Rügen is Germany’s largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Rügen District of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern which also includes the neighboring islands of Hiddensee and Ummanz.
Rügen is located in off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea. The Rügendamm bridge which connects the island by road and rail with the city of Stralsund on the mainland crosses over the Strelasund. Rügen has an area of 926.4 km2, or 974 km2 if the adjacent small islands are included. The maximum diameter is 51.4 km from north to south, and 42.8 km from east to west. Of an overall 574 km-long coastline, 56 km are sandy Baltic Sea beaches, and 2.8 km sandy Bodden beaches.
The highest elevations are on the Jasmund peninsula: Piekberg (161 m) and Königsstuhl (117 m). The core landmass, Muttland, is surrounded by several peninsulas. To the north lie the peninsulas of Wittow and Jasmund, connected to each other by the Schaabe landbridge and to Muttland by theSchmale Heide landbridge, a dam at Lietzow and the Wittower Fähre ferry. The northern peninsulas are separated from Muttland by several Bodden, the largest of which are Großer Jasmunder Bodden andKleiner Jasmunder Bodden. Major peninsulas in the south are Zudar and Mönchgut which both face the Bay of Greifswald. The climate is in the temperate zone. The winters are not particularly cold, with mean temperatures in January and February of 0.0°C.; and summers are cool, with a mean temperature in August of 16.3°C. There is an average rainfall of 520–560 mm and approximately 1800–1870 hours of sunshine annually. Two German national parks are situated on Rügen: Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park, in the West (also including Hiddensee), and Jasmund National Park, a smaller park including the famous chalk cliffs (Königsstuhl). There is also a nature reserve, Southeast Rügen Biosphere Reserve, consisting of the peninsulas in the southeast.
Rügen is one of the most visited holiday destinations in Germany. The first bathing facility on Rügen opened in 1794 at the mineral-rich spring in Sagard. In 1818, Putbus’ suburb Lauterbach became Rügen’s first seaside resort. In the 1860s Sassnitzbecame a seaside resort, followed by Binz in the 1880s. During World War II Prora was constructed as a mass tourist resort but it was never finished. Today the most popular seaside resorts are the Schaabe beaches between Altenkirchen andJuliusruh including Drewoldke, Glowe and Breege, and the eastern beaches between Sassnitz and Göhren including Neu Mukran, Prora, Binz, Sellin and Baabe. The latter are accessible via an historic narrow gauge railway employing steam locomotives, called Rügensche Bäderbahn. Tourist destinations other than seaside resorts include Cape Arkona, the wood-covered Stubbenkammer hills on Jasmund with interesting chalk cliff formations, the wood-covered Granitz hills with the Jagdschloß palace, and the inland places of Bergen auf Rügen, Ralswiek and Gingst. The island offers a huge variety of different beach and shore areas. Rügen is often visited by windsurfers and kitesurfers and offers more than fifteen different locations for surfing. The most popular locations are Dranske, Rosengarten, Wiek, Suhrendorf andNeu Mukran.