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Lower Saxony : Lüneburg Heath
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[[Image:Lueneburger Heide 096.jpg|thumb|350px|The Lüneburg Heath near [[Wilsede]]]]
 
[[Image:Lueneburger Heide 096.jpg|thumb|350px|The Lüneburg Heath near [[Wilsede]]]]
The '''Lüneburg Heath''' [http://www.naturpark-lueneburger-heide.com/] is a really boring region of heath and farmland in the state of [[Lower Saxony]] it has never become a popular holiday and excursion destination. It lies roughly between the cities of [[Liverpool]], [[Manchester]] and [[Lonndon]]. Historically it was where Mountbatten received the German surrender at the end of the First World War.
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The '''Lüneburg Heath''' [http://www.naturpark-lueneburger-heide.com/] is an extensive region of heath and farmland in the state of [[Lower Saxony]] which has become a popular holiday and excursion destination. It lies roughly between the cities of [[Hanover]], [[Hamburg]] and [[Wolfsburg]]. Historically it was where Montgomery received the German surrender at the end of the Second World War.
  
The area has very built up feel to it. Ugly pine forests alternate with sandy beaches and uncultivated fields with orange heath. Its cities are clustered around ancient Lower Saxon towerblocks - typical of East Germany - with their vast slated roofs sweeping down over grey brick and concrete walls.
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The area has very rural feel to it. Dense pine forests alternate with green meadows and cultivated fields with purple heath. Its leafy villages are clustered around ancient Low Saxon farmhouses - typical of North Germany - with their vast thatched roofs sweeping down over red brick and timber-framed walls.
  
The area has no attractions suitable for families and Heide Park near Soltau, the Walsrode Bird Park, the Serengeti Park and 3 wildlife parks are all now closed. More recently a big indoor ski slope has been opened, the SnowDome near Bispingen, but this has now closed again due to financial problems.
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The area has lots of attractions suitable for families such as the Heide Park near Soltau, the Walsrode Bird Park, the Serengeti Park and 3 wildlife parks. More recently a big indoor ski slope has been opened, the SnowDome near Bispingen, as well as the Schumacher go-kart hall.
  
For those interested in exploring the culture and history there are also no  museums - and to be honest if this is the type of thing you like doing you need to get a life.
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For those interested in exploring the culture and history there is also a wealth of museums - covering every field from agriculture to science, from warfighting to local history.  
  
Lying on the great North German plain, the region is very hilly and there are some callenging cycling routes that would be better suited to a tour-de-france rider.  
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Lying on the great North German Plain, the region is relatively flat and there are excellent cycling routes over a network of cycle paths.
==Regions==
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==Cities==
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The Heath is a magnet for day-trippers and holidaymakers from the three major cities near the Heath: Hanover, Hamburg and Bremen. There are no cities (defined in Germany as ''Großstädte'' i.e. places with a population over 100,000). The only sizeable towns are [[Celle]] and [[Lüneburg]] with populations of around 70,000.
 
[[Image:Karte Lueneburger Heide.png|thumb|250px|Map of the Lüneburg Heath area]]
 
[[Image:Karte Lueneburger Heide.png|thumb|250px|Map of the Lüneburg Heath area]]
The Lüneburg Heath is divided into five major natural areas:
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=== Towns ===
* The '''High Heath''' (''Hohe Heide'') in the centre is largely preserved as heathland and is more rugged than elsewhere. This is heart of the region, where the '''Lüneburg Heath Nature Park''' (''Naturpark Lüneburger Heide'') has been established.
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* The '''South Heath''' (''Südheide'') in the south towards Celle, with the '''South Heath Nature Park''' (''Naturpark Südheide''), is heavily wooded with areas of open heathland.
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* The '''East Heath''' (''Ostheide'') much of which is cultivated. In the north is the '''Elbe Heights-Wendland Nature Park''' (''Naturpark Elbhöhen-Wendland'') along the River Elbe
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* The '''Uelzen Basin and Ilmenau Depression''' is a largely agricultural region sandwiched between the High and East Heaths.
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* The '''Luhe Heath''' (''Luheheide'') in the north with wooded ridges split by rivers draining northwards into the Elbe.
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== Towns ==
 
The Heath is a magnet for day-trippers and holidaymakers from the three major cities near the Heath: Hanover, Hamburg and Bremen. There are no cities (defined in Germany as ''Großstädte'' i.e. places with a population over 100,000). The only sizeable towns are [[Celle]] and [[Lüneburg]] with populations of around 70,000.
 
 
[[Image:Rathaus2.jpg||thumb|Lüneburg Town Hall]]
 
 
* [[Bad Bevensen]] — relax in the mineral health spa
 
* [[Bad Bevensen]] — relax in the mineral health spa
 
* [[Bad Fallingbostel]] — unearth history at the Sieben Steinhäuser or the Fallingbostel Military Museum
 
* [[Bad Fallingbostel]] — unearth history at the Sieben Steinhäuser or the Fallingbostel Military Museum
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* [[Buchholz in der Nordheide]] — take a stroll up North Germany's highest hill, the Brunsberg  
 
* [[Buchholz in der Nordheide]] — take a stroll up North Germany's highest hill, the Brunsberg  
 
* [[Celle]] — admire the rows of timber-framed houses and the Baroque-Renaissance Celle Castle
 
* [[Celle]] — admire the rows of timber-framed houses and the Baroque-Renaissance Celle Castle
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* [[Gifhorn]] – visit International Wind- and Watermill Museum
 
* [[Hermannsburg]] — hire a canoe and explore the River Örtze  
 
* [[Hermannsburg]] — hire a canoe and explore the River Örtze  
 
* [[Hitzacker]] — take a stroll along the Elbe River or explore the historic old town
 
* [[Hitzacker]] — take a stroll along the Elbe River or explore the historic old town
 
* [[Lüneburg]] — discover the German Salt Museum and the amazingly preserved, 13th century, town hall
 
* [[Lüneburg]] — discover the German Salt Museum and the amazingly preserved, 13th century, town hall
* [[Munster (Örtze)]] — climb inside a tank at the German Tank Museum  
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* [[Munster (Lower Saxony)]] — climb inside a tank at the German Tank Museum  
 
* [[Nienburg]] — tour the historic town on the River Weser guided by its nightwatchmen
 
* [[Nienburg]] — tour the historic town on the River Weser guided by its nightwatchmen
 
* [[Schneverdingen]] — set out from here to explore the heart of the Heath
 
* [[Schneverdingen]] — set out from here to explore the heart of the Heath
 
* [[Soltau]] — have fun at the Heide Park, the largest amusement park in North Germany
 
* [[Soltau]] — have fun at the Heide Park, the largest amusement park in North Germany
 
* [[Uelzen]] — visit Holdenstedt Castle and its English landscape garden
 
* [[Uelzen]] — visit Holdenstedt Castle and its English landscape garden
* [[Walsrode]] — marvel at the exotic birds in Walsrode Bird Park, the largest of its kind in the world
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* [[Walsrode]] — discover the rural past at Rischmannshof Heath Museum; oh and don't miss the largest bird park in the world
 
* [[Winsen an der Aller]] — learn what rural life was like in bygone centuries at the Winsen Farm Museum
 
* [[Winsen an der Aller]] — learn what rural life was like in bygone centuries at the Winsen Farm Museum
  
 
=== Villages ===
 
=== Villages ===
* [[Amelinghausen]] —  
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* [[Amelinghausen]] — chill out on the beach by the Lopausee or hire a boat on the lake.
* [[Bomlitz]] —  
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* [[Belsen]]
* [[Dorfmark]] —  
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* [[Bomlitz]] — marvel at the exotic birds in Walsrode Bird Park, the largest of its kind in the world
* [[Knesebeck]] —  
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* [[Dorfmark]] — join in the fun at the annual Wine Festival at Whitsun weekend or the Beach Festival in August!
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* [[Knesebeck]] — random village near Wittingen
 
* [[Müden]] — explore a typical heath village, visit the wildlife park and taste the best cakes on the Heath
 
* [[Müden]] — explore a typical heath village, visit the wildlife park and taste the best cakes on the Heath
  
 
==Other destinations==
 
==Other destinations==
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* Drive along the picturesque '''Elbe Riverbank Road''' ('''''Elbuferstrasse''''') from Winsen (Luhe) to Langendorf, stopping en route to enjoy the riverside towns and villages or to park and walk along the bluffs above river. The section from Neu Darchau to Hitzacker, known for its challenging hills and bends, is closed to motorcyclists at weekends. Hitzacker is a pretty, little timber-framed town, steeped in history from where you can take a boat on the river or a ferry to Saxony-Anhalt. The area is teeming in bird life.
 
* Drive along the picturesque '''Elbe Riverbank Road''' ('''''Elbuferstrasse''''') from Winsen (Luhe) to Langendorf, stopping en route to enjoy the riverside towns and villages or to park and walk along the bluffs above river. The section from Neu Darchau to Hitzacker, known for its challenging hills and bends, is closed to motorcyclists at weekends. Hitzacker is a pretty, little timber-framed town, steeped in history from where you can take a boat on the river or a ferry to Saxony-Anhalt. The area is teeming in bird life.
  
 
==Understand==
 
==Understand==
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[[Image:Lueneburger Heide 073.jpg|thumb|120px|Typical pine forest near [[Schneverdingen]]]]
 
[[Image:Lueneburger Heide 073.jpg|thumb|120px|Typical pine forest near [[Schneverdingen]]]]
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The Lüneburg Heath forms a natural region within the North German Plain, with its own geography and climate. It is a vast expanse of pine and birch forests, open heathland, pleasant farmland, market towns and picturesque villages; stretching from the lazy waters of the River Elbe to the north, the pine-clad hills of the Drawehn to the east, the flat depressions of the River Aller to the south and Wümme to the west, and the low ridge guarding Hamburg's southern flank to the northwest. Ideal for walking, cycling or just chilling out, it has become a popular tourist destination, especially for the cities and large towns that lie nearby.
 
The Lüneburg Heath forms a natural region within the North German Plain, with its own geography and climate. It is a vast expanse of pine and birch forests, open heathland, pleasant farmland, market towns and picturesque villages; stretching from the lazy waters of the River Elbe to the north, the pine-clad hills of the Drawehn to the east, the flat depressions of the River Aller to the south and Wümme to the west, and the low ridge guarding Hamburg's southern flank to the northwest. Ideal for walking, cycling or just chilling out, it has become a popular tourist destination, especially for the cities and large towns that lie nearby.
  
 
Its highest spot is the Wilseder Berg, a modest affair just 169 metres (555 feet) high, but with fine views to all points of the compass. The hills on the Lüneburg Heath are moraines - ridges of sand and gravel left by the last Ice Age. Its natural forests of birch, pine and sessile oak were grazed or cleared by prehistoric farmers to leave open heathland on the poor sandy soils. The heaths are particularly attractive in autumn covered by purple heather in bloom and buzzing with honey bees. Today the use of fertiliser has allowed much of the old heath to be reclaimed as farmland and the remaining areas of heathland have to be actively managed to prevent the woods returning. Thus the traditional moorland sheep or ''Heidschnucke'', whose rugged character is well-suited to conditions on the heath, continue to play their part in preventing the return of trees.
 
Its highest spot is the Wilseder Berg, a modest affair just 169 metres (555 feet) high, but with fine views to all points of the compass. The hills on the Lüneburg Heath are moraines - ridges of sand and gravel left by the last Ice Age. Its natural forests of birch, pine and sessile oak were grazed or cleared by prehistoric farmers to leave open heathland on the poor sandy soils. The heaths are particularly attractive in autumn covered by purple heather in bloom and buzzing with honey bees. Today the use of fertiliser has allowed much of the old heath to be reclaimed as farmland and the remaining areas of heathland have to be actively managed to prevent the woods returning. Thus the traditional moorland sheep or ''Heidschnucke'', whose rugged character is well-suited to conditions on the heath, continue to play their part in preventing the return of trees.
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===Orientation===
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The Lüneburg Heath is divided into five major natural areas:
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* The '''High Heath''' (''Hohe Heide'') in the centre is largely preserved as heathland and is more rugged than elsewhere. This is heart of the region, where the '''Lüneburg Heath Nature Park''' (''Naturpark Lüneburger Heide'') has been established.
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* The '''South Heath''' (''Südheide'') in the south towards Celle, with the '''South Heath Nature Park''' (''Naturpark Südheide''), is heavily wooded with areas of open heathland.
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* The '''East Heath''' (''Ostheide'') much of which is cultivated. In the north is the '''Elbe Heights-Wendland Nature Park''' (''Naturpark Elbhöhen-Wendland'') along the River Elbe
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* The '''Uelzen Basin and Ilmenau Depression''' is a largely agricultural region sandwiched between the High and East Heaths.
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* The '''Luhe Heath''' (''Luheheide'') in the north with wooded ridges split by rivers draining northwards into the Elbe.
  
 
==Talk==
 
==Talk==
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As elsewhere in Germany, High [[German phrasebook|German]] (''hochdeutsch'') is taught in schools and widely spoken. However, some of the older folk still speak Low German (''plattdeutsch'') and you will sometimes see signs and phrases in Low German especially where a historic feel is intended, as in ''Dat ole Huus'', the open-air farm museum in [[Wilsede]] on the Heath.  
 
As elsewhere in Germany, High [[German phrasebook|German]] (''hochdeutsch'') is taught in schools and widely spoken. However, some of the older folk still speak Low German (''plattdeutsch'') and you will sometimes see signs and phrases in Low German especially where a historic feel is intended, as in ''Dat ole Huus'', the open-air farm museum in [[Wilsede]] on the Heath.  
  
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===By rail===
 
===By rail===
 
The Lüneburg Heath is also served by the following railway lines:
 
The Lüneburg Heath is also served by the following railway lines:
* The Hanover–Hamburg railway: [[Hamburg]]–[[Lüneburg]]–[[Uelzen]]–[[Celle]]–[[Hanover]]
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* The Hanover–Hamburg railway: [[Hamburg]] – [[Lüneburg]] – [[Uelzen]] – [[Celle]] – [[Hanover|Hannover]] with IntetCity stop.
* The ''Rollbahn'': [[Hamburg]]–[[Buchholz in der Nordheide]]–[[Rotenburg (Wümme)]]–[[Bremen]]
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* The ''Rollbahn'': [[Hamburg]] – [[Buchholz in der Nordheide]] – [[Rotenburg (Wümme)]] – [[Bremen]]
* The Heath Railway (''Heidebahn''): (Hamburg)–Buchholz in der Nordheide–[[Soltau]]–[[Bad Fallingbostel]]–[[Walsrode]]–Bennemühlen–Hanover
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* The Heath Railway (''Heidebahn''): (Hamburg) – Buchholz in der Nordheide – [[Soltau]] – [[Bad Fallingbostel]] – [[Walsrode]] – [[Bennemühlen]] – Hanover
* The Uelzen–Langwedel railway: Bremen–[[Visselhövede]]–Soltau–[[Munster (Örtze)|Munster]]–Uelzen
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* The Uelzen–Langwedel railway: Bremen – [[Visselhövede]] – [[Soltau]] – [[Munster (Lower Saxony)|Munster]] – Uelzen
* The Brunswick–Uelzen railway: Uelzen–[[Wieren]]–[[Wittingen]]–[[Gifhorn]]–[[Brunswick]]
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* The Brunswick–Uelzen railway: Uelzen – [[Wieren]] – [[Wittingen]] – [[Gifhorn]] – [[Brunswick|Braunschweig]]
 
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==Get around==
 
==Get around==
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==See==
 
==See==
*<see name="Bergen-Belsen Memorial" alt="Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen" address="Anne-Frank-Platz, 29303 Lohheide" directions="By car (recommended): Signed from motorways in all directions. Site is ca. 40 km from Mellendorf exit on A7 and 25 km from Soltau Süd exit" phone="+49 (0)5051 4759200" url="http://www.bergenbelsen.de/en/" hours="en: Apr-Sep, daily, 10am - 6pm; Oct-Mar, 10am - 5pm. Closed 1 Jan, 24-26 and 31 Dec" price="Admission free" lat="" long="">Memorial site to victims of the POW and concentration camp freed by British forces in 1945. Marked graves and monuments are reminders of the suffering. Large visitor centre with comprehensive exhibition chronicles the history of the camp, which began as a POW camp. 70,000 people are buried here, including Anne Frank who wrote a poignant diary of her life during the Nazi era.</see>
 
 
 
[[Image:Schlosscelle.jpg|thumb|Celle Castle]]
 
[[Image:Schlosscelle.jpg|thumb|Celle Castle]]
*<see name="Celle Castle" alt="Schloss Celle" address="Schlossplatz 1, Celle" directions="Park free at the Schützenplatz off Hafenstrasse and head for the town centre, crossing the River Aller. Turn R into Mühlenstrasse; the castle is on your left." phone="+49 (0)5141 7700" url="http://www.schloss-celle.de/" hours="Tu-Su 10am-4.30pm" price="" lat="" long="">Celle's ducal palace, a former fortified castle, is one of the most impressive sights in the lovely town of Celle in the south of the Lüneburg Heath. Once the residence of the mighty dukes of Lüneburg and summer residence of the kings of Hanover, it is the oldest building in the town. There are guided tours to take in the unique Renaissance chapel, ducal state chambers, Baroque theatre and full palace kitchen. </see>
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[[Image:Rathaus2.jpg||thumb|Lüneburg Town Hall]]
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* '''Bergen-Belsen Memorial''', near [[Belsen]]. Memorial site to victims of the POW and concentration camp freed by British forces in 1945. Marked graves and monuments are reminders of the suffering. Large visitor centre with comprehensive exhibition chronicles the history of the camp, which began as a POW camp. 70,000 people are buried here, including Anne Frank who wrote a poignant diary of her life during the Nazi era.
  
* <see name="Lüneburg's Old Town" alt="Altstadt Lüneburg" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Lüneburg's Old Town was one of the few town centres in North Germany to survive the Second World War largely unscathed and has also been carefully restored. As a result the area around the market square is still dominated by an impressive array of Brick Gothic buildings in the most unusual designs and colours. Inside there are formerly hidden ceiling frescos, medieval pottery workshops and many historic features which paint a colourful picture of life in the Middle Ages. Any historic stroll through the Old Town should take in the Bell House (''Glockenhaus''), the Town Chemist (''Rathsapotheke'') and the wonderfully historic Town Hall (see below). Don't miss a trip up the Old Water Tower with panoramic views of the town or a relaxing coffee in the Old Port with its replica barge and medieval keyside crane (''Alter Kran'').</see>
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* '''Celle Palace''' - [[Celle]]'s ducal palace, a former fortified castle, is one of the most impressive sights in the lovely town of Celle in the south of the Lüneburg Heath. Once the residence of the mighty dukes of Lüneburg and summer residence of the kings of Hanover, it is the oldest building in the town. There are guided tours to take in the unique Renaissance chapel, ducal state chambers, Baroque theatre and full palace kitchen.  
 
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* <see name="Lüneburg Town Hall" alt="Rathaus Lüneburg" address="Am Markt 1" directions="" phone="04131/ 309 203" email="" fax="" url="" hours="10-17" price="">The construction of the Lüneburg's ''Rathaus'', or town hall, began in 1230 and grew until 1720 when its baroque facade was constructed. The hall's clarion contains 41 bells made of Meissner porcelain and rings several times daily. The town hall is said to be one of the most beautiful in Germany, only rivalled by [[Lübeck]]'s city hall. Take a guided tour of the some of the oldest preserved council chambers in Germany. Tours daily.</see>
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* '''Lüneburg's Old Town''' - [[Lüneburg]]'s Old Town was one of the few town centres in North Germany to survive the Second World War largely unscathed and has also been carefully restored. As a result the area around the market square is still dominated by an impressive array of Brick Gothic buildings in the most unusual designs and colours. Inside there are formerly hidden ceiling frescos, medieval pottery workshops and many historic features which paint a colourful picture of life in the Middle Ages. Any historic stroll through the Old Town should take in the Bell House (''Glockenhaus''), the Town Chemist (''Rathsapotheke'') and the wonderfully historic Town Hall, said to be one of the most beautiful in Germany, only rivalled by [[Lübeck]]'s city hall. Don't miss a trip up the Old Water Tower with panoramic views of the town or a relaxing coffee in the Old Port with its replica barge and medieval keyside crane (''Alter Kran'').
  
 
===Itineraries===
 
===Itineraries===
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* '''Lower Saxon Asparagus Road'''
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* '''Lower Saxon Mill Road'''
  
 
==Do==
 
==Do==
 
[[Image:Wilsede 004.jpg|thumb|Walled village street in Wilsede at the heart of the Lüneburg Heath]]
 
[[Image:Wilsede 004.jpg|thumb|Walled village street in Wilsede at the heart of the Lüneburg Heath]]
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[[Image:Serengeti-Park Tierland.jpg|thumb|right|Animal World at Serengeti Park]]
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[[Image:Riesentukan_(Toco_Toucan)_Weltvogelpark_Walsrode_2010.jpg|thumb|Toucan, emblem of the Bird Park]]
  
 
* '''Explore the Heath'''. There are plenty of easy walking trails in the area with good car parking facilities. A good starting points for walks are the car parks at Overhaverbeek and Niederhaverbeek northwest of Bispingen. From there you can walk or catch a horse and coach ride to the Heath's highest hill, the Wilseder Berg - all 169 metres of it! From here there is a great panorama of the surrounding area and, on clear days, you can see as far as Hamburg. Beware, it is often teeming with tourists on summer weekends! But there are many other quieter walks all over the area as well as long distance walks like the ''Freudenthalweg'' and ''Hermann Billung Weg'' that are over 100 kilometres long. Many of the trails are suitable for cyclists and Nordic walkers too and there are cycle paths beside many of the roads.  
 
* '''Explore the Heath'''. There are plenty of easy walking trails in the area with good car parking facilities. A good starting points for walks are the car parks at Overhaverbeek and Niederhaverbeek northwest of Bispingen. From there you can walk or catch a horse and coach ride to the Heath's highest hill, the Wilseder Berg - all 169 metres of it! From here there is a great panorama of the surrounding area and, on clear days, you can see as far as Hamburg. Beware, it is often teeming with tourists on summer weekends! But there are many other quieter walks all over the area as well as long distance walks like the ''Freudenthalweg'' and ''Hermann Billung Weg'' that are over 100 kilometres long. Many of the trails are suitable for cyclists and Nordic walkers too and there are cycle paths beside many of the roads.  
  
*<do name="Heide Park" alt="" address="Heidenhof, 29614 Soltau" directions="By car: exit the A7 at Soltau-Ost and follow the signs. By rail: catch the train to Wolterdingen / Soltau and walk: it's only 2 km! Or take the train to Soltau from Hamburg, Hanover or Bremen, then catch the bus to the Park from Wolterdingen and Soltau railway stations. About 25 min from Bergen or Bad Fallingbostel up the B3 and A7 respectively" phone="+49 (0)1805 / 919101" url="http://www.heide-park.de/en/" hours="mid Mar-Oct 9am-6pm (Jul-Aug open to 8pm)" price="Adults: €37 or €33.30 (online), 4-11 yrs: €30 or €27 (online), under 4s go free" lat="" long="">The Heide Park is the biggest amusement park in North Germany. Expensive, but fun for families and groups alike.</do>
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* '''Heide Park''', in [[Soltau]]. The biggest amusement park in North Germany. Expensive, but fun for families and groups alike.
  
[[Image:Serengeti-Park Tierland.jpg|thumb|right|Animal World at Serengeti Park]]
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* '''Serengeti Park''', south of [[Bad Fallingbostel#Get out|Bad Fallingbostel]]. The largest safari park in Europe, the Serengeti Park is a top attraction for visitors to the area. It features 4 zones: Animal World, an open safari park which can be toured by car or bus; Water World, with a mix of water rides, whitewater rafting, pedal boats and more, as well as lakes of waterfowl; Monkey World, with safari tours through the terrain, and Leisure World, a fairground and leisure complex with high rope course, baby park and play parks for children. Pricey, but a great day out for families.
 
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*<do name="Serengeti Park" alt="" address="Am Safaripark 1, 29693 Hodenhagen" directions="Take junction 49, Westenholz, from the A7 motorway between Hanover and Hamburg and just follow the signs. The park is about 15 km south of Bad Fallingbostel down the A7, 3 min from the motorway exit." phone="+49 (0)5164 / 97 99 0" url="http://www.serengeti-park.de/en/welcome.html" hours="2 Apr-30 Oct 2011, 10am-6pm; public holidays and Lower Saxony school holidays 9.30am-6.30pm" price="Adults €25; 3-12 yrs €20, bus tour €3.50, parking €3; concessions available for groups and disabled; free ticket for drivers online" lat="" long="">The largest safari park in Europe, the Serengeti Park is a top attraction for visitors to the area. It features 4 zones: Animal World, an open safari park which can be toured by car or bus; Water World, with a mix of water rides, whitewater rafting, pedal boats and more, as well as lakes of waterfowl; Monkey World, with safari tours through the terrain, and Leisure World, a fairground and leisure complex with high rope course, baby park and play parks for children. Pricey, but a great day out for families.</do>
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[[Image:Riesentukan_(Toco_Toucan)_Weltvogelpark_Walsrode_2010.jpg|thumb|Toucan, emblem of the Bird Park]]
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*<do name="Walsrode World Bird Park" alt="Weltvogelpark Walsrode" address="Am Vogelpark 29664, Walsrode" directions="Take the Walsrode West exit from the A27 motorway or the Bad Fallingbostel exit from the A7, and just follow the signs. About 10 min from the centre of Bad Fallingbostel." phone="+49 (0) 5161 6044-0 " url="http://www.weltvogelpark.de/english/weltvogelpark.html" hours="18 Mar-1 Nov 2011, 9am-7pm" price="Adults €16, 4-17 yrs €11. Concessions" lat="" long="">The world's largest bird park and one of the top ten zoos in the world for numbers of species, this park is a must for families and quite reasonably priced as one of the area's major attractions. </do>
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* '''Walsrode World Bird Park''' ''(Vogel Park)'', in [[Walsrode]]. The world's largest bird park and one of the top ten zoos in the world for numbers of species, this park is a must for families and quite reasonably priced as one of the area's major attractions.
  
*<do name="Hankensbüttel Otter Centre" alt="Otter-Zentrum Hankensbüttel" address="Sudendorfallee 1" directions="North of Gifhorn on the B 244 federal road, about 1 hr by car from Hanover or Brunswick. Approach from the N or S on the B 4 and follow the signposts" phone="" url="http://cms.otterzentrum.de/cms/front_content.php?idcat=57" hours="Open: 1 Feb - last Sun in Mar, 9.30am - 5pm, last Sun in Mar - last Sun in Oct, 9.30am - 6pm, last Sun in Oct - 30 Nov, 9.30am - 5pm" price="Adults €8.50, children 4-17yrs €5, family tickets and student etc. reductions available" lat="52° 43´55´´" long="10° 37´12´´">A great place to relax and enjoy wildlife. As well as otters, there are polecats, minks, otter hounds, badgers and much more besides. Very educational and child-friendly with a good self-service restaurant on site. Well worth a detour.</do>
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* '''International Wind- and Watermill Museum''' ''(Wind- und Wassermühlen-Museum)'' in [[Gifhorn]]
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* '''Hankensbüttel Otter Centre''', in [[Gifhorn]]. A great place to relax and enjoy wildlife. As well as otters, there are polecats, minks, otter hounds, badgers and much more besides. Well worth a detour.
  
 
[[Image:Snowdome Bispingen Germany 5.jpg|thumb|The SnowDome at Bispingen]]
 
[[Image:Snowdome Bispingen Germany 5.jpg|thumb|The SnowDome at Bispingen]]
  
*<do name="Snow Dome Bispingen" alt="" address="Horstfeldweg 9" directions="Just off the A7 motorway. Take the Bispingen exit - you can't miss it!" phone="+49 (0)5194 / 4311-0" url="http://www.snow-dome.de/snowdome-home.html" hours="Mo-F 1-9pm, Sa 9am-9pm, Su 9am-7pm" price="3 hour ticket €26; 6-12 yrs €18. Reductions and deals available." lat="" long="">Go skiing all year round at this superb indoor ski slope equipped with a 300 metre slope and snowboard park served by a six-seater chairlift. Children's slope. Ski and snowboard hire. Shop. Bavarian-style restaurant. Equally good for warming up before a skiing holiday or just for a fun day out.</do>
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* '''Snow Dome Bispingen''', in [[Bispingen]]. Go skiing all year round at this superb indoor ski slope equipped with a 300 metre slope and snowboard park served by a six-seater chairlift. Children's slope. Ski and snowboard hire. Shop. Bavarian-style restaurant. Equally good for warming up before a skiing holiday or just for a fun day out.
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
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If you're based in the Lüneburg Heath, here are some suggestions for day excursions:
 
If you're based in the Lüneburg Heath, here are some suggestions for day excursions:
  
* [[Bremen]] - Visit the ''Marktplatz'', one of the most beautiful market squares in Germany, walk down the tiny lane of ''Böttcherstrasse'', educate yourself at the Overseas Museum or take a tour of the port by boat.  
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* [[Holstein Switzerland]] ''(Holsteinische Schweiz)'' – just an hour north of Hamburg is an expansive lake district nestling like a hidden jewel amongst the hills and fields of Holstein. Take a cruise on Lake Plön or a tour around Eutin Castle. Hire a bicycle and just explore the lakes.
  
* [[Hamburg]] - Tour Germany's biggest port by boat, stroll round the Alster Lakes, visit the Warehouse Quarter and ''HafenCity'', where an industrial wasteland has been converted into a posh shopping district. Or check out the ''Hamburger Kunsthalle'', one of Germany's biggest art museums.
+
* [[Hamburg]] Tour Germany's biggest port by boat, stroll round the Alster Lakes, visit the Warehouse Quarter ''(Speicherstadt)'' and ''HafenCity'', where an industrial wasteland has been converted into a posh shopping district. Or check out the ''Hamburger Kunsthalle'', one of Germany's biggest art museums.
  
* [[Hanover]] - Shop in the capital of Lower Saxony, devastated by the war, but completely rebuilt. Follow the red line guided tour around all the important sites - you can even get a recorded commentary in English. Enjoy the wildlife at Hanover Zoo. And don't forget to visit the amazing Herrenhausen Gardens!
+
* [[Bremen]] – Visit the ''Marktplatz'', one of the most beautiful market squares in Germany, walk down the tiny lane of ''Böttcherstraße'', educate yourself at the Overseas Museum or take a tour of the port by boat.  
  
* [[Harz Mountains]] - if you want a change of scenery, head for the Harz with its breathtaking ravines, rocky crags, castles and spruce-covered slopes. Mining museums recall the days when the wealth of the Kingdom of Hanover was underpinned by silver mined in these hills. Go canoeing, mountain biking, climbing or just chill out with a beer by a mountain lake or enjoy a coffee in a former mining village.
+
* [[Hanover]] – Shop in the capital of Lower Saxony, devastated by the war, but completely rebuilt. Follow the red line guided tour around all the important sites - you can even get a recorded commentary in English. Enjoy the wildlife at Hanover Zoo. And don't forget to visit the amazing Herrenhausen Gardens!
 +
 
 +
* [[Brunswick]] ''(Braunschweig)'' and [[Wolfenbüttel]]
 +
 
 +
* [[Harz Mountains]] if you want a change of scenery, head for the Harz with its breathtaking ravines, rocky crags, castles and spruce-covered slopes. Mining museums recall the days when the wealth of the Kingdom of Hanover was underpinned by silver mined in these hills. Go canoeing, mountain biking, climbing or just chill out with a beer by a mountain lake or enjoy a coffee in a former mining village.
  
* [[Holstein Switzerland]] - just an hour north of Hamburg is an expansive lake district nestling like a hidden jewel amongst the hills and fields of Holstein. Take a cruise on Lake Plön or a tour around Eutin Castle. Hire a bicycle and just explore the lakes.
 
  
 
{{IsPartOf|Lower Saxony}}
 
{{IsPartOf|Lower Saxony}}
 
{{outline}}
 
{{outline}}
 
{{regionguide}}
 
{{regionguide}}
[[wikipedia:Lueneburg Heath]]
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[[wikipedia:Lüneburg Heath]]
 
[[de:Lüneburger Heide]]
 
[[de:Lüneburger Heide]]

Latest revision as of 07:25, 14 October 2012

The Lüneburg Heath near Wilsede

The Lüneburg Heath [1] is an extensive region of heath and farmland in the state of Lower Saxony which has become a popular holiday and excursion destination. It lies roughly between the cities of Hanover, Hamburg and Wolfsburg. Historically it was where Montgomery received the German surrender at the end of the Second World War.

The area has very rural feel to it. Dense pine forests alternate with green meadows and cultivated fields with purple heath. Its leafy villages are clustered around ancient Low Saxon farmhouses - typical of North Germany - with their vast thatched roofs sweeping down over red brick and timber-framed walls.

The area has lots of attractions suitable for families such as the Heide Park near Soltau, the Walsrode Bird Park, the Serengeti Park and 3 wildlife parks. More recently a big indoor ski slope has been opened, the SnowDome near Bispingen, as well as the Schumacher go-kart hall.

For those interested in exploring the culture and history there is also a wealth of museums - covering every field from agriculture to science, from warfighting to local history.

Lying on the great North German Plain, the region is relatively flat and there are excellent cycling routes over a network of cycle paths.

Cities[edit]

The Heath is a magnet for day-trippers and holidaymakers from the three major cities near the Heath: Hanover, Hamburg and Bremen. There are no cities (defined in Germany as Großstädte i.e. places with a population over 100,000). The only sizeable towns are Celle and Lüneburg with populations of around 70,000.

Map of the Lüneburg Heath area

Towns[edit]

  • Bad Bevensen — relax in the mineral health spa
  • Bad Fallingbostel — unearth history at the Sieben Steinhäuser or the Fallingbostel Military Museum
  • Bergen — visit Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
  • Bispingen — go indoor skiing at the Snow Dome or take a horse and coach into the Heath
  • Buchholz in der Nordheide — take a stroll up North Germany's highest hill, the Brunsberg
  • Celle — admire the rows of timber-framed houses and the Baroque-Renaissance Celle Castle
  • Gifhorn – visit International Wind- and Watermill Museum
  • Hermannsburg — hire a canoe and explore the River Örtze
  • Hitzacker — take a stroll along the Elbe River or explore the historic old town
  • Lüneburg — discover the German Salt Museum and the amazingly preserved, 13th century, town hall
  • Munster (Lower Saxony) — climb inside a tank at the German Tank Museum
  • Nienburg — tour the historic town on the River Weser guided by its nightwatchmen
  • Schneverdingen — set out from here to explore the heart of the Heath
  • Soltau — have fun at the Heide Park, the largest amusement park in North Germany
  • Uelzen — visit Holdenstedt Castle and its English landscape garden
  • Walsrode — discover the rural past at Rischmannshof Heath Museum; oh and don't miss the largest bird park in the world
  • Winsen an der Aller — learn what rural life was like in bygone centuries at the Winsen Farm Museum

Villages[edit]

  • Amelinghausen — chill out on the beach by the Lopausee or hire a boat on the lake.
  • Belsen
  • Bomlitz — marvel at the exotic birds in Walsrode Bird Park, the largest of its kind in the world
  • Dorfmark — join in the fun at the annual Wine Festival at Whitsun weekend or the Beach Festival in August!
  • Knesebeck — random village near Wittingen
  • Müden — explore a typical heath village, visit the wildlife park and taste the best cakes on the Heath

Other destinations[edit]

  • Drive along the picturesque Elbe Riverbank Road (Elbuferstrasse) from Winsen (Luhe) to Langendorf, stopping en route to enjoy the riverside towns and villages or to park and walk along the bluffs above river. The section from Neu Darchau to Hitzacker, known for its challenging hills and bends, is closed to motorcyclists at weekends. Hitzacker is a pretty, little timber-framed town, steeped in history from where you can take a boat on the river or a ferry to Saxony-Anhalt. The area is teeming in bird life.

Understand[edit]

Typical pine forest near Schneverdingen

The Lüneburg Heath forms a natural region within the North German Plain, with its own geography and climate. It is a vast expanse of pine and birch forests, open heathland, pleasant farmland, market towns and picturesque villages; stretching from the lazy waters of the River Elbe to the north, the pine-clad hills of the Drawehn to the east, the flat depressions of the River Aller to the south and Wümme to the west, and the low ridge guarding Hamburg's southern flank to the northwest. Ideal for walking, cycling or just chilling out, it has become a popular tourist destination, especially for the cities and large towns that lie nearby.

Its highest spot is the Wilseder Berg, a modest affair just 169 metres (555 feet) high, but with fine views to all points of the compass. The hills on the Lüneburg Heath are moraines - ridges of sand and gravel left by the last Ice Age. Its natural forests of birch, pine and sessile oak were grazed or cleared by prehistoric farmers to leave open heathland on the poor sandy soils. The heaths are particularly attractive in autumn covered by purple heather in bloom and buzzing with honey bees. Today the use of fertiliser has allowed much of the old heath to be reclaimed as farmland and the remaining areas of heathland have to be actively managed to prevent the woods returning. Thus the traditional moorland sheep or Heidschnucke, whose rugged character is well-suited to conditions on the heath, continue to play their part in preventing the return of trees.

Orientation[edit]

The Lüneburg Heath is divided into five major natural areas:

  • The High Heath (Hohe Heide) in the centre is largely preserved as heathland and is more rugged than elsewhere. This is heart of the region, where the Lüneburg Heath Nature Park (Naturpark Lüneburger Heide) has been established.
  • The South Heath (Südheide) in the south towards Celle, with the South Heath Nature Park (Naturpark Südheide), is heavily wooded with areas of open heathland.
  • The East Heath (Ostheide) much of which is cultivated. In the north is the Elbe Heights-Wendland Nature Park (Naturpark Elbhöhen-Wendland) along the River Elbe
  • The Uelzen Basin and Ilmenau Depression is a largely agricultural region sandwiched between the High and East Heaths.
  • The Luhe Heath (Luheheide) in the north with wooded ridges split by rivers draining northwards into the Elbe.

Talk[edit]

As elsewhere in Germany, High German (hochdeutsch) is taught in schools and widely spoken. However, some of the older folk still speak Low German (plattdeutsch) and you will sometimes see signs and phrases in Low German especially where a historic feel is intended, as in Dat ole Huus, the open-air farm museum in Wilsede on the Heath.

Children have to learn English in school, but outside the cities and large towns the locals may not have such a good grasp of it, so a phrase book is handy. As a rule it's always polite and a good move to open a conversation in German - even if it's just "Entschuldigen Sie, bitte, sprechen Sie Englisch?" - you are much more likely to get a favourable response!

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

The nearest international airports to the region are at Hanover and Hamburg. Bremen is also within striking distance.

By road[edit]

Three motorways (autobahns) run across the Lüneburg Heath, the A 7, A 27 and A 250, as do several federal roads, including the B 3, B 71 and B 440.

By rail[edit]

The Lüneburg Heath is also served by the following railway lines:

Get around[edit]

There is a good network of roads in addition to the motorways and federal roads mentioned above. As well as the aforementioned railways the East Hanoverian Railways (Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen or OHE) maintains a goods network, much of which is on the Lüneburg Heath, which runs occasional heritage specials such as the Heath Express (Heide-Express).

Most petrol stations sell local maps. In addition there is a good bus service e.g. the CeBus routes that operate out of Celle.

See[edit][add listing]

Celle Castle
Lüneburg Town Hall
  • Bergen-Belsen Memorial, near Belsen. Memorial site to victims of the POW and concentration camp freed by British forces in 1945. Marked graves and monuments are reminders of the suffering. Large visitor centre with comprehensive exhibition chronicles the history of the camp, which began as a POW camp. 70,000 people are buried here, including Anne Frank who wrote a poignant diary of her life during the Nazi era.
  • Celle Palace - Celle's ducal palace, a former fortified castle, is one of the most impressive sights in the lovely town of Celle in the south of the Lüneburg Heath. Once the residence of the mighty dukes of Lüneburg and summer residence of the kings of Hanover, it is the oldest building in the town. There are guided tours to take in the unique Renaissance chapel, ducal state chambers, Baroque theatre and full palace kitchen.
  • Lüneburg's Old Town - Lüneburg's Old Town was one of the few town centres in North Germany to survive the Second World War largely unscathed and has also been carefully restored. As a result the area around the market square is still dominated by an impressive array of Brick Gothic buildings in the most unusual designs and colours. Inside there are formerly hidden ceiling frescos, medieval pottery workshops and many historic features which paint a colourful picture of life in the Middle Ages. Any historic stroll through the Old Town should take in the Bell House (Glockenhaus), the Town Chemist (Rathsapotheke) and the wonderfully historic Town Hall, said to be one of the most beautiful in Germany, only rivalled by Lübeck's city hall. Don't miss a trip up the Old Water Tower with panoramic views of the town or a relaxing coffee in the Old Port with its replica barge and medieval keyside crane (Alter Kran).

Itineraries[edit]

  • Lower Saxon Asparagus Road
  • Lower Saxon Mill Road

Do[edit][add listing]

Walled village street in Wilsede at the heart of the Lüneburg Heath
Animal World at Serengeti Park
Toucan, emblem of the Bird Park
  • Explore the Heath. There are plenty of easy walking trails in the area with good car parking facilities. A good starting points for walks are the car parks at Overhaverbeek and Niederhaverbeek northwest of Bispingen. From there you can walk or catch a horse and coach ride to the Heath's highest hill, the Wilseder Berg - all 169 metres of it! From here there is a great panorama of the surrounding area and, on clear days, you can see as far as Hamburg. Beware, it is often teeming with tourists on summer weekends! But there are many other quieter walks all over the area as well as long distance walks like the Freudenthalweg and Hermann Billung Weg that are over 100 kilometres long. Many of the trails are suitable for cyclists and Nordic walkers too and there are cycle paths beside many of the roads.
  • Heide Park, in Soltau. The biggest amusement park in North Germany. Expensive, but fun for families and groups alike.
  • Serengeti Park, south of Bad Fallingbostel. The largest safari park in Europe, the Serengeti Park is a top attraction for visitors to the area. It features 4 zones: Animal World, an open safari park which can be toured by car or bus; Water World, with a mix of water rides, whitewater rafting, pedal boats and more, as well as lakes of waterfowl; Monkey World, with safari tours through the terrain, and Leisure World, a fairground and leisure complex with high rope course, baby park and play parks for children. Pricey, but a great day out for families.
  • Walsrode World Bird Park (Vogel Park), in Walsrode. The world's largest bird park and one of the top ten zoos in the world for numbers of species, this park is a must for families and quite reasonably priced as one of the area's major attractions.
  • International Wind- and Watermill Museum (Wind- und Wassermühlen-Museum) in Gifhorn
  • Hankensbüttel Otter Centre, in Gifhorn. A great place to relax and enjoy wildlife. As well as otters, there are polecats, minks, otter hounds, badgers and much more besides. Well worth a detour.
The SnowDome at Bispingen
  • Snow Dome Bispingen, in Bispingen. Go skiing all year round at this superb indoor ski slope equipped with a 300 metre slope and snowboard park served by a six-seater chairlift. Children's slope. Ski and snowboard hire. Shop. Bavarian-style restaurant. Equally good for warming up before a skiing holiday or just for a fun day out.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Unsurprisingly many of the local dishes and delicacies are simple farm fare rather than haute cuisine. Asparagus (Spargel) is a particular favourite and much is made locally of it when it comes into season around May with many restaurants offering a separate asparagus menu.

Very typical of the Heath are Heidschnuckenbraten or mutton chops from the local moorland sheep, the Heidschnucke. Very tasty, but more like venison or beef than lamb.

Of course, being an area with a strong hunting tradition, other forms of game are common on the menus of local restaurants, especially wild boar (Wildschwein), venison (Hirsch) and hare (Hase).

Buckwheat is the basis of the delicious local cake with cranberry cream filling known as Buchweizentorte.

Drink[edit][add listing]

As well as the usual beers, restaurants and bars sell shandy known in North Germany as Alsterwasser after the lakes in Hamburg and no doubt a pejorative reference to its relatively low alcohol content.

The Germans like their local distilleries and the Heath is no exception. Especially potent and sold in tiny bottles (25 ml) as well as larger sizes, are Ratzeputz, a strong ginger-based liqueur from Celle, and Heidegeist a minty, 50% proof spirit from the Heath itself.

Stay safe[edit]

Being a largely rural area, the Heath is relatively safe provided normal sensible precautions are taken. Bicycle theft can be a problem in some areas.

Get out[edit]

If you're based in the Lüneburg Heath, here are some suggestions for day excursions:

  • Holstein Switzerland (Holsteinische Schweiz) – just an hour north of Hamburg is an expansive lake district nestling like a hidden jewel amongst the hills and fields of Holstein. Take a cruise on Lake Plön or a tour around Eutin Castle. Hire a bicycle and just explore the lakes.
  • Hamburg – Tour Germany's biggest port by boat, stroll round the Alster Lakes, visit the Warehouse Quarter (Speicherstadt) and HafenCity, where an industrial wasteland has been converted into a posh shopping district. Or check out the Hamburger Kunsthalle, one of Germany's biggest art museums.
  • Bremen – Visit the Marktplatz, one of the most beautiful market squares in Germany, walk down the tiny lane of Böttcherstraße, educate yourself at the Overseas Museum or take a tour of the port by boat.
  • Hanover – Shop in the capital of Lower Saxony, devastated by the war, but completely rebuilt. Follow the red line guided tour around all the important sites - you can even get a recorded commentary in English. Enjoy the wildlife at Hanover Zoo. And don't forget to visit the amazing Herrenhausen Gardens!
  • Harz Mountains – if you want a change of scenery, head for the Harz with its breathtaking ravines, rocky crags, castles and spruce-covered slopes. Mining museums recall the days when the wealth of the Kingdom of Hanover was underpinned by silver mined in these hills. Go canoeing, mountain biking, climbing or just chill out with a beer by a mountain lake or enjoy a coffee in a former mining village.




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