Escape: Gut Üselitz on Rügen

After breakfast in the lovely Forsthaus Strelitz, I continued my late-summer-roadtrip north heading towards Rügen, the giant island with the stunning cliffs, to stay in a renovated, or rather, entirely rebuild estate dating back to the 1500s! Located in the South of the island, Gut Üselitz resides in the midst of a natural park with lakes, apple and plum trees, and hundreds of birds. It’s so remote, so quiet, so pretty, it’s actually perfect for a time-out. And Rügen is a great destination anyhow, especially if you know the pretty places off the beaten tracks.

The Gutshaus really dates back about 500 years, half a century, during which Rügen sometimes belonged to Pomerania, sometimes to Sweden, and finally Prussia, and even experienced a brief period of French occupation. The original building in Üselitz was constructed in a Renaissance style in the 1580s, and was owned by different aristocratic families until 1945, when it was expropriated by the new GDR government. It was used as an apartment house until the 1960s, and continued to decay until the roof collapsed in the 70s. What followed where years of neglect and destruction by the military who used it as a training ground. The entirely ruined lot was sold to a private owner in 1998, who started reconstruction in 2000. The park around it was re-flooded when the new bridge connecting Stralsund and Rügen was built in the late 2000s, re-creating the island on which the mansion sits today. Since finishing the elaborate construction work which preserved the remaining original pieces in the end of 2017, the estate is used as a site for events and has 10 holiday apartments on four levels.

I arrived late on Friday afternoon, and spent the rest of my day walking around the plum and apple trees, watching the hundreds of birds resting around the estate, and reading on my apartment’s balcony looking over the marshland. It’s so quiet out there, and as such so wonderfully relaxing. The apartments are spacious and have everything one needs, comfy beds, cosy couches, well equipped kitchens. The latter is very much needed since there is absolutely nothing around the Gut, the closest shops and restaurants are quite a drive away. As said, it’s very, very remote.

The next day, my plan was to go on a tour of the island, to get as much time by the beach as possible. Rügen is huge, though, so it took me an hour to get from Üselitz to the cliff coast at Kap Arkona in the north. Which, as I unfortunately had to find out, isn’t very much worth the trip. It is one of the most popular destinations on Rügen and is well prepared for it. The closest village, Putgarten, is dominated by a ginormous parking lot and rather lacklustre shops and restaurants. Through the streets runs a gaudy train taking visitors to the lighthouse, which is really just 30mins walk away. I happened to be there on the day of an unnecessary long vintage camper van parade polluting the already crowded area. I decided to quickly march on to Vitt, a picturesque fisher village 25mins walk away. Same issue as Kap Arkona, unfortunately, but I did have a delicious seabuckthorn soft serve at one of the souvenir stalls. Seabuckthorn is Rügen’s biggest pride, you will find the sour berry infusing almost anything, rightfully so, it’s super tasty. However, just skip Kap Arkona and its surroundings.

The hills around Gager, which some call the “Zickerschen Alpen”, which is quite the exaggeration.

I left Arkona and drove an hour south-east to Gager for another walk. I have certainly not been to every corner of Rügen, and yes, the white cliff coasts near Sellin and of course the most famous ones at Königsstuhl are super impressive (even more so from a boat), but the landscape around Gager and close-by Gross Zicker is exceptionally beautiful. And it’s really not that busy. They call it the “Zickerschen Alpen”, which is a bit much, however, the hilly landscape does have a lot of hiking paths, great views and that feeling of being very much lost in nature.

I walked from Gager to Gross Zicker, and then West towards the Bodden, and back to Gager, an easy walk that’s doable in 2 to 2.5 hours. And some say this is the best part of Rügen. There’s little to no opportunity for bathing, the beach isn’t accessible at many points and the Bodden is very shallow. Also, food options are sparse, so come prepared.
After returning to Üselitz, I spent the evening on the balcony of my apartment, listening to cranes and geese flying above, headed south already.

In case you’re waiting for any restaurant or food recommendations on Rügen, unfortunately, I can’t give you any. I have not managed to find a good place, neither on this trip to the island nor on the many others I have done in the past. The Strandhalle in Binz is alright, it has a nice interior and a decent menu, but as I said, Rügen is huge so unless you find yourself close by, it’s not really worth an additional trip. Also coming with decent reviews is freustil in Binz, however, it’s a six-course-menu restaurant starting at 66,- Euro so not really a casual bite. So if you have ANY suggestions, please let me know and I will save them to my folder for future reference…

Other than that, Rügen is very much worth a trip for the landscape and nature alone. Binz and Sellin are stunning classic seaside resort towns and there’re a ton of hiking opportunities. The train will take you to Binz in just about 4 hours, but you will need a car to get to Üselitz. As I said, it’s so remote!

Disclaimer: I was invited to stay on Gut Üselitz for two nights by the owners. Thank you!