At first glance, the red red sandstone rock appears rather rugged and forbidding. One would not expect much nature here. But far from it! The island even has two nature reserves and has received several awards.
In 2006, Helgoland was awarded the title “National Geotope” by the Academy of Geosciences in Hanover. In 2012, the Heinz -Sielmann Foundation voted it Germany’s most beautiful natural wonder by a large majority. And the island is also big on the small scale: the stamp 100 Years of the Helgoland Bird Observatory was even voted the most beautiful stamp in the world in 2011!
Helgoland’s Lummenfelsen, at just 1.1 hectares, is one of the most interesting and smallest nature reserves in the world. The second, much larger remains invisible.
The Helgoland rocky shelf, with a water depth of up to 48 m, is one of the largest nature reserves in Schleswig-Holstein with an area of 5,138 hectares, but it remains hidden under the North Sea waves and lies directly in front of the island’s cliffs.
At high tide, the rocky mudflats lie under water; at low tide, the water drains away and the rocky mudflats become visible. For biologists, this is a paradise, because many of the well over a thousand species of plants and animals found in the rocky shelf are found exclusively here.
These unique conditions make the island an important location for marine research. The Biological Institute (BAH) was founded on Helgoland as early as 1892. The BAH is part of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research Foundation. Around 80 employees are involved in marine zoology, microbiology and botany as well as biological oceanography.
The guillemot rock The guillemot rock is Germany’s only bird cliff and is popular with people and animals alike.
Watching the approximately 10,000 pairs of birds on the cliffs is truly unique. The most spectacular spectacle is offered to the guests in June: Then the young guillemots with their small stubby wings become fledglings, plunge daringly from the cliff during the guillemot jump and land safely on the North Sea waves, where they are already expected by their bird parents.
In addition to guillemots, gannets and kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars (seabird of the year 2022) breed here.
Throughout the year, Helgoland is a Mecca for birdwatchers from near and far. After all, the island is the place with the largest recorded number of bird species in all of Central Europe. About 430 species have been counted here. Bird research has a long tradition on Helgoland. The Vogelwarte Helgoland was founded as early as 1910. Its research focuses on bird migration and seabird ecology.
Those who want to explore nature more closely can do so quite comfortably in passing. Because on the main island 22 stations and on the dune again 14 stations with boards and pyramids inform about flora and fauna of the island.
The nature trail starts in the lower island at the landing stage, leads the guest along the eastern part of the upper island to Lange Anna and from there back along the western cliffs.
The 90 minutes you should plan for it are well worth it! Almost all of the natural treasures can be easily reached via the signposted paths. Thus, nature can be observed very closely without disturbing it.
Rare plants such as the sea fennel or the cliff cabbage, the mother plant of all cultivated cabbage varieties, grow on the extensive green areas and on the steep cliffs. In wild form it grows in Germany only on Helgoland.
In the flower meadows, orchids, arrow cress, coltsfoot and many other colorful plant species bloom in spring and summer.
Then you can also meet numerous butterflies such as the large and small cabbage white butterfly and the pigeon tail. The buckthorn bushes in the northeast area bear their bright fruits until late autumn.
Click here for the theme trails: Theme trails around the island