With over 1900 hours of sunshine every year, (more than both mainland Germany and Poland), the picturesque island of Usedom can rightfully be called The Sunny Island.
Situated in the Baltic Sea, the island’s 172 square miles are split between Germany (144 square miles) and Poland (28 square miles). With an economy almost totally reliant on tourism, this little Baltic Sea gem strives to make your visitor experience the best it can be. A policy which obviously pays off as it is one of Germany’s favourite holiday destinations.
The sophisticated seaside towns of Zinnowitz, Ahlbeck, Bansin and Heringsdorf have, over the years, been the chosen holiday destinations of both international nobility and famous artists. The facade of the beachfront hotels is reminiscent of the UK’s Brighton in its heyday of the 1960s. While the pearly white fine grain sand beaches and unique wicker beach chairs remind you that you’re hundreds of miles away from the British Isles.
The island has something for everyone, from spa facilities which date back to the days of the German emperors, to outdoor music festivals and theatre performances. Grand hotels overlooking the beaches and set amid lush green vegetation interspersed with small pine forests, provide a feeling of opulence. Yet small budget priced hotels and B&Bs are just a short stroll away.
Things to do on Usedom:
The increasing numbers of people worldwide choosing to enjoy the relaxing benefits of health spas and wellness retreats have seen something of a resurgence in Usedom’s spa facilities.
Although well known for its beneficial mineral waters since the 19th century, today’s luxurious spa centres on Usedom can compete with any in the world. With cutting edge equipment, the latest treatments and highly trained and skilled staff and dieticians, your stay at a Usedom spa hotel complex will be something to savour.
But Usedom isn’t just about spa retreats for the well heeled. Visitors from all over Europe arrive to enjoy the special cultural activities, the unique local cuisine, and to get immersed in the many events organised throughout the year. Trassenheide is home to Europe’s largest butterfly farm, while the seaside town of Kaiserbader is home to the longest pier in Continental Europe. At 508 metres long it is not only open to the public, but includes apartments for tourists looking to stay somewhere a little different.
Hiking and cycling are popular activities with tourists. Many arrive with their own cycles, but cycle hire for all ages can be arranged in hotels and guesthouses. If cycling is your thing, then you must fit in the 5-mile gentle bike ride along the promenade between Heringsdorf and Bansin. Don’t forget your camera, some of the views, and the architecture of the Wilhelminian villas, is stunning.
Germans have always had an interest in becoming one with nature. Usedom has a number of hotels, retreats and beach areas specifically for naturists.
Add to that,
• Open air classical and modern music concerts.
• Outdoor theatre performances.
• Fashion events.
• Sporting events.
• Fourteen nature reserves.
• Museums and cultural activities.
• The best of traditional cuisine.
You certainly won’t be short of things to do. Every month of the year you will find a number of events organised somewhere on the island – and nowhere is difficult to get to. For those visiting for New Year’s celebrations, towns along the coast provide their own fabulous firework displays to welcome in the New Year.
How to get to Usedom:
At present, there are no direct flights from the UK into Usedom’s airport of Heringsdorf. UK tourists have to fly into one of Germany’s mainland airports, then on to Heringsdorf using local carriers. With the increase in travellers visiting the island, both Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are opening routes into the small municipal airport in 2017.
Favoured by Berliners for weekend getaways, travelling time by car from the city to the island is around two and a half hours on the A11 and A20 trunk roads. Depending on where you are travelling from, a rail journey will entail changing to the Usedomer Bäderbahn railway link at Züssow, and from there your journey will take around 45 minutes.
Your Holiday Accommodation:
With visitors of all ages and nationalities visiting Usedom, accommodation is plentiful and varied. Five star spa and wellness hotels are available in all the larger towns, or nestled away in their own secluded grounds.
Good value smaller hotels can be found all around the island as can a large variety of guesthouses and B&Bs. With a bridge connecting the mainland to the island, campsites are available for both hikers with tents, and camper vans.
Whole house and apartment lets are also available for those whose stay is going to be longer than a few days. Whether you want to stay beside the sea, or further inland to enjoy the nature reserves, cycling or hiking trails, Usedom will have available accommodation to suit your needs.
Shopping in Usedom:
Wherever you are on holiday, a relaxing day strolling around local shopping centres or markets, seeking out those souvenirs no-one else has found is a must. While Usedom might not be full of the designer stores found in Europe’s capital cities, all the towns have a good selection of shops to browse for gifts to take home as a reminder of your visit.
One place not to miss is Karls Erlebnis-Dorf, a cosy farmers market at Koserow. Set on a ten-acre site you can watch local jam, bread and sweets being made, while in the cafes and restaurants you can enjoy a lunch of freshly made burgers and pancakes in mouth watering sauces. With the goat petting area, bouncy cushions, slides, caves, and a host of other children’s attractions to keep the rug-rats happy, you can enjoy a relaxing coffee before browsing the souvenir and craft stalls.
Eating in Usedom:
As you would expect on a small island, fish plays a large part in the Usedomer’s diet. If you love fish you’ve found Utopia. You can enjoy sliced mackerel, with a green salad and berries for breakfast. A baguette filled with matjes (soused herring), sliced onion and green salad for a morning snack, or pickled herrings, lettuce, onion slices and pickles in a brotchen (bread roll). And that’s before you get to lunch.
Lunchtime snacks of pasta and shrimp can be enjoyed, or perhaps you prefer grilled salmon with grated avocado or on a bed of green salad. As a main dish in the evening, grilled fish could be served with sauté vegetables, tomato slices and cheese sauce. Or perhaps you’d prefer breaded fish and roast potatoes, all covered in a marinated beetroot sauce.
Before all you red meat lovers begin cancelling your bookings, all is not lost. Usedom’s hotels and restaurants also provide a large selection of international dishes from breakfast to your midnight snack. Thick juicy steaks, meat and vegetarian burgers, salads, vegetables and French fries are available. Pasta dishes with everything except fish. Whether in a high end Michelin restaurant, or seafront cafe, you will find something to suit all tastes.
Best Time to Visit:
With so much to see and do in Usedom throughout the year there is really no ‘best’ time to visit. The months of June through August are the warmest, without the stifling heat of some of the Mediterranean hotspots. December through March are the cooler months and warm outdoor clothing is advised.
Summer is the most popular visiting time, although spending Christmas and the New Year in Usedom is becoming increasingly enjoyed, especially by mainland Germans. If you are considering a quiet out of season break to enjoy the nature reserves, wildlife, hiking and cycling trails, then consider the autumn and spring months, when the fresh air and sea breezes will invigorate the body and rejuvenate the mind.