Hannover is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony, Germany and was once the family seat of the Hannoverian Kings of Great Britain, known as the dukes of Brunswick- Lüneburg. It lies on the river Leine and was founded in mediaeval times as a village of ferrymen and fishermen that grew to become quite a large town in the 13th Century, by virtue of its geography on a natural crossroads. Its position on the river helped increase its value as a trading town.
Its crucial position became unfortunate as WWII blew through Europe, making it a prime target for strategic bombing of its railhead and production centre, as well as its important road junction. Residential areas were targeted too: more than 6,000 people were killed in the Allied bombing raids. In the aftermath, more than 90% of the city centre was destroyed by 88 bombing raids. The Aegidienkirche has been left as a ruin and today stands as a war memorial. The Allies marched into Hannover in April 1945, and the US 84th Infantry Division took the city on 10 April 1945. Inmates were released from the Neuengamme concentration camp. Hannover fell under British occupation, and became part of the new state of Lower Saxony in 1946.
Hannover’s landscape is quite flat, with the river Leine snaking through the city. It has large green areas, with big parks and forests. The Maschsee (Masch Lake) is a spectacular man-made lake.
Best time to go to Hannover
Hannover is a great place to be any time of the year, but the summer months are the best time to go. With an average temperature of 23°C (73°F), the whole city is in great spirits, celebrating lots of festivals, and hosting numerous events. Mind the frequent showers though! July is the hottest month; although far from unbearable.
The months between May and October are the most popular tourist-wise. The winter months are cold, and the deepest winter months see the temperatures dropping below freezing.
English translation was just recently introduced to some official tourist points such as the train ticket machines. The German people are generally helpful, but you have to ask for assistance, as they don’t tend to intrude upon others. For general information, it’s best to go to the Tourist Office.
Hannover’s public transportation network is superb. If you plan more than one mode of transport, a day ticket is the best buy, giving you unlimited travel on the bus, the trams and the subways; they are valid until the last connection of the day, which is often sometime after midnight. Be aware that some tickets need to be validated (stamped in the blue box), and some not, depending on the machine. Most of the city falls under Zone 1, so that should be the only one you need. Keep in mind that getting to the airport requires a Zone 2 ticket.
The city can be enjoyed on foot, with pedestrian paths on every street, as well as the area in front of Central Station. Bike paths are also provided on almost every street. You can take a bike on the busses and trams for free, but it’s restricted to 8.30am – 3pm, and after 7pm.
Taxis are also an alternative means of transport; at a higher rate of course. If you’re travelling in a group, you can order a 7 or 9 seat taxi, and so divide the cost effectively.
Major Attractions and Sights
Hannover is not a typical European city. Beautiful centuries-old buildings are here no more. The city was one of the hardest hit during World War II, leaving it with few historical landmarks. Even the Old City (Altstadt) area is ‘new’; all the old houses, about 40, left standing after the war were gathered from throughout the city and collected in one place. Around that area are grey 1950s buildings that are quite dreary. However, there are still a few residential neighborhoods just outside the downtown area, such as Oststadt, List, and Linden consisting of late-19th-century houses with often elaborate facades.
The Old City has points of interest, including the Market Church, the Nolte House, the Beguine Tower, Leibnitz House, and the Old Town Hall. The Kreuz-Church quarter has many little lanes to meander down.
Kröpcke is a large pedestrian area in the heart of Hannover. It is Hannover’s major shopping spot, home to the Opera house, and has lots of places to eat.
Passing through the Marstall Gate you come to the banks of the Leine, and happen upon the renowned Mile of Sculptures of which the Nanas of Niki de Saint-Phalle form a part of. Following the river bank along the Mile, you can cross the Königsworther Square to the entrance of the Georgengarten. From here, you can follow on to the Reformed Church, the Catholic Church of St Clemens, and Lutheran Neustädter Kirche.
Other popular sights to see in the city are: the Wangenheim Palace, the Kröpcke Clock, the Gehry Tower (by American architect Frank Gehry), the Waterloo Column, the Hannover Playhouse, the Lower Saxony State Archives, and the Opera House. The historically important Leibnitz Letters, which are on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, are housed in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz Library.
The Great Garden of Herrenhausen (Herrenhäuser Gärten) is a world-famous baroque garden created in the 17th Century to copy the Versailles Gardens in France. In the winter its beauty is still evident, but it reaches its best at the end of spring until the end of summer.
Also in the Herrenhausen Gardens you will find the Sea Life Grossaquarium. It has around 30 different displays, including a deep water tank which has a glass tunnel running through the centre, so you can walk through it and get really up close with the sharks and other big fish in the tank. It’s an indoor location, so if the weather is playing up, this beautiful aquarium is the ideal place to while away a rainy day.
Further out is the EXPO-Park, which hosted EXPO 2000. Crossing the Exponale, one of the biggest pedestrian bridges in Europe you’ll find the fairground complex.
The Hannover Zoo is a must-see; being one of the best and most spectacular in Europe. It has multi-themed areas including a farm, a jungle palace, a tropical house, a wooded area for wolves, a gorilla mountain, and many others. Annual visitors number around 2 million.
For general leisure activities, choose from forests and gardens, rivers, a canal and lakes, and 40 parks. In this bustling city there is a myriad of options to choose from, to suit any tastes.
Shopping in Hannover
Next to central Station is a large mall, the Ernst August Gallerie, as well as a supermarket inside the station, Lidl, which is open on Sundays. Kaufland is also nearby. The large department stores Karstadt and Galeria Kaufhof are in Kröpcke, as is Hugendubel, which sells English books. For sports equipment, look at Karstadt Sport and SportScheck. Rossmann and Douglas sell body care products, while Horstman & Sander in Kröpcke has great leather goods and top quality bags, from a coin purse to a large suitcase. The Galerie Luise is an upmarket boutique.
There is a flea market along the Leine every Saturday from 7am to 4pm. Watch out for overpriced ‘antiques’, and pickpockets. Souvenirs of Hannover can be bought from the Tourism Office.
Eating Out in Hannover
In most cafés and small restaurants, paying individually is accepted, as Germans like this system. Tips are not compulsory but most people do. In smaller cafés, if paying separately, rounding up to the next full euro is common; in bigger restaurants, 10% is best.
For traditional German fare, try Café Mezzo, Satluss, Schöneberger, Wurst-Basar (said to have the best German sausages, it has several stalls throughout the city), Das kleine Museum (stuffed crocodiles on the roof!), and Bavarium, a Bavarian restaurant.
The food stalls in the Market Hall are worth a visit.
Nightlife in Hannover
For high-end DJs and live performances, Eve Klub, which was voted one of the Best 50 Clubs in Germany by the magazine Maxim in 2004 is a sure bet.
Osho Discothek has a 90m2 dance floor to dance the night away on.
Brauhaus Ernst-August is a nightclub that serves food too, as well as freshly-brewed beer. Join in with dancing on the tables; it’s a common sight here.
Heartbreak Hotel on Reuter Street is one of the newer nightclubs. It stays open until dawn.
Sansibar on Scholvin Street has music spanning the 60s, 70s and 80s.
As the beer gardens are an essential part of the Hannover nightlife, here are a few:
Waterloo Biergarten, Waterloo takes its name from being close to Waterloo square and on Waterloo Road. It is a huge beer garden surrounded by trees, and is very busy during the summer. It opens daily from 11am.
The Uni-Biergarten, is a relaxing beer garden in the midst of the city. Students and professors meet or go to have a drink. Food is available. It’s open from: 11am to midnight.
Und der Böse Wolf on Heese Street’s owner is a Hannover football supporter, so it gets full of football followers. It serves Thai food from 5pm every day.
Lister Turm Biergarten on Waldersee Street is one of the largest beer gardens in Hannover. With the Lister building as a backdrop as well as all the trees, it makes this an idyllic drinking spot. It is family friendly and business savvy as there is a playground for children and WiFi for laptops. The pub also serves food if you’re hungry or need a break from drinking.
Of local interest
The CeBIT is the biggest computer-related exhibition in the world and takes places over several days in March. It is held in the EXPO area.
In May the Masala World-beat Festival has musicians from around the world play in several spots throughout the city; it’s an annual event in spring/summer, as well as the International Fireworks festival. Hannoverians love their fireworks, and there are also fireworks every night of the Kleines Fest, every weekend during the Spring Festival, and on the weekend of the Lake Masch Festival.
In spring, the Münchenerhalle at the fairground is worth a look, being a huge Bavarian-style restaurant. The Hannover Messe is an industrial expo held in spring.
The Kleines Fest is held in summer has 30 to 40 international performers such as clowns, comedy theatre, acrobatic performances, etc. Each performance schedule lasts around 4 hours (from 6 to 10.30pm). As mentioned above, fireworks bring each day to a great conclusion. It is recommended to start queuing early, as much as 2 hours before the time.
The Lake Maschsee Festival is held around the lake in summer. The Reincarnation Parade is a one-day street techno party, on a smaller scale of Berlin’s Love Parade.
There is the open-air theatre in Herrenhausen’s Great Garden, with its programme of enchanting summer musicals.
Also in summer is the Rubber Duck Race, for the kiddies. Hundreds of rubber duckies ‘race’ on the Leine River; you can buy your own numbered one before the qualification race. The race starts at the Lower Saxon State parliament and ends at the Marstall Bridge.
October sees the biggest festival – Oktoberfest! It’s held on the Schützenplatz, and is the second biggest Oktoberfest in the world. Party on!
The Christmas markets are held in front of Central Station, in Kröpcke, in Altstadt, and in List. They start at the end of November and last until a few days before Christmas. The best stalls are said to be the Finnish stands in Altstadt, serving very good herring, smoked salmon, and reindeer meat. Their Glühwein is said to be the best too.
The Winter Zoo at Hannover Zoo is a great seasonally-themed place to visit. From the end of November until the middle of January you can enjoy ice skating, ice shows, slides as well as good food and drink to keep you warm.
Magdeburg | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Magdeburg in northern Germany was founded by Charlemagne in 805AD, making it 1,200 years old. Its original name was Magadoburg, probably from German for big, ‘magado’, and ‘burga’ for fortress. Emperor Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor, lived in the town for most of his reign and was buried in the cathedral after his death. Over the centuries, it has been ravaged by war and destruction as a result of its position as an imperial seat, Prussian fortified town, and as a Hanseatic city. It was heavily bombed in the Second World War, and a RAF bombing raid on the night of 16 January 1944 destroyed most of the city.
1990 saw the city become the capital of the new state of Saxony-Anhalt in the reunification of Germany, with the city center rebuilt in a modern style. After reunification, most of the basis of the economy was shut down, and it faced decline in the population as a result of people seeking lucrative jobs in western Germany. The city however, is known for reinventing itself, and for preserving its cultural heritage. Today it is a beautiful city on the Elbe River with its economy geared towards services, and hosting nearly 20 000 students at its top rated two universities, as well as research centers. It has great sights, including its parks which make it the third greenest city in Germany, and new shopping malls and other attractions; and its proximity to Hamburg, Leipzig and Berlin counts in its favor too.
The Best Time to Go
The best months are between May and September, where the temperature averages between 10 and 20°C (50 to 68°F); although in July and August it can get up to 24°C (75°C). The months from October to April are colder, averaging between 0 and 10°C (32 to 50°F) . The coldest time of year is in January, when it can get as low as -2.1°C (28°F).
Sunshine hours are from 1.3 hours a day in December and 7.7 hours a day in June. July is the wettest month, experiencing rain, sleet, hail or snow over an average of 14 days. Frost mostly occurs in January.
Getting Around in Magdeburg
With regard to public transportation, there are S-Bahn trains, buses, trams and ferries in Magdeburg. The benefit is that they are all unified in a linked transport system called Marego, so they all use the same tickets.
Riding the tram is probably the best system for tourists to use, as the stops are located at the main attractions, and in busy areas. Magdeburg boats 10 tram lines, plus one which is brought into service during heavy traffic times, or for special events. Waiting times vary greatly, and depend on the time, day, and location. In the city centre you rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes, even on a Sunday; while the further out you go, you can wait for between 10 and 20 minutes. Timetables are provided at every stop. If you’re lucky, you might catch a communist-era one, and experience the rattles of the past.
The buses run every 20 minutes, and cover all areas of the city. As with the trams, extra buses are laid on at heavy traffic times and special events. Timetables are at every stop too.
Two ferry services operate Elbe river crossings, the Fähre Buckau and the Fähre Westerhüsen. They run from March to October on Tuesdays to Sundays between 10am and 6pm.
The main train line runs through Magdeburg from the north to the south. The train stations are marked with a logo of a white S on a green circle. The trains run every 30 minutes, and are the fastest method for crossing the city.
Public transportation at night means you need to look at the schedules, as it is more limited. Taxis are of course an alternative.
Major Attractions and Sights
The Gothic Magdeburger Dom (Cathedral of St. Maurice and St Catherine) is the most well-known sight of the city. It was constructed on the site of a Roman cathedral between the years of 1209 and 1520. It is the highest church building in eastern Germany at 104 meters. It has stunning and unique sculptures, notably the ‘Twelve Virgins’ at the northern gate.
The 11th Century Romanesque abbey Kloster unser lieben Frauen (Cloister of Our beloved Lady) is an iconic building in Germany. Among other things, it has an art gallery.
Johanniskirche (St John’s Church) is worth going to see. After sustaining serious damage during WWll it has been recently rebuilt as a multipurpose centre.
The Town Hall dates from 1698. It stands in the place of the original which stood on the marketplace since the 13th Century until its destruction in the Thirty Years’ War. The ‘new’ building was built in the Renaissance style. It has since been renovated, and was reopened in 2005.
In the city centre near the Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen and the cathedral is the Grüne Zitadelle (Green Citadel), a pink house designed by the famous architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. There are also ruins of the stronghold of the Prussian Empire.
The Kulturhistorisches Museum (Culture Historical Museum) on Otto-von-Guericke-Straße is home to the famous statue, the Magdeburger Reiter.
The city center overall, is a delight for architecture fans, and features some neo-classicist buildings dating from the Communist era, as well as modern marvels built since reunification.
Magdeburg is one of the greenest cities in Europe and the third greenest city in Germany, so riding a bike in Magdeburg is a pleasant experience. Since most of the streets have cycle tracks on the sides you will not have any problems with taking your bike into the city. You are permitted to take your bike with you on all the public transportation; however, you may have to purchase an extra ticket for the bike. A very nice way to explore the idyllic nature in and around Magdeburg is using the Elberadweg. This cycle path leads you all the way along the river Elbe and invites you to explore the unique biosphere reserve around Magdeburg. Signs guide you along the path and show you directions and distances to other towns, villages, and attractions. Many restaurants and beer gardens are right next to the river, as well as some nice hotels, playgrounds and parks.
There are several different river cruises offered by the Magdeburger Weiße Flotte GmbH.
They include: a 1.5 hour cruise along the skyline of Magdeburg; a river cruise from the city centre to the town of Schönebeck; an evening cruise; and cruises along the waterway. Tickets can be bought at the tourist information centre, or onboard.
In recent years, the museums in Magdeburg have regularly featured excellent exhibitions on a whole host of subjects related to art, culture and learning. New collections and exhibitions have also been established and the top-flight Technology Museum has opened with no expense or effort spared. The three other major museums are the Cultural History Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Art Museum in the Convent of our Lady.
Magdeburg also offers high-caliber entertainment at its opera house, Schauspielhaus theatre and puppet theatre, and there are many independent theatre groups and German-style cabaret performances to enjoy.
In the Elbauen Park the Millennium Tower is a popular draw card; it houses an exhibition on nature and the history of humanity.
The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a navigable aqueduct in Germany that connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal, and allows ships to cross over the Elbe River. At 918 meters, it is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world. Construction of the water link was started as early as in the 1930s, but due to WWII and subsequent division of Germany the work remained suspended till 1997. The aqueduct was finally completed and opened to the public in 2003. It truly is a sight worth seeing.
Shopping in Magdeburg
With 2.5 square meters of retail space per inhabitant, Magdeburg’s city-centre shopping area is one of Germany’s top destinations for shoppers.
There are numerous shopping malls all over the city. In the CBD you have Karstadt, which was a mall during the cold war and is therefore the oldest of the city with its building still representing socialist architecture. After the reunification, the city center got several new shopping malls. The biggest of them is called Allee Centre and has 3 floors. Also located in the city center are the Ulrichshaus and the City Carré. You will also find numerous stores (as well as bars and cafés) along the road Breiter Weg, which used to be one of the largest shopping streets in Europe before WWII and has now regained most of its popularity with modern architecture.
Strolling along Magdeburg’s traditional shopping boulevards Breiter Weg and Ernst-Reuter-Allee, visiting the many shops in the districts of Neustadt and Sudenburg as well as weekly markets will yield some local goods. The city’s most centrally located market is at the Old Market (Alter Markt) in front of the Town Hall. Market days and times are Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and on Saturday, 9am to 1pm. The market is closed on Mondays. Special attractions are the so-called “Farmers’ Market” which takes place every Tuesday as well as the “Green Market” every Saturday. Produce on sale includes: homemade sausages and cold cuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, dairy products, cakes and pastries, poultry products, household supplies, lingerie, gifts, and textiles.
If you feel hungry or peckish, there are a number of snack stands offering light meals and snacks to accommodate your needs. Easy access is provided by public transport, and parking places are available in Julius-Bremer-Strasse as well as behind the Karstadt building.
Eating Out in Magdeburg
Hasselbachplatz square and the surrounding streets are lined with dozens of pubs, bars and restaurants plus one of the best-known currywurst bars in Germany, ‘Curry 54’. The Mediterranean restaurant Liebig is popular with all walks and ages. The trendy bar-café-restaurant has a large outdoor terrace, and serves substantial breakfasts, global fare and cool cocktails.
Bingöl Grill on Breiter Weg is a budget legend to lovers of Turkish food and Döner. Clean, with decent service, real silverware, porcelain plates and prices that rival big fast food chains. It’s open until late at night, making it ideal if you need to grab something solid after a night of partying.
Nightlife in Magdeburg
The Hasselbachplatz is the place to start a night out in Magdeburg. Here you will find a big variety of bars and small clubs, a lot of stylish bars and also alternative pubs with long opening hours on weekends.
A premium spot is the Jackelwood, located in the Sternstraße just south from the Hasselbachplatz, with billiards, kicker and a lot of other games. There are quite a few more bars on this area so check them out and you will find one that appeals to you. And you will always get something to eat at the Hasselbachplatz. For very late night drinking pop in at the COCO in the Otto-von-Guericke-Street (50m) from Hasselbachplatz
An amazing night at the theatre – with a difference! – can be had at the fabulous Theater an der Angel. The company is owned by Matthias Engle and Ines Lacroix who performed in the Neil Simon comedy Der letzte der feurigen Liebhaber.
Of local Interest
In the Elbauen Park at Easter, you can go along and watch a huge bonfire of firewood. A snowman made at Magdeburg’s theatre workshops is placed on top, and the lighting of the bonfire is said to be banishing winter from the park.
Hassel Night Line takes place on the Hasselbachplatz – a twice-a-year street festival with open-air stages and music on every narrow street.
September 2011 saw the inception of the Kaiser Otto Festival.
September also sees the popular annual summer theatre at the Puppet Theatre in the courtyard, which combines puppet shows and theatre plays.
In October is the Magdeburg Town Festival. On the ‘festival mile’ you’ll find show stands, market stalls, carousels and different stage programs by many entertainers, including from regional TV and radio stations. The ‘mile’ runs from the cathedral to University Square.
Also in October is the Magdeburg marathon.
Erfurt | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Erfurt is one of the oldest German settlements and it dates back to the prehistoric area. Traces of human remains have been found in the city dating back to 100,000 BC. It’s the capital of the Thuringia region and has a colorful history having experienced being a part of the French Empire, the Prussian Empire, and the Electorate of Mainz.
Erfurt is the city closest to the geographical heart of modern Germany, enjoying a location on rolling plains. Whilst the city itself is decisively urban, the surroundings retain a charming and rustic identity where traditional rural life is evident. In the Middle Ages, the city was a highly important trading town, and many of the old buildings and market areas are still standing and in use today. A mark of its antique significance is its university which was founded in 1379, and where Martin Luther was a student.
Best Time to go to Erfurt
Temperatures range widely in Erfurt. For those who love the harsh, cold winters of Germany visit Erfurt in January or December as the temperatures drop below freezing. Bargain breaks in winter are attractive to those that love the crispness in the air and the lack of tourists. If there happens to be snow, the forests of Thuringia, outside the city, are certainly a very pretty sight.
In the summer, temperatures generally hover around the 70 degrees Fahrenheit mark, at their height. It’s never unbearably hot and wandering the pretty streets and parks of Erfurt is very pleasurable.
As the capital of the region, driving into Erfurt is a viable option if you are travelling around Germany. It lies on two large federal motorways in the north and the east, so there are four main ways into the city. It’s strongly recommended you avoid the city centre. Not only is it difficult to get directly to your destination, it’s almost impossible to find a parking space.
A large train station sits close to the centre of the city, with direct lines to other major cities like Dresden and Berlin. It’s possible to use Erfurt as a base to explore some of the other major cities in the area – Leipzig is an hour away, Weimar just about 15 minutes and Halle, the birthplace of Handel and the home of some lovely castles, can be reached in about 45 minutes. The Erfurt Hauptbahnhof offers local trains going to the smaller towns in the Thuringia region.
The Erfurt-Weimar Airport services the region and offers daily flights around Germany, as well as to prominent holiday destinations around Europe. If you are just flying into the city there are trams offering a direct connection to the train station and city center. Take tram number 4.
Unlike many tourist destinations, it’s unwise to opt for transport around the city centre. Since the centre of the city is the oldest part, the streets are naturally extremely narrow. Walking is definitely the best way to get around central Erfurt
The tram lines are amongst the most advanced in Europe. Erfurt has had a long time to make their tram system one of the best in the world as it’s been in place since 1883. Trolleybuses act as a supplement to the tram system and enable you to get where you need to go quickly and easily.
Transport generally grinds to a relative halt after midnight, but there are night buses every hour for people who need to get to the train station, or the center of the city. If this isn’t ideal, the only other option is to take advantage of a taxi, which visitors say are quite expensive.
Cycling is perfectly acceptable in Erfurt’s narrow streets. Expect to see a lot of cyclists around the city center as it’s generally the fastest way to get around.
Major Attractions and Sights
Find your way around the city with a guidebook from the tourist office which is located on Benediktsplatz in the city center. Erfurt’s romantic Old Quarter is Germany’s largest heritage site so lovers of history and architecture will find much of interest here.
The city’s narrow streets are an attraction all their own, harkening back to Erfurt’s historical past. Many central streets are open to pedestrians only, and are lined by delightful old merchant’s houses, many of them tall with brightly colored facades. A number of green areas with charming little bridges crossing the Gera River complete the distinctive northern European look and flavor.
The Erfurt Cathedral is an old 13th century Catholic church built by St. Boniface. It evolved into a church in the gothic style and now possesses beautiful stained-glass windows, a candelabrum shaped in the form of a bronze man, and choir stalls dating back to the 14th century. If you visit the city in August you can witness the Domstufen-Festspiele classical music festival which takes place in the square in front of the cathedral.
Severikirche, a huge 5-naved church known to date back to before the 12th century stands next door to the cathedral and together the two dominate the cityscape, making them the most well known attractions of Erfurt.
The Alte Synagoge is another exciting attraction for history buffs. Its roots date back to the 12th century, which makes it perhaps the oldest Jewish synagogue in Europe. In the 14th century, it was converted into a storehouse before being left to ruin for many years. It was eventually refurbished and now stands as a museum. Learn about the history of this exciting monument and the people who worshipped here with a visit to the museum. One of its exciting exhibits is the 600 pieces of jewelry unearthed in the Jewish quarter, including a Jewish marriage ring dating back to the early 1300s.
The Zitadelle Petersberg sits on the hill north of the Dom, and is the most well preserved town baroque fortress in central Europe. It is a unique example of European fortress construction built on the site of a former Benedictine monastery. Guided tours of the underground passages are always popular.
Another of the significant and actually quite remarkable sights of Erfurt is the Krämerbrücke. This medieval bridge sits across the River Breitstrom and originally had a church at each end. Today the Agidienkirche still functions as a church. The bridge was built in 1325 and is covered with 32 buildings, all of which are still inhabited.
Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, studied in Erfurt as a student and lived there as a monk in the early 16th century. If you want to learn more about Martin Luther – one of the most important figures in European religious history – the must-visits are the old university buildings, the Augustinekloster (monastery), Georgenburse (student’s living quarters), and the Luther Stone. Guided tours of the city always include much reference to him and his associations with Erfurt.
Other buildings that might be included on an itinerary are the impressive Town Hall, the Former Governors Residence (dating from 1711) which is now the Thuringia Chancellery, St. Barthelomew’s Tower, and the Woad Storehouse, where once the blue dye was made.
The Egapark is a place to take a break from the busyness of the city center. The large botanical gardens are a romantic location and there are greenhouses featuring beautiful little plants, a Japanese rock garden, and even a horticultural museum with fantastic views of the whole garden from the top floor.
The Erfurt Theatre has recently been renovated and plays host to a variety of exciting operas and plays. Look at the official website of the theatre for more information on what’s on. Remember to book in advance to view some of the more popular shows to avoid disappointment as they tend to sell out quickly.
Shopping in Erfurt
Anger 1 is in the city centre and is a grand shopping mall spanning four floors. Expect to find many common chains inside Anger 1, including clothing stores, electronics chains, and groceries.
Thüringenpark, Nordhäuser Straße is open every day from 10am to 8pm, except Sunday. This is another shopping centre just outside the city centre. It contains a post office, drug store, and even a German bank. It’s always worth a visit during the city’s holidays as special events and themes are always held here.
Within the city itself there are plenty of local stores to take advantage of. The Krämerbrücke is the main place to purchase souvenirs as local artists and craftspeople sell their wares on small stalls and in small shop windows. It’s a small sanctuary away from the massive apparel corporations dominating Erfurt’s shopping scene.
The best time for shopping is definitely in December, when Wenigemarkt is taken over by the Christmas Market. Enjoy traditional crafts, street entertainment, wonderfully intricate Christmas decorations and plenty of warming drinks and snacks.
Eating out in Erfurt
Erfurt is a great place to sample some of Germany’s national foods. The famous Thuringia Bratwurst is sold throughout the city.
Before embarking on a trip to a local restaurant in Erfurt, take note tipping isn’t a mandatory practice. If you can’t spare an extra few Euros don’t worry about it. Most servers are more than happy if their customers simply round-up their meal to the nearest Euro. Of course, if the service and the meal were particularly scrumptious don’t be afraid to give them a larger tip.
Lovers of traditional Thuringia foods should visit Feuerkugel in the centre of Erfurt where the menu is eminently affordable. Visitors report how the restaurant has an extremely friendly atmosphere with helpful and welcoming servers. Expect to find potato casserole, bratwurst, and of course, German beer to wash your meal down with.
Übersee is a small café and bar located on the banks of the Gera River. It’s the perfect location for a bite to eat during a long day of sightseeing. As well as traditional German drinks, the café offers a different special every day.
FAM (Feines am Markt) is the ideal option if you want good food without any of the fuss. On the outside it looks like an unremarkable location, but the food more than makes up for it. The breakfasts have been reported as a marvel to behold.
A large number of Asian Restaurants are in the city center of Erfurt including Kebab and Arabic restaurants.
Nightlife in Erfurt
Erfurt offers plenty of evening entertainment with small bars and loud clubs, mostly located in the city center.
Engelsburg is an interesting venue as there are so many sides of it to experience. Relax with a beer in the Steinhaus pub, dance in the medieval cellar or visit the Café DuckDich upstairs, where avid culture lovers discuss the latest developments in the art world.
Musikpark deserves a visit purely on the basis of its special offers. It normally plays rock and house music, but on Thursdays, there’s free entry until midnight and if you pay 6 Euros you can drink as much as you like. Weekends are themes, changing every week and the ti me to enjoy an extensive list of cocktails.
A visit to Hemingway adds a touch of sophistication to a night out in Erfurt. Personal drawers with cigar humidors are given to each visitor. There are 148 types of rum and an unbeatable range of 30 daiquiri cocktails. In the Africa Lounge there are stuffed elephants and other animals. Feel as if you’ve just stopped off from a safari at a local inn with some authentic African music to go along with it. This is truly an atmosphere like no other!
Of local Interest
You might notice that there are a lot of steeples in Erfurt with no churches? This is because they were demolished to build the dominating Zitadelle Petersberg.
Erfurt is such a historically rich city because the bombing campaigns of World War II largely avoided the city. It’s meant where many historical attractions from the middle ages were destroyed elsewhere in Germany, Erfurt remained relatively untouched.
Erfurt holds quite a grizzly reputation as being the place where the JA Topf & Sons crematoria manufacturer created special ovens for use by the Nazis in death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau. A memorial and museum to the victims of the Holocaust now stands in the place of the company’s former headquarters.
Hamburg | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
The dynamic city of Hamburg is not only the second biggest city in Germany, it is home to one of the biggest ports in Europe and has a well-earned place as the wealthiest city in the country. Perched on the banks of the majestic River Elbe, the free and Hanseatic city is situated just over 100km away from the North Sea and boasts a booming population of a whopping 1.8 million residents.
The long-time international socialite of Germany, the city has always strived for independence, and has long been known as one of the most vibrant and successful international ports, trading successfully since the middle ages; proving to itself and the world of its ability to continue to be a tenacious achiever in its own right, and proudly touting the nickname of Boomtown Hamburg.
Today, the city is perched on the fringes of what is now one of the most valued and important harbours in all of Europe and has resolutely built a status that has managed to flourish through much adversary and devastation. Notwithstanding the major business background, the city is also the home to the vivaciously beating heart of the German media world.
Sprawling mansions, opulent villas and expansive townhouses are evidence of its wealth and stature as history dictates it, despite large parts of the city being destroyed in the air raids that devastated many parts of Germany in the Second World War. Much of the heritage has been restored to its former glory as the city was rebuilt, and historic buildings and architecture are a testament to the pride the citizens take in their incredible city.
The city just oozes charm as students and media executives rub shoulders with the super wealthy, and the city has managed to put itself into a class all on its own.
Best Time to Go
Germany itself has a decent climate all year round, making it the perfect destination for every type of traveller to visit. And because of Hamburg’s close proximity to the ocean, it is a destination that will suit those visitors who don’t really deal with the cold and snow in the winter, as it has a more oceanic climate. The weather is generally mild all year round, and snow is rare. Although the summer months of June, July and August are hotter than the rest of the year, you don’t get the soaring temperatures as you would say in Munich.
It rains for more than half the year, with averages of 130 days of rainfall recorded annually. But summer temperatures a cool and mild with highs reported no much more than around 21°C (70°F) during the peak of summertime.
Summer is the best time to go would be between the months of May and September, but be prepared to pay seasonal prices for everything. Hotels and air fares are sky high and there are queues to get into everything.
If you are not a fan of crowds, then fall would be the best time to go; the crowds have died down a bit and the prices are not so steep. December, January and February are cold, but Christmas sees a tourist boom as people flock into the city for the festive season. Even so, don’t think you can leave a winter holiday booking to the last minute, this is Hamburg, and it is always busy.
Getting Around in Hamburg
Being in Germany, Hamburg has an excellent public transport system; everything is on time and works like clockwork. There is a fantastic bus and train network that for the most part has service right throughout the night, especially on weekends. During the week in the outlying areas, you may find that there is no service after 11pm, so you would just need to check before you hop on.
The buses arrive and leave from the Rathausmarkt which is near the town hall and there is a special nachtbus or night bus service that will cover the service between the outlying areas and the center of the city. You can get tickets from the vending machines at the train stations and there are some at the bus stops as well. The bus drivers are very helpful and knowledgeable and will tell you which kind of ticket that you need to buy in case you are not sure. For visitors, the Hamburg Card is very handy, as it includes entrance to museums, sights and the public transport system and can be bought from all the bus drivers and ticket offices.
Public transport is very busy before 9am and between 4pm and 7pm; it is more comfortable for tourists to plan your day around those times. Bicycles are a very popular way to get around the city, especially during the summertime. Bike rental shops are all over the city and some hotels offer the facility too. Dedicated bike lanes make it simple to navigate your way around on your own, but maps are available from the tourist information centers.
Major Attractions and Sights
Miniatur Wunderland, is the world’s largest model railway and is broken up into 5 distinctive sections. You can see the breathtaking, miniature landscapes of Hamburg, America, Switzerland, Southern Germany, the German coast, the Alps and Scandinavia. There are working mechanized ships on real water, complete with a fully functional airport display with airplanes that can fly.
The Hamburg Zoo is a privately owned family zoo that was started in the early 1900s by Carl Hagenbeck Jnr, in his time a prominent wild animal merchant and trader. There is an entire rainforest, sea and desert in the zoo’s colossal troparium. There is a dolphin show, plenty of places to eat, lots of playgrounds for kids and enough to keep an entire family busy for the day.
Speicherstadt is an historic area that was used as a warehouse district, and when the ships used to come into port and offload their cargo the district was heaving with aromatic spices, silks and coffee. Unfortunately there are not tours through the inside of the buildings, but the experience and ambience of the district is worth the trip.
Planten un Blomen is a delightful park that is a favorite among visitors to the city. The summer time is obviously the best time to go and visitors can enjoy water, light and music shows. In winter they open an ice rink. The park is absolutely beautiful and perfect for a day’s outing with the kids.
The Rathaus (Town Hall) is bigger than Buckingham Palace, and this colossal town hall is one of the most popular sights in the entire city. A tour through this stunning historical landmark takes almost an hour and is worth every minute. The opulence, lavish interiors and majestic state rooms were inspired by the Piazza San Marco in Venice.
The Hamburg Dungeon is a must see for anybody out for a bit of a thrill, although perhaps not suitable for younger children as the adventure could be quite scary. A theme tour and grizzly presentations, demonstrate most graphically the darker, foreboding times of the city of Hamburg. Be whisked away into time and experience floods, fires and executions.
Chilehaus is an architectural feat of genius, and the brain child of architect Fritz Hoger who was commissioned to build it for a wealthy merchant. Brown bricked, the Chilehaus has been designed to resemble that of a massive ocean liner, complete with terraced balconies fashioned to look like decks, and was built in 1942.
Shopping in Hamburg
When it comes to shopping, Hamburg has it all, and be prepared to part with plenty of hard earned cash. Meander through the main shopping district as a start, in the middle of the city – the Mönckebergstraße. And if you really want to splash out on designer gear then head off to Gaensemarkt.
There is a brand new mall at the Alster Lake, just around the corner from the town hall, called the Europa Passage which is a must-go destination for any retail therapy enthusiast.
If you are after vintage and second hand treasures, then the best place would be to head out to Hot Dogs Marktstrasse, Kleidermarkt and Kurze Muhren.
Hamburg has quite many shops which claim “Second Hand”, but are more of an outlet. It’s still worth a visit though.
Eating Out in Hamburg
Foodies will be delighted with the choices and range of cuisine available in the steamy city. Traditional Hamburg dishes to try are Birnen and Bohen und Speck, or pears cooked with bacon and green runner beans, bratkartoffeln – pan fried slices of potatoes and pannfisch, which is pan fried fish. Order lots of zitronenlimonade to wash it down with – half beer and half lemonade, and you are good to go.
When it comes to desserts, you are in pastry heaven. Put the diet on hold and feast on a local favorite the franzbrotchen – a flat croissant like pastry that is filled with sugar, cinnamon and raisins and quite unique to the city.
Another favorite is thick, juicy ‘’hamburger’’ patties called frikadelle, served with vegetables and potatoes with gravy, rather than in a hamburger bun and are absolutely mouth-watering.
Try Lühmanns Teestube, which is a fantastic sidewalk café perfect for a scrumptious meal, and famous for their pastries and baked goodies. The Delta Bistro is quite pricey, but worth a bit of a splurge and has some fantastic local meat dishes, some say the best in the city. Hamburg has a great number of Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.
Nightlife in Hamburg
When it comes to a good night out on the town, you can be sure that these German folks know exactly what’s for what. And no matter what your music taste, you will be able to find a cozy corner for a chilled beer or a dance floor that will tickle your fancy until the wee hours.
There are lots of festivals and open air concerts on during the year, and are very popular during summer, so if you are looking for something with a bit more culture that just one cocktail after another, you may just be in luck. Everything from opera, orchestral concerts, and trendy lounge clubs to underground grunge clubs – Hamburg has it all and then some. And with the public transport system being on hand right through the night, you don’t have to worry about finding a taxi back to your hotel when you are all partied out.
Try out Lago Bay which is located between Hamburg City Beach Club and Hamburg del Mar. You’ll find it a trendy place for a cocktail and to lounge around at the pool; make your way to the Moroccan lounge next door once the sun goes down.
Strandpauli is a great lively place to head out to for a relaxed evening overlooking the harbor. Tango the night away under the thatched reed roof, let your toes sink into the sand and feast on sausages, washed down with plenty of beer and cocktails.
Of Local Interest
There are cultural, historical, music and arts festivals held throughout the year in Hamburg, and there is something on in the city for every season. Summer happenings are hugely popular as many of the events are held outside, the weather is great and people are out and about. The end of the year is also popular as there are some very special traditional markets that are held here in the run up to Christmas and the festive season in Hamburg is effervescent. There are loads of beer festivals, sporting events such as the International German Open Tennis held here every year in July, and the Hamburg Harley Days Festival which is a must-not miss for motorcycle fans from around the world, is held every year in the city in June.
The Wutzrock Festival
Every year, the Wutzrock festival is great for all music lovers and heaven for rock music enthusiasts. It is in close proximity to the city and the best part is that the entrance to the open air festival is completely free of charge. Normally held over the last weekend of August, it is located at the Eichbaumsee, which is situated conveniently next to the train station.