Rügen is the largest island in Germany. Nestled in the Baltic Sea, the island is known for its gentle landscapes, coastal cliffs, tranquil beaches, verdant forests and charming villages. Rügen offers a perfect setting for a road trip. As you follow the scenic routes, you’ll encounter pristine nature reserves and beaches, historic attractions and rustic villages that showcase the island’s unique character. I spent several days exploring Rügen and had a wonderful time soaking up the island’s laid-back vibes and gorgeous natural surrounds. If you’re considering a road trip in northern Germany, especially in the summer, I recommend adding Rügen to your itinerary. Here’s my guide to the best places to visit in Rügen on a road trip.
Rügen road trip itinerary
Rügen is connected to the mainland by a bridge and causeway from the town of Stralsund. There are lots of interesting things to see in Stralsund so I definitely recommend spending a day/night there.
This Rügen itinerary can be done in 2-3 days, or longer if you wish to spend more time hiking in the forests, cycling or enjoying the beaches. From Stralsund, cross the bridge and drive eastwards to Putbus.
Then continue to the southeastern corner of the island before heading north along the east coast to Binz and Prora. From Prora, head inland to Ralswiek via Bergen auf Rügen. The route continues to Sassnitz and Jasmund National Park. From here, follow the northern coast westwards to the village of Vitt. Then head south, stopping in Schaprode along the way before returning to the mainland.
This road trip route covers many of Rügen’s top natural and cultural attractions. Along the way, you’ll pass the island’s beautiful rolling landscapes, forests, lagoons and villages. One thing I really loved about this route were the many tree-lined roads.
Best places to visit in Rügen
Putbus was my first stop on my Rügen road trip. Often referred to as the “white town” due to its stately white buildings, Putbus is an elegant town with a rich cultural heritage. The town, as it is today, was built in the 19th century in the Neo-Classical style. If you love roses, you’ll love Putbus as countless rose bushes line the streets! Visit the castle, orangerie, church and adjacent park, and stroll around the Market Square with its historic architecture.
In Putbus, I stayed at the Parkhotel Putbus, which had spacious rooms, a large terrace and ample parking.
From Putbus, head southeast to the Mönchgut Peninsula, an area of untouched beauty encompassing wetlands, meadows, and picturesque fishing villages. Cycle through the scenic landscapes and discover the charming villages of Baabe, Sellin, and Göhren, each offering a unique perspective on traditional island life.
For a more secluded beach experience, venture to the southern tip of the island and discover Thiessow beach. Surrounded by dunes and featuring pristine waters, Thiessow offers a tranquil escape, perfect for those seeking a quieter coastal retreat.
Famous for its distinctive pier and historic architecture, Sellin is one of the loveliest places to visit in Rügen. Stroll along the iconic Seebrücke (pier), laze on the beach, visit the Amber Museum and experience the charm of Sellin’s unique blend of natural beauty and architectural splendor.
As you drive northwards from Sellin, make a stop at Binz, a haven for nature enthusiasts. Wander through the enchanting woods, where tall beech trees create a serene atmosphere. The forest opens up to beautiful sandy beaches, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds. Known for its long stretches of golden sand, Binz beach is a sun-seeker’s paradise. Bask in the sun, take a dip in the refreshing waters, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this popular seaside destination.
Adjacent to Binz, Schmachter Lake is a peaceful retreat hidden in the heart of the island. Take a leisurely walk around the lake, reveling in the tranquility. Birdwatchers will delight in the diverse avian species that call this area home.
Uncover a piece of Rügen’s complex history by exploring the fascinating Colossus of Prora, just north of Binz. Built during the Nazi era as a massive beach resort, it was never completed and later used by the military. Nowadays, there’s a museum with exhibits shedding light on its historical significance. The complex also houses hotels, cafés and restaurants.
Baumwipfelpad canopy walk
Near Prora, you’ll find the Baumwipfelpad or treetop walk. From the Natural Heritage Centre, a path leads visitors into the forest and to a 40-meter high, circular tower. In the tower, the path gradually rises above the treetops for panoramic 360-degree views. Walking on this canopy walk is, in my book, one of the best things to do in Rügen.
For an extra thrill, a spiral tunnel slide brings visitors back to the Natural Heritage Centre. Or, you could use the stairs.
From Prora, continue inland to Bergen-auf-Rügen, the largest town on the island, before heading north to the village of Ralswiek. From the E251 road, take the exit to Ralswiek and drive through the beautiful forests down to the lagoon.
Ralswiek is home to the Störtebeker Festival (held every year between late-June and early-September), an open-air theater performance celebrating the legendary pirate Klaus Störtebeker. The festival’s grand stage on the shores of the lagoon provides a spectacular cultural experience against the backdrop of the island’s beauty.
Head to Sassnitz, a quaint town on the northeast coast. A bridge links the upper town with the promenade below. Take a stroll along the lively promenade and visit the U-Boot Museum.
Jasmund National Park
Heading north, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Jasmund National Park, Germany’s smallest national park. Renowned for its ancient beech forests and the striking chalk cliffs of Königsstuhl, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit. Hike along well-maintained trails, and be sure to visit the National Park Center to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the area. There’s also an observation deck for beautiful views of the Baltic Sea.
Vitt, located on the Wittower Peninsula near the northernmost point of the island, is a fishing village that can trace its history back to the 13th century. Stroll through this charming village and grab a bite of one of the local fish specialties. There are also numerous hiking trails and beautiful beaches to explore on the Wittower Peninsula, such as Nordufer beach.
To get back to the Rügen mainland from Vitt, you’ll have to use the Wittower Fähre ferry (for pedestrians, cyclists and cars) that connects the Wittower peninsula with the Rügen mainland. The crossing takes just 8 minutes (make sure you have small change for the fare).
Once back on the Rügen mainland, you can opt to visit Schaprode, a small village that’s the main departure point for boats to nearby Hiddensee island.
As you traverse the picturesque roads, you’ll discover many places to visit in Rügen. Whether you’re exploring historic villages, hiking through pristine nature reserves, lounging on sandy beaches, or immersing yourself in local village life, Rügen offers a wonderful road trip experience.