The Best Day Trips From Hamburg

Visit historic Luneburg and stroll around the pretty medieval town centre
Visit historic Luneburg and stroll around the pretty medieval town centre | © Manfred Glueck / Alamy Stock Photo

Hamburg may be a diverse and exciting destination to visit but there’s no reason to limit yourself to one city when there are so many exciting places nearby to explore. These Hamburg day trips will let you discover charming historical towns, magnificent castles and breathtaking natural landscapes. Most are just an hour away and all are accessible by public transport.

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Lüneburg – the salt town

The 1,000-year history of Lüneburg is closely tied with the production of white gold (salt) that brought wealth and prosperity to the town. Having survived World War II virtually unscathed, Lüneburg boasts a medieval charm few can rival. Stroll through the beautiful Old Town and browse the speciality shops, cafes, and restaurants housed in gabled buildings. You will also find lovely green areas, saltwater thermal baths and, thanks to the town’s student population, one of the highest concentrations of pubs in Europe.

Distance: 40 minutes by regional train. Price: €17.40 (£15) per person, round-trip with Hamburg public transport

Lübeck – Queen of the Hansa

On the coast of the Baltic Sea lies Lübeck, the former capital of the mighty Hanseatic League. The Old Town is best explored on foot, its historic buildings and narrow lanes a mix of architectural styles from 13th century onwards. Visit the Town Hall and the magnificent Gothic Church of St Mary and don’t leave without trying the marzipan – it’s a speciality. Lübeck is known as the marzipan city.

Distance: 45 minutes by regional train. Price: €28 (£24) per person, round-trip; €40 (£35) for a group of five with a regional day ticket.

Bremen – the fairy tale town

Medieval Bremen is home to the Bremen Town Musicians (bronze statue) featured in the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Admire the Renaissance Town Hall, stroll through Schnoor, a maze of small streets lined with charming 15th- and 16th-century houses, and relax in the sun on the Schlachte riverside promenade. Visit a museum or take a tour of the Beck’s beer factory. Whatever you do, don’t leave before rubbing the donkey’s legs on the Bremen Town Musicians sculpture to secure some good luck.

Distance: One hour 10 minutes by regional train; Price: €23 (£20) per person, round-trip; €39 (£34) for a group of five with a regional day ticket.

Schwerin – the city of seven lakes

The city of Schwerin is a picture-perfect combination of natural and architectural beauty. Its most famous landmark is the majestic Schwerin Palace, situated between two lakes and surrounded by luscious gardens. The nearby market square and cobbled streets are filled with historic buildings housing shops and cafes. Schwerin has a number of excellent museums and hosts a variety of arts and cultural festivals throughout the year.

Distance: One hour 25 minutes by regional train. Price: €23 (£20) per person, round-trip; €39 (£34) for a group of five with a regional day ticket.

Altes Land – largest fruit growing area

Elbe marshlands downstream from Hamburg are home to Altes Land. This fertile land, regained from the river between the 11th and 15th centuries and protected by dykes, is Germany’s largest fruit growing area. In between the large orchards you’ll find villages with half-timbered farm buildings. The best way to enjoy the scenery is to cycle along the bicycle paths. Admire apple blossom in spring, pick fruit in the fall and enjoy delicious cake from the local produce all year round.

Distance: One hour by Hamburg public transport (metro and bus to Jork, or ferry to Cranz). Price: €10 (£8.70) per person, round-trip.

The Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer) coastal area, which stretches from the Netherlands to Denmark, is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. The ecosystem of dunes, tidal channels, sandbars, mudflats, seagrass meadows and salt marshes is undisturbed nature at its best. Don’t miss the opportunity to go mudflat hiking (wattwandern) during low tide, when you’ll be able to walk from the mainland to nearby islands.

Distance: 1h 45 min to either Cuxhaven or Büsum. Price: €28 (£24.37) per person, round-trip; €40 (£35) for a group of five with a regional day ticket.

Heligoland – the island of breathtaking cliffs

Heligoland is a little further away but is a wonderful day trip destination. The speedy journey across the North Sea is an adventure in itself. The island may be small but it has something for everyone. Nature lovers will enjoy the fresh air, the breathtaking red sandstone cliffs and getting up close with seals. Bird watching enthusiasts will love spotting rare seabirds. Gourmands will enjoy the island’s great restaurants and fresh seafood, while bargain hunters will make the most of its duty- and VAT-free status.

Distance: 3.5 hours by catamaran Halunder Jet from Hamburg. Price: €71 (£62) per person, round-trip.

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