For a week we explored the holiday island Usedom and were able to discover a lot on Germany’s second largest island: calming Baltic Sea waves, a fresh sea breeze, miles of sandy beaches, a magnificent spa architecture in the imperial baths and a dreamy hinterland.
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Things to know about Usedom
Usedom is an island in the southern Baltic Sea, which belongs mostly to Germany (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) and to a small extent to Poland. After Rügen, Usedom is the second largest island in Germany and has about 76,500 inhabitants. The island is nicknamed “Sun Island”, as it is regularly the sunniest area of Germany and the Baltic Sea with an average of 1906 hours of sunshine per year. By the way, the Baltic Island can be reached not only by car, train and long-distance bus, but also by plane. Heringsdorf Airport is regularly served by aircraft from Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Zurich.
On the Usedomer Baltic Sea coast we were expecting a fine sandy beach up to 70 m wide, which stretches over a length of 42 km from Peenemünde in the northwest to Swinemünde in the east of the island. This means that the island of Usedom has Germany’s longest sandy beach 🙂 About 7,000 beach chairs adorn this beach, of which we have unfortunately only seen one during our stay. From November to March inclusive, all beach chairs in huge warehouses are protected from wind and weather.
In all seaside resorts of the island of Usedom a spa tax is levied, with which the island finances clean beaches and promenades as well as tourist, sporting and cultural events. The tax is usually paid directly at your accommodation. Day guests must purchase the spa card either at the tourist information office or at one of the many vending machines located at the beach entrances. Basically, you have to pay this tax for every seaside resort you want to visit. However, we have read that the model region project is talking about the introduction of an island-wide tourist tax. This would mean that you can only pay the tourist tax once and discover the entire island.
Corona: How does Usedom prepare for the 2021 holiday season?
During our trip we were able to get an idea of how the island of Usedom is preparing for the time after the lockdown. Various tourist companies have given us a detailed insight into what measures have been taken and which hygiene concepts have been established to give guests, employees and locals a lot of security regarding trips in Corona times. We were able to find out one thing very quickly: Tourism on Usedom is just getting started. And far more than the usual standard hygiene measures, such as distance controls, the wearing of a mouth-nose protection and regular disinfection are implemented.
“Ourhighest priority is the health of our guests, our employees and the islanders of Usedom,”says Marek Rausch, hotel manager of seeTELHOTEL Kaiserstrand Beachhotel in Bansin. And that is why the hotel group introduced its own hygiene seal last year in collaboration with Dr. Schnell for all its hotels and restaurants to provide the best standard for a safer and more relaxed hotel stay.
“More security in the holiday country” also promises the seal “MV against Corona”, with which more than 370 participating tourist establishments in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern guarantee compliance with the protection standards and other measures to control the coronavirus. This includes the Hotel zur Post in Bansin, which, for example, implements increased cleaning and disinfection intervals in addition to initial examinations, weekly rapid tests and extensive training for its employees. “We always set new standards for ourselves to make our guests’ holidays even better and safer.” hotel manager Michael Roth assured us.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is also a pioneer in the Luca app and is the first German state to acquire the license to use the system. This allows tourist companies, restaurants and cultural sites to easily, quickly and securely collect the contact details of guests in order to be able to track infection chains without gaps later if necessary. This eliminates the cumbersome use of paper work and the filling in of contact details. All the companies we have spoken to on Usedom are looking forward to the introduction of the system and support it.
We were very impressed by the extensive digital guest folder offered to guests as an in-room tablet in the hotel room of the BEST WESTERN Hotel Hanse-Kogge in Koserow. “The smart software solution is a true all-rounder and hygienically replaces remote control, telephone and printed guest folder,”hotel owner Michael Raffelt, who is also CEO of the Usedomer Hotel Association, told us. In addition, you can browse hundreds of magazines with your tablet, book a table in the hotel restaurant or find out more about the hotel and the surrounding area. Even a chat with the reception is possible. And best of all, everything works contactless and fast.
But the retail sector is also working on new hygiene measures that go far beyond the legal standard. The Marc O’Polo Strandcasino in Heringsdorf, a concept store of shopping & gastronomy, implemented construction measures during the pandemic-related lockdown and expanded its hygiene concept. Whether it is the installation of contactless sliding doors, the installation of hygiene stations or a significant reduction in the restaurant tables: a lot has been done here to offer guests a lot of security during the reopening without having to do without the usual service.
The spa administration in Koserow also proved its ingenuity in the past year. Due to the Corona Regulation, it was (and still is) not possible to perform classical spa concerts on the kurmuschel. “Koserow without music, that’s just not possible,” spa director Nadine Riethdorf told us. So regular street music concerts were organized for the summer months. It was unknown when and where to meet the street musicians. Holidaymakers and islanders were all the more surprised when they were entertained musically during a walk. For this year, there are already considerations to digitally broadcast spa concerts. This would also allow those who stayed at home to feel some of the Usedom holiday flair.
The fact that camping is a great alternative to a hotel stay or an apartment has already been shown in the last year. Camping was more popular than ever. Especially in Corona times, holidaymakers appreciate the flexibility, the spatial distance to others, large distances and the possibility of self-sufficiency. The dune camp Karlshagen told us about a full utilization in the season 2020 and has prepared everything so that a safe camping will be possible again in 2021.
Whether in a hotel, an apartment, on the campsite, while eating in the restaurant or shopping: Due to the many hygiene measures, there are various restrictions and guests are encouraged to adapt to changing processes and to get used to new standards. But with one thing, the companies are sure: everything is done to spend a nice, relaxing holiday on Usedom and guests can look forward to an excellent service despite the current difficult conditions.
Our Hotel Seeklause in Trassenheide
During our stay on the island we stayed at the Hotel Seeklause in the Baltic Sea resort of Trassenheide, which is a family-run 4 star family and wellness hotel. Our 2-room apartment with terrace was about 36 m2 in size and consisted of a living/bedroom with double bed and sofa bed, another room with 2 single beds as well as a kitchen and a bathroom with shower. The kitchen was functionally equipped with a seating area for two people, a small fridge, a microwave, two hobs and a set of dishes and pots. A plus point for families is the 13,000 m2 hotel’s adventure and adventure park “Pirate Island Usedom” as well as the free shuttle service to the beach.
The Imperial Baths on Usedom
In addition to the sea & beach, they are THE highlight on Usedom: the three imperial baths Ahlbeck, Heringsdorf and Bansin, which are located right next to each other on the eastern Baltic coast. Characteristic of the three seaside resorts are the magnificent, stately villas with ornate facades, bay windows and turrets, which form Europe’s largest ensemble of preserved bath architecture and are thus among the most architecturally attractive and historic seaside resorts in Germany.
At the end of the 19th century until the 1920s, the Imperial Baths were the summer residences of the Berlin High Society (“Bath of the Berliners”) and thus the former farmer’s and fisherman’s island became a place of longing and holiday. Kaiser Wilhelm II also often spent time on Usedom and enjoyed the mild island climate here – so the name “Kaiserbad” probably originated. The longest promenade in Europe, which connects the three imperial baths and the Polish town of Swinemünde, stretches for a total of 12 km. Along the way you will pass countless restaurants & cafés, accommodation securitization facilities, beautiful villas and magnificent piers.
The Imperial Bath Ahlbeck
The Lake Spa Ahlbeck is the easternmost Imperial Bath of Usedom, which developed from 1876 thanks to the Berlin-Ahlbeck railway line from a fishing village to a fashionable seaside resort. We particularly liked the old pier from 1898. The “Grande Dame” is considered to be the oldest surviving pier of its kind in Germany and extends into the sea with a length of 280 meters. On the wide forecourt there is a historic Art Nouveau clock, which probably once a bathguest gave to the seaside resort.
On the beach we have seen some fish stalls where freshly caught fish is prepared and sold – be it grilled, fried, fried or as a pure fish roll.
A walk along the seafront promenade to Heringsdorf is recommended, because here you can admire magnificent villas in the style of the bath architecture, which are usually decorated in white or pastel-coloured, but also in colored tones. Characteristic are the playful gables, ornate wood carvings, columns or (corner) turrets.
The Imperial Bat Heringsdorf
Heringsdorf was once called the “Nice of the North” because of its noble architecture and noble guests. Today, the Kaiserbad Heringsdorf is one of the most famous seaside resorts of Usedom and is also called the “Villaquarter Usedoms”. We were impressed by the modern pier, which stretches into the Baltic Sea with a length of 508 metres and is thus considered the longest pier in Germany.
A very nice and popular photo motif is the XXL beach basket, which is located between concert shell and pier. The largest beach basket in the world measures a width of six meters, a height of four meters and a depth of three meters. Of course we had to take a seat 😉
In Heringsdorf there are also countless magnificent villas in the style of bath architecturedirectly on the beach promenade. We noticed, for example, the bright white Villa Oppenheim, which is one of the most famous bath villas on the island of Usedom. It was originally built in 1883 as a summer villa for the family of the German banker Benoit Oppenheim. Today there are several apartments for rent in the villa.
The Imperial Bath Bansin
Bansin is the youngest and smallest Imperial Bath and was founded in 1897 as a seaside resort. In comparison to Ahlbeck and Heringsdorf, Bansin is not so well known, nevertheless you will find beautiful elegant bath villas, a lively beach promenade and a 300 meter long pier. Unlike the other imperial baths, the villas on the promenade are built on gap, so that the inhabitants of the second row can also enjoy a fantastic view of the Baltic Sea.
The village of Bansin is idyllically nestled between the Baltic Sea on one side and Schloonsee on the other.
The Amber Baths on Usedom
Nestled in the narrow middle of the island between the Baltic Sea and Achterwasser are the four Usedomer amber baths Zempin, Koserow, Loddin and Ückeritz, whose name is due to the fact that it is not so rare at this point of the island that one finds the coveted amber – the “gold of the sea” – on the beach.
The Amber Bath Zempin
Zempin is the smallest seaside resort on the island and is nestled between Zinnowitz and Koserow. At the former fishing village is the narrowest part of the island, so a walk from the Baltic Sea beach to the shore of the Achterwasser is a good place.
The Amber Bath Koserow
In the middle of the Usedomer Baltic Sea coast lies the Amber Bath Koserow, in which about 1,700 inhabitants live. Here, too, one finds one’s narrowest parts of the island between the Baltic Sea on one side and ahydrous water on the other. On a hike to the Streckelsberg, which with a height of 58 meters is the highest elevation of Usedom, you have a fantastic view of the Baltic Sea coast.
During our visit, the Koserow pier was not accessible, as it will be completely rebuilt and is expected to reopen in summer 2021.
If you are in Koserow, you should definitely take a detour to Karl’s adventure village. The popular family excursion destination awaits visitors with numerous attractions, a farmers market and a manufactory barn where you can experience the production processes of wood-fired bread, jam, sweets and chocolate live. Admission is free.
The Amber Bath Loddin
The seaside resort of Loddin, together with the districts of Kölpinsee and Stubbenfelde, offers a beautiful white Baltic Sea beach, a lake not far from the beach and an idyllic natural harbour.
The Amber Bath Ückeritz
When we walked to the beach in the Baltic Sea resort of Ückeritz, we were immediately surprised: Here we found the only beach basket far and wide. What luck, because in the winter season all beach baskets are stored and then brought back to the beaches in spring. Even if we couldn’t sit down, such a beach basket is a really nice photo motif 🙂
Ückeritz is considered to be the most wooded seaside resort on the island and offers a wide range of possibilities as a holiday and excursion destination with its nature reserve Wockninsee, the steep coast, the nature campsite and the nature promenade.
The north side of Usedome
When we passed the Volgaster Bridge on our way to Usedom and moved into our accommodation in Trassenheide, we were already in the order of the island. The area includes the family-friendly seaside resorts of Karlshagen, Trassenheide and Zinnowitz, as well as the historic village of Peenemünde, which is located at the northern tip of the island.
The Baltic Sea resort of Zinnowitz
Zinnowitz is one of the oldest seaside resorts in Usedom. Here, too, you will find numerous beautiful bath villas in the village and on the promenade. Worth seeing is the 315 meter long Vineta pier of Zinnowitz, because there is something very special here since July 2006: The world’s first diving gondola. For 8.50 euros per person, this gondola can accommodate up to 24 visitors and experience a 30- to 40-minute dive to the bottom of the Baltic Sea – and without getting wet.
The monument landscape Peenemünde
The region around Peendemünde is a very historic place, because during the Nazi era there was an experimental institute, which with an area of 25 km2 was the largest military research center in Europe. Between 1936 and 1945, up to 12,000 people worked on new weapons systems, such as the world’s first cruise missile and the first large-scale ballistic missile, both of which were used as “retaliatory weapons” in World War II from 1944.
Today, the Peenemünde Historical-Technical Museum is reminiscent of the time. Today, the monument landscape houses 23 stations with historically interesting ground and architectural monuments from the 17th to the 20th century, which visitors can explore on a 25 km long circular trail. The centre of the area is the ruins of the Peenemünde experimental institutes, which are today considered one of the largest listed monuments in Germany.
The Usedomer Achterland
The vast hinterland of the Baltic Sea is also known as the Usedomer Achterland. Here you will find the original Usedom: hilly meadows and forests, numerous lakes, moorland landscapes, traditionally thatched houses and a lot of peace.
The small town of Usedom
Did you know that Usedom is not only the name of a Baltic Island, but also of a city? We weren’t even aware of this before our Usedom trip, the more surprised we were when we drove through the city of Usedom. The first settlements were already in the 8th century, so that you can find some historical monuments on a walk through the village. An example of this is the Anklamer Tor:a four-storey brick building, which was part of a medieval fortification and was later even used as a prisoner’s tower. In the centre of the old town is the Church of St. Mary, which was first mentioned in 1337.
The Lift Bridge Karnin
In the small idyllic village of Karnin live only about 80 inhabitants and yet the place is also known beyond the borders of the island, because here lies in the middle of the Stettiner Haff one of the most important technical monuments of the island: the imposing Karnin lifting bridge, which was considered the most modern lifting bridge in Europe when it was commissioned in 1933. Trains ran from the mainland to Szczecin via the former railway lift bridge until it was blown up by the German Wehrmacht in 1945. All that remained was the lifting section in the middle of the Peenestrom, which can still be admired from the shore today.
More Sights & Photo spots
With our car we drove off the numerous other sights and photo spots in the Achterland within a day. The two historic windmills of the island are very worth seeing: the lovingly restored Dutch windmill in Benz and the Bockwindmühle in Pudagla from the early 17th century, which is the only surviving mill of its kind located on the original site.
The Achterland is also adorned by three very beautiful castles: the Mellenthin Water Castle, built in 1575, Stolpe Castle and Pudagla Castle. Liepe is home to the oldest church on the island, which was first mentioned in 1216. On the banks of the Achterwasser and the Peenestrom you can feel the rural idyll in particular: here small (fishing) harbours and romantic bathing spots nestle in the dense reed belts.
The lookout tower “Seven Lakes View” in Neu-Sallenthin disappointed us a bit, because we did not see seven lakes from here. Nevertheless, the lookout tower offers a beautiful view over the landscape.
A map with all sights on Usedom
On the following Google MyMaps map we have mapped the most famous sights of the Baltic Sea island Usedom.