ISLAND HOPPING in GERMANY

While international tourism to Germany is increasing, visitors rather stick to the clichés like beer and Lederhosen at Munich and a cruise on the river Mosel; or they hang out at the hip capital Berlin.

I guess that might be the reason why many people believe Germany is landlocked and don't think about long coasts, two seas, and about 80 islands.


Beach on Borkum
I think this is not the first image that comes to mind when talking 'bout travelling Germany.

However, that's exactly what Germany's north has to offer - and many fascinating phenomenons like the tideland that comes with it. As a matter of fact, Germany's shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one.

So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping...in Germany!

Germany is divided into sixteen federal countries and three of them are on the coast: Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the north and Lower Saxony in the west. While Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is in the Baltic region and Lower Saxony's shores border the north sea, Schleswig-Holstein is nestled between both.

Like I mentioned before, there are about 80 islands there and I cannot introduce them all. Therefore, I've had a concept, travelling from the east to the west and picked the following:

Fehmarn in the Baltic sea

Föhr as one of the five large North Frisian islands

Heligoland as supposedly Germany's only deep sea island

Neuwerk which does not only politically belong to the distant city of Hamburg, but can be reached walking

Borkum as one of the seven East Frisian islands - and Germany's westernmost isle

On this map, you can see where exactly they are located:





Each of these islands represents precious culture and traditions, astonishing phenomenons, outstanding activities, beautiful sceneries, and well-preserved flora and fauna.


Schleswig-Holstein



Schleswig-Holstein lies on the base of the Jutland Peninsula between the north sea and the Baltic which, by the way, are both epicontinental seas and connected with the Atlantic ocean.
It is the northernmost of the 16 federal states of Germany with obviously, long beaches and many islands.

I've introduced three of them:


Fehmarn


Fehmarn is Germany's third largest island. In the times of Germany's post-war division, it was the only Island in the Baltic sea belonging to the western part, the Federal Republic.


bye:myself - Mimi Green - byemyselftravels: Renata Green on Fehmarn
A field of joy! Fehmarn is even more beautiful while the rapeseed is in full bloom.
(Photo: Mimi Green)

In the south, the island is connected with the German mainland through the Fehmarnsundbrücke, the Fehmarn Sound Bridge, almost one kilometer long, carrying road and rail.


Shrimps at the Aalkate restaurant on the island of Fehmarn
If you are rather into hearty food, you won't be starving on Fehmarn - don't you worry.

In the north, at Puttgarden, lies the small harbor that connects Fehmarn with Rødby in Denmark by a very scenic ferry ride; by the way, also just a great joy roundtrip in itself.

Once on Fehmarn, you need to

  have breakfast or tea time at one of the old barns that now were remodeled to cozy cafés
  visit the Waterbird Reserve Wallnau
  go on a ferry-ride to Denmark
  visit an old windmill and learn about the island's past rural life
  cycle on the 300 kilometers long bike lanes to the beautiful beaches


But there is much more to explore - as you can read in my post.


Föhr


There are five North Frisian islands scattered in the north sea off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein. One of them, Föhr, is Germany's largest and most populated island with no land connection: You have to get there by ferry which even adds to the charm.


Cemetery at the village of Nieblum on the island of Föhr
One of the most fascinating and beautiful traditions have been the Talking Gravestone, narrating about the deceased exciting life - often as a whale catcher.

Friesentorte on Föhr
How did the UNESCO miss out on putting the Friesentorte on their List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the delicious Frisian cake, consisting of a thin layer of plum puree and a generous glob of whipped cream, held together by two crunchy pieces of puff pastry? 

There are various interesting and quirky phenomenons to experience on - or off - the island of Föhr like a hike into the tideland and paying the gray seals on a sandbar a visit. Also, in summer, you can hike to the neighbor island Amrum. Like I said, in summer, since you have to cross a hip-deep tidal creek....and, believe me, you don't want to do that during another season!

Once on Föhr, you need to

  go on a boat trip to the Halligs, the tiny, secluded islets scattered in the sea around North Frisia
  pay the old cemeteries a visit and try to figure out the life stories of the late whale catchers
  admire the art at the Museum der Westküste, the Museum Art of the West Coast
  awe at the gorgeous traditional architecture i. a. at the village of Nieblum
  spend the night under the stars in a Strandkorb, a hooded wicker beach chair.


But there is much more to explore - as you can read in my post.


Heligoland


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Island of Heligoland - Gray Seals on Düne
To me, the number of seals on Düne's beach was the highlight of my trip to Heligoland, ......

Heligoland is a tiny archipelago that long ago used to be Danish and British, but is, actually, as German as can be since the poet Von Fallersleben wrote the National Anthem during his stay on the island in 1841.

However, visiting Heligoland today, either on a day trip or for a longer stay, it is almost impossible to imagine that at the end of  WWII, Germany's supposedly only deepsea island was completely bombed out and even uninhabitable for ten long years.


Bird on Heligoland
....but I was also very impressed by the birds.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, today, Heligoland is one of Germany's most popular island when it comes to a couple of relaxing days in a secluded spot.

Once on Heligoland, you need to

 pay the seals on the island of Düne a visit
 hike on the Oberland to the rock where the birds are nesting
 join an informative and gripping tour into the air raid shelter tunnels
eat Knieper, delicious crab claws
 do some duty-free shopping


But there is much more to explore - as you can read in my post.


Lower Saxony



In terms of the surface area, Lower Saxony is Germany's second largest federal country, however, it is somehow the country's éminence grise: Although it does not get much international tourism, probably everybody around the globe knows Lower Saxony's most prominent export hit, the Volkswagen, with the headquarter in Wolfsburg.

However, there is more important industry in Lower Saxony, and the annual fair Cebit was taking place at Lower Saxony's capital Hannover till 2018; here, in the year 2000 also the World Exhibition Expo took place.
Another fun fact is the very tight connection of the British Royal House and the Welfs of Hannover.  Also, Princess Caroline of Monaco was married to the randy Welf Prince Ernst-August who for instance caused a scandal during the Expo when he peed against the Turkish pavilion - literally!

All this is not necessarily a reason to put Lower Saxony on my list of tourist destinations not to be missed. But the coastline is a valid one, respectively the Wadden Sea and the islands scattered there:
World's largest Tideland stretches in the North-West of Europe from the Netherlands along Germany's Westcoast all the way up to Denmark and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.

The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park is a major part of this area and spreads over 1,335 square miles. It was established in 1986 and consists of the East Frisian Islands, mudflats, and salt marshes. 

Neuwerk


Riders on the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea
While the tide is low, the island of Neuwerk can be reached riding or even walking - it's only about ten miles from the mainland, after all.

Neuwerk is one of the many small islands scattered in World's largest Wadden Sea that stretches in the North-West of Europe from the Netherlands along Germany all the way up to Denmark.


Neuwerk's Cemetery of the Nameless
The small, but quite touching Cemetery of the Nameless from 1319. Unidentified drowning victims used to be buried here.

It has a quirky status since it belongs to the city of Hamburg which is about 120 km further east. Neuwerk is basically a North German Gibraltar.

That it is an island that can be visited hiking makes it even more unusual.

So once you get there, chances are that you'll have already the most exciting part behind you. However, there are more things not to be missed:

 A hike to Cuxhaven - unless you came here hiking and do want to get back the same day
 A hike to the uninhabited islet of Scharhörn, a spellbinding refuge for birds
 Enjoy a snack at one of the small farmhouses
 Get information on the wonders of the Wadden Sea at the information center Nationalpark-Haus
 Spend the night in a straw bed


But there is much more to explore - as you can read in my post.


Borkum


Beach on the island of Borkum


The island of Borkum is one of the seven East Frisian Islands off the coast of Eastern Friesland. It is not only the largest, but also the westernmost and therefore geographically actually closer to the Netherlands than to the German mainland.


Beach on the island of Borkum
Humans are not the only mammals that enjoy a vacation on the beaches of Borkum.

Parts of Borkum, as well as the adjacent tideland, are also part of the Nationalpark Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer, Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park, hence listed as a UNESCO World Heritage.

Once on Borkum, you need to

✔ explore the island cycling on about 130 kilometers long bike lanes
 go on a coach tour to the seal sandbar
 pay the whale catcher cemetery and the old lighthouse a visit
 spend a day on the beach in a traditional Strandkorb, a hooded wicker chair, or in the dunes
 enjoy the view from the new lighthouse


But there is much more to explore - as you can read in my post.


So, you're planning on adding a beach break to your next trip to Germany now? Then make sure to pin one of these pix for further reference:


Pinnable picture for the post on Island Hopping in Germany. Germany is not landlocked - actually, the shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one: There are two seas and about 80 islands, and I'm introducing the five most fascinating ones. So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping...in Germany! #germanislands #islandhopping #islandtrip #daytrip #weekendtrip #germany #schleswigholstein #lowersaxony #fehmarn #baltic  #foehr #northfrisia #heligoland #helgoland #neuwerk #cuxhaven #eastfrisia #borkum #byemyself #byemyselftravels


Pinnable picture for the post on Island Hopping in Germany. Germany is not landlocked - actually, the shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one: There are two seas and about 80 islands, and I'm introducing the five most fascinating ones. So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping...in Germany! #germanislands #islandhopping #islandtrip #daytrip #weekendtrip #germany #schleswigholstein #lowersaxony #fehmarn #baltic  #foehr #northfrisia #heligoland #helgoland #neuwerk #cuxhaven #eastfrisia #borkum #byemyself #byemyselftravels


Pinnable picture for the post on Island Hopping in Germany. Germany is not landlocked - actually, the shoreline is longer than the Portuguese one: There are two seas and about 80 islands, and I'm introducing the five most fascinating ones. So what are you waiting for? Join me on my island hopping...in Germany! #germanislands #islandhopping #islandtrip #daytrip #weekendtrip #germany #schleswigholstein #lowersaxony #fehmarn #baltic  #foehr #northfrisia #heligoland #helgoland #neuwerk #cuxhaven #eastfrisia #borkum #byemyself #byemyselftravels



Here are more pins from Germany for you  







Disclaimer: Once again, I'd like to thank Tourismus-Service Fehmarn, Föhr Tourismus, Helgoland Tourismus-Service, Nordseeheilbad Cuxhaven GmbH, and Tourist Information Borkum who made the production of my series on German islands possible by generously supporting my blogger trips granting me accommodations, free access to landmarks and iconic sights as well as eateries and organizing e-bikes and/or other means of transportation. However, all information and opinions on these services are mine and weren't by any means influenced by my cooperation partners.

22 comments:

  1. So this is the introductory post. I think I've read most of your posts on each island. Changed my whole picture of Germany even as we went to the south and not Munich, Berlin or Frankfurt

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    1. Hm, you don't have to change it, you just have to add the north ;-)

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  2. So true, that first photo is certainly not what we picture when mentioning Germany. Love that Friesentorte, by the way, looks delicious.
    Still, I think I'd go for Borkum. Spending time on the beach there would be nice, but I'd also try the cycling tour. If not for the whole 300 km, then for at least 10 or so.
    Thanks for this, didn't even know about this side of Germany. :)

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    1. The stay on Borkum was really nice - I'm still overwhelmed by the size of the beaches: huuuuge!

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  3. The only time I seen the coastline of Germany is from my 80+ flights between UK and Latvia in the last ten years. The beaches sure do like wide and yellow (not sure if they are golden) but they also look quite quiet in the summer months also, probably the same sort of British weather, too cold! :D But from the ground and on your post, there looks like some hidden gems here and defo worth checking out.

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    1. I guess that's because they are so huge; they are never, ever packed since there is sooo much space. Well, too cold....in summer, it's up to 35 degrees celsius - then you need the Strandkorb to shelter from the sun.

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  4. This is a great post and thank you so much for showing a different side of Germany. Like many, I had very typical impressions of Germany and none of them included beaches. I know the Portuguese coastline, so I can only imagine the German one. I have a new appreciation for the country. Thank you.

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    1. That was my only intention: To show that it's not all mountains and that the other part is totally worth visiting. And research for my posts was a great excuse to spend some amazing weekends on those islands, too ;-)

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  5. I am very guilty of what you say, all of my trips so far to Germany have very much involved a few too many beers and not enough of the coast line. I love that you can reach the island of Neuwerk by walking or on horseback! That would be amazing to do.

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    1. Don't worry, I think most people are guilty of that. Yes, the hike to Neuwerk is amazing, and they build a mobile bar on the tideland - so next time, you'll have your beer there.

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  6. You got it right, when people say Germany, I absolutely do not picture islands or beaches; instead, I think of Berliner Dom and beautiful churches in Munich and more, completely landlocked. But this is a complete new picture of Germany that you have brought up. Starting from the Frisian islands to the places by the Baltic sea, places like Fohr, Heligoland, Neuwerk, Borkum, Fehmarn are completely new to me and I would love to include them in my Germany itinerary.

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    1. I'm very happy that I was able to add another side of your views of Germany!

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  7. Looks like a beautiful destination! How fun that you got to see seals!

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    1. These seals are sooo cute - and it was amazing to see them from so close.

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  8. What another fun German island. We love riding so would totally cycle around Fehmarn. Or course, we’d have to visit Fohr for Frisian cake. :)

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    1. Yes, I personally find they make the best on Föhr. But maybe I could add a series on Frisian cake hopping....

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  9. Wow what a beautiful place to explore. I love to cycle so I would love to explore this German island.

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    1. Cycling there is so much fun - a feeling of complete freedom!

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  10. What a unique thing to do - island hopping in Germany. I didn't even know these islands existed! Love your photos; must have been fun to see all the wildlife!

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    1. Yes, especially on Heligoland, the birds'n'beasts were quite impressive.

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  11. I've been up to the North Sea in Germany, which isn't always the warmest even in summer. But I didn't realize Germany has all those islands or that you could even visit many of them. That's definitely getting off the beaten path in Germany!

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    1. Yes, the weather - which can be very hot or quite cold even in summer - is the only weak point. It can be tropical, but you can never be sure.

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