A Perfect Day in Warnemünde & Rostock on a Cruise

Rostock and Warnemünde, Germany are probably two of the loveliest places in northern Europe that you have never heard of.

Rostock is one of Germany’s finest former Hanseatic cities. Warnemünde, on the estuary of the Warnow River, is the seaside resort of Rostock and has a sensational broad sandy beach, the largest on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast.

distinctive beach chairs seen in a day in warnemunde germany

Warnemünde is also one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, commonly marketed as Berlin (Warnemünde), enticing cruise passengers with the opportunity to visit the German capital. But I say don’t bother visiting Berlin from a cruise stop in Warnemünde.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Berlin and have visited it more than once. However, a shore excursion to Berlin from Warnemünde is a very long and expensive day trip.

Instead, spend your day in Warnemünde and Rostock. To help you make the most of your one day in Warnemünde and Rostock, here are some essential practical tips, including how to get from Warnemünde cruise port, and my pick of what to do.


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How I Visited Rostock and Warnemünde on a Cruise

Warnemünde was the final port of call on my 2-week Baltic cruise:

  • Cruise operator: Celebrity Cruises
  • Cruise ship: Celebrity Silhouette
  • Time in port: 7 am – 9.30 pm

I started my day in Rostock and spent the afternoon in Warnemünde. There were two reasons for this.

Firstly, I wanted to witness the whirring of Rostock’s famous astronomical clock. But also, as I was in Warnemünde in the afternoon, this allayed any anxieties about getting back to the ship on time.

Warnemünde train station is an easy walk from the cruise port. From here, a train will take you to Rostock Hbf in 20 minutes.

Language – German. English is widely spoken.

Currency – Euro. Cards are widely accepted.

Tipping – Tipping is not expected in restaurants because a 10-15% service charge is usually applied to your bill. However, if you feel that the service was exceptional, you can leave a few Euros more.

Getting around Warnemünde and Rostock  – Both places are easily walkable.

bronze statue of man with pitchfork in front of half-gabled houses

A Morning in Rostock

From Rostock Hbf, it’s a pleasant 15-minute walk into the centre of town. Alternatively, jump on tram #5 or #6.

Passing through the city’s imposing steintor (city gate), you will soon arrive at Neuer Markt (market square).

Visit Neuer Markt (Market Square)

With its Renaissance-era gabled merchants’ houses lining a cobblestoned square, Rostock’s Neuer Markt oozes historic charm. As a member of the powerful Hanseatic League from the 13th Century, Rostock became an important port and centre for trade and shipbuilding on the Baltic.

Rostock was badly damaged by bombing raids in 1942, but mercifully much of its heritage was spared. This includes the merchants’ houses on the market square, a kilometre-long stretch of the city’s 13th Century defensive walls and the Rathaus (town hall).

gabled house in main square in rostock germany
Market Square, Rostock

Stroke the snake’s head at Rostock’s Rathaus (town hall)

woman touching the bronze sculpture of a serpent

The youthful appearance of Rostock’s pink arcaded Rathaus on the market square belies its age. Dating from the 13th Century, it is one of the oldest town halls in Germany. Damaged by a storm in the 18th century, its the facade was given a Baroque makeover, even if the interior is much older.

Don’t leave the market square before petting the head of the snake sculpture guarding the entrance to the town hall. Local tradition holds that this will bring you good luck.

Watch the astronomical clock’s performance at St Mary’s Church

On the other side of the market square is St. Mary’s Church, also dating from the 13th Century, which is Rostock’s largest and most beautiful church.

Time your visit for midday to see the Apostles’ Procession at the astronomical clock. Created by the watchmaker Hans Düringer in 1472, and working with original parts, six figures (evangelists and apostles) move past Christ in a solemn procession.

Admission is free; donations are welcome.

giant astronomical-clock-in rostock germany
Astronomical Clock, Rostock

Stop by Universitätsplatz

Walking west from St Mary’s Church along Rostock’s main shopping street you will reach the triangular Universitätsplatz.

Founded in 1419, Rostock University is one of the oldest universities in the world. The Neo-Renaissance main university building is on the west side of the square. In the centre of Universitätsplatz is Der Brunnen der Lebensfreude (Fountain for the Joy of Life).

Created by Jo Jastram and Reinhard Dietrich, this contemporary fountain features 20 bronze sculptures of animals and people and 18 water jets.

fountain and gabled buildings in cobblestone plaze in Rostock
Universitatsplätz, Rostock

An Afternoon in Warnemünde, Germany

The guidebooks will tell you that Warnemünde’s highlights are its late 19th Century lighthouse and the Teepott (Teapot) Building, an interesting example of East German (DDR) architecture. But for me, the star of the show was Warnemünde’s beach.

Walk along Warnemünde’s beach

Stretching for over 9 miles, the fine, sugar-white sand of Warnemünde’s beach is dotted with playgrounds, barbeques and the town’s characteristic deckchairs.

boardwlak leading to warnemunde beach through sand dunes
Warnemünde beach

These hooded deckchairs, or Strandkörbe, were invented in 1882 by Wilhelm Bartlemann, a basket-maker from Rostock. They were an instant hit and can now be found peppering the beaches of resorts across Germany.

seagull perched on Deckchair on Warnemünde beach

Stroll the streets of Warnemünde

The best way that you can spend your day in Warnemünde is to simply stroll its streets. Its canalside, fringed with former fishermen’s houses, and its beachfront promenades are just made for wandering around.

boats along busy Quayside in Warnemunde
Quayside in Warnemunde, Germany

Stop to pick up a portion of fresh seafood or a juicy brätwurst from one of the many vendors. They taste even better washed down with a refreshing local Rostocker beer.

And don’t miss Alexandrienstrasse with its cobblestones and wooden fishermen’s houses.

fishermen's cottages on Alexandrienstrasse, Warnemünde
Alexandrienstrasse, Warnemünde

Visit Warnemünde’s Lutheran Church

Warnemünde’s current Lutheran Church has been serving the congregation since 1871. Take a look at the church’s Gothic altar, dating from 1474, in particular, the odd placement of its group of carved wooden figures in the central panel.

How to Get from Warnemünde to Rostock

Option 1: Travel by train from Warnemünde to Rostock

The modern, frequent S-Bahn train will whisk you from Warnemünde train station to Rostock Hbf in 20 minutes. Warnemünde train station is an easy 10 – 15 minute walk from the cruise port.

Buy your ticket from one of the machines at the station or from the ticket office. This ticket also includes the tram in Rostock.

You can check the timetable and current prices here. Don’t forget to validate your ticket in the orange machine on the platform before boarding the train.

Option 2: Take the boat from Warnemünde to Rostock

If you haven’t had enough of being on the water, there is a passenger boat service between Warnemünde and Rostock.

bronze statue in square in rostock with half-gabled houses

Popular Rostock and Warnemünde Shore Excursions

But perhaps you prefer someone else to take care of all of the arrangements for you? Booking a shore excursion independently is usually much less expensive than going through your cruise operator.

Here are a few highly-rated half-day tours to consider:

Warnemünde & Rostock: Half-Day Shore Excursion

Enjoy a 5-hour walking tour of Warnemünde & Rostock with a guide. Includes pick-up from the cruise terminal.

>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & PRICE

Schwerin Castle and Rostock from Warnemünde

Or why not grab the chance to visit one of Germany’s magical castles from Warnemünde along with Hanseatic Rostock? Also includes pick-up from the cruise terminal.

>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & PRICE

small child on boardwalk leading to sea

And If You Want to Take a Day Tour to Berlin from Warnemünde?

Of course, you can always take a day trip to Berlin from Warnemünde but caveat emptor.

The one-way journey by bus or train takes around three hours. Even with a long day in port, this will give you barely five or six hours to explore Berlin.

Because of the distance involved, I don’t recommend visiting Berlin from Warnemünde independently.

The easiest way to do this is to book a shore excursion with your cruise operator. A cheaper alternative is to join a group tour with an independent operator.  Here are a few options that will fit the bill:

Berlin Shore Excursion from Warnemünde Port

This affordable and comprehensive group tour takes in the highlights of Berlin, including Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall.

>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO BOOK

Private Tour of Berlin’s World War II and Cold War Sites

Or why not take a private excursion to Berlin, which guarantees to get you back on board on time for departure? The beauty of this day tour is that it is fully customisable to fit your interests.

>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO BOOK


Enjoy your day in Rostock and Warnemünde

I thought that I would be merely filling time in Warnemünde and Rostock. How wrong was I! Warnemünde turned out to be one of my favourite stops on my Baltic Sea cruise

Rostock has an almost palpable historic charm, a legacy of its Hanseatic links. Warnemünde is a wonderfully laid-back seaside resort with an extraordinary beach.

My decision not to return to Berlin was the right one for me. Whilst I can understand cruise passengers taking the opportunity to visit this great city, it is one heck of a day trip.

Packing a good guidebook to allow you to explore the ports of call on a Baltic cruise independently is a wise move. I can recommend the excellent Lonely Planet Cruise Ports Scandinavia & Northern Europe that I used on this cruise.

If you have found this itinerary helpful, take a look at my guides to the other ports of call on this cruise:

Finally, if you are new to cruising, I also have guidance on planning your first cruise and cruise cabin tips, including a review of single cabins for if you are cruising alone.

Happy travels!

cruise packing checklist cold climate
bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.