The seaside may not spring to mind when you think of Germany. Beatrix Haun, director of the German National Tourism Office UK, tells Andrew Doherty all about its coastline.
From the effortlessly cool urban vibes of Berlin to the world-renowned Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, Germany certainly has no trouble attracting tourists. January to December 2017 saw 83.9 million overnight stays recorded, a 3.6% increase on the previous year with a 0.5% growth in visitors from the UK.
However, Germany’s coastal regions remain unexplored, says Beatrix Haun, director of the German National Tourism Office UK. She explains why agents should be selling the coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
“They are unique regions with something for nature enthusiasts and families. There are great places to enjoy food and drink and exceptional facilities that offer active experiences.
“Germany’s coastline and islands offer a wonderful bracing climate, endless beaches and stunning scenery. It’s a region to detox and get close to nature, or to try exhilarating sports.”
With Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin airports served by UK hubs, accessing Germany’s coastal regions is straightforward too. Lubeck in Schleswig-Holstein can be reached via the Lubeck–Hamburg railway, while Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is an easy drive from Berlin.
“The regions feature fascinating ports and coastal towns, such as the hip city of Hamburg – Germany’s gateway to the world, or Lubeck, known for its neo-classical buildings, narrow lanes, churches and abbeys.
“There is also Kiel, the city bythe water and gateway to the Baltic with the Kiel Canal; the seaside resort of Warnemunde with its blue flag beach; and Schwerin, the city of seven lakes. Each has their own picturesque ports, harbours and history to discover, as well as delicious local foods, restaurants and markets,” Haun asserts.
Regional highlights include the Kiel Regatta in June – which claims to be the “largest sailing event in the world” and the Hanse Sail event in Rostock from August 9-12 this year. For nature enthusiasts, the Usedom Island Nature Park in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern offers picturesque walks and the densest bird population in Germany, including the osprey, white stork and crane.
“There is something to see at all times of year, from Christmas markets to summer festivals. Much of the region has designated Unesco World Heritage Sites, like the Wadden Sea and the Speicherstadt warehouse district in Hamburg. Clients could also visit the medieval towns of Stralsund and Wismar on Germany’s Baltic coast. The northern coast has unique architecture too, seen in its red brick buildings dating back to the Middle Ages,” Haun says.
If clients venture further east from Rostock they will reach the island of Rugen, currently sold by Inntravel. The operator’s Rugen – an Island Revealed itinerary, offers visits to sleepy villages, train rides across
the island and a stop at the Port of Sassnitz – now home to British Navy submarine HMS Otus.
On the east coast, the Halligen Islands represent a sleepy alternative to the bustling metropolis of Hamburg, with their vast sand banks and houses built on manmade mounds of earth to keep them above the waterline. The region is so lowlying it often floods during winter.
Although Germany’s coast doesn’t currently feature in many UK operators’ programmes, the region indeed deserves a visit, and that Haun hopes it will see a surge in popularity in the coming years.
“The combination of history, nature, local delicacies and the fresh open air, means there is never a dull moment on the German coast and its islands.”
Book it: Inntravel has the Rugen – an Island Revealed itinerary from £1,098pp with return ferry tickets from Hiddensee, cycle hire, maps and luggage transfers included.
Voyages SNCF has fares from London to Husum (35 minutes from the Halligen Islands) from £375pp standard class with an overnight stopover in Cologne or Hamburg.