Hamburg, Germany has more bridges than any other city in the world. Its 2,500 bridges are staggeringly more than Venice, Amsterdam and London combined! Packed with chic restaurants, trendy cafes, museums, bars and clubs, Hamburg is an ideal destination for culture vultures, foodies and partygoers alike.
Early Autumn is a pleasant time to visit Hamburg, as moderate temperatures offer cooler sightseeing weather. Visitors are also likely to strike better hotel and airfare deals, outside the busy summer tourist season. It’s also a more sustainable time to travel, with less strain placed on transport and resources.
Hamburg’s port is one of the largest in the world. Adjacent to a waterway bustling with cargo ships and other vessels, HafenCity is an intriguing neighborhood that firmly embraces an ethos of sustainability. Residents of luxury apartments can utilize wide bicycle lanes to venture to work and play. Visitors can opt to rent bicycles or electric scooters to explore the area.
Within HafenCity, Hamburg’s Speicherstadt warehouse district is the largest in the world. Its tall buildings nestled alongside canals are supported with the aid of oak log foundations. Enjoy a canal-side terrace at a chic restaurant like Michelin Guide recommended Strauchs Falco, or a hip cafe and lap up the laid-back ambiance of northern Germany.
Hamburg has efficient and modern public transportation, making it more sustainable by minimizing air pollution from CO2 emissions. Its wide bicycle lanes alongside roads offer a sensible alternative to the constantly clogged streets that plague many other cities.
An unusual experience in HafenCity is Dialogue in the Dark. Visitors spend an hour in complete darkness, recreating everyday experiences led by a visually impaired guide – like crossing the road, navigating the kitchen and sitting for a drink and snacks with company. This is an impactful experience that highlights the importance of accessibility. Impairments can happen to all of us at later stages in life.
Every year in late September, the Reeperbahn Festival hosts one of the largest club festivals in the world, occurring over four days. The Beatles hailed from Liverpool, England, but they also performed many early 1960’s shows in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn. That helped launch a global music phenomenon. Reeperbahn, located in the St. Pauli district is one of Hamburg’s main nightlife hubs and also the city’s major red-light district.
Northern Germany offers colorful autumn foliage. A great place to experience that near Hamburg is the Heidi Himmel Observation Tower. Located in the Lüneburg Heath Nature Park, the Heide Himmel treetop walkway is an ideal destination for scenic vistas and fresh air outside the city. The neighboring wildlife park is fantastic for kids to pet animals and to learn about conservation, making this an ideal family destination.
After a visit to Heide Himmel, plan for a delicious lunch at Grillhus zum Hirsch’n Steakhouse. On a pleasant autumn day, it’s lovely to dine al fresco on their terrace. The thatched straw roof house across the street punctuates its peaceful countryside setting. Grillhus zum Hirsch’n is fantastic for a range of succulent steaks. The ribeye I enjoyed there was the best steak I have eaten in a while.
Located 42 miles northeast of Hamburg, Lübeck, Germany is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by the Trave and Wakenitz rivers. Comfortable and modern trains from Hamburg to Lübeck depart every 30 minutes, with travel time taking around 44 minutes.
Founded in 1143, Lübeck (Luebeck) was nicknamed “the Queen of the Hanseatic League,” a powerful Baltic Sea trade network of towns during the 14th century. Featuring an abundance of unique architecture, idyllic waterways and mouth-watering seafood dishes, its strikingly well-preserved guild houses resemble a miniature Amsterdam.
Lübeck’s Rathaus (Town Hall) dates to 1230, standing as a testament to the Market Square’s unique architecture. The Town Hall was expanded over centuries, and the present-day version showcases a cornucopia of architectural styles from different periods. The Rathaus is the headquarters of Lüebeck’s city parliament, where regular meetings are held.
Several charming cafes line Lübeck’s market square, including Cafe Erdapfel, which specialized in potato dishes and coffee. It’s lovely to sit outside on a sunny day, to chat or read a book while marveling at centuries of beautiful architecture.
Constructed between 1277 to 1351, St. Mary’s Church (Marienkirche or St. Marien zu Lübeck) is a towering Gothic cathedral, built to symbolize the economic and political power of Lübeck. St. Mary’s Church is Germany’s third-largest church. For centuries, it influenced the construction of other churches around the Baltic Sea’s Hanseatic League.
Lübeck’s 13 museums further enhance the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dotted throughout the charming town, they offer historical and cultural enrichment that’s especially ideal for visitors to explore on a rainy day.
The European Hansemuseum (Europäisches Hansemuseum) is the largest museum in the world dedicated to the history of the Hanseatic League. Staged historical scenes and cabinets with valuable original objects, combined with modern technology, tell tales of centuries past. Its interactive features present an informative and fascinating Hanse experience.
Holstentor Gate is Lübeck’s proud symbol. Built in 1464, it stands as a relic of the town’s significant mercantile past. The Gothic red-brick city gate lines the historic center along the Trave River. The popular Holstentor Museum features exhibits covering the history of Lübeck, dating to Medieval times.
Lübeck’s visitors will quickly notice that Marzipan reigns as confectionary king. Traditional marzipan is natural, made with only crushed almonds, powdered sugar and typically rose water. As the former capital of the Hanseatic League, Lübeck was an important trading hub, ensuring a steady supply of almonds during times of scarcity.
Marzipan produced in Lübeck during the 18th century became well known for high quality, thanks to a higher-than-average almond content. Visitors can learn more about marzipan at the Cafe Niederegger Marzipan Museum. It’s located above an impressive marzipan shop, featuring elaborate marzipan window displays.
Lübeck’s Hospital of the Holy Spirit (Heiligen Geist Hospital) is another architectural gem featuring four slender spires. Established by wealthy Hanseatic League merchants in the 13th century, one of Europe’s first hospitals also served as a shelter for the homeless and poor. Visitors can tour the impressive church hall and longhouse, featuring beautiful art, as well as the former sleeping quarters of residents. Standing as a proud testament to charity and civic pride, Heiligen Geist Hospital also hosts some of Lübeck’s Christmas markets in December.
With its close proximity to the Baltic Sea, Lübeck is a fantastic destination for fresh seafood. Fangfrisch Luebeck is a wonderful restaurant, serving a variety of fresh seafood dishes, including salmon, cod, plaice, mackerel and shrimp. Dishes are beautifully presented, paired with fresh sides like crispy roast potatoes. Their canal-side terrace features lovely views of the Trave River, ideal for a pleasant autumn day.
Visitors can rent an electric boat, canoe, or SUP to explore Lübeck from the Trave River. It’s a great way to admire the magnificent Hanse town’s architecture. Visitors can also embark on a narrated 1-hour Lübeck scenic boat ride, with no paddling required.
The Baltic Sea beach resort town of Travemünde is just 13 miles from Lübeck. It features the oldest lighthouse in Germany, Alter Leuchtturm, which dates to 1539. The historic Passat sailing ship, moored along Travemünde’s harbor, is among the highlights of the town’s charming promenade.
Every year talented sculptors from around the world visit Travemünde to create impressive works for the Sandskulpturen exhibition. Recurring exhibitions feature large sand sculptures depicting figures from nature, history, mythology and popular culture. The annual Sandskulpturen Travemünde exhibition runs from late March to early November.
Northern Germany features an abundance of cultural, architectural and culinary highlights. Hamburg, Lübeck and Travemünde offer a wonderful German getaway that’s an idyllic destination for a variety of travelers, with generally fewer visitors and better value in autumn compared to summer. With efficient transportation, you don’t need a car to explore Hamburg, Lübeck, and Travemünde, offering a greener autumn getaway that also saves money on parking and car rental fees.