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In Germany

By kanannie

Rugen Island: Where The Germans Summer

On 10, Aug 2013 | No Comments | In Germany, Travel | By kanannie

Don’t you hate people who use the word summer as a verb? Me too.


Driving on the autobahn from Berlin to Rugen Island

After spending a week in the city we were ready to head to Rugen Island in the northern part of Germany to explore the white cliffs and soak up some sun. The drive to Rugen Island took about 4 hours and it was the first time that we saw car wrecks on the autobahn. It was raining quite a bit for part of the trip and there were two separate accidents where the driver obviously overestimated his abilities and from the looks of it, flew off the road trying to take a turn at 200 km/hr. Thankfully they only hurt themselves since both scenes involved single cars.

Autobahn accident

A rare sight on the autobahn. Hope the driver is ok.

Most people outside of Germany have probably never heard of Rugen Island, but it’s a very popular beach and summer vacation spot for Germans and you’re not likely to find English-speaking locals. Even though it was the end of summer when we went, we still had a hard time finding lodging for a decent price. I think we got lucky because a room at Siggis Pension popped up on Booking for a very reasonable price just when I was about to give up. Woohoo!

When we arrived at our pension on Rugen, we were pleasantly surprised by how lovely it was. I don’t remember if I was looking for this amenity, but the room had a full kitchen which was perfect because we came with a bunch of ingredients to make our first Vietnamese dinner since we’ve been traveling. It was so nice to have summer rolls in the comfort of our own place.

Banh cuon in our apartment

“Homemade” Vietnamese food with stuff we picked up at Dong Xuan in Berlin.

The town that we stayed in for the first three nights, Sellinn, is very small and looks like any beach town in the US, except with fewer sloppy fat people. We found an awesome fischbrochten shop in Sellinn where we had our first German fish sandwich. There’s various options, but I think the most popular are pickled herring on a roll or the fried filet on a roll. The roll was warm and crispy and combined with the salty herring, it was absolute perfection. I think I had a fischbrochten at least once per day while we were there.

Fischbrochten and potato salad

Fischbrochten: Pickled herring on a warm, toasty bun. AWESOME!

Smoked salmon sandwich

Smoked salmon fischbrochten. Delicious!

Before we went to Rugen, we learned that in 1936 Hitler had started building a beach resort on the island for himself and his Nazi officers and their families. The resort is called Prora and it was never completed so poor Hitler wasn’t able to enjoy his fancy holiday resort. It makes me very happy to know that his beach resort dream was never realized.

Prora building

One of Hitler’s abandoned beach resort buildings at Prora. Hitler built eight identical buildings with plans to accommodate 20,000 Nazis.

Most of the buildings are abandoned now and it seems that the local and federal government are still trying to decide what to do with it, but one area houses the largest youth hostel in Germany, in case you want to visit. Although it was already chilly when we were there, I could see how people living in nearby cities would want to visit the beaches there in the height of summer. We walked around and explored the area and I’m willing to bet good money that some big hotel chain will eventually set up shop there. It’s just a matter of time.

Prora building

A Prora building housing a history museum.

Prora Youth Hostel

The largest youth hostel in Germany.

One major attraction on Rugen Island are the whitestone cliffs. We went to two different, very touristy places on the island to see the cliffs and they were lovely. I probably wouldn’t go all the way back there to see the cliffs and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go there just for the cliffs, but it was nice to see while we were there.

White cliffs of Rugen

The famous white cliffs of Rugen.


One of the activities that you can do on the island if you don’t mind freezing to death.

Driving around Rugen

Driving on Rugen is actually a bit nerve-wracking because the roads are quite narrow.

German beach chairs

A chilly day at the German beach. Those yellow and green things are beach chairs and they don’t look very comfortable.

Although Rugen was a nice getaway from the city, I wouldn’t recommend it for a non-German looking for a beach vacation. There are plenty of nicer beaches in Europe that are probably easier to get to.

More Rugen Island pictures on our Flickr album.

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