Hamburg has enough to offer to spend weeks strolling through the many museums, the shopping streets or along the banks of the Alster lakes or the Elbe river. However, the region around the city is equally full of exciting places to visit and explore. Cities full of history, beautiful nature, the North and the Baltic Sea, amusement parks and shopping centres make Northern Germany one of Europe's most diverse regions.
Here is a list of day trips into the metropolitan region:
North and Baltic Sea: Islands & Beaches
If you have a day to spend, then get on one of the catamarans (leaving from Landungsbrücken) to Heligoland (German: Helgoland). 46 kilometres off the coast, these two islands are perfect for a day's walk along the sandy beaches and red cliffs. Walking into the Wadden Sea UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, which stretches all along the coastline of the North Sea, allows you a one-of-a-kind natural experience. St. Peter Ording beach resort or the coastal town of Cuxhaven are perfects spot to start from.
Also located in the North Sea, Sylt is Germany's northernmost island. It is well-known for its beaches, surf contests and upper-class lifestyle. The best way to get there from Hamburg is by train. Alternatively, take the train up to Fehmarn: This island in the Baltic Sea is one of the sunniest regions in Germany and, along with Travemuende and the resorts in Mecklenburg, has some of the best beaches of the region.
Medieval cities: Luebeck, Wismar and Lueneburg
Chances are, you've heard of the Hanseatic City of Luebeck before. Once the leading city of the Hanseatic League, its historic city centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an absolute must-see on every trip to the region. Only one hour from Luebeck, there is Wismar. This charming city in the former Eastern Germany has been awarded the status UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beautifully-restored town houses.
Lueneburg, finally, completes the list of must-see historic cities around Hamburg. This medieval gem still recalls the days when it was one of the wealthiest cities of Northern Europe. You can get here easily and quickly by car or train.
Parks and nature reserves around Hamburg
Surrounding the city of Lueneburg, you'll find the Lueneburg Heath nature preserve with its pretty little villages and a vast wildlife park perfect for a relaxing hiking or canoeing trip. In addition, two of Germany's biggest amusement parks are located right in this area: the lively Heide Park Soltau and the safari-themed Serengeti Park Hodenhagen.
If you prefer to spend your day out in the countryside, a trip to the lake districts of Holsteinische Schweiz and Mecklenburgische Seenplatte will be very rewarding, as they are among North Germany’s most untouched areas.
Literally only a bike-ride away from Hamburg there are the Elbe marshlands and Altes Land, a fruit-growing region just south of the Elbe river. Here, you'll also find the Schwarze Berge wildlife park and Stade, a beautiful historic town 40 kilometres up the Elbe river.
In the opposite direction, just north of the river, there is equally much to explore. You can attend the Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg, go on a shopping spree at the Designer Outlet Centre in Neumuenster or, especially when the sailing races are in season, drive all the way up to Kiel.