What’s so amazing about a little town called Heiligenhafen in Germany, near the Danish border? I grew up near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and this spot has to be a sister destination to New England. With boardwalk promenades, rolling waves, sea-grass dunes and nautically-themed businesses, this really is a beautiful place.
You can reach Heiligenhafen easily from Hamburg – it’s about a two-hour train ride or a 90-minute drive. You can spend the whole trip hanging out in Heiligenhafen, but there are other neighboring towns that are good for road trip stopovers. Other cities like Berlin and Munich are accessible by train, car or even domestic flights.
The Beach Motel in Heiligenhafen, Germany
One of the best places to stay in town is the Beach Motel. You feel instantly like you’ve stepped back into the 1960s. I love the retro vibe of the Beach Motel, starting with their branded VW beetle. I was lucky enough to be picked up at the nearby train station old-school style and we zipped off to the shore.
PS – the motel is anything but! Although the word ‘motel’ has a reputation for being sub-par, this property is completely elevated to meet an upscale standard of accommodation. But the welcoming atmosphere that feels personal and cosy is still there.
The Beach Motel has more than 100 rooms, many of which have kitchens, saunas, lofted bedroom suites, and whirlpools. I personally enjoyed a smaller, simple room with pretty views of the beach, water and a nice king bed. Calming blues are the center of attention when it comes to design, as are beach-y themes of natural wood and ocean-centric artwork.
There is a spa on property, as well as pretty lounge areas and lots of nearby activities.
The town itself is a nice stretch along the coast, with plenty of places to eat and drink at your fingertips. I’ll be honest though – I didn’t venture too far from the hotel! You don’t really need to, as right out the back door is a lovely promenade that offers all opportunities for noshing and shopping.
Have a poke through my favorite shop, Marc & Daniel. These two brothers (and dog Chocolate) have a lovely boutique on the water inspired by beach life. If you go there in the shoulder seasons, they offer great deals on apparel and sundries for the home. Nearby is the Saltwater Shop, with a laid-back surf vibe that has fun travel items and skatewear you can take home.
Back at the Beach Motel, you can enjoy a fun cocktail at their Flamingo Bar or have an elegant dining experience at Holy Harbor. A mix between modern European cuisine and a few German classics, the indoor and al fresco restaurant offers loads of fresh dishes, from burrata salad to start and steak linguine or barbeque to finish. This spot is also where you’ll have breakfast in the morning if you stay at the motel, which is a sunny, seaside affair boasting a big variety of hot and cold selections.
I might have also had a cheeky and cheap currywurst from a small stand just on the main boardwalk – I couldn’t resist. Keep an eye out when you go, it was pretty good.
While you could simply go to the Hamburg Beach on the Elbe River, it’s worth making the trek north to the Baltic Sea from real sun and sand time. I loved Heiligenhafen and your group will too on your next trip to Germany.
Where’s your favorite beach in the world? Do you like beach vacations in the summer, or escaping the winter?