East Frisian island in the UNESCO-world-heritage wadden-sea
Why visit Norderney
Norderney is a 26 square kilometre island belonging to the East Frisian island group which is one of Germany’s hidden gems. Perched in the North Sea above the municipality of Lower Saxony, the seaside community of Norderney comprises around 6,000 people, and has become a hotspot for tourists seeking stunning coastal views away from the beaten track.
The island is a designated UNESCO World Natural Heritage site and combines vibrant island culture with a diverse array of marine wildlife. Enjoy a green holiday in Norderney for a few days’ break away from the bustle of the city.
Culture & Local Life
The island offers a great variety of culture, traditions and local life. In addition to lots of beaches and nature, the seaside resort also offers events and historical buildings worth seeing. In the small island community, every visitor from young to old is welcomed to enjoy. There is something in for everyone. Norderney is proud of its traditional music and sports events and hosts them annually. You can learn about Norderney’s bathing history in the bathing museum, experience it live in the badehaus, Germany’s largest thalasso bath, or on the beautiful sandy beach. 14 kilometres of the finest sandy beaches invite you to take a walk like a local on the beach.
There are a lot of options to start your green holiday in Norderney.
By rail: DB-trains from Cologne, Munich, Leipzig lead directly to Norddeich-Mole, where the ferry starts almost every hour. By car: From Hamburg / Hannover on the A28 to Leer, then A31 to Emden and the B210/B72 to Norddeich-Mole. From Northrhine-Westfalia: A2 to Crossing-Bottrop, than the A31 to Emden. By airplane: Only microlights can land on the little air-field of Norderney. The ferry from Norddeich lasts about 55 minutes.
For a green holiday in Norderney, holidaymakers can bring their car and a bus circles the town, which lies to the west, on a circular route. But the best way to explore the island is by bike. There are many bike-rentals on the island. Norderney is a perfect biking spot with exceptional landscapes and natural extraordinaries. The island has rather short ways and many places to rest during the tours, e. g. restaurants, beaches and banks.
There are also alternatives with regular bus-lines and chartered bus-tours. The eastern half of the island is a pure national park-area and only accessible by foot. The hiker’s hot-spot no.1 is an old wreck at the eastern end of Norderney, with a nice view to the neighbour’s island.
Nature & Wildlife
Norderney is a nature paradise with half of it comprising the Wadden Sea National Park. Being home to 4,000 species of plants and animals, one can spot shelduck birds, geese, ducks, and gulls. Seals can sometimes be seen on the sandbanks and salt marshes, and sea holly and sea lavender bloom across the marshes in summer.
Norderneys is fully aware of its responsibility to sustain nature. The island has its own water-lense and the municipal utilities produce electricity in different, but always sustainable ways (e. b. solar-energy, combined heat and power plants). The house construction is strongly delimitated. Any plans for new buildings are the subject of the municipal council. The waste-management is part of the multiple-medals waste-management of the county Aurich.
Health and Safety
As soon as regulations will ease in Germany, Norderney is open to hosting visitors under strict precautions. The island offers a good medical care system. Not only the healthy North Sea air and the fresh seawater contribute to well-being, but also does Norderney has a modern hospital with diverse specialists, pharmacies and other health care facilities. At present, there are strict rules applied for the containment of the virus. For instance, the general requirement to cover your mouth and nose in public as well as the rule to wear a medical-, or FFP-mask within shops and public transportation. To keep up with the current regulations check online here.
Good Practice Story
Since 1986, the Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony’s North Sea coast has been protected as a national park. In order to guarantee comprehensive protection for the preservation of the natural landscape despite the intensive tourist use of the region, the “Lower Saxony Wadden Sea” National Park was divided into a quiet zone, intermediate zone and recreation zone using a zoning concept. The quiet zone has the strictest protective regulations. One can only enter on restricted pathways and all actions are prohibited that damage or destroy nature’s components. Within the intermediate zone, same restrictions apply but visitors are allowed to walk around freely. The smallest zone with only 0.6% area share is the recreation zone. This zone can be used for all activities such as bathing, horse riding, fishing or other sporting activities.
Travel tips from our editors
With five guarded beach-districts, all well-appointed with life-guard-teams, beach-basket-seats, regular bathing-times and sport-offers (volleyball, basketball, slack-line, yoga, etc.), the beaches are the main argument to visit our island. Every beach has a beach-bar and/or a beach-restaurant. To avoid greater crowds, it is a good idea to walk into the east of the island and not to visit the western beach-bars when the sun sets as this is one of the most requested times to go to these bars.
Wellness and Spa
Thalasso, the health from the sea, has a home. The bade:haus is the greatest thalasso-house in Europe and offers this pure and old tradition of Norderney. With a great SPA-area, several saltwater-basins, a separated family-fun-bath and a great range of thalasso-treatments. It’s a silent place in a busy world, which makes it so special.
Thalasso Platforms offering panoramic sky views over the island as well as far-reaching sea views. The three Thalasso platforms on the island open the view to watch island adventures live and unobserved. It’s a cloud cinema that lets the eyes wander all the way to the lighthouse, to the sea, and even to the end of the island. To make the excursion an even more unforgettable nature experience: Pack a pair of binoculars.
Trips and tours
Segway/Scuddy Tours Norderney is a great place to experience a different way of sightseeing. Segways are well established on the island and there is the option to join a group on a tour or to rent a Scuddy yourself.
The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) East Frisia is committed to nature on the doorstep in a variety of ways. The work includes practical measures such as landscape conservation as well as inviting people to lectures or getting to know nature together on excursions. Everyone is welcome to join a project such as the so-called “Garden Bird Hour”. Where every year all nature lovers are called upon to note and report birds.
Hike & Bike
Enjoy the isolation of this surprising island in the German Wadden Sea with crashing waves and the cry of seagulls. The entire northern coast of this 14-km-long island is a sandy beach; the eastern part of the island is a national park to meet its beautiful landscape (85% of the island). Leave your car on the mainland and walk or bike on the various routes to witness the beauty of this island.
Norderney was selected in the both the 2020 and 2021 Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories.
Norderney has been awarded with
the Quality Coast Gold Award
With the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Wadden Sea Visitor Experience Center, Norderney offers the first point of contact on the subject of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Wadden Sea. The intimate connection of the two major themes of the island - the Wadden Sea and Thalasso - position Norderney as a sustainable lighthouse location on the German North Sea. From energy and water production to tourism marketing, everything on the island is subject to the goal of developing tourism in harmony with nature in the future. Norderney has been the oldest North Sea spa in Germany since 1797, and Norderney is also a thalassotherapy North Sea spa. Norderney has been participating in the classification of the Quality Coast Award since 2013, in 2013 it was awarded the silver award, and the re-certification led to gold status. Norderney is also in the top 100 green destinations worldwide.
What does it mean?
- They have shown at least 60% compliance with the Green Destinations Core Criteria.
- They have submitted a story that was selected to the list for its innovative, effective and / or transferable good management practice.