Northern Germany in Sept

Aug 11th, 2007, 09:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 258
Northern Germany in Sept

Considering going to northern Germany (likely arrival city Hamburg) for Labor Day
week. Eclusive of travel days, would have 8 full days in Germany (could maybe
add one day). I've been to Germany a number of times but have not been to
this region.

Contemplating the following destinations: Hamburg, Bremen/Bremerhaven,
Hannover, Lubeck. Depending on what I decide to do, I could also go to Berlin or
save that for another trip. In 2002 I spent 10 days in Berlin - 2 of
which were in Potsdam. Thus on one hand, I have really done Berlin but on the
other hand, it was 5 years ago and the city has changed a lot (not to mention,
it is a very vibrant city so even if it hadn't changed, it is still a great
place to visit!).

Obviously, including Berlin, this is too much for 8 days so figured I
would check in to get people's experiences/opinions on these destinations (feel
free to suggest others). To give you an idea of what I like, the last time I
went to Germany (same amount of time and same week) I went to Aachen,
Dusseldorf, Bonn and Cologne. I planned to spend 2 days in each but added a day to
Dusseldorf which I loved (it is totally underated), subtracting from Cologne,
which I figured I was more likely to return to (and which I thought was
overrated). It was a great trip!

Are each of these 2 day cities (or at least would they average out to be?). Other
places to visit in the region? Any specific things you love/hate/recommend? I
realize these are not the top of everyone's tourist list but I've been to
Berlin, Munich, Neuschwanstein etc so like to visit other places of the country.

SusanC is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 04:46 AM
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Lübeck - definitely yes.
Hannover: What for? Do you know about anything special you want to do/see there? Otherwise skip it. Rather see Lüneburg and/or Celle.
Bremen: Not bad for a day.

I'dd add some North Sea experience in one of the seaside resorts instead of a port town like Bremerhaven. A place where you can see and follow the tides and walk in the mudflats at low tide. IMHO the best option, and easy to reach by train from both Hamburg and Bremen, is Cuxhaven. It is one of the few places on the mainland that have a sandy beach and solid, not muddy ground at low tide which can be walked without any danger (if you observe the hours, which is important). I spent 3 weeks there this spring and loved it. There are about 10 kms of dry "land" at low tide, great for walking, observing all those funny little animals living there and watching the big ships coming and going on the mouth of the Elbe. Cuxhaven's unique speciality: Do a tour to the island of Neuwerk in a horse-drawn carriage across the dry sea bottom.

Will you have a car? If yes:
- The landscape North-West of Lübeck, known as Holsteinische Schweiz, is just lovely with its lakes, hills, forests and fields, villages and little towns.
- The town of Worpswede, North-East of Bremen in the moors, has been a colony of artists for almost 100 years. Quite special. There is also a museum with works by the most famous Worpswede artists in Bremen (Böttcherstraße).
- September will probably be too late for the heather to be in bloom, but some places in the Lüneburger Heide may be worth a stop and a walk.

Feel free to ask further questions. The North can easily keep you busy for 8 full days.
quokka is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 09:01 AM
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I totally agree with quokka recommendations. Hannover was a complete disappointment for me although the cityhall was somewhat interesting to visit. It has a large oldtown but it's somewhat too sterile.
CELLE & LUNEBURG are closer to Hamburg and can be combined in one trip.

Taking you to another direction would be to visit WOLFENSBUETTEL (small timberhouse market square), GOSLAR, WERNIGERODE (& castle) and the rough diamond in the Harz: QUEDLINBURG. These towns would be great if you want to head towards Leipzig or Berlin.

LEIPZIG itself is a rewarding destination for a night or two. I would consider it a vibrant (freshly renovated & polished) East German metropolitan. There are plenty of architectural buildings & churches to view, however it is a city of commerce & convention so the shopping area dominates the large cobblestone oldtown. My wife thinks that Leipzig offers some of the most comfortable german shopping areas with a warmer atmosphere.

BREMEN is definitely worth a day trip from Hamburg if only to enjoy the comfortable and attractive old town as well as the maze of cozy meandering alleys in the Schnoor district of Bremen. The architecture of both parts of the city are very appealing. We've been there twice and stopped by at the wonderful wine cellar/stuebe below the rococo cityhall. They serve 300 kinds of German wines as well as delicious local food dishes. Bremen of course capitalizes on its fairytale Bremer Musikanten figures as well as its Roland statue which is located in a lively square inside old town.

LUEBECK is a nice pleasant town with a grand red brick town gate. I am not a big fan of Luebeck perhaps because I had too high of an expectation. It does have enough small historical attractions but we weren't particularly interested in them. You can combine it with nearby Travemuende for a taste of a german beach resort town.

HAMBURG probably compares to Duesseldorf but with a more attractive waterfront setting. The shopping area is much larger than Duesseldorf as it blankets the Altstadt & Neustadt. Plenty of nice architecture including its landmark cityhall,Arkaden, and Colonaden etc. We enjoy Duesseldorf but Hamburg even more. The only aspect that Duesseldorf is superior to Hamburg is in the modern art scene which we could care less.

DAX is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 09:10 AM
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Susan, we used to live in Hamburg. It is arguably one of the most attractive cities in Germany, with as many bridges and canals as Venice. Definitely worth a couple of days. Be prepared for very changeable weather in Northern germany - all in one day. Luebeck is fine, too, but I would skip the rest. There are some lovely, charming communites in the Harz mountains not too far away. En route to Berlin, you have lots of options as well. If you like you can email at [email protected], and I can do some additonal research for you to refresh my memory. jack
Inveteratetraveler is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 06:30 PM
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You have chosen a wonderful part of Germany to visit. There is so much to see and do your 8 days will fill quickly. I would recommend saving Berlin for a separate trip. I just recently returned from that area. See a portion of my trip report for some suggestions:

I agree with quokka and highly recommend the North Sea coast.

Also, I have visited both Lübeck and Hamburg on separate trips and both are worth a visit. Lübeck deserves at least a 1/2 day and you could easily spend 2 days in Hamburg.

Let me know if I can assist further.
wanderfrau is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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Thanks everyone! Will do some research on these suggestions. Any others welcome too!

I like the idea of including former East German locales (exclusive of Berlin which is in its own universe). I used to live in Bulgaria and have been to most of the former communist countries - I find former East Germany particularly unique among them.

Sounds like most of you think Hannover is not worth it. I guess it is on my list b/c I think my grandmother's family is from there (although I have no details) and my good friend (who lives outside Munich) is originally from there so I feel some (obviously vague) tie. Similarly, I think what made me think of Bremen/Bremerhaven is that so many of my clients ship from there! Random I know..

BTW Dax, I love Leipzig!! In fact, your suggestion made me reread my 2001 Christmas letter where I chronicled by post Sept 11 Thanksgiving trip to Leipzig/Dresden/Meissen/Munich and reminded me of how much I liked Leipzig. I sometimes think I am at odds with the general population in that my favorite 2 cities are Dusseldorf and Leipzig - instead of Berlin and Munich. Although I thought my 10 day trip to Berlin was awesome and do want to return, I did not "click" with the city. I think it was a bit to "edgy" for me (ironic given that I am a New Yorker!). Not sure if other people feel this way but, when I travel, I feel destinations are like people - with some I feel a chemistry and others I don't. And, I can't always give you an intellectual reason why!

One of my other ideas for this trip was to fly to Berlin and then return to Leipzig and hit some new places (Wittenberg and Nurnberg). But there are some nice airfares to Hamburg and that opens up a new region for me.

Thanks again.
SusanC is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 11:15 PM
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Another vote for Bremen and Worpswede. We spent a holiday week-end in Lilienthal (next to Worpswede) and thought it was an attractive area, off the tourist radar.
If you have a car, you might also want to consider a detour into Groningen in the Netherlands, near the German border.
I would drop Hannover. DH goes there every year for the CeBIT conference and so far hasn't found much that he really likes about the city.
BTilke is offline  
Aug 13th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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BTilke; Can you elaborate further on the charm of Groningen? I've wanted to go there but all my friends/relatives who live in Holland discouraged me saying that there's nothing worth going there. They may have a negative bias since they live in the Randstaat area.
DAX is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 12:58 AM
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Hi Dax, well we were only there the once (after a week-end in the Bremen area) so we're not experts by any means, but we thought it was a pretty, interesting city with a nice mix of old and new architecture and friendly people. Nice countryside too.
We felt about Groningen pretty much the way we feel about places like Middelburg (also NL) or Detmold, Germany, or Muensterland. Not full of tourist "must see" attractions (although we feel the Freilichtmuseum outside Detmold is one of the undiscovered gems of Germany and we loved the watercastle region of Muensterland), but places that are worth relaxing in and enjoying because they're NOT in every tourist guidebook.
BTilke is offline  
Aug 14th, 2007, 02:20 AM
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Groningen is Ok for a day trip but I wouldn't go out of my way to go there. It is a nice enough small city but really you have enough to see in Northern Germany - I would rather spend the time visiting one of the islands for instance than going to Groningen. Whilst it is apparently the best city to live in in the Netherlands it is perhaps not the best city to visit. Middelburg (which is in Zeeland so too far away for you) on the other hand is a nice little town.
I live on the edge of the Randstad, but would rather live in the North, so I am not biased about Groningen.
hetismij is offline  
Aug 30th, 2007, 04:41 AM
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comparing Hamburg to Duesseldorf really hurts - makes me cringe!

In fact, it's hard to imagine something more rude to say to a true Hanseat.
hsv is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 05:46 AM
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hsv: LOL, it didn't occur to me till you mentioned it. I was just trying to give the OP a comparative recommendation of Hamburg since she really enjoyed Duesseldorf. Most women who enjoy Duesseldorf are impressed by the brand name shopping or the two modern art museums. Hamburg has the most high end shopping (as Duesseldorf does) compared to Bremen, Hanover, Luebeck.

In no way I was comparing the attitude & people of Hamburg with those of Duesseldorf. I can definitely say that the people in Hamburg have a lot more substance and history. However Hamburg can easily please those who enjoy the flashy comforts of Duesseldorf.
DAX is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 06:45 AM
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We have several relatives (engineers and teachers) living and working in Duesseldorf and they seem to have every bit as as much "substance" as anyone from Hamburg...anyway, we like a sophisticated, vibrant German city where it's as easy to find good sushi as it is to find good wurst, so Duesseldorf is fine for us.
BTilke is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 11:28 PM
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my remark was not meant in bad spirit.
There are certain stereotypes and living up to them can indeed be fun (and, after all, there may be some reasons for some prejudice);-)
hsv is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 01:15 AM
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BTilke: Point well taken. I have a couple of smart acquaintances who live & work in Las Vegas. They told me how prejudiced people are about Las Vegas even now after they have imported lots of modern art and world class restaurants.

I happened to see the reality show by the so called "hottest" (and tackiest) German moderatorin Guelcan Kamps . It's hilarious but I wonder if she personafies & perpetuates the distinction of Duesseldorf.

DAX is offline  
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