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Friday, November 13, 2009
Rugenis the largest of Germany’s islands, nearly 1,000 sq km with 570 km long wiggling coastline of steep cliffs and broad, shallow inlets. It is a picture-book paradise of white cliffs, wide sandy beaches, wood and moorland with romantic castles, old churches and old-fashioned towns of fin de siecle villas.
The main town is calledSassnitz, the ‘Gateway to Scandinavia‘. It is a colourful port with the longest seawall in Europe, a 1,450 m long mole where you can spend hours watching the boats come in – from passenger liners to fishing skiffs. Nearby isJasmund National Parkwhere the sheer chalk cliffs with their extraordinary charm, plunge dramatically into the sea. Behind the dense beech forest, there is unusually diverse woodland including wild apples and pears. There are several idyllic resorts dotted around the coast in the south east – old spa town with incredible clean beaches.
In contrast to the woods and hills of the eastern site, is a low-lying area of saltmarsh wetlands, tidal flats and peat bog with an incredible variety of flora and fauna. The lagoons there are heaven of thousands of migrating cranes.
When to go:Rugen is beautiful at any time of year. The tourist season is April to October.Population:73,000.Getting there:By boat – either across the Strelasund on the car ferry from Stahlbrode to Glewitz, or across the Baltic from Scandinavia.