Thursday, 8 June, 2023

Read this in: German

Coming from the North of germany, then you know this island with eventful history because it is the perfect destination for families or just for school trips. You can swim on the dune, some experience, but getting lost is rather difficult on Germany’s only offshore island. Therefore, Heligoland has a rather musty image with many of my fellow human beings from my home in Cuxhaven. But don’t worry. Especially as a day trip or short wellness trip is the island in the North Sea a nice change! Heligoland is a very special island in so many ways.

Not only duty-free shopping in the small boutiques makes the island so interesting. In this blog post you will find opportunities to experience Heligoland in many different ways.

A popular motif for holiday photos of the car-free island in the North Sea are the numerous colorful Hummerbuden (lobster stalls). Cars and bicycles are prohibited on Heligoland. Only now and then do you see small electric cars that bring goods from the harbor to the city center.

The arrival on this island – a little adventure

Anyone who is holidaying in Cuxhaven anyway, can travel wonderfully from there all year round by ferry “MS Helgoland” to the island. The journey is usually very comfortable, if one does not catch a fall storm on the high seas like my classmates in the year 2003. Fortunately, I stayed home with wise foresight, because Heligoland at the end of October is rather less recommendable. Instead, I can recommend you Helgoland in good weather and calm sea to the heart. Over the years, I often traveled there with or without an overnight stay. As a photographer you should stay overnight ’cause the full beauty of the rocks of this island are just there at sunset and dawn.

A very special experience, however, is to reach Heligoland by plane. A flight lasts 20 minutes and can, for example, from Nordholz near Cuxhaven, where also annually the Deichbrand music festival takes place.

If you are a bit too much with flying, you can also travel comfortably from Amrum, Büsum and Bremerhaven with the seaside resorts, but only in the season, ie from April to the end of October. However, my favorite is the catamaran, because you can reach Helgoland in just one hour from Cuxhaven. From Hamburg you need 4 hours by catamaran. And also from Wedel drives one, but also drive the catamarans only in the season.

Unique in Germany

Of course, we have many great places in Germany, from Rügen to the Alps many great landscapes such as heathland or even deserts, the Andernach geyser in the Eiffel or even a unique lake like the Schrecksee holds. But Heligoland is just one of those natural wonders. 70 kilometers from the North Sea coast and completely free of cars, this island looks like another star with the picturesque little houses, the Hummerbuden on the water.

Today you will rarely find fishermen at the harbor, but bistros, boutiques and much to the colorful and sometimes tragic history of the island, which was once considered sacred. Hence the name Heligoland for holy land. In addition to the up to 10,000 visitors a day in the main season, the eta 1400 inhabitants of the island have little impact.

A moving story

Nowadays Heligoland belongs to the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, since the city of Pinneberg took refugees in the Second World War when the island was bombed by the British. So it came to the present appearance of the island, because in addition to the dune, the highlands and lowlands, there is also the midlands, which is basically a big bomb crater.

If you want to reach the Oberland from Unterland today, you can either use the lift or take it for sport and climb the 184 steps on foot, enjoying the view of the neighboring dune. It’s a very special experience to be on this island ’cause cars and bikes are forbidden. But a lift to get on another part of the island. That is weird.

Beach vacation between seals

Anyone who longs for a secluded place to come down and in, finds here a perfect place without distraction. Everyone has probably heard of the Lange Anna, which is narrower from year to year, as the sea and wind more and more of the Buntsandstein remove the island.

As a contrast to the walk on the rock you can simply lay down on the dune on the beach, in the North Sea bathing or watching gray seals. I have even been lucky enough to find many gray seals that have no fear of contact. After all, they have known the tourists for decades. Nevertheless, one should be careful when dealing with predators, as they can even be nimble on land, if provoked. More than 30 meters you should not approach the animals – so bring the best binoculars or telephoto lens. For those who want to travel to Heligoland for seals, I actually recommend the otherwise unpopular months of November and December, because then the gray seals will be young.

During the day many tourists are often on the way to the cliff Die Lange Anna. If you want to take spectacular photos of the cliff, unfortunately, you have to stay overnight and should try the golden hour.

Colorful rocks and funny birds

For ornithologists, this is not just a popular destination. Perhaps because it is the only place where there are gannets in Germany. Also fulmars and Kittiwakes can be found on the island. And many birders find themselves especially in the young summer on the highlands: In June you can observe the so-called Lummensprung the guillemots chickens. While these are fed as chicks right in the nests in the middle of the red sandstone rocks the first few weeks, they jump from the rocks at this time, although they can not fly yet.

From then on, the parents have to take care of the flightless boys, who from then on drift in the North Sea. If you have any questions about this natural spectacle, you can contact the association Jordsand, where you can also borrow binoculars. An ornithological station is also close to the circular hiking trail, and research on the heifer biology is also being conducted on the island.

If you are looking for mass tourism, you will search in vain. Although there are some larger hotels in the lowlands of Heligoland. But so right concrete bunker beach romance does not exist here.

A tax-free shopping paradise

Many of us know it from the airport and from the ferry. Sometimes bigger and smaller duty free shops are waiting for us. And even with some flights, we also sell duty-free perfume and jewelry. Almost the entire Lower Country is almost a huge Duty Free Shop. In many small boutiques, the fashion, cosmetics, perfume, spirits and everything your heart desires to sell duty-free. That alone is the reason why many day trippers visit the island in summer.

On high skyscrapers you do not meet on the high seas island and also rarely on vehicles. The houses, however, are usually colorful.

Culinary of one suffering, the other joy

Unfortunately, vegans are out of sight on the island. There really is not much choice on the island. But at some restaurants you can find a good vegetarian and vegan offers. And many a nice cook also roasts spontaneously vegan, if you ask only dearly. For example, in the Aquarium Cafe you can find vegan food. Also the restaurant Bunte Kuh offers dishes like vegan spaghetti.

But who does not live vegan or vegetarian, the picturesque island offers some specialties from the sea. In addition to lobster or freshly caught fish, there is also a special Helgoländer delicacy. The scissors of the crab, also called Helgoland Knieper. These are served together with cocktail sauce or aioli.

If you want to admire the colorful sandstone cliffs, you should not be afraid of sheep. In the summer months they run around freely. And usually have no fear of contact with the numerous visitors to the island. But it worths to talk a walk there. The most famous cliff is called “Die lange Anna”. (the long Anna)

Experience the island history

There are not only a few museums on the island and good activities to plan. A signposted history trail also invites you to engage in the fresh air in the history of this island. At 16 stations you will find QR codes and information boards. If that’s not enough, you can take a motorboat tour around the island. Especially in waves, this tour is especially fun. Also through the underground bunker system you can get guided tours several times a week. But notice: There are only tours with advance notification at Helgoland Touristik.

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