Appreciating the concept
Like any self-respecting city in Germany, Hamburg will delight its visitors with an impressive array of historic and cultural sights, including a city hall, medieval ramparts and an opera house. But besides them, it also has something absolutely unique – the quarter of HafenCity. It embraces 157 hectares of ultramodern urbanistic landscape, nicely situated in the stunning historic warehouse district of Speicherstadt.
Gazing beyond the horizon
The city used to be a starting point for millions of Germans willing to head for the New World in search of happiness – tour guides at the local German Emigration Center will be happy to give you a detailed account. Nowadays, Bremerhaven itself attracts visitors from across the globe and, primarily, those interested in sailing and shipbuilding. One of the city's landmark sites is Klimahaus, where you can not only get a glimpse of, but also physically feel, the diversity of the climate zones existing on earth. The museum is located in a building resembling a giant ship. The adjacent Atlantic Sail City hotel along with Klimahaus has also become the city's calling card: an observation deck at a height of 90 meters offers spectacular views over the sea so enticing for ancestors of many of today’s Americans, Argentinians and Australians.
Becoming part of history
Lübeck, crowned as the 'Queen of the Hanseatic', is renowned for the picturesque sights of its medieval old town featuring famous Holstentor, church spires, and the 'gingerbread' houses at the waterfront. The most mouth-watering attraction of the city, however, is marzipan – the treat that became a local specialty, in various estimates, in the 15th–16th centuries. Niederegger is the best known almond confectionary maker out of the numerous local brands. Its signature cafe was opened by the brand founder in 1806. Along with the Marzipan Museum, that appeared on site later, the cafe has grown into one of the city's major sights, as famous as the Buddenbrook House – a literature museum honoring Thomas Mann, a native of Lübeck.
4. The Wadden Sea
Meeting a seal
You won't find any deckchairs or beach umbrellas among the wetlands along the North Sea coastline. But they have something much more interesting: the tidal area of this water zone is distinctive for its ecosystem. Germany shares the Wadden Sea with Denmark and the Netherlands owning approximately 11,000 sq. km of this unique natural zone. This area is arranged as three national parks. One of them is near Hamburg, the other one – in Lower Saxony, and one more – in Schleswig-Holstein. The Wadden Sea is a rest stop for millions of migratory birds. At the same time, it makes a perfect permanent dwelling place for seals, ducks, baby plaice and other species. Tourists can count on just a number of walking trails and have to obey the motto of this place for humans – do no harm!
Touching the fairytale
According to the Brothers Grimm, the world famous four failed to get to the free city of Bremen. Moreover, they were not musicians at all. Nevertheless, due to the talent of the fairytale tellers the funny quartet has become the city’s calling card. Now, visitors to Bremen are destined to find a bronze statue devoted to ‘musicians’ and rub it for good luck, as is the case with visitors to Brussels whose mission is to make a picture with Manneken Pis. Anyway, a statue of the donkey, dog, cat and rooster is a perfect starting point for a walk around the old town. It is located right next to the stunning medieval Town Hall and a local ‘Statue of Liberty’ – an impressive stone Paladin Roland, protecting the city since 1404.
Taming the wind
No matter which German city hosted the Summer Olympics, Kiel was invariably chosen for sailing competitions. This is a hallmark place for those who know that a word ‘leech rope’ is not an obscenity, and can tell half-wind from forewind. Every June, sailing professionals strive here, to the shore of the Baltic Sea, to take part in the legendary Kiel Week. This event is attended by millions of visitors, with thousands of sailing ships participating. The regatta helps the city to keep the unofficial title of the major maritime center in the Northern Europe. The 100-kilometer channel, connecting Kiel with the North Sea, is almost most heavily trafficked waterway continent-wise – at least, among human-made ones. And if you need solid soil under your feet, Dänische Strasse offers as many sea-related souvenirs and useful goods as you like.
7. Schwerin Palace
Lighting a star
For many centuries, this palace, built on the shore of Lake Schwerin, served as the residence for dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg. It seems to embody the very idea of a fairytale castle, and this is not just a coincidence; the building attained its current look in the mid-19th century, when Romanticism flourished in Germany, and the best architects were involved in developing this gorgeous project. Nowadays, maintenance of the 635 lavishly decorated rooms featuring an enormous porcelain collection is a fairly expensive task, so everyone is welcome to chip in. For instance, one can donate for a chapel restoration by purchasing one of the 8,758 stars on its ceiling. Prices are starting from €50.
8. Ancient Beech Forests
Going into the green
It might be difficult to find real wildlife in the utterly cultivated and urbanized Western Europe of today, so the pristine beech forests of Germany are the country's particular pride. For instance, the landscapes of the Jasmund National Park located on Rügen resort island in Pomerania, inspired artist Caspar David Friedrich some 200 years ago. The stunning beech woods can also be seen near Lake Edersee, which is surrounded by dozens of sylvan hills. And Thuringia offers especially memorable tours: in the Hainich National Park, one can lazily enjoy the forest views of wild garlic blooming from a roofed horse-drawn carriage, or choose another option and explore the area via pedestrian suspension paths running at 44 meters above ground.
9. Karl’s Village of Discovery
Coming to stay
It is worth checking the accommodation page on the amusement park’s website before going: it is too naïve to hope that one day is enough for your kid to try everything there is on offer. Located in Rövershagen, close to Rostock, this ‘village’ houses a farm, amusement rides, a butterfly garden, a sea life center, water slides, and much more. Other things to do here include shopping for seasonal products on the local market, watching how marmalade and ice cream are made, and riding horses. The fearless may learn the basics of rock climbing or test their vestibular system in the Flying Cowshed. Karl's Village is open year-round, and pumpkin decorations in fall give way to ice sculptures in winter. An overnight stay in a cozy wooden house would cost a family about €100.
10. Stralsund and Wismar
Identifying similarities and differences
The former prosperity of these once rich and affluent Hanseatic cities reveals itself in the perfectly kept medieval quarters. The best known examples of the local Brick Gothic architecture include Wismar’s Old Swede, built in 1380 (initially a merchant’s house, it now accommodates a restaurant). Stralsund boasts an even older architectural masterpiece: the City Hall with a six-tower façade, construction of which started in the mid-13th century. Stralsund is also famous for its splendid aquarium, featuring almost all species of marine life inhabiting the Baltic Sea and the Atlantics.
Text: By Alena Tveritina
Published on: June 24, 2018