Hamburg is the major city in the north of Germany but there are plenty of other interesting places to visit in this region. Try Bremen, Lubeck or Kiel which are all within easy reach by bus or train. Northern Germany has similar features to that of the Netherlands with its canals.
History buffs, fans of moustachioed 19th-century-chancellors and families with kids should consider Friedrichsruh as a day trip destination. It is not a typical tourist site and most people would understandably prefer to explore some more corners of Hamburg or do daytrips to Bremen or Lubeck instead of taking the trip out to Friedrichsruh. But if you look for something quiet, something less touristy and more German or have some kids who would like to spend a day running in the forest after visiting a Butterfly Zoo – here's the place to go.
Friedrichsruh is an estate which once belonged to the famous “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck. It houses two excellent Bismarck-exhibitons and a Butterfly Zoo run by the Bismarck family. Hiking paths through the Sachsenwald (Saxon forest) are numerous. Close to Friedrichsruh, there is a small railway museum run by volunteers. Unfortunately, the Bismarck exhibitions are in German only. With some basic knowledge and help of the friendly staff, English-speaking people interested in history will enjoy these exhibitions too.
For more details or information on how to get to Friedrichsruh, please check my Friedrichsruh page.
I have been obsessed with the sport of team handball for years. Most Americans have no idea what it is. It is NOT handball as most people know it (bouncing a ball against a wall).
It is a very exciting hybrid sport: part Water Polo (without the water), part Rugby (without the scrum) and part basketball (without the basket). You have to see it to enjoy it's fast paced action.
I travelled about an hour and a half outside of Hamburg to "Lubeck Travermunde" which is a very attractive, tidy seaside resort town. There I went to a local community sports venue on the Steenkamp and watched the final Ladies' amateur game of the season. Looks like the home-team won handily.
I would recommend this slice of Lubeck for its own sake, too.
South of Hamburg you find one of the most beautiful landscapes in Germany: the Luneburg Heath or Lüneburger Heide.
The Luneburg Heath is a beautiful countryside landscape between the Rivers Elbe, Weser and Aller, with glacial valleys, moraines, morainic plains, heathland, moors and forrests. There are plenty of marked trails for hiking and bicycles rides.
For more please see my Lüneburger Heide-Page
Bergedorf is a small town inside of the city-limits of Hamburg and it has plenty of old half-timbered buildings including a very famous half-timbered church and a lovely water-castle : The Bergedorfer Schloss that is used as a museum today.
The interior of the museum is really worth a visit for some great furniture and old decorations.
Something special in Bergedorfer Schloss is an old confectionary dating back to the middle of the 19th century, it is fully equipped with lovely furniture and may be even rented for private festivities.
Kaeppn Luehr' s Museum / Oevelgoenner Seekiste is a small museum in Ovelgoenne and you may visit it mainly at the weekends and of course also upon appointment. Kaeppn Luehr was a boat-builder who always wanted to become a sailor, BUT he was not able to, because his eyes were not good enough. So he started to collect everything he could find about sailors, sailing-accesories and ship-equippments, sailor's souvenirs etc.
Everybody just called him Kaeppen Luehr - it made sense to skip the "T", because he was of cours NOT a real Captain, but Kaeppen sounds just the same in the local dialect ;-)
Besides Seekiste you will see also lots of lovely houses, when walking along Strandpromenade !
Seekiste is about 800 meters from the Museumshafen and the end of bus #112. Simply walk the small street along the river Elbe and you will pass by it !
The Address is Ovelgoenne - Strandpromenade 62
Within the city-limits of Hamburg, BUT at its west-end, you find Ovelgoenne ( the local spelling is Oevelgoenne). This small fishing village is well known for the Museumshafen , a small port full of old ships and the special thing about that museum is, that you may see these ships docked in port like they would be still used today. Some of them could be rented upon reservation for cruises or festivities while beeing docked in port (read about details in my Ovelgoenne-page !)
You may approach these ships easily all day long, as there is no fence around this small port. You are not allowed to go onboard, but of course you could, when nobody watches you.
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The Museumshafen is directely at the dock, where the ships #62
(St.Pauli Landungsbruecken-Finkenwerde) are landing, and just about 200 meters from the place, where the Hamburg-bus #112 will end.
Interested in a walk in a park? Do you like butterflies? Visit Friedrichsruh and the Schmetterling Garten a small town easily accessable from Hamburg . They have varieties of butterflies from Germany and Europe as well as more exotic varieties from Asia and South America.
In the butterfly house be careful not to step on the quail family that runs around. Too cute.
Admission €4 for Adults, €3 for Children
Restaurant on premises with traditional German cuisine as well as burgers and wursts.
Open Spring & summer: 9am-6pm; autumn & winter: 9am-5pm
Location : Am Sachsenwald, Friedrichsruh, Schleswig-Holstein
How to get there: From Hamburg take the R20 regional train direction Rostock. Only 2 stops from the Hamburg Hbf .
Once there a short walk to the Schmetterling Garten
Getting to Hamburg by train - up to the "Hannover Messe" i saw many of those windmills producing "green energy" in the northern part of Germany !
Also remarkable on this train trip was the view on a lot of "Graffity" paintings - on bridges - factories - everywhere.
Lübeck - Travemünde, it is a little town at the baltic sea north of Hamburg. At Travemünde you can take a ferry to Skandinavia. In the harbour you can buy fresh fish from little fishing boats. Also you can go to the beach,have a look at the nice old houses or play in the casino. There is a lot of life in summer at weekends, because many people from Hamburg go there.
Near Travemünde there is Timmendorf, a famous town for the rich. There you can see many very expensive houses. It is also great in summer.
When you have more time in Hamburg during the summer you should make a weekend or daytrip to the island Sylt in the northern sea.
I used to do this with friends nearly every summer at least once. The German Railway has a 'weekend tickets' for 35,- DM that you can use with more than one person ( I think max is 5 people, so everyone 5,- DM) and the train takes ~3 hours one way.
You arrive in Sylt 10 minutes walk from the beach and you have time to swim in the sometimes huge waves and lay on the beach or what we used to do is rent a Strandkorb 'Beach-Basket' so that you are protected from the sometimes strong wind. (See the picture below) We have lots to eat for a picknick and I always enjoy these days very much.
The "Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum" (Museum of Navigation) is located at the harbour. It has everything about the history of ships and navigation.
Here another picture from the beach of Sylt. You see all these 'beach-baskets' and sometimes the waves are quite rough but I like this very much.