10 reasons to visit the Baltic Sea
For sun, sand and summer fun, head to Germany's Baltic Sea! It's one of the most popular destinations, not only because of the annual Kiel regatta.
Visit the Kiel regatta
Some 1,400 athletes from 51 nations will take part in this year's Kiel regatta, running from June 17 to 25. The weeklong event, which also features concerts, firework displays and boat parades, is expected to attract millions of onlookers. The Kiel regatta is the largest sailing event in Europe and dates back to the 19th century.
Have fun on the beach
Most visitors to the Baltic coast, however, head there for the peace and quiet, preferring to lie on the beach and swim in the sea. While the weather certainly can't compare with the Mediterranean, the island of Usedom is one of the sunniest holiday regions in Germany. The area gets up to 2,000 hours of sunshine every year.
Relax in a beach chair
Baltic Sea vacationers love the beach chairs, which protect from sun, wind and rain. The chair was invented in 1882 in Rostock by the imperial court basket maker Wilhelm Bartelmann. Aristocrat Elfriede von Maltzahn, who suffered from rheumatism, commissioned him to make a "seat for the beach" — and the idea of the beach chair was born. Today it's impossible to imagine the Baltic Sea without them.
Walk on the piers
Piers are just as much a part of the Baltic Sea as beach chairs. Ferries dock at some of them, while others are built up with restaurants and shops, or populated by anglers. But they all have one thing in common: From every pier you have a great view of the sea and the coast. The longest one is in Heringsdorf on the island Usedom (pictured). It leads over 500 meters (1,640 ft) into the sea.
Take off your bathing shorts, get rid of your bikini and get an all-over tan! That's no problem at the Baltic Sea, which features more nudist beaches than anywhere else in Germany. For many holidaymakers this means freedom and unspoiled nature. The nudist phenomenon dates back to former East Germany, when it was a common practice to lie naked on the beach and swim in the sea.
Photograph natural wonders
Here, the coast does not run gently into the sea. On Rügen, the largest island in the Baltic Sea, chalk cliffs up to 120 meters (393 feet) high rise out of the water. About 70 million years ago a shallow sea was located here, serving as a habitat for many small animals. Their calcareous shells and skeletons fossilized to form a 500-meter thick chalk layer — the origin of Rügen's chalk cliffs.
Discover World Heritage Sites
The Baltic coast features many cultural sites, a fact that has been acknowledged by UNESCO. The UN body has added the port cities of Lübeck (pictured), Wismar and Stralsund to its list of World Heritage Sites. The historic city center has been preserved in all three, making it possible to see how the cities became rich through trade over the past eight centuries.
Explore Hanseatic cities
Lübeck, Wismar (pictured) and Stralsund are not only World Heritage Sites, but were also part of the Hanseatic League. This was a powerful merchants' and cities' association that secured the trade routes at sea and on land. Magnificent religious buildings, imposing brick Gothic architecture and medieval town houses still bear witness to the league's heyday.
Enjoy a fish dinner
Visitors to the Baltic Sea coast can enjoy a meal of fresh fish every day. In most restaurants, fish is delivered directly from the fishing boat to the restaurant kitchen or the market — or straight on to a fish roll for a small snack in between meals. Fishers in the Baltic Sea catch mainly herring, cod, flounder, eel and salmon, while perch, carp, pike and zander can be found in coastal lagoons.
Search for amber
With a little luck, you may come across amber during a walk on the beach. As early as 10,000 years ago, people made jewelry from the fossilized resin. Even today, necklaces, bracelets and works of art like this ship are made from amber. Collectors have good chances to find amber on the beaches of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, especially on the islands of Hiddensee, Rügen and Usedom.