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North Sea island of Wangerooge: an island like a seahorse

Status: 02/19/2021 10:55 a.m.

Seen from the air, the car-free Wangerooge resembles a seahorse. The most important means of transport is the island railway, which brings holidaymakers from the ferry to the center.

Only eight kilometers of water and mud flats separate the island of Wangerooge from the mainland. A ferry takes holidaymakers from Harlesiel harbor in around 45 minutes to the easternmost of the inhabited North Sea islands in Lower Saxony, which incidentally is not part of East Friesland, but rather the district of Friesland. The travel times depend on the tide, because only at high tide do the ships have enough water under the keel.

With the island train for bird watching

The island railway has been commuting between the port and the center of Wangerooges for more than 100 years.

The island railway is the most important means of transport on the car-free island. It takes holidaymakers from the ferry terminal to the center in just under 20 minutes. On the approximately five-kilometer journey of the narrow-gauge railway, it is worth looking in all directions: over the mudflats, dunes and salt marshes. The route leads through the middle of a protected area that visitors are not allowed to enter. The meadows are an important retreat for animals.

Migratory birds from Northern Europe are guests

In April and May and from August to October, thousands of migratory birds rest on the island. Many of them come from Greenland, Siberia or Scandinavia. On their long journey to the winter quarters in southern Europe and North Africa, they take a break in the Wadden Sea. The island train runs almost at walking pace so as not to disturb the birds. This gives passengers the opportunity to observe the animals up close.

Landmark west tower

The west tower stands in the middle of the dunes and is used as a youth hostel.

Wangerooge's landmark is the 56 meter high west tower, a striking structure that visitors can see from afar. A first tower, which was built from 1597 to 1601, served as a lake and landmark as well as a church. He stood in the middle of the old island village until the New Year's flood in 1855 tore the island into three parts. The village had to be abandoned, but the tower stood on the west beach until 1914. At the beginning of the First World War, the navy had it blown up because they feared enemy ships could orient themselves on it.

Youth hostel with a view

In 1932, a new tower based on the historical model was built around 800 meters south. Since its inauguration in 1933, it has been used as a youth hostel, which now has a modern extension. A great view is guaranteed here. The quickest way to get to the west tower is by island railway - it takes around 45 minutes to walk from the center.

Old lighthouse is now a museum

The oldest surviving building on Wangerooge is the lighthouse. It was put into operation on October 1, 1856, shortly after the storm surge destroyed the old island village. In 1969 the beacon was switched off. Today visitors can enjoy a great view of the island, over the Wadden Sea and the shipping lanes from a viewing platform. However, you have to climb the 161 steps on foot - there is no lift. The lighthouse also houses a local museum, which was set up on the initiative of some islanders.

National Park House provides information about the Wadden Sea

Wangerooge is the easternmost of the North Sea islands in Lower Saxony.

In the center of the island is the National Park House Rosenhaus. His employees provide information about the Wadden Sea habitat and want to arouse interest in the diverse nature of both tourists and locals. The program of the house, which is open all year round, includes regular bike tours and themed hikes, also especially for children. In a permanent exhibition, guests learn interesting facts about the Wadden Sea, its formation and the animal world. Fish, crabs and anemones live in an aquarium. A twelve-meter-long skeleton of a sperm whale that was stranded off the island in 2016 is in the outdoor area. The visit to the National Park House is free of charge.

Lots of untouched nature on Wangerooge

The name Wangerooge is derived from the old Germanic "Wanga" for meadow and the Frisian word "oog" for island. In fact, the small island still offers a lot of untouched nature today. However, the shape of the island has changed again and again over the centuries. The strong currents and strong winds hit the west side hard, while the eroded land is partly deposited again in the east. The island gradually "wanders". Within 300 years it has shifted its entire length once - the seahorse is moving east.

Seaside resort with tradition

The bathing carts of yore now serve as information points.

After Baltrum, Wangerooge is the second smallest of the seven East Frisian Islands, around 1,200 people live there permanently. As early as 1804, the island was one of the first in Germany to be called "Seebad". During a visit to Wangerooge, the merchant Caspar J├Ąger from Jever had such healing and relaxing experiences that his reports soon attracted more and more bathers to the island. The bathing business came to a temporary standstill after the New Year's storm flood in 1855. But eleven years later a new Kurhaus was opened.

Sea water also in the swimming pool

The soothing stimulating climate and the long beach are still the tourist plus points of the island today. In bad weather, holidaymakers can switch to a seawater adventure pool with a swimming pool, slide, sauna and whirlpools. Numerous spa offers, with a focus on thalassotherapy, make the island of Wangerooge interesting for spa guests and wellness fans.

getting there

Drivers take the A 29, B 210 and L 808 to Harlesiel. At the port, they park the car on one of the parking spaces. Rail travelers go to the north, Jever or Esens and from there by bus to Harlesiel. The luggage is checked in in Harlesiel and loaded onto the island railway at Wangerooge. It is ready at the train station in the island village. The ferry to Wangerooge operates depending on the tide, the crossing takes about 50 minutes. There is also the option of flying from Harle Airport to Wangerooge.

Map: Distinctive points on Wangerooge

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the north story | 12/22/2020 | 3 p.m.