How long you'll need
Allow 4-6 days.
What you'll see
Europe’s biggest orchard, a seabed walk to a lonely island, an emigration museum and an artist’s village. All within easy reach of Hamburg.
At first sight the slice of Lower Saxony that lies west of Hamburg may seem unspectacular, being mainly flat with big skies, but there’s interesting stuff hidden away if you know where to look.
First stop (and still on the Hamburg u-bahn network) is the old merchant city of Stade, which is actually also at the heart of Europe’s largest apple and cherry orchards, Altes Lande. Lots of good cycling routes emanate out from the town, particularly along dykes to the pretty village of Jork. The blossom is spectacular in spring.
From Stade, travel on northwest to the North Sea port of Cuxhaven, long since superseded by Hamburg, but still with some interesting local ferries coming and going. From here you can travel out to Helgoland and to low-lying Neuwerk (ferry company Cassen Eils However the latter is more interestingly-reached across 9km of sandy flats when the tide has gone out. Horse-carts set out from Sahlenburg, or you can do the journey on foot by yourself in a couple of hours, along a route marked with brushwood. Neuwerk has a selection of hotels (try the Nige Hus) which offer the horse-and-cart option as part of their package, and the ferry website has guided on-foot options too.
Next stop is Bremerhaven, another port seeking a new identity. The container port has moved north out of the city and the old harbour areas downtown now host the very interesting Auswandererhaus (Emigration Museum) plus the ambitious environment-studying Klimahaus along with various museum ships. The old fishing port has become a place of fish restaurants and summer terraces, also worth seeking out. There’s a fine view from the Hotel Atlantic Sail City (left, with the Klimahaus). Meanwhile Bremerhaven’s huge new business, south of the city, is in windfarm infrastructure.
Finally, due south of Bremerhaven, the landscape turns into ancient moorland around the artistic community of Worpswede, a little island in the middle of the Devil’s Moor, due east of Bremen. Galleries, studios, characterful hotels like the Eichenhof and little waterside restaurants like the Hammehütte (left) are the order of the day.
From top to bottom: Blossom: O Heinze, Hamburg Mediaserver. Horse and cart, Andrew Eames. Bremerhaven, Torsten Krueger. Worpswede, Andrew Eames