When I drive north, I feel calmer with every passing kilometer. The landscape becomes flatter, thatched cottages appear, and the air becomes increasingly clear. The German North Sea coast has a charm that hardly any other region has. It’s down-to-earth, simple and exudes a deep serenity. It’s where the unique Wadden Sea comes together with the idyllic salt marshes and dike landscape of East Frisia. You can explore this magnificent natural and cultural landscape on a particularly special long-distance hiking route – the Störtebeker Trail. This path runs along the coast of the East Frisian peninsula and leads you to the most beautiful lighthouses, small towns and beaches of the North Sea.
Endless expanses, wind, sea, pirate stories and a lot of sheep: this wonderful mixture will accompany you on the Störtebeker Trail. But not only that. In many places, you can dive deep into the nature of the Wadden Sea and the coast, whether in one of the modern museums on the way, the seal station in Norddeich or during a mudflat hike or cutter trip. In addition, cozy cafés and fish restaurants will take you again and again into the culinary world of the North.
From Leer, the city on the Ems, to Emden on the Dollart and through the most beautiful coastal towns to Wilhelmshaven: this North German long-distance hiking trail covers almost the entire coastline of Lower Saxony. It takes you right through the region that was haunted in the 14th century by the notorious pirate Klaus Störtebeker, who lends the trail its name. During the hike on the Störtebeker Trail, you’ll not only encounter wonderful coastal towns, but also spectacular stories about the famous buccaneer.
Officially, the Störtebeker Trail – which was created by the Wiehengebirgsverband Weser-Ems e.V. – has a length of 186 kilometers (116 mi). In this Collection, is a slightly longer version of 206 kilometers (128 mi), which I have divided into eight stages. The following applies: Flat, flatter, Störtebeker Trail. It really is that flat. The first two stages are a bit longer at just under 36 kilometers (22 mi), followed by tours of 17 to 28 kilometers (11–17 mi). Of course, you are free to divide the hike differently or to split a stage.
You don't need a car to reach the Trail, because both Leer and Wilhelmshaven are easily reached by train or bus. If you do want to drive to Leer, you can leave your car there for the duration of the hike. By bus and train you can reach your starting point in Wilhelmshaven from Leer in an hour and a half. Each stage ends in a coastal town that’s connected to the public transport network so it’s no problem if you only want to walk part of the trail. You can check possible connections at this link: vbn.de/en.
There are plenty of options for overnight stays along this coastal trail. It’s also useful to know that the ferries to the seven East Frisian islands (komoot.de/collection/1318027) leave from harbors along the Störtebeker Trail. The long-distance hike can therefore be wonderfully combined with a trip or two to one of the islands.
Have you already arrived in the north? With the first stage of the Störtebekerweg at the latest, you will immerse yourself in the special fascination of this area. The calls of the seagulls welcome you, the wind blows salty and sometimes cool towards you. For the next few days you should be well equipped for the onion look, because the weather on the coast often does what it wants - and conjures up the most unlikely postcard motifs.
After you have hiked a good bit towards the North Sea with the first stage from Leer, you will reach the coast for the first time during the second stage. You will get to know the picturesque path over the dike and the kilometer-wide view of the Wadden Sea to the East Frisian Islands.The starting point of the stage …
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Actually, it's a shame to leave Greetsiel and the adjoining nature reserve Leybucht the very next day. So if you have time, you can spend an extra day there during your hike on the Störtebekerweg and explore the landscape. But of course, untouched nature and a lot of time to switch off await you on the third stage of the Störtebekerweg.
With one last look at the harbor in Norddeich you leave the lively coastal town. A few kilometers are waiting for you today on the relaxed dike path along the coast. You always have the island of Norderney in view, which you can see from the mainland when the visibility is good.At almost 20 kilometers, this stage is a …
You can approach the fifth stage of the Störtebekerweg very relaxed. There are only 17 kilometers ahead of you today and you can take a leisurely look at Bensersiel, your destination, and Dornumersiel, which is on the way. Well-tried you hike from Neßmersiel back to the dike. You cover the first ten kilometers with the salt marshes in view - …
One of the nicest things about the hike on the Störtebekerweg is that you can walk barefoot along the beaches at any time. The blue sky above you, the sea next to you, the next destination in front of you. You can leave the Deichweg, on which the Störtebekerweg runs, again and again during the sixth stage and switch to the path directly on the water. It always runs parallel to the Deichweg between Benser- and Harlesiel.
Schillig, Horumersiel and Hooksiel: The seventh stage of the Störtebekerweg leads you to the three places in the east of the East Frisian Peninsula. In addition to almost 26 flat kilometers, a landscape that alternates between dykes and fishing villages awaits you. After your night in Harlesiel, the Störtebekerweg takes you to Deichweg, which you initially follow for 14 kilometers.
Beaches, colorful fishing towns, long dyke paths with a view of the North Sea and natural salt marshes: after more than 170 kilometers, the Störtebekerweg leaves the tranquil North Sea coast on the eighth stage and takes you into the urban area of one of the most important port cities in Germany - Wilhelmshaven. After having experienced many historical places …
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