North Sea Coast
A day on Heligoland

I went to Heligoland before, as a teenager with my field hockey team. I don’t remember too much from that trip so it was about time to boost my memory and go on a day trip to the island in the North Sea.
Heligoland is about 40 kilometres away from mainland Germany in the German Beigh and is part of the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Only some 1500 people live on the island but countless tourists are ferried over on many ships during the summer month

Our trip to Heligoland

Tourist steamers and catamarans leave daily for Heligoland from many different towns at the North Sea coast. Most of them during peak season but to a limited degree also during the winter months (October to March).
We were close to Büsum and decided to set off to Heligoland from there. We gathered some information on departure times, prices and the time one would actually get to spend on the island the day before. There are not too many providers that offer a tour to Heligoland. Differences in price or duration between them are also negligible.

The shipping companies Cassen Eils and H.G.Rahder make the 2.5 hour trip to Heligoland daily. We boarded the “Lady von Büsum” (Lady of Büsum), owned by the Rahder shipping company.

habour of Büsum

We left Büsum at around 9.00 in the morning. It was still very overcast when we started making our way towards the island. On our way over I began to remember why I couldn’t recall my last trip. I thought it was boring! For a little while, the mainland is still visible but soon enough there is only water to see. After two hours we started looking for the island. And there on the horizon, it began to come into view. Finally!


However, it still took a little while until the “Lady of Büsum” reached its final mooring position. The ships don’t go into the harbour of Heligoland. They stop a little before the island and visitors are shuttled over on smaller boats. It was quite amusing to observe how the shoving at the exits began so that people could catch an earlier boat to the island. Luckily, the waves weren’t very high on that day. Many passengers, especially the older ones, had drastically overestimated their fitness levels and the crew went through quite some effort to safely get them from one boat onto the other.

ship to Heligoland

Just under four hours on the island

Heligoland isn't that big. The main island is about 1km² in size, the neighbouring island Düne measures about 0.7 km². We only visited the main island. The smaller island is almost exclusively used as a public bathing beach.

The main island is divided into Oberland (upper land), Mittelland (middle land) and Unterland (lower land).
We started by going up to Oberland. Starting there, a well-frequented path leads around the entire island. One cannot really catch some alone time there. It seems like everyone came here first to stretch their legs after the journey.

The path led through meadows and meadows and meadows with that typical view of the red, steep coast of the island that the ocean.

A day trip to the North Sea island of Heligoland

The lighthouse of the Oberland is worth a visit as well as the rocky landmark of the island. Lange Anna (long Anna) is a free-standing rock, 47 meters high, in which many seagulls nest, as they do everywhere else on the cliffs.

lange Anna
lange Anna

Lange Anna consists of red sandstone. It used to be part of a natural arch until 1860. The arch came crashing down on the 16th of May 1860 and the now freestanding rock is protected from the constant waves by a wall. Lange Anna has been listed as a natural monument since 1969.

Next, we strolled past the colourfully painted lobster shacks of the Unterland and visited some of the small shops there. Many Heligoland visitors use the opportunity to do some heavy duty-free shopping and return to the mainland with big hauls.

After just under four hours and a truly lovely walk across the island, we took the ship back to Büsum.
It was a nice day on the island. I thoroughly enjoyed the weather, the landscape and the sea air.



  1. Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions on 20. September 2019 at 19:42

    I love lighthouses (especially ones you can climb) for views just like the one you captured. Lange Anna is also stunning with its diagonal layers of rock. It must’ve been crazy to witness the natural arch falling down and leaving that massive freestanding support all on its own. I love your zoomed-in shot of the gulls resting on it, too!

  2. Melody Pittman on 20. September 2019 at 19:05

    What a gorgeous place to visit. Those rocks are beautiful and the seagulls perched up there are so cute. ;) We have a fun boat ride trip like that in Key West over to Dry Tortugas. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sage Scott on 20. September 2019 at 0:41

    Despite living in Germany as a kid (albeit in the south), I never knew Germany had islands off of its northern coast until a friend from Northern Germany told me about Heligoland. Ever since then, I’ve dreamed of visiting. How beautiful it looks from your photos!

  4. Punita on 19. September 2019 at 7:09

    I see why seagulls perch on that 47-meter high free-standing rock. What a view and what a stunning structure! Four hours sounds just right for a day at Heligoland. I would certainly go.

  5. Mohana & Aninda on 18. September 2019 at 16:26

    The vast land and seascapes portrayed in your pictures bring about a certain peace of mind. We have never heard of Heligoland before but a day trip seems a perfect timeframe to cover both the small islands. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Susanne Jungbluth on 17. September 2019 at 10:09

    Yes they are. And it looks quite nice when the babies looks out of the nest.

  7. Delphine on 17. September 2019 at 4:00

    I love the colours of Lange Anna, what a shame the arch collapsed but nature has to do its work, doesn’t it? Are the birds nesting by the rock?

  8. Joanne on 17. September 2019 at 2:21

    I’ve never heard of Heligoland but I’d love to spend a day there. The long Anna is so unique and being originally from the Atlantic coast, I just love lighthouses of all kinds.

  9. Susanne Jungbluth on 16. September 2019 at 8:06

    Berlin is my hometown. I live now for over 50 years there and haven’t seen everything. It is such a big city!

  10. Andi on 15. September 2019 at 22:51

    The more I see of the coastal areas of Germany the more I know I want to go visit. I have only been to Berlin and a few other small pieces – this area on the sea os so beautiful!

  11. Susanne Jungbluth on 15. September 2019 at 19:22

    I think it#s time enough for an small hike. But when you want to eat and drink, make a little shopping tour and have a loog at the wildlife you need more time. There are hotels on the island.

  12. Susanne Jungbluth on 15. September 2019 at 19:19

    Oh yes it is!

  13. Danik on 15. September 2019 at 10:12

    Is four hours enough or do you need more or was it four hours so you could make your return boat back to the mainland? Also looks like a great place to do a small hike and check the wildlife on the coast.

  14. Carol Colborn on 14. September 2019 at 23:35

    Heligoland looks and sounds like a great day trip during the summer months from mainland north Germany.

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