Things to Do on Rügen Island, Germany

Imagine an island with picturesque towns, breathtaking chalk cliffs, and sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Welcome to Rügen Island, Germany’s largest island and a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural experiences. In this blog post, you’ll discover the island’s diverse history, unique attractions, and fantastic culinary delights that will make your visit to Rügen Island unforgettable!

Sea coast and white cliffs on Rugen Island. Wooden breakwater on the beach. Dusk.

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Photo credit: Ryszard Filipowicz/Shutterstock.

From beachside relaxation to hiking in national parks, visiting Rügen Island is an adventure waiting to happen. With its stunning landscapes and rich history, you’ll find yourself longing to return even before you leave!

Riding a bike in Bremen, Germany.

Thank you to the Germany Tourism Board for inviting me to visit Lübeck, Bremen, Rügen Island, and Bremerhaven.

Pier at Sellin on Rugen Island.

Rügen Island Location

Nestled in the Baltic Sea in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, Rügen Island is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful sandy beaches, majestic chalk cliffs, and charming towns. The island is the largest in Germany and much bigger than it looks, providing ample space to explore its wonders.

Chalk cliffs on Rugen Island, Germany.

Rügen Island History

Rügen Island’s unique history spans centuries and includes influences from Danish, Slavic, Swedish, Prussian, and French rule. One of the most significant developments was during the Nazi-era when the island saw a boom in tourism with the construction of the resort complex Prora, situated near beautiful sandy beaches on the Island of Rügen.

Selfie of two women on Jasmund National park hiking trail.

After World War II, the Soviet Union took over the buildings, establishing a military base and restricted area. Over time, the newly formed German government sold the buildings one by one, leading to ongoing renovations that showcase the gorgeous resort architecture of Rügen Island.

Woman sitting in field at Cap Arkona.

Rügen Island Weather

The weather on Rügen Island can be unpredictable, but it doesn’t stop visitors from enjoying its natural beauty and resort towns. The ideal time to visit is from May to September when beach-ready weather prevails, perfect for exploring Jasmund National Park and other attractions. However, the island is accessible year-round, offering unique experiences in every season.

Baltic ocean waves.

For budget-conscious travelers, the winter months (November to February) are the most affordable time to visit Rügen Island, excluding holidays, of course. During this time, you can still admire its famous chalk cliffs and experience the island’s charm without the crowds.

The Chalk Cliffs of Rugen Island, Huge Boulders in the Baltic Sea, Jasmund National Park, Rugen Island, Rügen.
Photo credit: konradkerker/Shutterstock.

We visited mid June, just before the peak summer season. The weather was great but windy as expected.

Getting to Rügen Island

The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is easily accessible by car or train. To reach Rügen, we took the train from Hamburg to Stralsund, which took about 4 hours, where we rented a car at Sixt to make the short drive to the island. You can also take a train to Rügen.

Rental car on Rugen Island.

To fully explore the island, I recommend renting a car or bringing your bike to get around and discover its many attractions.

Jasmund National Park

A must-visit destination on Rügen Island is Jasmund National Park, featuring the famous white chalk cliffs, lush beechwood forests, and invigorating hiking trails.

Woman hiking in Jasmund National Park.

Jasmund National Park chalk cliffs rise to 118 meters above the Baltic Sea. The famous chalk cliffs are almost identical to the White Cliffs of Dover in England. The park covers an area of 30 square kilometers and is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including beech forests, heathlands, and rare bird species.

SASSNITZ, MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN GERMANY - JUNE 23, 2016: Königsstuhl National Park Center in the Jasmund National Park in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen.
Photo credit: Juergen Wackenhut/Shutterstock.

The park is also home to the famous Königsstuhl National Park Centre, which offers visitors a wealth of information about the park’s natural history and ecology. Königsstuhl (King’s Chair) is the largest chalk cliff in Germany.

Woman standing by sea and chalk cliffs on Rugen Island.

Insider Tip: You can see the cliffs from above along the hiking trails or from down at the stone beach below. I recommend you take in both views!

The chalk cliffs of Jasmund National Park are a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts from all over the world. The park features several well-marked hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the cliffs and the surrounding landscape.

Rocks on beach on Rugen Island.

Insider Tip: You must park outside the National Park. We parked in Sassnitz Parkplatz Altstadt and walked into the park to do the Piratenschlucht and Wissower Klinken trails. It is pay parking, and the washrooms are also paid.

The park is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural and historical landmark, including the ancient beech forests of Serrahn and the nearby historic fishing village of Sassnitz. The park’s unique beauty and ecological significance have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in natural and cultural heritage.

Walking along beach by chalk cliffs.

Those that are not avid hikers can enjoy a guided hike to explore Jasmund National Park, discover its cultural heritage and biodiversity, or have fun identifying fossils along the beach. Visitors can also take a boat tour along the coast to get a unique perspective of the cliffs from the sea.

Skywalk Königsstuhl

Located within Jasmund National Park, the Skywalk Königsstuhl offers a stunning panoramic view of the chalk cliffs and the Baltic Sea. To access the cliffs, you can enjoy a scenic walk or take a bus to the visitor’s center from the parking lot a few kilometers away. From there, it’s just a short hike to Königsstuhl and its breathtaking views from the viewing platform that cantilevers out from the cliff.

Skywalk in Jasmund National Park.

The entrance fee for the visitor’s center at Königsstuhl is 12 Euros, making it an affordable and unforgettable experience for all ages.

Insider Tip: As it is in a protected area, there is no parking at the center, so head to the Hagen car park to catch a shuttle. We purchased a combination parking ticket, shuttle ticket, and entrance fee for 21 Euros at the Hagen car park area.

View from skywalk of chalk cliffs.

Seaside Resort Towns: Binz and Sellin

The seaside resort towns of Binz and Sellin are known for their charming architecture, piers, and beautiful beaches, making them popular tourist destinations.

Binz, Island R端gen, Germany, Baltic Sea beach.
Photo credit: Mario Hoesel/Shutterstock.

Binz

Binz, in particular, boasts a delightful atmosphere, with a crescent moon-shaped beach, pristine white sand, majestic pine trees lining the dunes, and vibrant gardens overflowing with roses, lavender, and peonies.

Typical beautiful German house near the sea.
Photo credit: LarysaLitvin/Shutterstock.

The architecture in both towns is remarkable, featuring villas with beautiful balconies of white carved wood or elegant wicker beach chairs, typical of the late 19th-century Baltic Sea constructions.

Beach basket chairs in Sellin.

The Strandpromenade is a walkway filled with beautiful summer houses, luxurious hotels, and delightful shops.

Sand castles on the beach of Rugen island in the Baltic Sea,
Photo credit: tilialucida/Shutterstock.

Sellin

In Sellin, the famous Sellin Pier stands out as the longest pier in Rügen, boasting a beautiful white facade against a stunning blue backdrop of sky and water. The Pier, which has a restaurant, has been rebuilt multiple times in the face of challenging weather conditions, adding to its reputation.

Sellin Pier from top of stairs.

There are about 90 stairs leading to the pier, or else you can take the lift to the side of the pier. The nearby Wilhelmstrasse, the main street in Sellin, offers many restaurants to savor the local cuisine.

Traditional looking homes on Rugen Island with woodwork.

Rent a Strandkorb

For a truly relaxing experience, rent a Strandkorb, a traditional German beach chair, to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches of Rügen Island. These beautiful striped covered beach chairs can be found for rent at beach resorts and kiosks on the island.

Woman walking on beach by strandkorbs.

Insider Tip: You can rent a strandkorb per hour, day or week. The longer you rent it, the better price you will get.

Woman sitting in a strandkorb.

Granitz Hunting Lodge Adventure

Discover the 19th-century Granitz Hunting Lodge, a castle turned museum with unique architecture, a majestic 38m high tower, and an impressive collection of hunting trophies. The lodge’s main attraction is its incredible cast-iron spiral staircase in the middle tower, which provides a stunning panoramic view across Rügen Island.

Statue in front of Granitz Hunting Lodge, Binz, Ruegen, Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, Germany.
Photo credit: Altrendo Images/Shutterstock.

To get to the hunting lodge, take the old-fashioned Rasender Roland train from Binz, or explore the area on foot. While visiting the Granitz Hunting Lodge, admire the 19th-century furniture, hunting rifles, paintings, and trophy collections displayed in the museum.

The spiral staircase in the hunting seat Granitz, Ruegen, Germany.
Photo credit: Michael Thaler/Shutterstock.

Cape Arkona Lighthouse and Fishing Village

Cape Arkona Lighthouse, located on the northernmost point of the island, and the nearby fishing village offer picturesque scenery, fresh fish sandwiches, and stunning views from the lighthouse’s viewing platform.

Lighthouse at Cap Arkona.

The lighthouse is a stunning combination of two lighthouses and a radio navigation tower, standing tall as a testament to Rügen Island’s maritime history.

View of lighthouses at Cap Arkona.

To get to the lighthouses at Cape Arkona, walk or take the shuttle train/bus from the parking area. While at Cape Arkona, be sure to explore the surrounding attractions, such as the beautiful town of Putgarten and the fascinating ramparts of Jaromarsburg. The picturesque streets, beautiful hollyhocks, and charming thatched houses create a stunning atmosphere.

Thatched home on Rugen Island.

Insider Tip: The Kap-Arkona-Bahn is a shuttle train that will save you some walking. It looks like a cute child’s train ride. Tickets can be purchased at the booths.

PUTGARTEN, GERMANY. Touristic train on cape Arkona is transport from village Putgarten to Kap Arkona on Rugen island.
Photo credit: Julia Kuznetsova/Shutterstock.

Treetop Walk at the Naturerbe Zentrum Rügen

Experience a treetop walk at the Naturerbe Zentrum Rügen, a nature center with a wooden canopy walkway stretching an exhilarating 1.2 km long and a 40-meter high observation tower offering fantastic views of the island. The center provides fascinating insights into the beech forest flora and fauna, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers.

Binz, Germany. Treetop Tower on the island of Rügen - Tourists strolling in the Treetop Tower experience a beautiful forest and can look out over the Baltic Sea.
Photo credit: DR pics/Shutterstock.

The canopy walkway at Naturerbe Zentrum Rügen is fully accessible for wheelchairs, ensuring that everyone can enjoy this unique experience.

Hiddensee Island: A Car-Free Paradise

Hiddensee Island, a car-free paradise just a ferry ride away from Rügen Island’s north coast, is perfect for a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle. The idyllic island offers bike rentals and fresh fish dinners, allowing you to explore its charming scenery and savor the local cuisine at your own pace.

Ferry boat on Rugen Island.

While on Hiddensee Island, don’t forget to visit the Dornbusch Lighthouse, built in 1887. Climb to the top and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Baltic Sea.

Island Hiddensee, Baltic Sea, Germany.
Photo credit: Sina Ettmer Photography/Shutterstock.

Beach Bliss in Glowe

For those seeking beach bliss, look no further than the sandy shores of Glowe, a popular destination for relaxation and sunbathing on Rügen Island. A quaint and cozy beach, Glowe offers an intimate setting for a perfect beach day.

Sunset at the Baltic Sea Beach.
Photo credit: ThomBal/Shutterstock.

Rügen Narrow-Gauge Railway Experience

Take a nostalgic train ride on the Rügen Narrow-Gauge Railway, a historic steam-engine train that connects popular resort towns along the island’s Baltic coast. The charming train ride takes you through stunning scenery, offering a glimpse into the past while showcasing the beauty of Rügen Island.

Narrow-gauge railway raging Roland on Rugen Island Germany.
Photo credit: Dean Buchholz/Shutterstock.

For an extra special experience, register in advance and pay an additional fee to ride in the driver’s cabin of the Rügensche Kleinbahn, a train that has been running for over a century.

Culinary Delights: Savoring Rügen Island’s Cuisine

Rügen Island is renowned for its delicious fish dishes, offering a mouthwatering culinary experience for seafood lovers. From smoked Pomeranian fish to fresh catches of the day, the island’s cuisine will delight your taste buds. But don’t worry if fish isn’t your favorite – Rügen Island also offers various nutritious vegetable and wild game dishes.

Dinner from Zum Skipper in Sellin.

We really enjoyed Zum Skipper in Sellin and ate there two nights in a row. The fish and produce were so fresh and delicious.

Fish meal from Zum Skipper in Sellin.

Eat a Fischbrötchen

No visit to Rügen Island would be complete without trying a Fischbrötchen, a delicious fish sandwich that is a specialty of seaside Northern Germany. Made with fish, pickles, remoulade, and onions, this delightful combination can be enjoyed as a sandwich or an open-faced treat.

Traditional North German herring fish filet with onion rings in a wheat bun in the female hand on the background of the sea and ships, traditional Fischbroetchen.
Photo credit: Lapa Smile/Shutterstock.

Cycling Adventures on Rügen

Explore the charming cobblestone alleys of Putbus and Bergen auf Rügen by bike, discovering the hidden gems of these quaint towns. With many great cycling routes on the island, including those around Putbus and the bike path to Putbus on the Jasmund Peninsula, you’ll be captivated by the picturesque scenery and charming atmosphere of these towns.

Cycling on Rügen Island.
Photo credit: Stefans Views/Shutterstock.

As you pedal through Putbus and Bergen auf Rügen, take the time to stop and admire the historic architecture, lush gardens, and local attractions. Whether it’s a leisurely ride or a day-long cycling adventure, exploring these towns by bike is an experience you won’t forget.

Amber Hunting on Sassnitz’s Rocky Shores

Hunt for amber stones along the rocky shores of Sassnitz. The best time to go Amber hunting is after a storm passes, when the tide uncovers the precious stones. Make sure you are a responsible tourist and throw the amber back before you leave.

Amber in a hand in the Baltic Sea.
Photo credit: Pusteflower9024/Shutterstock.

In your travels on the island, keep an eye out for the Amber Museum in Sellin, where you can learn more about this fascinating gemstone.

Where to Stay on Rügen Island

On Rügen, there are so many accommodation options! Rügen Island offers a wide range of accommodations for visitors, from luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses and holiday apartments. There are also several camping sites and holiday parks for those who prefer a more outdoor experience. The island’s larger towns, such as Binz and Sellin, offer a variety of hotels and guesthouses, many of which are located close to the beach.

Cliff House Resort and Spa in Sellin.
Breakfast at the Cliff House Resort and Spa in Sellin.

We stayed at the Cliff House Resort and Spa in Sellin. It is located between Rügen’s Selliner See Lake and the Baltic Sea. The breakfast included with the stay was amazing.

Suite at the Cliff House Resort and Spa in Sellin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rugen Island known for?

Rügen Island is renowned for its stunning beaches, luxury seaside resorts, untouched natural landscapes and diverse resort architecture, making it a popular tourist destination.

What is the best way to explore Rügen Island?

Explore Rügen Island by renting a car or bringing your own bike to experience all its attractions!

RUGEN, GERMANY -  Beach chairs in front of the sea bridge in Sellin on Rugen island, Germany.
Photo credit: Marc Venema/Shutterstock.

From its stunning chalk cliffs and sandy beaches to charming resort towns and unique attractions, Rügen Island offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler. Rich in history, natural beauty, and culinary delights, this enchanting island is just waiting to be explored. So pack your bags and let the adventure begin on Rügen Island!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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