Situated at the northeastern tip of Germany, Jasmund national park has one of the most spectacular landscapes that Germany has to offer. Several hiking trails and cycling routes traverse the park, taking you through dense woodlands and along the rugged coastline, but the uncontested highlight of the region is the white Königsstuhl chalk cliff, immortalised by the 19th-century painter Caspar David Friedrich.
As well as the Jasmund national park and the Königsstein cliff, Rügen has a lot more to offer. Kap Arkona at the northernmost point of the island has more spectacular views, Binz offers posh wellness hotels and luxurious spa treatments and Prora, a former Nazi resort that was never completed, now houses a documentation centre with a permanent exhibition and regular events.
For architecture fans, romantic souls and fairytale-lovers, Schwerin Castle in the state capital is a must-see. This gobsmacking castle is perched on an island of vast parks and garden in the midst of Schwerin Lake and is considered a prime example of romantic architecture. If you want to peek inside the opulently decorated rooms, you can either join a guided tour or venture off by yourself with an audio guide. Schwerin itself has a lot more to offer, and you could easily fill a couple of days exploring Schwerin Cathedral, the old town hall and the quaint Schelfstadt quarter.
More nobility and pomp are on show at Güstrow Palace, one of the most important Renaissance palaces in the country. It was commissioned by the Duke of Mecklenburg back in 1558 and today, the stucco-adorned rooms display a delightful collection of antique ceramics, art from the Middle Ages through to modern times and the ducal weaponry.
Rostock used to rank among the most significant Hanseatic trading hubs, and today, the city has numerous historical sights and centuries worth of fascinating stories about the Hanseatic League. Your days in the city are best spent exploring the brick gothic landmarks, taking a haunting tour of a former Stasi prison, browsing the shops and boutiques along the Warnemünde Am Strom promenade and soaking up the maritime flair at one of the harbourfront seafood restaurants.
Mecklenburg is often dubbed ‘the land of a thousand lakes’, and while it’s not quite a thousand, the area indeed features captivating landscapes of vast national parks and nature reserves encompassing some of Europe’s largest lakes. The area lures with all kinds of outdoor fun, ranging from sailing and canoeing to cycling and hiking, as well as spa and wellness treatments at the picturesque spa town of Waren and the baroque treasures of Neustrelitz.
Time seemingly stands still in Wismar. The medieval town centre still boasts the charm of a bygone era and is listed in its entirety as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re into architecture, you will love wandering the streets here, which are seamed with gabled houses and notable examples of the gothic brick architecture typical of North Germany.
The coastline of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is studded with fantastic wind- and kitesurfing spots suitable for all levels. Heiligendamm near Rostock is widely popular, as are the beaches of Stralsund and Wiek, Thiessow and Kreptitz on Rügen. If you’ve never surfed before, you can sign up for a quick beginner’s course at one of the many schools to help you get the gist of it.
Much like Wismar, the old town of Stralsund has been listed as UNESCO Site due to its well-preserved brick gothic houses and the medieval town centre. Gabled, colourful houses encircle the market square alongside an imposing 13th-century town hall; also make sure you don’t miss the German Oceanographic Museum, or a tour of the Gorch Fock sailboat, which has been converted into a museum.
If you want to leave the buzz and noise of Mecklenburg’s urban areas behind, Hiddensee island is the perfect refuge to catch a salty breeze and slow down. Cars are prohibited on this island off Rügen, leaving horse carriages and bicycles as the preferred modes of transport between the small fishing village of Neuendorf and the iconic Dornbusch lighthouse, the sandy Vitte beach and the cultural attractions around the island.