Given we had an early flight the next morning, I didn’t want to travel too far from Hamburg or return exceptionally late on our last day trip. Luneburg was perfect– a half-hour train ride away with returns every 30 minutes.
After the poor weather we experienced during our adventures in Kiel and Lubeck the day before, I was initially concerned the weather wouldn’t hold up and Brian wouldn’t get to experience the beauty of the region.
Thankfully we arrived early to bright blue skies that lasted the vast majority of our day. Our pictures captured a little of the beautiful buildings full of character against the incredible, piercing blue of the sky.
While Luneburg had come up in my searches for top day trip destinations near Hamburg, it was also recommended by our good friend who studied there during college. She suggested several places around the region, but we were excited to see and experience where she had lived. I know how my study abroad experience shaped me– I’m certain this town and region hold a special place in her heart.
We followed the crowd and signs from the train station, crossing the river and heading into town. We were met with a beautiful row of houses and shops lining an inner river, and on the bank nearest us the Alter Kran, or historic crane. First documented in the early 1300s, it was used to lift salt and other items from the bank to the boats.
The streets were already lively and became more so as we walked toward the Rathaus, or town hall.
The market square in front of the Rathaus was alive with an open air market full of stalls and people. We wandered through to see some of the items for sale as we made our way to the visitor information center at the base of the town hall. We grabbed a city map and set off in search of the various churches around town.
We headed west toward the historic district, admiring the incredible architecture along the way. I loved all of the bright red brick and the interesting roof lines of the houses and shops.
As we headed away from the town hall and into the district, the roads became narrow and fewer and fewer people were out and about.
We wound through the roads and alleys until we came out on a little square in front of the gigantic St. Michael’s Church. It was so big and there were so many close-knit houses around that it was impossible to see it in its entirety. We walked around to the side and back but it wasn’t open and we weren’t able to go inside.
After exploring the area we continued through more of the historic district and wound our way around to the Am Sande or town center. With shops along either side, the main street has been in place since medieval times and was where merchants would come sell their wares.
Many of the buildings are from the 16th and 17th century, and the oldest stepped roof line is from the 1400s. We walked along the sidewalk admiring the buildings and watching as people starting to mill about, shopping and grabbing food and drinks along the cobblestones.
At the far end of the Am Sande was St. John’s Church, the oldest church in the city. Construction began in the 1200s and it was completed in the 1300s! We were able to go inside and spent some time admiring the nave. The stained glass windows were beautiful, and I was blown away by the organ.
After exploring the church we headed back toward the river and the Wasserturm, or water tower, which is a newer structure from the early 1900s.
The area seemed rather industrial with what looked like a mill along the river and some other buildings with machines outside.
We were getting hungry so we headed back along the river in search of food. We ended up walking all the way back to where we originally entered the city by the old crane and decided to have lunch at Schallander, a restaurant right along the water.
There were tables and chairs along the bank and next to the other nearby restaurant’s open air seating so we grabbed a seat and set about trying to understand the menu.
Lots of people from all over were eating nearby– the food was good, it was fun people watching and it was nice to relax outside on such a beautiful day.
After lunch we set off north in search of the final church on our list, St. Nicolas Church, which was built in the 1400s.
When we arrived there was a sign up saying there was a service underway and that the church wouldn’t be open to the public again for a little while. We didn’t have long to wait so we spent our time exploring some of the nearby shops and grabbing dessert from a nearby pastry shop. I had some sort of nut roll and Brian had a huge poppy seed strudel– both were delicious!
We returned to the church and were finally able to go inside. The nave was impressive with lofted ceilings but a fairly simple interior. I most enjoyed walking down to the crypt and sitting in the dark as people came in and quietly lit their candles, said their prayers and returned upstairs. It was peaceful and beautiful.
The sun was starting to fade, it was mid afternoon and we were starting to wind down. I think we were both a little tired after the long week and after walking all over town that morning so we decided to have one last drink and then wrap up our time in Luneburg.
We headed back to the Am Sande and grabbed a final beverage at an open air restaurant in the middle of the square. It was great to be off our feet again and to just relax and people watch as we chatted about our day and our travel plans for our return home.
After our rest we decided to drum up our energy for one last sightseeing opportunity and walked back out of town and north along the road to see the Lune Abbey.
We sorely underestimated how much time it would take to get there– it was a 30-minute walk each way, and by the time we arrived I was exhausted. It was getting late and we didn’t want to wait or pay for the tour, so we grabbed some information, did a quick turn around the grounds and then headed back to the station to we could catch our return train to Hamburg.
The abbey looked really interesting and I would have liked to have learned more, but we should have moved it up on our list or headed there earlier in the day when we still had time and energy. Something to keep in mind for the future!
We had such an incredible week in Schleswig-Holstein, and it was wonderful seeing and experiencing a whole new region of Germany. It remains one of my favorite European countries, and I am certain we will be back!