At the end of August, S and I made our way to Norderney, an island in the chain of East Frisian islands in northern Germany. Over the years, S has told me so many stories of his family vacations at the North Sea and I was curious to see the rugged northern coast myself.
Known as the “Queen of the North Sea”, Norderney has been a popular seaside resort destination since its founding in 1797. Frisia runs regular ferries to and from the island from a town called Norddeich on the mainland. You can leave your car at the ferry terminal and walk on or take your car on the island with you, though you won’t need your car very much as the island is quite small and almost everything is within walking or biking distance.
Most holidayers come to Norderney to relax, unwind and breathe the healthy maritime aerosol, small saltwater droplets floating through the coastal air. In fact, Norderney is a popular Kur location in Germany, a place to receive spa treatments and Thalassotherapy.
There are all kinds of accommodation types available on the island, from hotels to holiday home rentals to campsites to youth hostels. We found a small holiday rental flat through Norderney Zimmerservice and were really happy with our location just off the city centre on the northwest part of the island.
There’s lots to do on the island during your holiday – here are some of my new favourite Norderney pastimes:
Soak up the sun in a beach basket
Blue and white striped beach baskets (Strandkörbe) dot the kilometre long beaches on Norderney. Rent a basket for a day or even a week at a time and walk through the powder-fine sand toward your numbered basket. It works perfectly as a ‘home base’ on the beach for the day if you’re travelling with family or friends as everyone can plan to meet at your basket after they finish beachcombing, jumping through the waves or snacking on a fish roll at a seaside café.
The baskets shelter you from strong winds and sand flying through the air while keeping you off the sand and pointed in whichever direction you like. Count me in as a beach basket fan!
Take photos of the charming town and scenery
A shutterbug’s paradise, Norderney offers countless photo ops around every corner. I loved strolling through the town and snapping pics of building entrances, old brick houses, a tiny island chapel and the sea.
A little wedding chapel. #Norderney #Germany #northsea #myyounggermany A photo posted by Kaffee und Kuchen (@kaffeeundkuchenblog) on
Visit the library
Beautiful library in the Norderney Conversationshaus. #Norderney #Germany A photo posted by Kaffee und Kuchen (@kaffeeundkuchenblog) on
Though there’s plenty to do outdoors on Norderney, don’t miss a visit to the gorgeous library. Located inside the Conversationshaus, the modern library offers numberous books, DVDs, audiobooks and games for visitors and island residents. Guests can get a temporary free membership while locals pay 3 Euros for one. Note that media and book rentals do cost a small fee, anywhere from 50 cents to 1,50 Euros per item per lending period. (S and I got hooked on Downton Abbey season 1 and 2 during the couple of stormy days we had on the island. The DVDs were a lifesaver when we were trapped inside – lucky for us that our flat had a DVD player!)
Go for a bike ride
Other than on foot, most visitors ride bikes as their main mode of transport on Norderney. You can bring your own bike or rent a bike on the island. There are several bike rental shops offering rentals for anywhere from 2-4 hours, 1 day, 3 days, a week or longer.
S and I rented bikes one sunny afternoon to ride to Weisse Düne which is located roughly halfway along the Nordstrand (north beach). We stopped for lunch at the Weisse Düne restaurant (named after the island location) and enjoyed some housemade iced tea, delicious fish and chips and piping hot chanterelle mushroom and salmon chowder.
After lunch we walked down the short path from the restaurant to the beach. At Weisse Düne, you can also rent a beach basket, go for a swim or try some yummy Friesian ice cream made from the milk of local Friesian cows.
The roundtrip to and from Weisse Düne was about 10km from the city centre, though it was a leisurely and scenic ride. Highly recommended!
Enjoy a coastal sunset
The weather was rather stormy and overcast for the majority of our week on the island, but on our first night, we were lucky to witness a gorgeous sunset. We were on our way to dinner at a restaurant when we peeked a pink sky in the distance. We ran to the beach to see the sky open up into a brilliant pink. People from town slowly trickled onto the beach to enjoy the beautiful sunset alongside us.
Have you been to an island at the North Sea? Can you recommend another one other than Norderney? I’d love to explore more of these lovely East Frisian islands!