Hamburg, Berlin, Munich – everyone knows Germany’s big cities. But when people are planning a city break, should they always go for one of the big ones?
There’s a major trend towards independent travel at the moment. The focus is on authenticity. In other words, tourists don’t necessarily want to be tourists anymore. What they’re looking for is proximity to the locals; they want to get closer to ‘real life’ in their chosen destination. In Lower Saxony, there are towns and cities that leave a lasting impression but which aren’t on the typical tourist trail: they’re quiet, authentic and less touristy.
And there’s also a lot to see: wonderful towns full of half-timber houses, like Wolfenbüttel, Einbeck, Celle or Hann. Münden, or Osnabrück, Hildesheim and Brunswick with their imposing architecture. Wilhelmshaven, Stade, Papenburg and Bremerhaven, on the other hand, have that genuine maritime feel, and the pace of life by the water is relaxed. Those who want to immerse themselves in the modern age, science and innovation will find plenty of choice in Wolfsburg and Göttingen. Keen shoppers will enjoy less crowded destinations in Lower Saxony, like Hanover and Oldenburg. And for people who are into nature, there are lots of relaxing outdoor activities in Verden, Lingen and Gifhorn.
Our regional cuisine also has some surprises in store: it’s down to earth, often simple and rustic, seasonal and always very, very tasty! When visitors arrive at their urban destination, I suggest they tune into the way of life here in Lower Saxony, shake off the stresses and strains of daily life, let the afternoon drift by somewhere quiet and peaceful, and then sit back with a nice drink and just watch the world go by.
What’s on offer for holidaymakers in cities like Hanover, Brunswick or Oldenburg, or in the smaller towns of Lower Saxony?
Hanover, Brunswick, Oldenburg and Osnabrück are among the largest cities in Lower Saxony.
When it comes to leisure activities, there are plenty of options here – whether people want action or just relaxation. And you can get everywhere on public transport! It’s essential to have niche attractions that cater for different types of traveller, something special and off the beaten track. Special museums, for example, picturesque medieval towns, narrow lanes or quaint restaurants. You’ll find these in the smaller towns, too, – places like Celle, Gifhorn or Stade. When it comes to facilities and services, it’s much harder to find what you’re looking for in advance. The towns and cities of Lower Saxony have signed up to the various certification and quality schemes. Whatever the accreditation – ‘ServiceQuality Germany’, ‘Sustainable city’ or ‘Certified tourist information office’, to name just a few – it’s the quality of the service that counts. But you can only really experience the facilities and services by interacting with the locals. You can spot people from Lower Saxony by the way they act rather than how they speak. In Lower Saxony, the locals never cease to impress me – they’re so warmhearted and down to earth, and they have an endearing, rough edge to them which also comes out in their natural hospitality.
You yourself have a particular interest in cultural tourism – what are the cultural attractions that visitors can look forward to when they come to the towns and cities of Lower Saxony?
In the towns and cities of Lower Saxony, you’re literally surrounded by culture. There are museums and concert halls for major works of art and great music, and theatres where you can choose between classical drama or daring, unconventional productions. Castles, churches and magnificent parks abound. Regional art, culture and history are documented and presented at various venues. But you can also experience street art or the very traditional art of wood carving.
Have you ever seen 14 full-size wind and water mills from around the world? You can find them in the heart of Lüneburg Heath in Gifhorn. Ever travelled round the world through all the different climate zones? Now you can: in the exhibition rooms of the Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost. If you come to Oldenburg, you’ll be able to admire a first-rate collection of classic modern art, as well as Italian, Dutch, French and German paintings dating from the 15th to the 18th century. And what if your passion is science? Then you can test your senses at the unique phaeno science centre in Wolfsburg!
And what about people who aren’t into culture – what other types of city break does Lower Saxony have to offer?
Active holidays in scenic countryside, health and wellness trips that will enhance your wellbeing, sightseeing and shopping in big cities or smaller towns: there really are so many options in Lower Saxony! If cycling’s your thing, you can enjoy superb cycle path networks in and around the towns. And for those who prefer hiking, there are some outstanding trails in the TERRA.vita UNESCO Global Geopark in the Osnabrücker Land. Alternatively, our towns on the North Sea coastline and along the Ems and Elbe rivers offer an excellent opportunity to sample some maritime flair and enjoy the sea air. There are Christmas markets full of atmosphere, big and small festivals, town fairs, markets and sporting events, all of them Covid compliant now of course.
There are also plenty of architectural highlights: Neoclassicism in Oldenburg, for example, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Hildesheim or the Gänselieselbrunnen (Goose Girl fountain) in Göttingen. Wolfenbüttel is known not just for its Jägermeister liqueur, but also for its more than 600 half-timbered houses and the world-famous Bibliotheca Augusta. And did you know that Celle, Weimar and Dessau are among the most significant places in the history of the Bauhaus movement? But what’s important is that despite all the hustle and bustle of our towns and cities, you can always find a quiet, cosy spot for a relaxing cup of tea or coffee.
Every town is different, and every town strikes visitors differently. But, in general, do you have a favourite time of day to enjoy that urban feeling?
I like to get up early in the morning and go for a jog through the city – that’s how I like to experience it. When the city’s just waking up, and people are getting ready for the day ahead, I think that’s the ideal time for a city tour. Of course, all our towns and cities in Lower Saxony boast a wide range of open spaces and parks as well. Quite apart from the tranquility they offer, you can also treat yourself afterwards to a nice coffee or even breakfast at the nearest bakery. My favourite routes in Oldenburg lead through the Eversten Holz forest or along the Küstenkanal (Coastal Canal). The Küstenkanal links Oldenburg to the North Sea, and in the Eversten Holz forest you can run in the shade of 300-year-old oak trees.
Last updated: September 2020