German travel destinations

The Germany is Wunderbar guide

Germany Holidays: Eckernförde, Baltic spa resort

This unassuming resort mixes Danish hygge with German gemütlichkeit

A small coastal town in Germany’s Schleswig-holstein not far from the border with Denmark, Eckernförde has more than a touch of Danish hygge. Some of the port buildings alongside the creek are painted that rusty red typical of Scandinavian countries, and the narrow cobbled lanes lined with half-timbered fishermen’s cottages look to be straight out of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, particularly where the wooden lifting footbridge spans the narrows in the port.

Not so long ago this was primarily a fishing town, famous for its silver harvest of sprats and herring, which used to be prolific in these parts of the Baltic. A century ago there were as many as 47 smokeries in town, preserving the fish for winter consumption; all but one are now closed, and the one in Gudewerdtstrasse is now a very authentic Alte Fischräucherei museum run by volunteers.

These days Eckernförde is better known as an Ostseebad, a spa resort, which means the beach is thick with Strandkorb beachbasket chairs, including a new line that you can actually stay in overnight. You can see why the place is popular, because the beach itself is three miles of gentle sands, beautifully protected at the back of a sheltered bay, backed by a promenade dotted with little cafes.

Fish food

You can still eat fish here, of course. Notably in the rather unremarkable-looking Meergold restaurant/shop in Jungfernsteig, where good value fish lunches (including herring) are super fresh. For top-end cuisine, Fischdeel (Kattsund 22) is a proper gastronomic experience, with engaging chef Torsten Schott regularly popping out of his kitchen to find out exactly what his customers want.

Some of that fish is still landed in the small port, where you can often buy direct from the fishermen themselves. Otherwise the port often has vintage tall-masted sailing ships berthed here, with the quayside itself backed by newly-developed coffee places and upmarket apartments.

Unlike many a beach resort Eckernförde is a proper town, and whilst a lot of the shops are craft- and gift-oriented for the holiday visitor, it also has all the normal high street activity required to sustain a community outside the holiday seasons. One particular feather in its cap is the annual nature documentary festival ‘Green Screen’, which takes place here every September, when the small town brims over with international film makers and broadcasters.

All in all, it’s a charming mix of Danish and German port-beach-town, and worth seeking out.

Looking for more? See other destinations in Northern Germany

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