Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park is a heavily protected UNESCO-listed area, resulting in a stretch of nature that is, in the truest sense, untouched and unspoiled. Travelers are allowed to visit freely only designated areas of Neuwerk, one of the three islands that make up the national park. To visit Scharhörn Island, you need special permission from a professional ornithologist who calls the island his home. The artificial island of Nigehörn is accessible only for the said ornithologist, while tourists have to satisfy themselves by observing it through binoculars from Scharhörn.
The landscape of Hamburg Wadden Sea is truly something else. It is a unique ensemble of almost 12,000 hectares of protected coastal mudflats, salt marshes, shallow creeks, sand bars (Plaaten) and dune islands, the like of which you would rarely, if at all, find anywhere else.
Even though Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park sounds and looks like it belongs to another planet far removed from the one we are familiar with, it is actually very easily accessible. Regular ferries to Neuwark Island leave from Cuxhaven‘s Alte Liebe harbor, and the journey takes a mere hour-and-a-half. Cuxhaven is a few hours by road or public transport from the bustling city of Hamburg.
Almost 2,000 species of animals have made Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park their home, many of which are exotic and rare. When you visit, you can be sure to spot gray seals and common seals, and several other species of creatures if you are lucky.
Thanks to the natural influx of sediments, there is a perennial source of food at the mouth of the Elbe River for seabirds, which in turn makes the national park a favored nesting and molting area for the feathered beauties. Here, you can see a huge population of shelducks, eider ducks, gulls and geese in their natural habitat.
Like everything else in Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park, the activities it offers are unique too. Here, you can swim to your heart’s content in the clean water, stroll through mudflats and salt marshes, greet friendly seals who call the national park their home and gallop along the coast on horseback. And of course, as mentioned earlier, if you are interested in bird watching, you’ve come to the right place. You can even take part in guided bird-watching tours and visit a lovely amber museum in Neuwerk.
Neuwerk is one of those rare spots left in the world that are not overrun by tourists. This three-square-kilometer (1.15-square-mile), car-free island with a population of 40 promises all the solitude your city-tired soul craves. Neuwerk is not only an unspoiled, stunning island, but is steeped in history dating back to the year 1299, with clear traces of the glory of the Hanseatic League.