Artists have long acclaimed the vast land-, sea- and skyscapes of these conjoined former islands that hook around east of Rostock. In 1880, they founded an artists’ colony in AHRENSHOOP, which must have been a surprise for a modest fishing village. Today it’s a gentrified holiday village, as are its neighbouring settlements. Treasured as a getaway by north Germans for its nature – kilometres of wild beach and birdlife drawn by rich lagoons of the Western Pomeranian Boddenlandschaft national park (www.nationalpark-vorpommersche-boddenlandschaft.de) – as much as the chic boutiques that occupy many thatched houses, the peninsula is a fine way to lose a day between Rostock and Stralsund. Ahrenshoop is the focus for shopping and culture alike, a chic village-resort which maintains its artistic credentials in a slew of galleries. Kunstkaten, (generally daily 10am–1pm & 2–5/6pm; kunstkaten.de) a gallery in a traditional house in the village centre, has been going strong for over a century. A glass pavilion at the centre lists current exhibitions at the other fifteen galleries in the village or source free what’s-on booklets in the tourist office. The rest of the peninsula is almost wilfully low-key by comparison: a place for simple pleasures like a stroll and a cycle. A popular option is the eastern tip beyond Zingst, where Europe’s largest crane roost – up to 50,000 birds – occupies the coastal marshes to the south (the Bodden of the national park’s name) in spring and autumn. Bike hire is available at a hut by the car park.