When planning a trip to the beach, you’re probably looking at Italy, France and Spain for your Vitamin D fix but forgetting all about the beauty that’s waiting on Germany’s very own shores. The North Sea, sometimes referred to as German Sea, offers white sand and green meadows as far as the eye can see along with fresh fish, dreamy hiking paths and the world famous tidelands.
I’ve been wanting to go back for years and I’m very glad I did. We stayed in Dorum, a small town right by the beach, which was perfectly central to everything we wanted to do. The weather was in our favour as well but do not let these photos fool you: it’s not always sunny along the Wurster Nordseeküste.
The national park Nordseeküste is the perfect destination for nature lovers looking for a relaxing yet exiting vacation. Wherever you stay, you will be given a “Gästekarte”, guest pass, which earns you free admission to beaches and pools along with discounts for museums and other attractions.
The North Sea is famous for their tides meaning the ocean will not always be there when you show up to the beach. In fact, you might be quite surprised how far away the water will be at times. A tide calendar (available online) can tell you when you’ll be able to go for a swim and when it’s best to go on an epic tideland walk.
While it is absolutely safe to walk along the mudflats by yourself, long tideland walks from one island to another should not be emerged on without a professional guide as the flood has surprised self-confident hikers in the past and can be quite unpredictable at times. Thankfully, guided tours are offered everywhere along the coast. If you don’t want to walk, you can rent a horse-drawn wagon and discover the unique scenery without getting your feet muddy. However, the mud functions a natural foot scrub with endless minerals that you should not miss out on.
These are two of the most interesting and elaborate interactive museums I have ever been to and they’re located right next to each other by the harbour in Bremerhaven, circa 30 minutes from Dorum. However, since both museums offer an intense variety of knowledge and require several hours of your time, you might want to consider doing them on separate days to avoid information-overflow-induced headaches. The city’s harbour is great for walks and culinary recharging between museums as well.
Admission is quite expensive at €14.80/€16 per adult and €8.80/€11.50 per child but I promise you both museums are well worth the time and money for children and adults alike. Dogs are not allowed in either of them.
The Auswanderer Museum, Emigration Museum, winner of the 2007 European Museum of the Year Award, covers 300 years of immigration and emigration history with a unique design: your entrance ticket is a boarding pass to your new life across the pond, which leads you through authentic waiting halls onto a ship where you can see replicas of cabins for different classes and hear stories by former travellers. Once you’ve made it past Ellis Island, you arrive at a stunning replica of Grand Central station where you can learn about the multicultural population all over America.
From there you continue back to a Germany from the 60s and 70s, including a retro hair salon, department store, cinema and much more. You can also trace your real ancestors in the Family Research Room. Every info board and audio station is available in English. An extraordinary amount of educational info is available during this journey so be sure to plan a few hours for this. It took us about two hours but we only listened to maybe 1/3 of the stories.
The Climate House offers another virtual journey but one of a completely different kind: around the globe and it’s different climates. From milking cows in Switzerland to live insects and giant grass straws in Sardinia, dry heat in Niger, a wobbly rope bridge over a fish pond in Cameroon, -10°C in Antarctica, a tropical oasis in Samoa and back to the tidelands near Bremerhaven, Germany.
Walk under a sky full of stars, make your way through a rain forest in the dark, watch a breathtaking sunset and visit the bar in the middle of the Alaskan ice- only at the Klimahaus. Circa 1000 live animals like insect and fish make this a scarily authentic experience along a single line of latitude: circa 9° East. Countless activities for children and plenty to see and learn for all ages complements the experience.
Other halls include a special exhibition on the ocean, a future lab with fun games for children, the weather room where the museum’s personal meteorologist predicts the weather and answers your questions regarding climate, climate change and everything in between.
The traditional food of the north is fish and you’ll have difficulty getting around that. If you like fish, you will love the fresh and creative dishes that can not be found in the south of Germany. From fine filets to fish and chips, you will not go hungry during your trip. Look out for small booths selling the famous “Fischbrötchen”, different kinds of fish, onions and pickles in a bread roll: a delicious and cheap snack. Unfortunately most of the fish restaurants are very vegetarian-unfriendly but there are many other options, you just might want to avoid places with “Fish” in their names. Something else we discovered is jam! Family-owned farms will put little stands outside their houses where you can help yourself to delicious jams and throw the money in a little piggy bank.
Whether you’re travelling with a family, friends or a partner, I would always suggest getting an apartment. booking.com and airbnb.com have great offers for apartments and houses by the sea, some even have ocean views and almost all of them are in walking distance of the water. Of course there are pretty hotels as well but you can save a few bucks and gain a few more quiet moments by having breakfast and cooking a meal or two yourself.
Model and non-model dogs are not allowed at all beaches but there are dog beaches almost everywhere. If you’re walking in the national park, dogs must be on a leash so consider bringing a longer one but there are also countless hiking and walking paths where your furry friends can run freely and explore the beautiful scenery on their own terms.
Dorum is a circa 6-hour drive from the KMC, 5 hours from Wiesbaden and 6 hours from Stuttgart. There are trains to Bremerhaven but if you’re looking for a more quiet base, you might end up struggling with public transport to less crowded areas so this will be one of the few times I suggest travelling by car.
Author’s profile: Leonie is a poetry-loving literature student with a passion for small towns, road trips, and breakfast food that’s being served at all hours of the day. When she isn’t hopping from one bargain flight to the next, she is making sure you’re hanging with the locals and staying updated on events in your area.