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Short escapes

Beach baabes: Why camping on Rügen is Germany’s answer to Ibiza

Rügen is Germany's largest island and its pale blue water and fluffy white sand make it the perfect spot for a camping holiday.

Photo: Imago/blickwinkel

The islands of the Baltic Sea are Germany’s answer to Santorini and Ibiza, minus the pulsing nightlife and plus a kitschy Victorian-style charm.

On Rügen, the largest of the lot, you’ll find miles-long stretches of fluffy white sand, chalk-coloured sloping cliffs, pale blue water, thick, fresh-smelling forests, and open pastures in soft yellows and greens on an island that remains fairly temperate even in July and August.

However, unless you plan your trip aeons in advance (as only a true German would), accommodation tends to book up well before the start of the season. Enter: the camping trip. For a fraction of the price, you can plan a spontaneous group beach holiday just a short train ride from Berlin that even the flakiest friend will commit to.

Where to camp

If you’re looking for more of that peak summer energy, head to nearby Sellin

For a camping trip, proximity to the coast is crucial. There are campsites all along the island’s perimeter, including in the bigger towns like Binz and Sassnitz, but we opted for Naturcampingplatz und Ferienanlage Alt-Reddevitz, a secluded campground on the east side of the island near the municipality Baabe.

From here, it’s only a short bike ride into town and to a series of less-trafficked beaches, and a longer scenic cycle to popular spots like Jasmund National Park. The campsite has hot showers and roofed picnic tables for prepping meals and post-beach card games, as well as a bike rental if you don’t feel like bringing your own. 

Strand hopping

Baabe is a great home base for access to basic amenities without the crowds. Grab a Fischbrötchen – a coastal classic – before cycling down the path along the continuous stretch of beach, which is divided into sections for dog walkers, fishermen and the FKK-curious.

Photo: IMAGO / photo2000

If you’re looking for more of that peak summer energy, head to nearby Sellin, home to the much-photographed Sellin pier, or cycle all the way up to Binz. Borne of the beach-going hype of the 1870s, there’s something very I’m-going-to-the-sea-for-my-health about Binz.

Even when walking down the built-up promenade, the architecture and vibe make it easy to imagine late 19th century families enjoying the same stretch.

Beyond the beach

Remember to pack your camera for your own island trip.

If you want a side of greenery with your ocean views, Jasmund National Park is your best bet. You can walk along the cliffside (once captured by German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich in his 1810s painting ‘Chalk Cliffs on Rügen’), and if you are very daring, descend the occasional hair-raising staircases down to the beaches below.

Photo: IMAGO / Wirestock

If you can manage to peel yourself away from the coast, the interior of the park is surprisingly green and fresh for its proximity to the sea, and a quiet walk through is a great way to cool down after a long day of sunbathing. For longer stays, hop a bus over to the ferry on the west side of the island, which brings you to Hiddensee.

This teeny-tiny car-free island (you can cycle it end-to-end in an hour) was once a DDR summer hotspot, immortalised in Nina Hagen’s iconic tune Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen. Just remember to pack your camera for your own island trip.

Getting there

Train: DB has frequent daily regional connections to Bergen auf Rügen (starting with the RB 3 and 5) and other seaside towns like Binz and Sellin. If you bring your bike, hop off at Bergen auf Rügen and follow the cycle paths through rolling countryside to reach Baabe.

Bus: For a cheaper option, Flixbus offers trips to several Rügen stops, including Sellin, which is a short cycle from Baabe. Bikes are permitted.

Car: The journey is around three hours and a straight shot up north.


Bus tickets go for as little as €30 for a round trip and a train ticket for as little as €50 (free with the Deutschlandticket). We stayed at Naturcampingplatz und Ferienanlage Alt-Reddevitz, where the price for a single adult with a small tent is €19.50/night plus tourist tax.