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  7. East Frisian Islands

The North Sea island of Baltrum offers several superlatives to residents as well as vacationers and day visitors. Among the total of seven inhabited East Frisian Baltrum is by far the smallest island with the area of 6.5 km². In addition, Baltrum as a village is the smallest municipality in the East Frisian district of Aurich. A good 600 inhabitants live on the island. The opposite mainland with the Baltrum ferry port Nessmersiel is four and a half kilometers away. At low tide, it is possible to hike from Nessmersiel to Baltrum, literally through the North Sea, for about two and a half hours under the guidance of an experienced mudflat guide. More than 90 percent of the island is green as well as other areas such as dunes, sand and beach. Baltrum is considered a typical dune island, formed by sand deposits and sandbanks. The fact that the small North Sea island is car-free is obvious and is mentioned more for the sake of completeness. Since the mid-1960s, Baltrum has been a state-recognized North Sea spa. In addition to the few hundred islanders, several thousand visitors regularly stay on Baltrum from spring until late autumn. Most of them are vacationers who stay on the island for several days or even weeks. There have always been no street names on Baltrum, only house numbers. In principle, they correspond to the time of the respective house construction. Who decides for a bathing vacation on Baltrum, has the certainty to be able to leave the hectic everyday life; or formulated the other way round, who is released from the everyday life hectic with entering the Baltrum ferry.

These are the basic conditions, under which the Baltrum vacationer can prepare himself for the most beautiful and at the same time also calmest weeks of the year, one could also say must. Because once arrived on the island must be made do with what there is on Baltrum and what Baltrum offers. Those who know and take into account the following 12 points will be able to spend a vacation on the idyllic North Sea island that is as quiet as it is relaxing and yet full of experiences.

Arrival to Baltrum

The island can be reached by ship and by plane. The flight from the Norden-Norddeich landing site over to the island takes just under ten minutes. By ship, the trip with the Baltrum ferry from Nessmersie harbor takes a little more than half an hour, depending on the weather and sea wind. The journey by Deutsche Bahn AG ends at Norden train station. From there the journey continues by feeder bus to the harbor pier. For a car journey the navigation address is “Strandstraße 1, D-26553 Nessmersiel”. The car can be parked in one of the large parking lots, either locked, covered or free. A transfer from here to the ferry terminal can be reserved in advance.

West village and east village

The inhabited part of the island is divided into three parts: the Old East Village, the West Village and the East Village. The West Village is located in the far west of the island with many red-brick, one- to two-story single- and multi-family houses. This is where the main island life takes place, with hotels, guesthouses, vacation apartments, retail shops, cafés and restaurants. The town hall and spa administration can be found in the western village, as well as the SindBad, gymnasium, tennis courts and the children’s playhouse. The East Village is not a heavily populated part of the island, but rather secluded in the north of Baltrum. The Old East Village is, as the name suggests, the oldest area of the island. Here you can find some of the oldest houses with the lowest house numbers. Some of them are nowadays used either as vacation apartments or as a downright romantic café.

The historical landmark island bell

The freestanding island bell is the landmark of Baltrum. It stands opposite the old island church from the 1820s with room for about four dozen visitors. The bell tower is a simple wooden structure in which the bell of a Dutch sailing ship stranded off the island is hung. During the holiday season, the island bell rings for evening services and also as a wedding bell. Inselglocke is also the name of a guest magazine, which is published in several editions between spring and autumn by the Heimatverein Baltrum e.V..

Tourist information “without rest at the guest

After arrival on the island with check-in in the hotel or in the pension and/or after settling in in the vacation home the first way leads to the tourist information of the cure administration in the city hall building. The opening hours are on weekdays from 09.00 to 12.00 o’clock; during the summer vacations additionally in the afternoon from 14.00 to 16.00 o’clock and on Saturdays from 10.00 to 12.00 o’clock. Here the island guest experiences everything interesting and worth knowing after the slogan “without rest at the guest”. On Baltrum the ways are short in the double sense, also because everyone knows everyone. Another contact for the interested vacationer is the Heimatverein Baltrum with its commitment to the culture, history as well as tourism on the island.

Hotel life on Baltrum

The vacationer has the agony of choice to decide among many beautiful for the most beautiful hotel. Names such as Hotel Dünenschlösschen, Hotel Sealords, Hotel Strandburg, Hotel Strandhof, Strandhotel Wietjes or Hotel Witthus promise a pleasant to comfortable island stay either with breakfast, half board or full board. A really familiar atmosphere is offered by bed and breakfasts like in the guesthouse Meeresgruß, in the Haus am Wäldchen house number 183 or like the Haus am See under the number 200. After an extensive breakfast in the cozy breakfast room the vacation day begins with the walk to the beach to the booked beach chair.

Vacation apartment with self catering

The choice of well-maintained as well as comfortably furnished vacation apartments of different sizes and number of rooms is diverse. By looking at the house number, it is easy to see whether it is an older house with a two-digit house number or a new vacation home address with a three-digit house number. For self-supply and self-catering, the Stadtlander department store is the meeting place for all islanders. In the Ostdorf, the branch of a supermarket offers oven-fresh bread rolls. Island market and fresh market complete the rich island offer up to bio products. What does not grow on Baltrum, that is daily from the mainland from north over Nessmersiel with the ferry “transferred”. It is certain that the self-supporter does not have to do without anything.

Island vacation in the water

Whoever goes to a North Sea island like Baltrum wants to enjoy and experience the sea flair. For this there are many possibilities with a bathing beach, with a kite beach, with fishing in the sea or with a mudflat hike. If the sea water is too cold, then the indoor swimming pool SindBad with heated sea water is a real bathing fun at any time of the year. Here in the SindBad is also the Baltrumer Kur- und Heilmittelzentrum with its various spa or wellness treatments along with beneficial Thalasso treatments. And also such trend sports as surfing and kiting are possible in front of Baltrum. In the houses number 192 and 194 there is information, courses, material and lessons around the kite area of Baltrum.

Island vacation on land

Activities outside the water here on Baltrum include cobigolf as its own form of minigolf, as well as volleyball, fistball, soccer or bowling, and even tennis in the Baltrum Arena. Sports activities for young and old include aqua cycling, morning gymnastics on the beach, street workout and the Baltrum Run. With its length of 5.35 kilometers, it fits the size of the island exactly. Every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., the route leads from the paved path to the dunes and back to the start/finish point. The outdoor activities are naturally dependent on weather and weather conditions here in the North Sea.

Baltrum vacation for the family with children

Since the turn of the millennium at the latest, Baltrum has distinguished itself as an island for children. One reason for this is the fact that there are no cars, so that the little ones can play and romp around in complete safety. The Onno-Klub as well as Onno’s Kinderspöölhus are the popular indoor and outdoor meeting places. The wide range of activities for girls and boys includes handicrafts, board games and indoor and outdoor activities. There are several playgrounds around the island, such as at the beach café, at the pine grove, below the island school, and of course at Onno’s Kinderspöölhus. The beach itself is one sand playground over a length of about five kilometers. The old beach hall at the last beach entrance behind Stark’s beach store becomes Baltrum’s youth center during the summer months.

Island doctor + island pharmacy

The island doctor with his group practice in house number 204 takes care of the health well-being. Consultation and treatment times are all year round on weekdays from 10.00 to 12.00 o’clock. On Sundays an emergency consultation is offered at 11.00 o’clock. In the West Village in house number 74, more precisely opposite the People’s Bank, is the Island Pharmacy. It is open daily, on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and on weekdays from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Sundays it is open from 11:00 to 12:00, corresponding to the island doctor’s emergency hours.

Romantic wedding on Baltrum

To give the word of consent on Baltrum is for many bridal couples an unforgettable experience. For this the registry office Baltrum offers two wedding rooms with sea view. Alternatively, the new Baltrum landmark is available, namely a replica of the historic Baltrum bathing tower created by the Baltrum island friends. It offers place for the small wedding company as well as a panorama view out on the North Sea beach. Baltrum’s municipal administration offers a free choice of dates in the mornings from Monday to Saturday, a large selection of beautiful genealogical books with, among other things, the Baltrum coat of arms, photography or video recording during the marriage ceremony, the exchange of both rings and the traditional glass of champagne to calm down after the wedding ceremony.

Baltrum in winter – Winter on Baltrum

At the latest since the East Frisian Wadden Sea was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the small island has become an increasingly popular destination for a quiet vacation with a walk on the beach along with a romantic stay in a vacation home, guesthouse or hotel, even in the winter months. The winter days are not necessarily freezing cold, but very fresh with strong winds from the open North Sea. And while the city dweller spends quiet winter days on Baltrum, the tourist information is already advertising next year’s summer vacation at the Christmas market in the Ruhr metropolis of Essen.