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Traveling to the Baltic Sea (Germany) on a Budget

By Lisa Overman

baltic sea boatThe Baltic Sea region of Northern Germany is both family friendly and budget-friendly. You can enjoy plenty of low-cost activities thanks to the region’s focus on outdoor fun in destinations like the Boddenlandschaft National Park.

You can rent reasonably priced apartments, camp at nature parks, or stay in a pension. Northern Germany can be an affordable destination for couples, singles, and families alike.

Learn more about traveling to the Baltic Sea below – everything from family activities and cultural attractions to food and cheap accommodations.

Family Fun

West-Pomeranian Boddenlandschaft National Park

This park is rich in wildlife and birding opportunities. The National Park includes beautiful coastline, forests, and salt marshes.

There are several destinations within the National Park for bird lovers. Hiddensee is one fantastic destination for bird lovers, and another is the Fischland and Darß area. Boddenlandschaft is home to thousands of cranes when they return from their annual migration to Spain.

Experiencing the migration of the cranes in and out of the Boddenlandschaft National Park is a must-see for bird lovers. I had the opportunity to observe the migration twice and it was simply stunning. You will see hundreds of birds land and take off in one fell swoop over the marshes and coastal areas. The Boddenlandschaft National Park will allow you to see and feel nature in a way you may not have experienced before.

VogelPark-Marlow

Here you can get up close and personal with birds and animals alike. You can explore, take in shows, and learn about the creatures in this nearly 50-acre nature park. There are birds of prey, pelicans, ibis, and parrots, among others. You’ll see daily public feedings of the storks, pelicans, monkeys, and penguins. The park is extensive, packed with amenities like restaurants and petting areas for your family to enjoy. Admission is 26€ for a family, which includes two adults and two children. Additional children are 4€. The VogelPark is open from 9 am to 7 pm daily.

Klockenhagen

In this open air museum, you’ll experience German village life from centuries ago. Here you will see a windmill, a half-timber church, cottages, and barns. You can also learn how bread was baked and look at kitchen and farming tools. There are animals to see and you can take time and learn about village life. This open air historic museum is spread over six acres, and it’s just a few miles outside Ahrenshoop. Admission is 4.50€ for adults and 2€ for children under 16. Family admission is 12€.

Beaches

Ahrenshoop

This beach is a gorgeous example of the rugged coastline with a cliff overlook down to the beach. It’s also walking distance from the village shops and restaurants. It offers a long stretch of beach for walking, and you can rent beach baskets for your time in the sun.

Zingst

For family fun, visit this beautiful stretch of beach. You can relax and watch the boats coming and going from the charming harbour, and nearby restaurants mean there are plenty of places to stretch out and enjoy your day at the beach.

baltic sea beach

Hiddensee Beach

Walks along the coast of this island are stunning. The coastline is a rock lover’s delight. You will find unusual rocks that the locals use to decorate their trees, yards, and gardens. For cyclists, rental prices are reasonable, and excellent bike paths run along the beach on Hiddensee with a view of the sea. There is much to see on Hiddensee, and nature will surround you at every turn. The beaches here are perfect for relaxing walks.

Kühlungsborn

Another long stretch of beach, you can enjoy a relaxing day at Kühlungsborn. Rent beach baskets and relax, or walk the paved pathway through the shops and restaurants, all while enjoying the view.

Sweet Spots

Zingst Harbour

This is a beautiful spot to enjoy a beer and watch the boats gliding in and out of the harbour. The sailboats are a special treat.

Ahrenshoop Harbour

This small harbour is a must-see with its charm and gorgeous sailboats. It will linger in your mind long after you depart.

Rentals and Reminders

Bicycle rentals are available in both Ahrenshoop and Niehagen.

Beach basket rentals are the individual beach cabana/seats that you can rent on the Baltic Sea beaches. They generally seat two people and are made of a wicker or wood material with a comfortable seat that provides you a shaded and protected area while on the beach.

baltic sea beach chairs

Reminder: German beaches are clothing optional. During my one week stay, I saw entire families – adults, children, and grandparents – enjoying nude days at the beach. It is a natural part of European life. Nudity isn’t required, but it’s prevalent around the Baltic Sea region. If you opt to wear a swimsuit, no one will pay any attention; it’s truly your choice. Some beaches are marked with the FKK Sign, which designates a nude beach. This allows for privacy for those wishing to be nude.

Arts and Culture on the Baltic Sea

Ahrenshoop

Visit Ahrenshoop for a taste of village life with thatched cottages and sea views. This village is known as an artist colony, and you’ll find galleries, art exhibits, working artists, and local art. The charm of this small village will have you wishing you could stay far longer.

In Ahrenshoop you will find Neues Kunsthaus, home to artists and art exhibits. Neues Kunsthaus is part of a network of retreats that house artists throughout the region.

ahrenshoop house

Hiddensee

While visiting the island, you can visit the Dornbusch lighthouse. The island’s small size and use of bicycles and horse-drawn carts slow down the pace of life.

Insider’s Tip: There are no cars on the island, except for deliveries and emergencies. Transport is either on foot, on bicycle, or by horse cart. For visitors with luggage, there are easy-to-use bicycle carts waiting at the harbour. You can cycle past thatched-roof cottages, small villages, and charming harbours. You can also visit shops selling regional art.

Hiddensee is home to the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Haus. The Nobel laureate lived in this holiday house for more than ten years, and there’s a permanent collection of his life and work as well as other fine art from artists in the area.

Insider’s Tip: In the fall and spring, bring warm clothing. The weather changes quickly and temperatures can be far lower in this coastal region.

Schwaan

Founded by painters, Schwaan has been known as an artist colony for more than 120 years. Today, you will find that Die Wassermühle (The Water Mill) is an art gallery. This nearly-200-year-old mill on the Beke River was made with half-timber construction. The original Water Mill construction has been integrated carefully with timber construction to maintain the architectural integrity of the mill since it has expanded. The Water Mill houses a permanent collection of art as well as changing exhibits.

The villages of Darß and Zingst offer art exhibits and artist events at KunstKaten throughout the year.

Local Events

The Children’s Party

On the first Saturday in June, Althagen hosts this event, starting with a ribbon dance led by the children. Throughout the day there are children’s competitions, family friendly activities, and music.

The Potter’s Market

This event runs from July 20 through July 30 in the Strandhalle (Seaside Hall), attracting pottery lovers who want to view or purchase ceramic crafts. If you want, you can even work with clay yourself and make your own items.

Beach Party

The weekend of July 22, join the Caribbean-style beach event in Ahrenshoop on the beach. There is a beach bar, music, dancing, and food.

Local Specialties

Fresh Smoked Fish

A Baltic Sea favorite. If you love smoked fish you will be in heaven on the Baltic. This region is home to many establishments that smoke fish on site. You’ll easily spot the outdoor buildings with fish smoking and picnic tables filled with diners. Eating freshly smoked fish at an outdoor picnic table is by far my favorite food memory of the Baltic Sea region.

Baerenfang

If you like honey, try Baerenfang. It’s locally made, honey-based vodka liquor. It’s good over ice, as a cocktail base, or served in a hot drink.

baerenfang

Dining at the Baltic Sea

Café Buhne (Ahrenshoop)

This cafe offers visitors great food and a beautiful sea view. The fish is fresh and the service is friendly. Perhaps most importantly, this restaurant receives high marks for value.

Weiseneck Café (Hiddensee)

Five minutes from the beach on Hiddensee, you’ll find a very nice atmosphere, patio seating, and an extensive menu. They offer select meals for 7€ to 9€, but most entrees cost 9€ to 12€. They offer several desserts including my German favorite, Rote Grütze. This delicious wild berry dessert includes a sauce of fresh fruit served over ice cream topped with a vanilla cream sauce. You must try it if you’re in Germany during the summer months.

Gaststätte Fischerklause (Zingst)

With a large outdoor seating area, this restaurant serves typically local fare: freshly caught fish, salads, and German side dishes like roasted potatoes, potatoes with herbs, fresh mushrooms, or fries. Prices are reasonable at 8€ to 12€ for most menu items.

Hafen Bistro (Darß)

This family owned restaurant is simple and fun. It sits right on the waterfront where you can see boats coming and going. Its casual atmosphere is perfect for a day on the water. You can eat inside or outside at picnic tables with umbrellas. The menu offers fresh fish and local favorites at reasonable prices.

Best Deals on Accommodations

The coast of the Baltic Sea is lined with villages that offer plenty of lodging options.

Natur Park Pruchten (Pruchten)

This camping park offers several options for reasonably priced accommodations, and all you have to do is pay a small fee and get used to the German spelling with no “e.” Tent camping costs 5€ per person and 3€ for children 3 to 14, and that includes shower access. The cost to use a 10 square meter tent is 6€ in the summer and 4€ in the off-season. To bring in a small camper or van costs 6€, cars are 2€. Entry for your dog is 2€.

baltic sea natur park

Natur Park Pruchten/Holiday Apartments

Natur Park also rents apartments, and the price depends on the number of visitors. Two people stay for 37€ a night in the summer season, or 28€ in the off-season. A family of five stays for 69€ a night in the summer season, 45€ in the off-season. You’ll have to pay 7€ for linens, and the cleaning charge is 15€ for two guests or 30€ for a group of five.

Specials: You can get special rates during the months of April, May, September, and October. During this time, two visitors can stay for 6 days and 5 nights for 155€, which includes the cleaning fee. This package breaks down to 31€ a night for two, and that’s one sweet deal! The park offers Internet, horse riding, and volleyball, as well as picnic facilities. Apartments also come with satellite TV.

Country House Martens (Zingst)

This pretty guest house has good deals and particularly low prices during May, June, and September. A single room with a private shower runs 39€, and in the winter it’s even cheaper at 30€. Double rooms with a shower go for 69€ in low season and 49€ in winter. Breakfast is included in the stay, and adding a two-course dinner to your daily stay (half board) is 13.50€ per day. Country House Martens provides discounts for weeklong commitments. Dogs are welcome, and Zingst is just five minutes away.

Wieseneck Pension (Hiddensee)

Just a three-minute walk from the beach, this pension has only 17 rooms. Single rooms with breakfast are 35€, and doubles start at 68€ with breakfast. Children 3 to 6 years old stay for 8€, while older children stay in the same room for 21€. Children under three are free.

Hotel Heiderose (Hiddensee)

This hotel in the village of Vitte offers both single and double rooms. Their lodging also includes thatched-roof cottages with two apartments. Each apartment sleeps four. On the property you’ll find a garden, fruit trees, and a pond. Apartments are a good deal at 78€ a week in the off-season, 108€ mid-season, and 138€ in peak season. Rentals are for one week and include a change of towels and sheets once during your weeklong stay. Pets are allowed in the apartments for an extra 5€ per night, and breakfast is optional at 8€ per day.

pension nordlicht

Pension Nordlicht (Ahrenshoop)

With a sea view, this pension is just yards from the beach. Pension Nordlicht offers a deal called “Days for Lovers,” which is available from November through April. It includes a two-night stay with breakfast. One morning you will have a special breakfast in your room, including a bottle of champagne. The second day you will enjoy a breakfast buffet. In the afternoon, the pension provides coffee and cake. Later in the evening, they’ll serve a meal of local seafood specialties. This inclusive package costs 117€ per night for two. The price changes slightly in April.

Pension Nordlicht Apartments

This pension offers an apartment that sleeps four, for 99€ in the low season. The price is 115€ for the summer season, and if more than two people rent an apartment, you’ll pay an additional 15€ charge.

Getting to the Baltic Coast of Germany

There are a few options for getting to the Baltic Sea. You can rent a car and enjoy scenic views of the countryside as you make your way north. You can also take the DB train and then connect with a bus or ferry to the Baltic Sea.

By Train and Bus to Zingst, Darß, and Ahrenshoop

To travel by train, purchase a Mecklenburg-Vorpommern ticket through DB, the German rail provider. This ticket is good for a single day of travel from 9 am to 3 am the next day. The cost of your ticket will depend on how many people are traveling. A single traveler is 20€, two ride for 23€, three ride at a cost of 26€, and up to five people travel for 32€. Dogs are an additional small fee. You’ll take the train to the Ribnitz-Dammgarten train station.

Then, from Ribnitz-Dammgarten you’ll catch a KVG bus, which stops in Zingst as well as other Baltic Sea coastal areas. Tourist buses in Germany are quite comfortable and very clean. My employer in Berlin organized a several-hour bus tour for our staff, and the ride was quite enjoyable. A tourist bus ticket, good for nine days of travel costs 32€. You can also get a single day ticket starting at 2.45€. Children under six ride for free, and kids over six get a discount. For a small fee, you can bring your bike on the bus if you don’t want to rent one when you get to the seaside.

By Train and Ferry to Hiddensee

Train tickets are available at the Berlin Zoologischer Station. To reach the ferry, take an ICE train from Berlin to reach Straulsund or Rugen/Bergen.

Insider’s Tip: The high-speed ICE train takes approximately three hours from Berlin to Straulsund. If you take an IR train, the journey will take much more time, and the train will stop more frequently. The high-speed ICE train stops at both departure cities for ferries to Hiddensee.

Ferries from Straulsund take about two hours from port to port, and it’s a very enjoyable way to experience the coast of Germany. Ferry tickets are available online or at the Schaprode and Straulsund ferry departure stations. A round trip family ticket runs 49.10€ to Hiddensee. A round trip family ticket is good for two adults and three children. Individual round trip fares are 18.10€.

If you are departing from Rugen-Bergen, you can take the train from Berlin to Rugen-Bergen and then catch a local bus to the Schaprode ferry. Ferries to Hiddensee depart from Rugen and take 45 minutes. Ferry tickets from Schaprode to Hiddensee are 41.50€ for a family of five and 14.50€ for an individual.

Final Word

Though the Baltic Sea is farther north than typical visitors travel, it is by far one of the most beautiful regions in Germany. The region offers visitors a different view of Germany and German life. There are charming villages, historic cathedrals, and miles of coastline to explore and enjoy. This former DDR area is a gem of coastal beauty. With these budget-friendly travel tips you and your family will delight in visiting the Baltic coast.

Have you ever been to the Baltic Sea? What were some of your favorite places and activities on your trip?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Lisa Overman
Lisa Overman is an international traveler and writer. She writes on tropical destinations for Wanderlust and Lipstick. She is a former expat who spent four years in Germany. She also spent six years living on islands in the Pacific. She has her own website, LisaOverman.com where she writes on grief and loss.

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  • http://twitter.com/TravelingWithS Cathy Sweeney

    I’m afraid that I have never been to the Baltic Sea area and know very little about it. Your post has gone a long way in getting me to be more knowledgeable. I won’t be able to make it there on my upcoming trip to Germany, but maybe next time. Hiddensee Beach looks like a perfect place for relaxation.

  • http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/ Jeremy Branham

    Lots of great options for beaches there! Love all the activities as well. Isn’t this area known to be a little windy at times? I thought I saw this on an episode of Globe Trekker about beaches in northern Germany.

  • http://twitter.com/eileenludwig eileenludwig

    What a wonderful story and information about the Baltic Sea. I have been to Germany but not the Baltic Sea and this story and pictures make a place I would love to see.

  • http://twitter.com/thecloud_people Jamie Davy

    wow, comprehensive guide! beach baskets? what the hell? i liked your little disclaimer about the nudity as well!

  • http://www.thetravelchica.com The Travel Chica

    Honey-based vodka liquor and nude beaches? How could you go wrong? :-)

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Stephanie, It’s eye opening for first time visitors but an excellent destination.

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Stephanie, It’s eye opening for first time visitors but an excellent destination.

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Thanks Jamie, I like to be clear about what people may encounter. There are some excellent beaches there. It’s a relaxing place to experience.

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Thanks Jamie, I like to be clear about what people may encounter. There are some excellent beaches there. It’s a relaxing place to experience.

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Thanks Eileen, I hope you will make it there on another visit to Germany. It’s my favorite German destination.

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Hi Jeremy, Yes, you’re exactly right, it is very windy at times. I should have mentioned that. I mentioned taking warm clothes but there is definetely wind.

  • http://twitter.com/islandstyle29 Lisa Overman

    Cathy, I hope you will have an opportunity to visit on another trip. Hiddensee is just a gem. It is another kind of life, just delightful.

  • http://myexpatgermany.com Laurel

    This is one place in Germany I haven’t been to yet but would love too (hopefully next summer). I love the beach baskets, they look so cozy.

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie’s World

    Good, comprehensive article, Lisa! I agree, this is a fabulous part of the Germany. I also like the Baltic islands.

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie’s World

    Good, comprehensive article, Lisa! I agree, this is a fabulous part of the Germany. I also like the Baltic islands.

  • http://www.europeantravelista.com Debbie Beardsley

    The Baltic Coast of Germany is very beautiful and has intrigued me for years. Alas, I have not made it that far north yet. The beaches look stunning and the baskets do look snuggly.

    Is it warm there?

  • http://twitter.com/adventureswben Ben Reed

    I love the beach cabanas. They are unique.

  • http://migrationology.com Mark Wiens

    Wow, packed with useful information Lisa! Great job.
    Those are quite the little beach baskets, looks like a nice little private shaded view of the beach. My moth watered when I read about the smoked Baltic fish – I am a huge fan of smoked fish!

  • http://twitter.com/Technosyncratic Christy & Kali

    What a fantastic guide, Lisa! I would definitely love to check this area out. :)

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