Many are drawn to the Baltic Sea. Again and again. Now and then I like it too. But not to lie on the beach and swim – that’s more or less an add-on. I am interested in this extraordinary landscape, the transition from land to sea, the islands and the lagoon. And of course the natural beauties, the small villages, village churches and farms. And the towns and cities that constantly bear witness to the interplay between the people on the coasts and the sea as fishermen, traders and sailors.
Today I will tell you about a Baltic Sea bicycle tour in the south and southeast of the largest island – Rügen – as well as at the Greifswalder Bodden (lagoon) and the Strelasund, which connects the Bodden with Stralsund and the Baltic Sea at the small island Hiddensee.
first published in german under „small escapes“
Table of content for your Rügen Island tour
- Stralsund, Hanseatic City and World Cultural Heritage
- Baltic sea cycle track along the Strelasund
- Stahlbrode – fishing port and Rügen ferry
- With the ferry to the island of Rügen
- St. Marien Church and monastery yard in Bergen of Rügen
- Downhill to the Baltic sea resort Binz
- Vacation camp and treetop path in Prora
- In the Biosphere Reserve South-east Rügen
- Lauterbach and Bodden Island Vilm
- Weather and best travel time
- Journey to Stralsund and Rügen
- Accomodation for Stralsund, Strelasund and South-east Rügen
Stralsund, Hanseatic City and World Cultural Heritage
We can start in Stralsund (the correct emphasis is on the a, the „-sund“ is spoken briefly and with little emphasis). The building of the central station already makes an inviting impression – not too big and impersonal, but not too small either. It is a brick building with scenic paintings inside and all the stores you need in the station. In an outbuilding on the station square there is even an organic food store with snacks – for all those who also look for special quality in travel catering.
A short city walk in Stralsund
The train station is located about 500m from the city center, the direct way to get there is between two lakes. The Hanseatic City of Stralsund is together with the Hanseatic City of Wismar a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
City center in brick gothic and with oceanography museum
The center is mainly characterized by several large brick churches and mostly well restored houses of different style epochs. Interesting for visitors is above all the oceanography museum. The market is characterized by the town hall portal from the brick Gothic and the huge church St. Nikolai behind it.
The city naturally gains special charm by the harbour area, where yachts cavort, passenger ships set off on round trips, the Gorch Fock as a three-mast square sailboat lies at the pier and a wide panoramic view over the Strelasund is possible. The front of the old storage buildings, mostly red brick buildings, is broken by the white curved facade of the Ozeaneum, where the underwater world of the sea can be explored in partly huge aquariums.
Rügen – high bridge and Rügendamm
Towards the southeast at the harbor, the view falls on the new Rügen Bridge, a high bridge that has been the main traffic route across the Strelasund to the island for several years. Behind it is the old Rügen dam bridge, which is still used by bicyclists, pedestrians, the railroad and a few car drivers. Since October 1936, this bridge connects the island of Rügen with the mainland, previously ferries operated between Stralsund and Altefähr. On the way on the Baltic Sea cycle track you will also have to cycle over this Rügendamm – bridge. Regularly the middle part of the bridge is opened to allow ships to pass through. Especially sailing boats are on the round Rügen – trip.
But this time I will use the bridge only for the return trip, because I want to start my bike ride on the Baltic Sea coast bike path along the Strelasund. So I leave Stralsund for the time being in direction Greifswald.
Baltic Sea cycle track along the Strelasund
A „Sund“ is a narrow sea inlet between land, for example between the mainland and an island. So the Strelasund is the narrowness between the West pomeranian mainland and the Island Rügen. Rügen is the biggest german Island and belongs to Mecklenburg- Vorpommern.
In order to get closer to the Strelasund, I don’t use the cycle path along the old F96 (highway, today mostly B96 federal road) from the district Andershof on, but first I cycle towards Devin. But unfortunately the Devin Lake lies behind the last district of Stralsund, so that I have to return to the actual Baltic Sea cycle track at least until Brandshagen. This path is on the paved F96 long distance road. This is so to speak one of the longing roads for many older GDR – citizens, which crossed the entire GDR from Zittau in East Saxony to Saßnitz (and thus the ferry port to Sweden and Bornholm) and in those days brought all Baltic Sea addicts to the north with endless Trabbi – convoys (Trabant car – east german cult car). Because the Baltic Sea freeway did not exist yet.
In the meantime a new wider asphalt road as B96 has been built, mostly next to the old F96, and on the old track there are only a few residents and the bike tourists left. Because I don’t like the pavement in the long run, I turn off to Niederhof behind Brandshagen. The path is more to my taste – little used, hardly developed, just a narrow path, towards the Bodden also quite steep. Nothing for the heavily loaded long-distance cyclists, who need smooth straight „cycle freeways“. The few houses of Niederhof are bordered by a forest, which is a nature reserve. Right at the edge of the village the remains of a devastated manor house. Special attraction – a large cormorant colony, which lives on several trees and, especially in summer, maintains an all-day uninterrupted squadron for the rearing of young, flying towards the Bodden waters.
Stahlbrode – fishing port and Rügen ferry
The cycle path remains a narrow path and leads, mostly between field and sund bank, to Stahlbrode. This is a small village with a fishing and communal harbour, a resting place for water hikers, a few cottages and a camping site at the Sund. You can easily swim at the Sund. Dining is a bit more upscale in the Fährdiele or at one or two snack stands like the Molenstube in the municipal harbour (at the same time harbour master’s office and caravan site administration). The local fishing cooperative also runs a fish stall with freshly smoked fish.
From April to October a ferry runs from the port of Stahlbrode across the Strelasund to Rügen – the second possible access to the island. We take it.
In the summer, two ships take turns during the day to handle the heavy travel traffic. With the car you may even have to wait a few minutes if not everyone is fit to the boat. With a bike this is usually no problem. The crossing takes about 10 minutes.
With the ferry to the island of Rügen
On the island of Rügen you first arrive on the Zudar peninsula, whose south-eastern tip „Palmer Ort“ forms the exit from the Strelasund into the Greifswald Bodden. After the Zudar there are three possibilities, where staying on the quite busy road is the worst. On the right (east) is Groß Schoritz with the birthplace of Ernst Moritz Arndt.
To the left it goes via Puddemin to Swantow with one of the pretty village churches, which I like to use for a short break. Such an old building in the lonely, quiet area without car noise always triggers a kind of spiritual time travel for me – the centuries are beginning to blur, it would not surprise me if a few children came running with worn shoes and in old traditional costumes or fishermen and farmers with their families through the gate. It is nice that in summer many of the churches along the coast are open and often offer concerts (some musicians from the south finance their Baltic Sea trip by giving small concerts during the vacation season). So also the church in Swantow, which is said to have brilliant acoustics.
Via narrow gauge railroad – dams to Garz and Bergen on Rügen
We continue to Garz (with Ernst Moritz Arndt – Museum) and always in a northerly direction. Partly the Rügen cycle paths lead over old railroad embankments – you can clearly see that these are abandoned railroad facilities. They belong to the former Rügen railroad network – a narrow-gauge railroad, of which unfortunately only a few kilometers between Putbus and Göhren exist and are still operated today. But the dams are also nice to ride on as a bicycle path – railroads always adapt well to the movements of the landscape and have only moderate gradients to master. The paths are not very busy despite the strong Rügen tourism – it is a pleasant tour across the island and goes fast.
Thus we come to Bergen on Rügen, the former district town of the old district of Rügen. This is not really a beauty. Except for a few corners, which now look more or less passable. But Bergen is just a town in the middle of the island, there is no coastline to be seen from here, all around there are mainly fields… Well, if you ran out of supplies, you can buy a lot in several big markets here.
St. Marien church and monastery yard Bergen on Rügen
The church St. Marien, whose construction was started in 1180 by the Rügen duke Jaromar I, is worth seeing. For centuries it was the church of the associated nunnery, which was not dissolved until 1945. The church, which was consecrated in 1193, is considered the oldest still preserved building on the island of Rügen and one of the earliest brick buildings in northern Germany. From the time of the Romanesque a wall painting – cyclus is preserved. The baptismal font is from the 14th century, the altar from 1730 and the baroque pulpit from 1776. A visit to the church is definitely worthwhile. Also in this church concerts take place, especially in summer.
The monastery courtyard still exists and has been restored in large parts. While a large part is living space, parts of the former stables are now used as show workshops by craftsmen. The eastern wing of the monastery buildings houses a local history museum.
Downhill to the Baltic Sea resort Binz
In order not to land on one of the main roads again, I try my luck with the descent down the eastern slope to Buschwitz. From there a bit south of the Kleiner Jasmunder Bodden along. But soon I find myself on the B196 again.
At Zirkow the Mustitz Alley branches off to the north towards Kiekut – not a good bicycle path. Really rough pavement, most likely to be used for old horse-drawn carriages. But this is one of the 200-year-old avenues that were deliberately laid out. The Mustitzer Alley goes back to Wilhelm Maltes zu Putbus, who is said to have initiated the planting in 1820. The first part is planted with hornbeams, followed by about 100 large old red beeches. This avenue has been a protected natural monument since 1937. Twenty years ago, around the turn of the century, the avenue was given a comprehensive treatment by the district of Rügen, the municipality of Zirkow, NABU and other stakeholders. Among other things, the pavement was repaired and individual replacement plantings were made, and the street area was carefully cleared.
If you decided to take Putbus instead of Bergen behind Garz, you will probably have found a shorter but nicer route. More forest, less road. The Rügen cycle way uses this route in any case. In Zirkow the paths meet again, from here it goes past the Schmachter Lake to the Baltic Sea resort Binz. This is one of the hotspots of the Baltic Sea – tourism. Here hotel stands next to vacation apartment and guesthouse next to restaurant. Fine white sandy beach, almost like persil washed. Binz merges almost imperceptibly to the north into the village of Prora and thus onto the Schmale Heide, a land bridge between the Small Jasmund Bodden in the west and the Baltic Sea in the east.
Nazi Vacation camp and treetop path in Prora
On it stands the vacation monster of Prora, the almost 4 km long „Kraft durch Freude“ (KdF) power – through – joy – building from the Nazi time. In the GDR, the entire Schmale Heide (narrow heath) was a military area, the KdF building was a caserne and training object for various NVA (National Peoples Army) units. In the 80s, among others, „working soldiers“ – conscientious objectors who had to work at the ferry port Mukran south of Saßnitz without weapons but in uniform.
Today, the use of this Nazi vacationer – block is a difficult thing. Several museums are located there – an NVA museum, logically, an old-timer museum and the cultural art place Prora. Other sections try to market private investors as luxury renovated condominiums or vacation properties. Actually, every Baltic Sea vacationer should at least have a look at this outgrowth of a totalitarian regime, which imposes a peculiar atmosphere on this sensitive landscape between land and sea.
At the former forester’s lodge Prora there is one of the first treetop paths since some years. It has a length of 1250m and is modelled on the shape of an eagle’s nest. The visit is worthwhile above all because of the excellent view from 40m height – from there you can look both in the direction of the Bodden and far out to the Baltic Sea east of Rügen. Otherwise it is an interesting institution for environmental education.
In the Biosphere – Reserve South East – Rügen
From Binz to the south through the Granitz forest to the Baltic seaside resorts Sellin and Baabe. These paths run very pleasantly in the refreshing forest. Single ascents are only a small challenge, high mountains are not to be found in the south of Rügen. Baabe, Göhren, Lobbe, Gager and Thiessow – that is the Mönchgut. A peninsula in the southeast of the big island. A large part of it forms the Mönchgut nature reserve, the whole area and the land and sea areas between Putbus, Vilm Island and Binz are the Biosphere Reserve Southeast – Rügen.
The Mönchgut peninsula
This landscape is called Mönchgut, because a part of it was given to the monastery Eldena near Greifswald by the Duke of Rügen Jaromar II already in the Middle Ages. Abbot Martin then bought the rest of the peninsula in 1360. During the reformation in 1536 the property fell into the hands of the dukes of Pomerania-Volgast.
What is particularly attractive is that narrow headlands extend far into the Greifswald Bodden and that there are still some lakes to the rear, so that there is a permanent change of land and water, of reed banks and meadows, wooded areas and steep slopes.
Rowing ferry and pagan cult sites
From Baabe I turn west and ride on small bike paths towards Putbus.
Near Moritzdorf the Baaber Bek, a narrow arm of the river into the Sellin Lake, cuts my way. But there is no bridge. A rowing ferry is the alternative. With a wooden rowing boat pedestrians and cyclists are transferred for a small contribution.
Then it goes on more or less close along the Bodden coast. On Rügen you can find old pagan cult sites at different places. Usually there are a few large erratic blocks and next to them huge gnarled oaks or other deciduous trees that indicate such places. Possibly these places could survive for a long time during the Christianization parallel to the official church and then fell into oblivion … or were left to oblivion.
Lauterbach and Bodden Island Vilm
Outside Lauterbach is the island of Vilm. This is a bird sanctuary and almost completely closed to visitors. In the GDR, this was the „government island“, one of the vacation objects for the highest officials. In the meantime, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation has established itself there and offers seminars on nature conservation topics in the object.
Lauterbach itself has a larger municipal harbor, where many yachtsmen stop in summer. The pier is the terminus of a special railroad feature – there is a three-rail track. This allows both the standard gauge railcar from Bergen and the Rügische small railroad with 750mm gauge to travel from Göhren via Putbus directly to the port of Lauterbach.
Apart from that Lauterbach is a little quieter than the big Baltic seaside resorts and has a few harbour pubs – which today are mainly there for the tourists – a few boutiques and stores, vacation quarters and marina. Small, but all the more relaxed.
Westwards along the Bodden shore
The further way leads now again on different surfaces through the landscape. Sometimes they are only tamped gravel paths, newly laid out as asphalt tracks, but sometimes also agricultural paths with coarse concrete elements as pavement from GDR times, which are made more for tractors than for bicycles. Thick tires are recommended! (My bike has 2″ marathon tires, which also provide a hard but sufficient suspension).
Apart from the wide view over the Greifswald Bodden, here in the south of Rügen there is a view of agricultural areas – grassland, arable land, in high summer also stubble fields, clover meadows. Forest areas along the Bodden are mostly small pine forests, so nothing really exciting.
There are now several options for the end of the tour. One option – back with the Stahlbroder ferry and from Stahlbrode via Reinberg to Miltzow. There is a station of the extended Brandenburger RE3 – line, which runs in one direction to Stralsund, in the other direction to the south of Brandenburg to Falkenberg (Elster). In addition, it is the continuation of the Baltic Sea cycle way to Greifswald and further in the direction of Usedom.
Or as a further option – the train station Altefähr at Rügendamm and board the train there. In former times the trains of the „Rügenschen small railroad“ drove up to there, the buildings are still standing. But if you have more time, you can also cycle from there over the Rügendamm to Stralsund. Or join a tour over West Rügen.
Travel tips for your small Baltic Sea bicycle tour
Weather and best travel time
Meanwhile many people go to the Baltic Sea all year round. Who is not looking for swimming and lying on the beach, will always find the „right weather“. A few warm clothes with rain protection* and a thermos flask* with tea provide the right mood even in wind and fog.
For a bike tour on the Baltic Sea cycle path or one of the many cycle paths on Rügen island it is better to have reasonably dry days and it shouldn’t be too cold either. This is possible from April and until September, with a beautiful late autumn even into October. And all year round because of the reflecting sea in sunshine – sunglasses* are always recommended!
Journey to Stralsund and Rügen
Arrive by train
Arrival is easily possible by train*. Stralsund is integrated into the IC traffic, in summer some ICE trains also go to the region. Long-distance trains often continue on to the island of Rügen until Binz station. Regional trains from the south of Brandenburg are the RE 3, which runs via Eberswalde – Angermünde – Pasewalk and Greifswald to Stralsund, and the RE 5 via Oranienburg, Fürstenwalde, Neustrelitz and Neubrandenburg. You can reach Rügen Island quickly from Stralsund station on the baltic sea cycle path.
Trains (IC, RE) from the west of Germany come from Rostock. Among them regularly a regional train, which continues to Saßnitz (in Lietzow there is a possibility to change trains to Binz). If you are already on Usedom Island – in alternation with the RE 3, which runs every 2 hours, a Usedomer Bäderbahn train runs via Greifswald to Stralsund. Bicycle transport is subject to a fee on all trains. Reservations for bicycles must be made on long-distance trains, space is very limited. In the summer season (July, August) the trains are all overcrowded and it is difficult to take bicycles with you. Those who want to do so should take the earliest regional trains as early as possible. The RE 3 even has a lower large-capacity car just for bicycles, but even this is often overcrowded then.
With the long distance bus to Stralsund
Stralsund is integrated into the long-distance bus network. Provider is mainly Flixbus*. Bicycles can be taken along on a small scale, but must be reserved in advance and then paid in cash to the driver. Tips for long distance bus rides here…
With your own car or rental car
The journey with your own car or rental car* can be made from the south-east (from the Prenzlau triangle) or west (from Lübeck and Rostock) via the Baltic Sea – freeway A20 to the Stralsund junction. The bottleneck from the west is currently a section near Triebsees, where construction errors in the Trebel moorland have led to the demolition of the road. There is a replacement route for this, and the new construction will probably take until 2021.
The use of federal roads or regional connecting roads is only recommended for the last few kilometers if you are already in the region.
Accommodation for Stralsund, Strelasund and southeast – Rügen
Accommodation in Stralsund
Budget in Stralsund
The younior – Hotel in Stralsund* is the budget accommodation at the edge of the city center. The central station is only 300m away, Knieperteich and Frankenteich are right next to the hotel. However, this accommodation is located at a busy street crossing. Parking spaces are in the yard, vacations with a dog are also possible. There are 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-bed rooms with double bunk beds available, as well as a double bed room. Groups are also welcome.
Upper class accommodations in Stralsund
At Hotel Hanseat Stralsund* double rooms and family rooms are available. Each room has a refrigerator. In the morning you can strengthen yourself at the breakfast buffet for an eventful day. Parking spaces are available for an extra charge. Market and harbour are about 1.4 km away. The Stralsund city beach is about 600m away.
The Aparthotel St. Marien Altstadt* has several apartments for 2-4(+3) persons in the old town of Stralsund. Vacations with dogs are possible, pets are welcome. All apartments have kitchens and washing machines. The house also has a garden.
The Apartments am Sund* are only 40 m away from the harbour of Stralsund. Apartments for 2 to 4(+2) persons are available. The apartments have complete kitchens and bathrooms. Baby travel beds can be provided. Parking spaces are available at the house for a fee.
A small pension with double rooms in an old town house of Stralsund is the Pension Altstadt Mönch*. The breakfast is praised by many guests. Bicycle storage facilities are available in the garage. The pension is located about 5 minutes walking distance from the harbour and Ozeaneum. Also the theater Stralsund is only 200m away.
A vacation bungalow with garden* is rented out Am Köppenberg in Stralsund. There is room for two in the big double bed. A kitchenette is available. The city center with Marienkirche, port and Ozeaneum is about 2,1 to 2,7km away. Parking spaces are available.
Stahlbrode at the Strelasund
If you would like to travel with large groups, you can rent the manor house at LandWertHof Stahlbrode*. Up to 26 persons can be accommodated in 3 group bedrooms. There is also a single room and a 3-bed room. The house belongs to a school farm and is rented out free of charge if no school groups are registered. A well-equipped group kitchen for self-catering is available. Farm animals can be taken care of in the farm. There is a play barn and climbing course. The Bodden/ Strelasund and Stahlbroder harbour are about 800m away.
The coastal holiday home in Stahlbrode* offers space for 2(+1) persons. A garden belongs to the house, it is possible to have a barbecue, vacations with dog are possible. Cooking is possible in a kitchenette with dishwasher and microwave.
In the thatched roof – vacation home with view of the Bodden* there is room for up to 3 persons in two bedrooms (double bed, one single bed). The beach at the Strelasund is only about 100m away. You can barbecue in the garden, vacations with dog is possible.
In Niederndorf there is a guest house* with three apartments (3 to max. 5 guests) and three double rooms. Free rental bicycles are available and a shuttle service is also offered. Playground equipment for outside and inside is available. Horseback riding and water sports are available nearby and can be arranged. Fishing is possible on the Strelasund. Barbecue can be enjoyed in the garden. The apartments have a kitchen.
Lauterbach at the Greifswald Bodden
The water holiday world Im-Jaich* offers various accommodations on land or on water. These are spacious apartments of various sizes as well as floating vacation homes with 1 – 3 bedrooms (2-max. 6 guests). There is also a junior suite with double bed in the stilt house. Parking at the entrance of the grounds. The Lauterbach Mole station (including the narrow-gauge railroad) is a 2-minute walk away. Various water sports – activities are available on site. Vacations with dogs are allowed.
For railroad friends the „Urlaubs-Bahnhof Lauterbach*“ (Vacation-station Lauterbach) is the right address. In the signal box* an apartment is waiting for guests for a relaxing vacation Rügen. Another apartment with 2 bedrooms with double beds is located on the goods floor*. As already said – Lauterbach offers railroad – fans food with three-rail track, narrow-gauge station for Putbus – Göhren and standard gauge connection to Bergen on Rügen. There the vacation – station is surely the correct station.
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