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Anybody in the midst of a tour of Germany will likely focus on exploring its mainland. After all, that's where they'll encounter the highlights of Berlin, Munich and the Black Forest, but the picturesque island of Rügen is impressive in its own right. Located off the country's northeast coast, Rügen has been a popular destination for the German elite for centuries, and it's easy to see why. Whether you want to relax on one of the island's many resorts, explore its stunning landscapes or walk through its national reserves, a trip to Rügen is a must.
Jasmund National Park
There are many natural highlights on Rügen, but Jasmund National Park is arguably the best. Home to many rare plants and animals, the park is an especially good destination for bird?-watchers. Some of its most well-known winged residents include the White-tailed Eagle, Kingfisher, House Martin and the Peregrine Falcon. While its wildlife is undoubtedly impressive, most visitors choose to include Jasmund on their itinerary for one reason - the chalk cliffs. These unusual natural formations are truly a sight to behold, especially the region known as Königsstuhl - the King's Chair - a sharp piece of cliff that rises more than 387 feet above the water below.
Any of the towns on Rügen are good spots to visit, but it's hard to compare with Sassnitz. Located on the northern part of the island not far from Jasmund National Park, the town of about 10,000 has something for everyone. For one thing, it's an architecture enthusiast's dream, as there are compelling buildings located seemingly around every corner. While some might not have the gravitas of the more famous cathedrals and castles of mainland Germany, destinations such as the historical mansion of Villa Hertha and the ruins of Dwasieden Castle are certainly must-see attractions. You can also pay a visit to the Sassnitz Wildlife Park, which is the only zoo on the island.
Hit the beach
You'd be remiss if you did not take advantage of the miles of pristine beaches that can be found on Rügen. There are a number of areas that are particularly popular among beach enthusiasts, including those along Schaabe, which is a sand bar that stretches approximately 7 miles. Other coastal highlights include the town of Glowe and Breege - both of which offer some of the most stunning seaside views on the island.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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