At 926km², Rügen is Germany's largest island. Marked by numerous sandy beaches, lagoons (the so-called Bodden) and peninsulas, which surround the island's core, the Muttland, Rügen is one of Germany's most beautiful holiday destinations. Apart from the lovely landscape, tourists are attracted by the spa architecture from the 19th century, the many brick-Gothic churches and the chalk cliffs of Jasmund National Park. Rügen is also a cyclist's dream with countless trails zigzagging through the island.
The main body of the island, known as Muttland, is surrounded by several peninsulas. To the north lie the peninsulas of Wittow and Jasmund, connected to each other by the Schaabe sandbar and to Muttland by the Schmale Heide, an embankment at Lietzow and the Wittow Ferry. The northern peninsulas are separated from Muttland by several lagoons or bodden, the largest of which are the Großer Jasmunder Bodden and Kleiner Jasmunder Bodden. Major peninsulas in the south are Zudar and Mönchgut which both face the Bay of Greifswald.
The northern part of the Bay of Greifswald, the Rügischer Bodden, is a large bay in the south of Rügen island, with the island of Vilm lying just offshore. At the western end of the bay, the peninsula of Zudar runs out to the southernmost point of Rügen (Palmer Ort), at the eastern end the highly indented peninsula of Mönchgut projects into the sea. In the northeast of the island of Rügen is formed by the peninsula of Jasmund, which is joined to the heart of the island, Muttland, by the bar of Schmale Heide between Binz-Prora and Sassnitz-Mukran and by a rail and road embankment at Lietzow. The Schmale Heide separates the outer bay of Prorer Wiek from the lagoon of the Kleiner Jasmunder Bodden. On the peninsula of Jasmund are the Piekberg (161 metres above sea level), the highest point on Rügen, and the Königsstuhl, a 118-metre-high chalk cliff in Stubbenkammer, which forms the most striking landmark on the island. The northwestern and western sides of Rügen are also highly indented, but a little flatter. Offshore are the larger islands of Hiddensee and Ummanz as well as the smaller islands Öhe Liebitz and Heuwiese. Sand removal and deposition by the Baltic Sea has to be constantly countered by dredging operations to the north and south of Hiddensee, otherwise Hiddensee would merge with Rügen within a few years.
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As one of Germany's biggest theatre festivals, the Störtebecker-Festspiele attract thousands of tourists every summer. Taking place between late June and early September in the minuscule village of Ralswiek, which more or less consists only of the giant open-air stage, the festival shows mostly pirate plays and the like. Klaus Störtebecker, eponymist of the festival, was a famous pirate who lived in the 14th century.
The climate is in the temperate zone. The winters are not particularly cold, with mean temperatures in January and February of 0.0 °C; and summers are mild and temperate, with a mean temperature in August of 16.3 °C. There is an average rainfall of 520-560 millimetres and approximately 1,800-1,870 hours of sunshine annually.
Rügen is best accessed by train or car.
Rostock-Laage airport is about 90 kilometres from Rügen and has connections from Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart and Cologne.
Trains leaving e.g. from Berlin reach the island via Stralsund. Connections can be found on the Deutsche Bahn website.
If you decide to come by car, you'll have to cross the Strelasund Sound on B96. While this is a good way to reach Rügen and access many of its sights, you should be aware that particularly in summer the large number of tourists create long traffic jams just behind the Strelasund bridge.
Probably the best way to get around Rügen is driving yourself. Lots of smaller places inland are only badly connected with the island's hubs by public transport, so a car is necessary. Unfortunately, Rügen's roads are full of tourists in summer which leads to many traffic jams.
If you happen to own a boat you can reach quite a few destinations on Rügen from the waterside. The Jasmunder Bodden, i.e. the large lagoon in central Rügen, offers plenty of opportunities to anchor your boat.
Bikes are another great way to get around Rügen. In large parts, the island is marked by agriculture, which means that many ares are criss-crossed by country lanes and farm roads with almost no traffic. Given that Rügen is a rather flat island, cycling is easy even for untrained people. Bikes can be rented in almost all touristy places.
Rügen is an island, which you can tell when you walk into a restaurant. Seafood is omnipresent and usually very fresh. Try a fischbrötchen, a sliced bread roll filled with smoked (Raücherfisch) or pickled herring and vegetables. The Germans are crazy about asparagus, so during season, do not miss out. You will also find in the region products made from sea-buckthorn (sanddorn) such as fruit juice (served hot or cold), jam and flavoured ice cream.
The local sea-buckthorn (sanddorn) fruit juice is best hot.
Although brewed just of the island in Stralsund, Störtebeker beer is readily available and well worth a few glasses.
Due to the island's popularity over the years, it is easy to find accommodation at all price and comfort levels. The most common accommodation is various forms of holiday apartments, a practical and cheap way to stay. If you prefer to stay in hotels or hostels, there is plenty to choose from. A double in a hotel is around €80-120/night, breakfast included. A holiday flat, a ferienwohnung, starts at around €20 p.p. and night.
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