Usedom is Germany's second largest island and can be reached from Stralsund via the new swing bridge in Wolgast. Usedom is separated from the mainland by the Baltic Sea, the River Peene, the Achter Water and the Stettiner Haff (Stettin Lagoon). Here, as is the case on the Island of Ruegen, the carousel of cultural events keeps turning even in the off-season. A number of maritime and harbour festivals, weekly markets, flea markets and a variety of places worth seeing, such as museums, galleries, historical cottages, the Tropical Gardens in Bansin or the stork farm in Gothen, the new theatrical show VINETA staged at Zinnowitz, performances during the summer in the theatre marquee "Chapeau Rouge" in Heringsdorf, theatrical productions all year round in the "Blechbuechse" in the yellow theatre in Zinnowitz, events in the hall in Heringsdorf, readings, etc. in "Villa Irmgard", the Usedom Music Festival or the "Goes Fashion Show" in Heringsdorf as well as the Viking Camp in Peenemuende will leave you no time to get bored.
The piers in the seaside resorts of Ahlbeck (the oldest), Heringsdorf (the longest and most comfortable), Bansin, Koserow and Zinnowitz give a lasting impression of the interesting and varied style of architecture in the former imperial bathing resorts. The bridge in Ahlbeck, which is situated in the North East of th EU, forms the border to Swinemuende (Polish part of the island) and can only be crossed by pedestrians and cyclists. All German citizens, including children (unless these have entered on parents' passports) require a valid identity card or passport. As Poland will become an official member of the EU in May 2004, you should take advantage of the opportunity to shop duty-free as long as it still exists! Once the passenger ships of the Adler Line have left Usedom Pier and are no longer in German territorial waters, the shutters of the duty-free shops are raised and bargain hunters can really have a field day - 200 cigarettes for 5.99 Euro, a litre bottle of Famous Grouse Whisky costs 9.49 Euro while Berentzen Korn can be bought for only 4.99 Euro. Pay only 4.49 Euro for the good old Wilthener Goldkrone and 1.89 Euro for Eduscho à la Carte. In the cosmetic department ladies can select, for example, a 50 ml bottle of Davidoff Cool Water Woman Eau de Toilette Spray for as little as 31.50 Euro. Enjoy this chance of getting the better of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for once!
Usedom's reputation as a great island for bathing is based on its fine sandy beach, which is almost 40 km long and up to 60 m wide in places. The sea is very shallow and calm, making it an ideal spot for children or non-swimmers. Areas of the beach have been closed off for the use of nudists only. Life guards patrol the beaches in summer. Many different types of sporting activities are on offer - sailing, surfing, squash, bowling, go-carting, tennis, riding, flying and golf. Should the weather be bad, there are indoor sports centres in Trassenheide and Zinnowitz as well as thermal baths. If so inclined, you can take a gamble in the casino located in the Forum Usedom in Heringsdorf.
A wide choice of museums is available - ranging from the Historical and Technical Information Centre in Peenemuende, including numerous local history museums with their carefully chosed exhibits, to the Shell Museum in Heringsdorf, in addition to a waxworks, a bed museum and the bicycle museum in Dargen. And this list is by no means exhaustive! Whether on foot, on a bike or by water, nature-lovers and hikers can find exactly what they are looking for in the 11 nature reserves and 11 protected areas - i.e. unspoilt nature!