Helgoland for a long time remained the last region of Germany, which we did not visit. Now I'm ready to say that this is the most interesting place in the country and what is important very few people have heard about it. It was really difficult to get here with overnight stay. The fact is that all the hotels on the island have non-refunable bookings and the weather is rarely good. Therefore, there is no sense to book in advance. So we waited for the good weather and a free hotel. Took the last room in the hotel Rickmers' Insulaner (booking.com) for 250 euros (!). Yes... hotels here are very expensive.
Why with an overnight stay? Of course, you can visit the island in one day, but you will not see anything. The ship to the island goes 2 and a half hours one way (and from Hamburg even 4 hours). So, you will have about 3 hours on the island. Moreover it is possible that you feel bad on the ship and need to have a rest on the beach for 1-2 hours. Take it seriously: do not eat, do not drink alcohol, do not read. This is open sea and often there are cases when more than half of the tourists on the ship are puking.
Nevertheless, 250 thousand of 320 thousand tourists each year, come just for one day.
There are few companies that operate ferries to Helgoland. We bought tickets online here - http://www.cassen-eils.de/ (104 euros for two return tickets). Departure was from Cuxhaven, parking coordinates N 53 52.513 E 8 41.976 (price 5 euros per day). Also this company operates from Bremerhaven and Büsum.
In 2020, Helgoline launched a high-speed catamaran, which reduced the time from Cuxhaven to 75 minutes.
The island has an interesting history. For a long time it was a haven of pirates. Later belonged to Denmark and Great Britain. The sea resort appeared here in 1826. In 1890 Germany received the island in its ownership, exchanging it for colonial territories in Africa.
In April 1945, at the end of World War II, Britain dropped 7,000 bombs on the island in two hours. It became completely uninhabited. In 1947, in attempt to destroy German bunkers, the island was exploded with the most powerful non-nuclear explosion in the history of mankind, included in the Guinness Book of Records. 6,700 tons of explosives were blown up.
The consequences of the explosions can still be seen today. Walking around the island, you will constantly see funnels from bombs, especially along the way to "Long Anna". One of the bunkers preserved until today and can be visited.
Despite the protests of former residents, after 1947 Britain used the island for bombing training. This continued until the end of 1950, when German activists installed three flags on the island. This attracted public attention and in 1952 Helgoland was returned to Germany. In few years the resort was rebuilt. Now tourism brings 75% to the budget of the island.
Island is very beautiful, the embankment looks like a paradise for walks and for photographers.
Tourists who come to Helgoland do the following: - walk along the embankment, visit shops and restaurants - walk to "Long Anna" - a rock located on the other end of the island - take the boat to the second island - Dune
Helgoland is not included in the customs and tax territory of the EU. Duty-free shops is a primary business here, as the price does not include many taxes, for example VAT. Cigarettes or alcohol are much cheaper than in Germany. Although there are strict restrictions and you cannot buy more than a liter of alcohol per person.
A walk to the "Long Anna" is a must for any tourist on Heligoland.
In the evening tourists gather on the observation deck near the cliff to meet the sunset. At this point, on the high banks of Helgoland, the German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg also looked at the sunset and made one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics. He described the foundations of quantum mechanics, for what subsequently received the Nobel Prize.
From time to time other families come close and try to take away the nest! In this case, the father must show all his strength and repulse the attack, which basically happens. Otherwise, the nest will be lost.
Now in Germany there are debates over the idea of connecting the two islands with an artificial embankment. As a result, the territory will be significantly enlarged, new beaches will appear, new big hotels will be built and what is important - a large berth for cruise liners.
This is an extremely expensive infrastructure project, worth 1 billion euros, but in 2011 54% of the inhabitants voted against it. However, the number of tourists is reduced from year to year, so it's clear that the project will be done in the future.
At the moment Dune can be reached by a small boat, which runs every half an hour. On a small island there is only a mini-airport. We went around the island and during this walk the planes took off and landed many times, you can make a very unusual selfies, with the plane right over your head.
But the main interest on Dune are the seals (in German Seehunde or sea dog). There are a lot of them, I think, about 300. We arrived on the first boat, which leaves at 8 am and were the first visitors on the Dune. In the afternoon, hundreds of tourists come here. People scare the seals and they hide in the water. In the morning seals are lazy and did not pay attention to us.