Hamburgers have it good – if they are ready for the island, they don’t even have to leave the Mitte district. Hamburg is the only major German city to have its own island: Neuwerk, once a pirate’s nest, now a car-free paradise for tourists and birds.
Regardless of whether you approach the mini-island on foot through the mudflats, splash through the Prile in a mudflat car or take the ferry “Flipper”, even the journey to Neuwerk is a pleasure. And it is always the first to emerge from the haze: the massive Neuwerk lighthouse, Hamburg’s oldest structure. 700 years ago, Hamburg’s merchants had the mighty fortified tower built in the mouth of the Elbe. Today, the former pirate stronghold is a boarding house. The mudflat guides know the way – and every worm by name. Neuwerk is located in the middle of the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park, which recently became a Unesco World Heritage Site. The island is pure deceleration: In the evening, when the daytime guests have left Neuwerk, the meadows and dike once again belong to the birds, the screeching laughing gulls, the acrobatic terns, the oystercatchers with their red legs.
Strolling once around Hamburg’s pearl in the mudflats takes 90 minutes. To look at there are: Birds, tankers on the horizon, the tower, birds, the weathered “cemetery of the nameless”, the national park house, the small island school, horses, rabbits and a few more birds. You can sleep cheaply in the hay or nicely in a four-star suite in the hotel “Nige Hus”. Right next door: The “Anker”, secret heart of the island. Guests, mudflat guides, birdwatchers and islanders meet here at the bar in the evening. And sometimes it’s homecoming, and landlord Lüder picks up the ship’s piano and the whole anchor sings along: “On the North Sea coast …”. Hike over to the bird island Scharhörn, marvel at lugworms, look for amber, do nothing for a few days and miss nothing. This is what wellness on Neuwerk looks like.
by Stephanie Lamprecht