Rugen and the Baltic Steam Railway Holiday
Right at the top of Germany is its biggest and most beautiful island – Rugen. It sits just off the coast in the Baltic Sea and is connected by both road and rail to the Hanseatic City of Stralsund, where this brilliant holiday is based. A lovely place to stay and great for getting around. Pack your bags, cancel the milk, and join us for a truly memorable collection of visits and rides, bundled together and tied up with fun!
After meeting at St Pancras International about midday the adventure begins by Eurostar to Brussels and then THALYS to Cologne. The luxurious Marriott Hotel is a short stroll from the station – you’ll love the opulence of this place.
This journey could not be simpler! There is time in the morning for a leisurely breakfast and to visit the Cathedral if you want before we leave the city. The intercity train from here takes us directly to Stralsund passing through Dusseldorf, Bremen, Hamburg and Rostock. We now stroll past the lakes to the hotel (600m) or taxi if preferred.
“Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!” and just across the water is Rugen. This is Germany’s top domestic holiday destination and is a bit like the Isle of Wight with chalk cliffs, wild flowers and thatched cottages. This morning we travel by local train to the seaside resort of Binz and then join “Racing Roland” for a jaunty ride through fields and woods by steam train. Later we get to know Stralsund with a relaxing boat trip from the harbour followed by an informative guided walking tour ending up at the hotel.
From one island to another. Usedom is our next destination where local rail services, the UBB, bring us to spooky Peenemunde – an imposing museum themed around the history of rocket development and WWII. Then, an unexpected highlight as we discover a really off the beaten track attraction so typical of Inside Track. Narrow gauge fun and frolics this afternoon at the ever so friendly Schwichtenbergbahn near….well, nowhere really!
Back to Rugen today for more rail-riding and some literal scenic highlights. From Stralsund we journey clean across the island by train to Sassnitz and then drive into the Jasmund National Park. Enjoy the tranquillity of the beech forest and marvel at the cliff-top views as we pause at Konigstuhl – super ecological exhibition here too. Next stop is at Prora for the amazing collection at the Eisenbahn Technical Museum – trains, trams, cars, fire-engines, bikes – you name it – even a helicopter and fighter plane! A further steam hauled ride with Roland before we complete the Islands railway system with the privately run Lauterbach branch line and rail back to Stralsund from Bergen.
Perhaps more well-known than Stralsund on the Baltic coast is the nearby city of Rostock, and it’s here that we travel to this morning. We find another Hanseatic trading post, with a lovely centre and an extensive tram system. In a coach/ferry/rail/ tram coordinated day we combine time in the city with the steamy highlight of a major tourist railway. Running, all year round, for over 15km, through town streets and off across the fields to the seaside is one of Germany’s most exciting steam railways. This afternoon we have allowed for multiple journeys, photographic options, and time for you to lunch in Bad Doberan. Munching on a sausage outside one of the High Street cafes as a steam train trundles serenely past is a uniquely Germanic experience – that’s the marvel of the Molli!
Transfer day today so it’s up to the station for a morning train to Hamburg. After checking into the Hotel Furst Bismarck around lunchtime our afternoon excursion is by metro to visit the remarkable Minatur Wunderland. Spread over three floors in an old harbour warehouse this is the world’s largest model railway exhibition – it’s awesome! For those needing even more variety there should also be time for an optional (though included) steam boat excursion on a lake in the city centre.
After an early breakfast we head for home using a DB train to Cologne and then Thalys across to Brussels. A final Eurostar experience concludes the holiday and we arrive into St Pancras early evening to reflect upon a wonderful week away.
Hotel Zur Post, Stralsund
As the name suggests this hotel has been tastefully transformed from a former post office building into a four-star class establishment. It is located in the heart of historic Stralsund yet still within comfortable walking distance of the station and a diverse selection of evening dining options. There is a restaurant, a cellar bar and the well-appointed rooms come with television, hairdryer, safe and mini-bar.