Founded in 1218 and one of the three original Hanseatic cities, Rostock, Germany, is only 10 miles from the seaside resort Warnemunde, where cruise ships dock. And while many cruise passengers skip these two former East German destinations for trips to Berlin, we decided to stay put and see what we could find. Besides, the rail trip to Berlin was nearly three hours each way, and with kids, we didn’t think we could endure such a long day of travel.
Our first order of business was to pick up a Rostock Card (in nearly all Baltic Sea destinations, you can purchase city cards good for transport and sightseeing). Getting into Rostock was easy. The train departs near the cruise terminal in Warnemunde. Once in Rostock city center, we transferred to a tram to get to the central square, Neuer Markt. From the ship to the central square took only about 30 minutes.
A tourist information center is located on the square, so we walked in to get our bearings. We learned the city features a town wall, gothic churches, charming shops and cafes. Rostock is also home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, founded in 1419. We were advised to begin at St. Peters Church, where we would take the elevator up nearly 12 stories for a view of the city. Afterward, we walked the city squares and wide pedestrian streets, stopping for bratwurst before heading back to Warnemunde by boat.
The trip back was exceptionally pleasant, and we toasted the skyline with a large frothy glass of Rostocker Pils.
Warnemunde was famed for its baths and spas in the 20th century. Today, it’s a bit as if Miami were to meet the Baltic. Beaches are wide and sandy; hotels and bars line the streets across from the beach. We rented bikes near the train station and rode for a couple of hours along the promenade skirting the beach.
Westerdam did not depart until 10 p.m., so after dinner on the ship, we walked back into Warnemunde. The trains were just returning with passengers who had opted for Berlin. As we watched them disembark, tired from the long journey but enthused about what they had seen, we were glad we stayed.