Getting Oriented

The Baltic Sea Coast is convieniently broken down into three major areas of interest: the western coastline of Schleswig-Holstein; the lakes inland in Western Mecklenburg; and Vorpommern's secluded, tundralike landscape of sandy heath and dunes. If you only have three days, slow down to the area's pace and focus on one area. In five days you could easily cross the region. Berlin is the natural approach from the east; Hamburg is a launching point from the west.

  • Schleswig-Holstein. Rural Schleswig-Holstein is accented by laid-back, medieval towns and villages famed for their fresh seafood and great local beers (such as Asgaard in Schleswig), and the bustling island of Sylt, a summer playground for wealthy Hamburgers.
  • Western Mecklenburg. Lakes, rivers, and seemingly endless fields of wheat, sunflowers, and yellow rape characterize this rural landscape. Although the area is extremely popular with Germans, only a few foreign tourists or day-trippers from nearby Berlin venture here to visit beautiful Schwerin or enjoy the serenity. The area is famous for its many wellness and spa hotels, making it a year-round destination.
  • Vorpommern. Remote and sparsely populated, Vorpommern is one of Europe's quietest corners. Compared to the coast and islands in the west, sleepy Vorpommern sea resorts on the islands of Usedom and Hidensee have preserved a distinct, old-fashioned charm worth exploring. Bismarck popularized the area by saying that it was like going back 20 years in time.

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