Too small to be dynamic, too large to be quaint, ROSTOCK is the principal city in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The most important port on the German Baltic has been everything from a powerful Hanseatic trader to a major ship-building port at the head of the deep-water Warnow River. Its townscape bears the scars of Allied bombers and GDR planners alike. Even the reunification welcomed elsewhere proved a bitter pill when it ended the subsidies that had sustained the ship-building industry, prompting mass unemployment. Although pockets of historical charm remain in the Altstadt, an oval cat’s-cradle of streets above the harbour, and renovation has buffed up the centre into a pleasant enough place, the core is unlikely to detain you for more than a day. The Kröpeliner Tor-Vorstadt district, where a 12,000-strong student population helps fuel the liveliest nightlife on the German Baltic, is one reason to hang around. Otherwise there’s nearby Warnemünde, a chirpy sister resort with one of the finest beaches in Germany. It also hosts the town’s best festivals: regatta week Warnemünder Woche (warnemuender-woche.de), straddling the first and second weeks of July, and classic sail extravaganza Hanse Sail (hansesail.com) in early August.

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