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Bremerhaven is a quick 45-minute journey north of Bremen and boasts the best of all things maritime – from nautical-themed museums and harbour cruises to excellent seafood restaurants. We had a look at the city’s top 10 things to see and do and came up with the following list.
Bremerhaven’s biggest attraction opened its doors in 2009 today draws more than half a million people to the site. The Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost takes visitors on a journey along the 8th meridian east all the way from Bremerhaven to the South Pole. You pass through the world climatic zones from the alternating weather in northern Germany, to the blistering heat of the Sahara, the South Pacific and the unbearable cold of Antarctica. Interactive displays and exhibits educate about the world’s weather and climate change and how it affects the local population and natural world.
Seafood fans won’t want to miss a visit to Räucherei Herbert Franke. The traditional smokehouse is one of Bremerhaven’s few locations that still use old coal ovens to cure their freshly caught redfish, trout, halibut, salmon and more. The family-run business starts work in the early hours of the morning and opens its doors to hungry visitors at 8am to serve the freshest fish sandwiches in town all day long.
Another of Bremerhaven’s highlights is the Deutsches Auswandererhaus (German Emigration Centre) which commemorates the lives of more than seven million people who left Germany between 1830 and 1974 aboard the many US-bound ships that left the city’s port. Different stops of the exhibition visualise the individual steps of the emigration process and allow visitors to embark on a journey across the Atlantic, land at Ellis Island and complete the immigration process, trying to find their place in the New World.
Being a proud Hanseatic city, the city also offers various harbour cruise tour as well as one-day sailing trips in May. Alternatively, you can embark on a two-hour-long boat trip down the Weser river and all the way to Bremen. Sailing trips aboard the ‘Mercedes’ in May do book out, so make sure you snatch tickets well in advance if you’re interested.
The German Maritime Museum sheds light on another historical aspect of Bremerhaven as a port city. Dedicated to the history of seafaring, the exhibition boasts hundreds of maritime objects ranging from ship models, equipment and paintings to decommissioned old ships docked in the old harbour. The wooden remains of the 1380 Hanseatic cog are among the highlights. The wreck was discovered in the Weser river 1962 and has inspired three modern replicas.
Bremerhaven’s award-winning historical museum is dedicated to history and culture of the north German city. The exhibition spreads across 3,300 square metres and encompasses historical displays depicting the life of the region through the ages from the traces of early settlements to a 1950s cinema hall. Detailed replicas of a historic shipyard, apartment buildings, a harbour pub and plant floors with steam engines give an insight into Bremerhaven’s history as a port city.
Those interested in all things maritime shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the German submarine that docks in the Bremerhaven harbour. Even though the ‘Wilhelm Bauer’ was never used in combat, the Nazi Germany U-boat grants a fascinating insight into the revolutionary technology. Then, type XXI was the first submarine design which was capable of completing an entire mission underwater. The interior is fascinating, but imagining a crew of 58 people being crammed into the tight space while the vessel is fully submerged in the ocean leaves an uneasy feeling,
The Atlantic Hotel SAIL City is the highest building in town and has a publically accessible viewing platform on the 20th and 21st floor. A lift takes you up to 86 metres for panoramic views of Bremerhaven, the previously mentioned museums, the city port all the way to the North Sea shore. A €3 adult pass only allows a 30-minute visit, though that should be enough time to glance over the landscape. Be aware that the platform might close at short notice during bad weather.
More maritime fun waits at the waterfront stretch known as Schaufenster Fischereihafen. The fishing harbour promenade features restaurants, pubs, shops, market stalls and fishing and museum exhibitions. You can dine at one of the top-notch seafood restaurants, join a live demonstration of how to cure fish and pick up some recipe ideas at a live cooking show. On top of that, the Fischereihafen mile sees a range of events from jazz concerts to dragon boat races throughout the year.
Speaking of food, the Natusch restaurant at said Schaufenster Fischereihafen is the top address for seafood in Bremen and a high-ranking eatery in all of Germany. Gourmets come here to indulge in fresh fish and seafood dishes such as Norwegian salmon filet with a crust of herbs and sweet chestnuts or a mixed seafood platter with lemon and caper sauce. Also on the menu is the regional Labskaus speciality – cured herring served with fried eggs, gherkins and purée of corned beef and beetroot.