• Germany edition
 
The chilly off-peak perks of Rügen prove a treat
Photo: Katie Needs

The chilly off-peak perks of Rügen prove a treat

Published: 10 May 2013 11:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 May 2013 11:04 GMT+02:00

Sprawling over 900 kilometres, Rügen hangs off north eastern Germany's Baltic coastline and, thanks to its endless beaches, is popular among natives for summer holidays.

Colder weather lends the island a post-apocalyptic hum. Caked in snow and with temperatures lingering far below zero, tourists were scant on the ground and almost everything was shut.

There must have been other gaggles of families and friends passing the weekend holed up in houses nearby, but being there out of season made the island feel an awfully long way away from mainland Germany.

Thanks to its popularity in the summer there are lots of beds up for grabs on Rügen, meaning finding a place for nine people to stay wasn't too much of a problem. For this weekend, trusty accommodation website Air BnB proved fruitful, providing a refurbished post office in Neuenkirchen, 300-person hamlet towards the north of the island.

It takes just under four hours to drive from Berlin the north side of the island, a great base for taking in some of the region's tourists attractions. For those who fancy a weekend away without a car, trains run to harbour town Stralsund, a UNESCO site perched on mainland Germany. From there, Rügen is a short bus or regional train-ride away.

The island is dotted with quirky hotspots and top of our list was the biggest of them all - Prora, an enormous abandoned Nazi summer camp.

The crescent of eight huge buildings erected on Hitler's demand between 1936 and 1939 was intended as an affordable place to escape for up to 20,000 of Germany's working class. It should have been, in essence, a Nazi Butlins.

Yet it was never used, overtaken by the start of World War II and afterwards abandoned. The massive structure dominates that part of the coast, yet it is infused with sadness and disappointment.

Most of the buildings were, as far as we could see, tightly boarded up. More dedicated explorers would probably be able to get in by climbing up a tree or pipe – judging from walls covered in graffiti inside, many had done so before us.

But we filed through one of the only open doors and out onto the beach just metres on the other side. Snow-covered sand and a completely deserted beach completed the atmosphere.

Most of the building is for sale, but walking around it was hard to think of a profitable use, given the remote location and unreliable weather. A youth hostel in one corner looked pretty bleak, and apart from that there was nothing.

Moving on from faded fascist glory, Rügen's chalk cliffs in the Jasmund area are another popular site and easily located thanks to sign-posting. After marching along said cliffs, sturdier walkers can drop down onto rocky beaches and walk over the tail-ends of landslides.

The island's crumbling edges have seen bits of cliff dropping off at almost alarming frequency and tangled trees lie dead on the shore after daring to grow too close to the edge.

Admittedly there wasn't a great deal to do in Rügen's coastal towns other than to scope out quaint, empty guest houses and stroll down the promenade. But in a largely landlocked country, smelling the sea, marching along the coast and feeling salty wind is a treat. Going there in the cold means the beaches are empty and the experience even more bracing.

Jessica Ware

jessica.ware@thelocal.com

twitter.com/jesscware

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Bundesbank warns of ECB 'change of course'
Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann: Photo: DPA

Bundesbank warns of ECB 'change of course'

The head of Germany's powerful Bundesbank sharply criticised what he called a radical new approach by the European Central Bank of easy money, in an interview published Sunday. READ  

MH17 Crash
Families of German MH17 victims to sue
Australian and Dutch investigators examine a piece of debris of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane. Photo: EPA/DPA/ Igor Kovalenko

Families of German MH17 victims to sue

Relatives of German victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 plan to sue Ukraine and its president for criminal negligence for not closing the country's airspace, a lawyer said Sunday. READ  

Sport
Wonder goal puts new boys Paderborn on top
Paderborn players celebrate after defeating Hanover 2-0 to go top of the Bundesliga. Photo: DPA

Wonder goal puts new boys Paderborn on top

Promoted Paderborn went top of the Bundesliga helped by an extraordinary 80-metre goal at Hanover on Saturday as champions Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw by struggling Hamburg. READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Oktoberfest opens to toast millions
Celebrities Carolin Reiber and Marianne Sägebrecht raise their glasses at Oktoberfest 2014. Photo: DPA

Oktoberfest opens to toast millions

Germany's world-famous Oktoberfest kicked off Saturday with the traditional tapping of the first barrel of beer, as millions of revellers are set to soak up the frothy atmosphere in the 16-day annual extravaganza. READ  

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola
A Liberian man holds his daughter as they wait for treatment for suspected Ebola symptoms in Monrovia. Photo: DPA

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

Germany and France will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany made it harder Friday for people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia to apply for asylum after lawmakers classified the three Balkan countries as safe, with respect for basic rights. READ  

German Muslims rally against extremism
Muslims pray in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on Friday outside a mosque which was damaged in an arson attack. Photo: DPA

German Muslims rally against extremism

Muslims across Germany held a day of prayers and rallies on Friday to condemn both Islamic extremism and a backlash against their faith that has seen arson attacks on mosques. READ  

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup
The trainers on the air strip in Hohn, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: Bundeswehr.

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup

Military trainers flew to northern Iraq from Germany on Friday, ahead of a huge delivery of weapons from the German military, but things didn’t initially go as planned. READ  

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches
Photo: DPA

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches

UPDATE: Munich will play host to four Euro 2020 games, European football’s governing body Uefa announced in Geneva on Friday, but London was the real winner. READ  

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils
The scene by the bus stop outside the school in Diepholz. Photo: DPA

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils

An 18-year-old drove into a group of students outside a school in western Germany on Friday morning, injuring several. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,365
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd