Stralsund was once the second-most important member of the Hanseatic League, after Lübeck, and its square gables interspersed with Gothic turrets, ornate portals and vaulted arches make it one of the leading examples of Backsteingotik (classic red-brick Gothic gabled architecture) in northern Germany.
With its gabled facades and cobbled streets, this small, photogenic city looks essentially Hanseatic. But although it joined the Hanseatic trading league in the 13th century, it spent most of the 16th and 17th centuries as part of Sweden. There are numerous reminders of this era all over town. The entire Altstadt was Unesco-listed in 2002.
Warnemünde is all about promenading, eating fish, sipping cocktails, and lazing in a Strandkörbe (sheltered straw ‘beach basket’ seat) on its long, wide and startlingly white beach. Walking from Warnemünde’s train station along Alter Strom, the boat-lined main canal, you’ll pass a row of quaint cottages housing restaurants.
Nicknamed Badewanne Berlins (Berlin’s Bathtub) in the prewar period, Usedom Island is a holiday spot sought-after for its 42km stretch of beautiful beach and average 1906 annual hours of sunshine that make it the sunniest place in Germany. Usedom (Uznam in Polish) lies in the delta of the Oder River about 30km east of Greifswald.
‘Dat söte Länneken’ (the sweet little land) is much mythologised in the German national imagination. This tiny patch off Rügen’s western coast measures 18km long and just 1.8km at its widest point. What makes Hidensee (pop 1100) so sweet is its breathtaking, remote landscape.
The symbol of ‘Ostseebad’ Sellin is its Seebrüucke (pier), an ornate, turreted pavilion sitting out over the water at the end of a long wooden causeway. The original pier was built in 1906. It's had a checkered history since: the not-terribly attractive modern pier you see now is somewhat modelled on a 1927 version.
Putbus appears like a mirage from the middle of modest farming villages. At its heart lies a gigantic circular 19th-century plaza, known as the Circus, which has a 21m obelisk at the centre. Sixteen large white neoclassical buildings – some in better shape than others – surround it. Nearby, the 75-hectare English park is filled with exotic botanical species.