love when people give me a map so I have a better idea WHERE they are talking about – glad it helped you! And I always try to put the country in my title – to give a sense of place. Yes – we enjoy Germany as well – have you been to Berlin? One of my faves! Cheers and thanks for linking with #FarawayFiles
My favorite thing about these linkups is finding blogs about areas I have never even heard of! I love nature and Germany so this sounds like the perfect getaway to me. Loved all of the detail out into this. Thank you for sharing! #FarawayFiles
Mrs Daisy the bus is always banging on about going to Rügen; she´s bought a guide book and everything. But we’ve never been, apart from that one time when we got off the ferry from Sweden and didn’t realise that we were actually on Rügen until we had driven off it… Now that you have opened my eyes as to how wild and natural it is, I think we’ll need to bump it up our combined list of “really must-see soon” places. Thanks!! #FarawayFiles
This looks like such a diverse place to visit! The furthest north I have ever been in Germany is Lubeck, and I really wasn’t aware of this island until now. Thanks so much – I have pinned for later travel plans 🙂
I haven’t been to Lubeck yet! It is a popular place to visit from Copenhagen for the Christmas markets – I have heard they are very charming! Thanks for reading and cheers from Croatia this week!
When I lived in Germany I never quite made it that far north and hadn’t realised quite how lovely the islands here were- love the pale sand. Great to feel like you’re off the beaten track too. #farawayfiles
It looks gorgeous! I haven’t been to any of the German islands, but we did love Bornholm and Skagen when we lived in Denmark, they were just stunningly beautiful!
How funny that I have yet to visit either of those places – but they are definitely on our list!!
How cool that you could pick sea buckthorn right there! That would be a major trip highlight for me as a botany nerd. It sounds like you had a wonderful fall break last year. That break in October really is wonderful, isn’t it?
I love national parks too and this is absolutely stunning! Seems like the type of place where you have a bit of everything – beaches, hiking, cute shops. My kind of place. You’re right – one doesn’t think of the islands when they think of Germany – what a spectacular find! #farawayfiles
Thanks Corey! Yes – you can be a beach bum here (probably better in summer!) Enjoy outdoors, sample food, fish, shop or just relax – very cozy! Cheers! Erin
You’re right – I never associated Germany with Islands (or much of a coastline for that matter!), but this looks really nice. It seems there is so much to do in Rugen. Thanks for sharing. #farawayfiles
There really is! Glad I could show you somewhere new!
I was not familiar with Rugen at all but it sounds very diverse and is another place to add to that Autumn destinations list. It would be great to see all that wildlife too. #farawayfiles
The lake at the beech forest looks amazing. It would be great to see that many cranes in one place as well. It certainly looks like a lovely place for an autumn visit.
Thanks for this – never heard of it before and now I want to visit! x
What a gorgeous island. That looks like such a great place to take a relaxing break, with good food and good walks it’s got everything you need 🙂
This place I haven’t heard about even though it is in our backyard 🙂 Looks great!
The hiking trails look beautiful, Erin. 🙂