As I headed into the last couple of months of writing my dissertation, I started planning a short vacation as a reward for finishing. I dreamed of somewhere beautiful and relaxing, but didn’t have the energy for elaborate organization and planning. Given Bremen’s proximity to Germany’s North Sea coast, it wasn’t long before I was looking into the East Frisian islands. I found a great off-season deal at a chic hotel with a swimming pool and sauna on Langeoog and booked myself immediately for a four-night stay.
Let me tell you, it was just what I needed. I walked along the beach, drank tea, and swam in the pool every single day. The sauna was so amazing that I promised myself to finally find a good one in Bremen for the upcoming winter. In the evenings, I snuggled into my cozy room and read to my heart’s content (ok, on Sunday evening I watched Tatort too). One chilly afternoon I went on a guided tour of the mudflats (Wattenmeer) — slogging through mud and muck and learning about the birds, shell fish, and worms that inhabit the flats.
Although the temperatures didn’t lend themselves to swimming in the sea, I found November (during the week) to be the perfect time to visit. The beaches were nearly empty, the restaurants always had free tables, and the tourist activities were very personalized. The temperatures hovered around 4-10 degrees Celsius (40-50 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout my stay, so I was happy to have my hiking boots to keep my feet dry and warm clothing to protect myself from the wind!
I would have loved to have extended my visit, but even those five days were perfect for unwinding. After the photos below (more here), I share a few details with you about the island, its activities, and how you can travel there…
There are 1,700 residents on the island, plus about 800 visitors during my trip in the off-season, lending to a very peaceful atmosphere. In the summer, though, the place is hopping and Langeoog sees thousands of visitors every day. There is a small village that boasts nearly all of Langeoog’s hotels, restaurants, and shops. Otherwise, the island is mostly made up of beaches, dunes, and tidal flats.
In 1949, the island was officially recognized by the government as a Nordseeheilbad — in other words, as an island in the North Sea where you can “take a cure” in the special sea climate. If your doctor deems it medically necessary to take a cure, it can be covered by statutory health insurance here in Germany! It also means you pay a “cure tax” of a few euros for each day you spend on the island.
Another plus in my book is that the island is car free. Everyone gets around by foot and bicycle. Many hotels offer bicycles for their guests, plus there are several rental shops where you can rent a bike for the day, a few days, or even a week.
Also important to know is that while the island supports itself through tourism, it primarily caters to German tourists. Meaning, you’ll able to take greater advantage of what Langeoog has to offer if you or your travel partners have at least some knowledge of German.
What to do on Langeoog
In addition to the 14 kilometers of beach, the island provides marked paths of varying lengths (ranging from five to 20 kilometers) for the enjoyment of Nordic walkers and runners. Even in the off-season, there are any number of organized activities for visitors throughout the week, ranging from: tours of the mudflats, sunset cocktails at the top of the iconic water tower, aqua fitness classes, and even a running group. The offerings are posted on public bulletin boards throughout the village and can often be booked at the Rathaus/Info Center.
You reach Langeoog using the ferry departing from Bensersiel on Germany’s mainland, which is where you leave your car if you’ve driven there. If you prefer to travel with public transportation, there are a number of options. On my way to Langeoog, I took a regional train to Norden and then caught a bus which brought me directly to the Bensersiel ferry terminal. On my way back, I took a bus from Bensersiel to the Esens train station and caught a series of regional trains back to Bremen. I found it super practical to travel there with the Deutsche Bahn, since I could book my ticket all the way to Langeoog and it rolled the train, bus, and ferry costs into one price and sorted out the connections for me. Once you reach the ferry terminal, you exchange your Deutsche Bahn ticket for the Langeoog visitor card, which is your pass on the island.
There are also some private bus companies traveling directly between Bremen and the Bensersiel ferry terminal, but their travel times are limited and didn’t work with my plans. There’s a small airport on the island too, offering daily flights in the months of April to September.
Have you visited Langeoog? Any tips you can offer? I’m already plotting my return vacation on Langeoog for next fall!
* This post was not sponsored in any way by the island of Langeoog. My vacation was just perfect and I wanted to share it with you! *
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