Picture 1,900 kilometres of coastline lined with upscale Baltic Sea resorts and white sandy beaches, venerable UNESCO World Heritage Sites and stunning natural scenery. Central Europe's largest continuous area of lakes and rivers is just an hour's drive heading south from the Baltic Sea. The small towns and villages nestled between the Ice Age hills and wetlands are home to some 2,000 palaces, castles, parks and stately homes, including the northern equivalent of Neuschwanstein Castle.
Royal seats and Hanseatic cities on the coast of the Baltic Sea
Schwerin Castle, often referred to as northern Germany's answer to Neuschwanstein Castle, was once the main residence of the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. And now the elegant building is the seat of the local government. Just over the road is Schwerin's Old Town, boasting splendid architecture from recent centuries.
The many castles, palaces and stately homes make stunning backdrops for cultural events during the summer months, including the operas at the Schwerin Castle Theatre Festival, Germany's biggest open-air operettas in the gardens of Neustrelitz Palace, the vibrant Small Festival in a Big Park in Ludwigslust and so many more.
The Medieval alleyways in the Hanseatic cities and ports are lined with red-brick buildings, with huge Gothic brick churches towering over them. The best places to admire this style in all its glory are Wismar (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Rostock, Stralsund (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Greifswald. Gabled houses, massive warehouses and sublime town halls reflect the wealth of the traders and merchants back in the days of the Hanseatic League.
Seaside resorts from the Belle Époque
During the 19th century, the first high-end Baltic Sea resorts emerged alongside the flourishing ports. Grand Duke Friedrich Franz I, who headed to Heiligendamm in 1793 to ease his recovery in the waters of the Baltic Sea, founded the first seaside resort in Germany, marking the birth of the spa culture on the white sandy beaches. Nowadays, there are 29 seaside and spa resorts along the coast. Known for being glamorous and sophisticated, they all feature the typical spa architecture, which the imperial resorts of Ahlbeck, Bansin and Heringsdorf are especially famous for. It's no surprise that the island of Usedom has followed this tradition and now boasts more certified wellness hotels than anywhere else.
Three national parks and never-ending lakes
In the north of Germany, there is no end of unspoiled natural scenery. For example, the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park is the largest resting site for cranes in the whole of Central Europe. The bright white chalk cliffs at the Jasmund National Park on the island of Rügen can be seen from afar. And they made for a stunning subject in a world-famous painting by Caspar David Friedrich. The Müritz National Park at the heart of the Mecklenburg Lake District is a wooded area that surrounds Müritz, the largest inland lake in Germany. From there, the water landscape extends in all directions, making this a big hit with keen water sports fans. There's the option to ride a canoe on the "Amazon of the North", sail on Lake Müritz or travel from Schwerin to Berlin on a barge holiday. One thing is for sure – this water wonderland is one of a kind!
© Tourismusverband Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e.V.