In the far northeastern part of Germany lies the island of Usedom, Germany’s second largest island, and one of the worldwide few islands to be divided by two different countries. After our trip to Rome last February, my mom and I looked into what we wanted to visit this year. We had already visited Rügen, Germany’s largest island and Hiddensee, the small island to the west of Rügen. We both enjoy the Baltic Sea, and when I was in Riga a few years ago with my husband, we made sure to take a day trip out to the seaside. Everyone I talked to who had already been there, enjoyed their stay, so we booked our trip.
Looking at the map,is one of the farthest places in Germany from where I live. We braved the long drive, marveling at the changing landscape and how it changed from rolling hills to flat plains. We checked into our lovely hotel in the quiet town of Zinnowitz and found ourselves on the beach, not 2 minutes from our hotel. Just as during our trip to Brittany last September, I found myself on “our” beach every evening and almost every morning.
The “Strandkörbe” or beach baskets are the ultimate sign of sun and vacation in Germany and no stay on the beach is complete without one. They protect you from the wind and sun, can be turned as needed, have foot rests that can be pulled out and the back can be pushed back so you can have a leisurely snooze or enjoy your book.
Since where we were staying was so close to the beach, I popped out every evening to see the sun set. Being so far north, it took a while for it to happen and then it still stayed light for quite some time. The same was in the morning when the sun rose.
The next morning, after a quick walk on the beach, just to make sure it was still there, we decided to walk up Streckelsberg, the highest hill on the island’s Baltic coast at about 58m above sea level. From there, we walked down to the beach and along the coast. I hadn’t expected such wide and flat beaches and the trees were a surprise as well! If you’re lucky, you can find pieces of amber on the beaches. They are easiest to fine after a storm when the wild sea washes up and out pieces.
Although the huge attraction are the beaches, we did venture inwards a bit and stopped to have lunch atwhere they brew their own beer and to walk around the church. The church dates back to the 14th century and the frescos inside are from the 15th century. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to see them.
We made our way back to the beaches, this time in Ahlbeck, the last larger beach town before the Polish border. Around 1825, the island became a popular place for the Emperor and his family as well as the high society from Berlin to spend their summers. Many villas from this era still exist and most of them have become hotels. After WWII and continuing to this day, Usedom remains a popular place to spend the summer. It is one of the sunniest areas in Germany, has beautiful beaches, many hiking and bicycle paths and places to kayak or go sailing.
Albeck along with Heringsdorf and Bansin are where you stay if you want all the fun. Most tourists stay here and it’s here where you’ll find beautiful villas. We first walked out on the island’s oldest pier built in 1898 in Ahlbeck, the youngest of the three beach towns, and then walked along the beach to Heringsdorf and its new pier which was built in 1995. We walked back along the promenade while licking our ice creams and looking at the old villas.
Back in Zinnowitz, I was out again after dinner to watch the sun set.
While it wasn’t very far to Poland as the crow flies, it takes the train an hour to get there. We wondered why and soon found out that at some stations there were long stops and in places along the line the train didn’t go very fast. But since we were so close, we decided to hop over the border and then hop back. We walked on the beach to the cute lighthouse which looks like a windmill and the back along the promenade to the station. Smoked fish sandwiches are the thing when visiting the Baltic Sea, and I knew sometime during my stay that was going to be my lunch. It happened to be in Poland, it was a smoked mackerel sandwich and very good.
From Poland we took the train back up the coast to Karlshagen and then walked back to Zinnowitz. By the end of the day the tops of my feet were sunburned.
The next morning I was determined to see the sun rise, so I set the alarm at 4:15 and after grabbing my camera, I raced a rabbit to the beach. One other couple was out waiting at the pier and we waited in silence until the sun came up at 4:40 am. It was worth every minute and just magical. The opening photo to this post was the first one I took that morning.
After another hour in bed, we went out again to walk on the beach near Koserow and even spent time snoozing in the sand. It was so quiet and peaceful.
We then ventured into the back-country driving though fields which smelled of summer and under trees along the prettiest tree-lined street in Usedom.
The end of the day was spent on the beach north of Karlshagen where we even went for a dip in the chilly Baltic Sea because no visit is complete without a swim in the sea.
As we departed the next day it was overcast and after all those wonderful days we spent on the island was hard to leave. By the time we arrived in Berlin, the sun was out and it was hot. We spent the next few hours just barely scratching the surface of what there is to discover there.
Where to stay and eat Usedom:
- , Zinnowitz
- , Krummin
Where to stay and eat in Berlin: