In these times, outdoor adventures in nature can provide a calming escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This week’s Bundesländer guide will take you on tour through one of Germany’s most picturesque, naturally diverse states, Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). This state is filled to the brim with rural character from its breath-taking coastline and maritime towns along the North Sea to the idyllic, mountainous Weser Uplands bordering Hessen and Nordrhein-Westfalen.
Niedersachsen is a very diverse and beautiful state, containing both stunning, relatively untouched coastal areas, as well as rural, agricultural lowlands and the highlands of the Harz. Located in North-western Germany, Lower Saxony is the largest German state after Bayern (Bavaria). It is bordered by the North Sea, the Netherlands and more Bundesländer than any other German state.
Within this state of natural abundance lie many Hanseatic cities, such as Hannover, Lower Saxony’s capital, as well as Braunschweig, Hildesheim, Lüneburg, and Osnabrück. The state is a patchwork of picturesque towns and villages, with forested areas, such as the Elm-Lappwald, the mountainous wilderness of the Harz mountains, the peaceful riverbanks of the Elbe, Weser and Ems rivers, the unique, biologically diverse shores of the Wattenmeer, and the fertile farming lands of the Altes Land.
The state’s modern capital, Hannover, is home to a vibrant city centre with a 15th-century town hall, a wealth of museums, green spaces, as well as old medieval streets. Additionally, the city is located on the banks of the Leine River, perfect for a relaxing stroll. The city is also renowned for its UNESCO City of Music status, annual industrial trade fairs, and a dialect regarded as the closest tongue to High German.
North of Hannover, situated between the Elbe River and the Lüneburger Heide, lies the charming town of Lüneburg, which has both a delightful medieval character and the lively flair of a university town. The Lüneburger Heide attracts thousands of tourists every early Autumn, who come to stroll through the blooming, purple flowers of the heathland.
Furthermore, the uppermost part of Niedersachsen and its East Frisian Islands boast some of Germany’s most stunning seashores and are home to the Niedersächsiches Wattenmeer National Park, holding UNESCO World Heritage Site status since 2009. The Wattenmeer along Niedersachsen’s coast provides a unique habitat comprised of mudflats, salt marshes, dunes, and beaches for over 10,000 different animals and plant species, such as a thriving population of grey seals.
As you travel down into the southern parts of Lower Saxony, the landscape starts to become somewhat hillier. Located in the Harz mountains, the Wurmberg is the highest peak in Lower Saxony. This mountainous area has become a hotspot for hikers and mountain bikers in the summer, wishing to take in the splendid views over wooded hills and half-timbered houses nestled in low-lying valleys, as well as snowboarders and skiers in the winter, hoping to glide down the snowy slopes.
Last but not least, a bike tour of Niedersachsen is a must! Due to its primarily flat landscapes, the region is perfect for cycling. The Weser-Radweg and the Elbe-Radweg, along two of Niedersachsen’s rivers, are two of Europe’s most popular cycle routes. The two cycle paths cross through coastal ports, secluded wetlands, green marshlands, and historically and culturally rich towns and cities, such as the independent city-states of Hamburg and Bremen, and Hamelin, known for the legend of the Pied Piper.
Needless to say, there is even more to see than I could fit into this article, such as Wolfsburg: the global HQ of Volkswagen, Hildesheim, with its Medieval old town and Romanesque Cathedral, Celle: the first city in North Germany awarded the title of ‘Sustainable Destination’, Braunschweig: famous for its monument ‘the Brunswick Lion’, and many more amazing sites. This state has such an abundance of nature and history, making it the perfect destination for lovers of the outdoors and culture fanatics alike.