• 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
Germany has just ten Ebola beds
Photo: DPA

Germany has just ten Ebola beds

Doctors at high-level infectious disease clinics say that caring for patients with the Ebola virus is much more intensive than they first thought, meaning they can handle fewer cases at once. READ  

Refugee Crisis
Now Berlin turns to tents to house refugees
A refugee protests on the roof of the former Gerhart Hauptmann School in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Now Berlin turns to tents to house refugees

Berlin has turned to huge tents and shipping containers to shelter growing numbers of refugees. With winter approaching, city politicians have called on the federal government for help. READ  

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 11
An eyewitness captured the moment of the explosion on their phone. Photo: DPA

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 11

UPDATE: One person has died and at least 11 others are injured after a huge explosion in western Germany on Thursday. READ  

Clueless Merkel forgets the F-word
Merkel suffers from Wortfindungsstörung at the IT summit in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Clueless Merkel forgets the F-word

Angela Merkel's government is often criticized for its lack of understanding of all things digital and an appearance by the chancellor in Hamburg, which was supposed to change those perceptions, has only made things worse. READ  

Greenpeace finds danger in kids clothes
Photo: DPA

Greenpeace finds danger in kids clothes

Research released on Thursday by environmental group Greenpeace showed that more than half of clothing sold by German discount brands contain chemicals known to be dangerous to health and the environment, with items from Aldi being the worst offenders. READ  

Woman sues for accidental pot raid
Photo: DPA

Woman sues for accidental pot raid

A Bavarian woman is suing police for unlawful search after a reported break-in at her home led authorities to discover 158 cannabis plants in her basement. READ  

Germany lags in permits for non-EU migrants
Photo: DPA

Germany lags in permits for non-EU migrants

Germany gave out fewer residency permits last year per head to non-EU citizens than any other major European economy. READ  

Hamburg volunteers test Ebola vaccine
Hamburg's UKE has helped lead the fight against Ebola. Photo: DPA

Hamburg volunteers test Ebola vaccine

Volunteers have rolled up their sleeves for the first phase of the human trial for an Ebola vaccine at the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Clinic (UKE), it was announced on Wednesday evening. READ  

US adds voice to chorus telling Germany to spend
Jacob Lew and Sigmar Gabriel. Photo: DPA

US adds voice to chorus telling Germany to spend

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, in a meeting on Wednesday with German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, called on Germany to boost public spending to stimulate stuttering eurozone growth, the Treasury said. READ  

Man leaps with son, 5, from third-floor window
Schönhauser Allee in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Man leaps with son, 5, from third-floor window

A father and his young son are in serious condition after police and firefighters were called to their home in northeast Berlin early on Wednesday morning. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,523
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd