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Heiligenhafen and the Beach Motel on Germany’s North Coast

By November 6, 2018November 9th, 20228 Comments

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.

lobby area beach motel Heiligenhafen germany

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.

king size bed and room at beach motel germany

There is a spa on property, as well as pretty lounge areas and lots of nearby activities.

Heiligenhafen Hotspots

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.

marc & Daniel store Heiligenhafen germany

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.

sundries in Heiligenhafen germany

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.

breakfast beach motel germany

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.

wine glass beach motel germany

Where’s your favorite beach in the world? Do you like beach vacations in the summer, or escaping the winter?

The beach motel in Heiligenhafen, germany
Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

More posts by Eileen Cotter Wright

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Heather says:

    Ha, I thought the same as you that “motel” was usually sub-par but the Beach Motel is anything but. It’s really pretty! I have been to Germany a couple of times, but haven’t heard of Heiligenhafen, but I’d like to visit! Trying to think of an answer to your question of favorite beach in the world…That’s hard because I grew up only 3-4 hours from sugar white sand beaches with beautiful waters right here in the US, but I’ve traveled to several beautiful beaches too….Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos, Greece is really pretty! As far as if I like beach vacations in the summer vs winter….I like them in the winter because I HATE summer and the heat (I grew live in the deep South). I LOVE winter actually!

  • Janiel Green says:

    This looks like the house off of the movie with Jack Nicholson and Diane Lane ( I think is her name). I can’t believe they use the name ‘motel’ it looks like it should be on the set of a movie!

  • Sarah says:

    What a cool experience to visit a town half a world away that has so many similarities to where you grew up. I think I’ve mentioned to you before but I spent a year living in Falmouth on Cape Cod when I was growing up. I’ve noticed so many places in Europe are sooo similar to the cape (probs due to European settlers lol, also there is literally a town called Falmouth – aka the original Falmouth – in Cornwall). Anyway Heiligenhafen looks so cute, and I love that motel you stayed in 🙂

  • Elaine Masters says:

    What a sweet spot to spend some time. I would never have been inclined to visit Germany’s north coast before. Love the bold photo murals, hearing about the VW bug and the shop. Nice place to unwind.

  • I can see the similarities with Cape Cod, perhaps just a little bit colder. I bet the summers are celebrated with much enthusiasm and the winters and beautiful, tranquil, and perhaps a bit chilly. I have seen the mudflats of North Germany but this looks just like a New England beach town.

  • Juliann says:

    Oh my gosh! I definitely want to visit Heiligenhafen. I sometimes travel to Germany on business and like to extend my trips. This would be the perfect spot to explore and unwind for a weekend after working. The Beach Motel is adorable! I love that boardwalk mural in the room you showed. But all I really needed to hear was “currywurst.” Sold!! I can’t resist that Deutschen treat! Schmeckt gut!

  • Andi says:

    I love beaches in the winter, I am not a hot weather gal. I like the North Carolina coast. This spot and that “motel” look awesome! I would have never guessed Germany!

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