One of seven of the inhabited East Frisian Islands, Juist is a special sanctuary that lies off the coast of Lower Saxony in the Wadden Sea. This island municipality is a popular destination for German and Dutch tourists, although it’s becoming increasingly popular with visitors from further afield.
It might only be 7 kilometres from the German mainland, but Juist offers a real escape from the headaches of the modern world. With a population of just 1,500 people, this island allows for a sense of real relaxation, with 17 kilometres of stunning coastline, unspoilt natural scenery and a more laid back approach to day-to-day life.
The locals call this mesmerising island ‘Töwerland’, meaning ‘Magic Land’ in native German. The Wadden Sea that laps at its shored was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009 and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you’re heading to Juist to explore the great outdoors and survey the wildlife, enjoy a spot of sailing, or simply relax and unwind, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
Things to See and Do on Juist
Although it’s a popular tourist destination for Europeans in this part of the continent, one of Juist’s main draws is its natural wonders. The island is home to several endangered bird species, while the eastern shores of Juist play host to basking seal colonies. Encompassed by gorgeous sandbanks and beaches, even a simple stroll becomes a real experience on Juist.
Juist is home to only two villages, the smallest being Loog and the largest sharing the name of the island. It’s here you’ll find most of the attractions on the island. Juist is particularly well-known for its spa and wellness centres, with an extensive selection of treatments that make full use of the surrounding seawater and its innate therapeutic benefits.
If you’re after more excitement come the later hours, head to the southern coast of the island towards the Marina. This spot offers something for everyone, with a first-rate selection of bars and restaurants, along with a recreational harbour that means sailing enthusiasts and those after boat excursions have plenty to interest them.
If you’d rather enjoy your break at your own pace, simply enjoy a stroll about the island and make use of all those brilliant beaches. Perfect for sunbathing, swimming outdoor pursuits, you’ll never need to step foot on the same stretch of sand twice during your holiday.
A Summer Spectacle
Juist depends on its tourism economy to survive so you’ll never be disappointed whatever the time of year you visit. However, if you’re after warmer temperatures, it’s best to head to this island in the late spring and summer months. Although the mercury begins to rise in May, the warmest weather arrives in August, when temperatures tend to average at around 17.2°C. The mild weather lasts until around September, with the cold snap kicking in around October and enduring until around April.
If you’re after cultural attractions, it’s worth pencilling in a visit for May. In this month, one of Juist’s most popular events takes place, the Juist Music Festival. Bringing together native islanders and performers from further afield, it’s an ideal way to let your hair down and get to know a little more about the local culture.
Savour Local Flavours
Due to its location, it’s little surprise that the island boasts a culinary offering rich in fish and seafood. Flounder, herring and mackerel are all common features on menus here, while trout and eel are also enduringly popular. Island cuisine shares many similarities with Lower Saxony food favourites in general, although there’s still a few local twists to discover and devour.
Vegetarians needn’t worry about feeling left out. This part of Germany is renowned for more than a few veggie-friendly staples. The traditional potato is the most popular choice of veg and accompanies a lot of meals, although it’s not the classic roaster you’ll be enjoying. Try Salzkartoffel if you’re after an alternative to your Sunday dinner favourites. Kale is also a go-to green on the island. Long before this leafy vegetable became a fad with foodies, kale was being enjoyed by Juist islanders and Germans for decades. Don’t forget, if you’re visiting in harvest season, make sure you enjoy German asparagus at least once.
As the island is a tourism hotspot, you won’t be short on options when it comes to guest accommodation. The centre of Juist village offers a good variety of hotels and hostel rooms for holiday-makers with all kinds of budgets, although it can be tricky to find a bed in one of these in peak tourist season.
Many homeowners on the island have capitalised on the increasing popularity of Juist as a holiday destination, turning spare rooms and annexes into holiday rentals. You’ll be able to take your pick from a much more affordable range of alternatives if you don’t mind sharing your space with a live-in landlord. That being said, you’ll also find plenty of apartments and houses to rent without the worry of crossing paths with the owner.
Looking for something much cheaper? Camping is a viable option well worth looking into. Definitely one reserved for warmer weather, there’s ample camping spaces on the island with pitch fees being very reasonable.
Transport Goes Back to Basics
It might surprise you to know that most motor vehicles aren’t allowed on Juist. The island went car-free some time ago and now the only cars and vehicles allowed on the roads here are emergency service vehicles. Even tractors used in agriculture require a special license.
It might seem like a setback to your trip, but in fact this car-free setup will only enhance your time in Juist. The local islanders have rediscovered classic modes of transport to keep them connected, with horse-drawn carriage and the bicycle becoming the default method of transportation for longer journeys.
The island itself is only 17 kilometres long and a mere 500 metres wide at its narrowest point, meaning it’s easy to get around by food or by bike. If you’re looking to cycle about, you’ll be glad to know that Juist offers plenty of bike rental facilities throughout the two main villages on the island.
If you’re worried about how you might arrive to the island, don’t be. Juist has its own airport on the eastern side of the island, with FLN Frisia Luftverkehr offering scheduled flights for convenient connections to the mainland and elsewhere in the Frisian Islands. Most visitors to the island use the ferry however, with services arriving daily.
Shop in Style
You might think that an island as small as Juist wouldn’t offer much in the way of retail therapy, but you’d be surprised. You certainly won’t find any shopping malls here, but there’s plenty of smaller stalls and boutiques to explore and use up your spending money.
Head into the centre of Juist village and you’ll find a variety of shops selling everything from handicrafts and baked goods, to high-end fashion and jewellery. Perfect for those on the hunt for special souvenirs to take back home with them.
If you’re going all-inclusive with a holiday rental on Juist, you’ll be reassured to know there’s a good choice of grocery shops and supermarkets here, although you can expect to pay a slight premium for goods when compared to prices on the mainland. Whatever you’re in the market for, you’ll find most of the retail outlets on Juist in the main village on Bahnofstrasse and Carl-Stegmann-Strasse.
Enjoy the Sunset in Style
As an increasingly popular holiday destination, there’s a great selection of bars and restaurants to explore on Juist. As with shopping opportunities, most of the best bars and eateries can be found in the heart of the main village itself, although you’ll find a smaller selection of options in the tinier village of Loog in the west.
In Juist, there’s a good range of restaurants and bars along Strandstrasse, while Friesenstraase is also packed with choices. Take your pick from trendy cocktail bars to kick off your evening in style, or put on your best threads and enjoy a romantic dinner in more refined restaurants. There’s also the option of heading to the Marina to savour some seafood and enjoy spectacular views of the sunset across the Wadden Sea.