Binz, Germany

Photo: Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Thomas Wolf, http://www.foto-tw.de (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
August may be finished, but that doesn’t mean the summer is over quite yet. Autumn doesn’t officially begin until September 23rd, according to the calendar. Which means you have a few more weeks to sit on the beach and enjoy the sunshine. And right now, after kids—and their teachers—have returned to school, might be the best time for a seaside retreat.

Rügen should work quite nicely. Germany’s largest island sits off the country’s northeastern coast in the Baltic Sea. The longest bridge in the country connects Rügen to Stralsund on the mainland. Ferries arrive from Trelleborg, Sweden. Chestnuts and elms, oaks and poplars fill the interior. While white-sand beaches, wide bays, and chalk cliffs line the coast.

Those sandy beaches and high cliffs have been luring people to Rügen since the early 19th century. Fishing and farming villages became seaside resorts with water-facing hotels, long boardwalks, and seafood restaurants. Centuries later, the historic architecture feels charming and quaint. And after the busy height of summer, places like Binz are finally starting to quiet down.

Photo: Hotel Ceres
Photo: Hotel Ceres

When you arrive on Rügen, head straight for Jasmund National Park. It may be Germany’s smallest national park, but it’s full of rare plants and stunning views. Königsstuhl (King’s Chair) is the largest and steepest of the chalk cliffs. While hiking trails wind around granite steps, narrow ledges, and sharp drops.

After exploring the park and the cliffs, you’re ready to find one of those gorgeous beaches. Luckily, Hotel Cere, where you’re staying, sits on Prorer Wiek, a bay on the island’s east coast. The design hotel’s rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, black-and-white rooms, and platinum-colored fixtures. The lounge opens to a garden surrounded by sculpted evergreen plants. A warm stone deck, a fresh-air bamboo grove, and a sunbathing area invite you to linger in the Senso Spa. German wines, garden-grown vegetables, and wild herbs are served at Negro, the purple-lit restaurant. While the rooftop terrace has sunbeds with perfect views of the bay and the nearby foothills.

But the hotel—and all of its modern amenities—can wait. After peeking at the view from the balcony, you drop your bags and head down to the beach. It’s almost deserted. You have the sun, the sand, and this beautiful spot practically to yourself. You’re so glad everyone else’s summer has already ended.

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