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Holstentor Lübeck

Lübeck [4] is a medieval city in Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany. Hamburg lies 58 km (36 mi) to the southwest. It is located on the Trave River, and is the largest German port city on the Baltic Sea.


Besides being the second largest city of Schleswig-Holstein, it is the only city in the north of Germany that still has an extensive medieval old city (Altstadt) comparable to some of southern Germany. Though considerably hit by bombs in WW2 , most of the old city survived from medieval times or was reconstructed. It has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city centre still has its medieval skyline mainly composed of seven gothic-style church towers. It is surrounded by parts of the old city walls with two of originally four city gates left intact. Most notable is the Holsten Gate (Holstentor) which was the motif on the German banknote of 50 Marks until a redesign following German reunification in 1990.

Lübeck was historically an independent city state and came to considerable wealth as the capital of the Hanseatic League from the 11th to the 17th century. Many merchants made a fortune on shipping salt to other Baltic port cities in exchange for valuable goods needed in Germany. Many impressive warehouses are located at the old harbour and can be accessed by tourists as they host museums, shops, restaurants or pubs today.

After sea trade substantially shifted away from the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic in the 17th century, Lübeck was slowly marginalized as a trading city against the north sea ports of Bremen and especially Hamburg. This led gradually to a noticeable decay in wealth and eventually inspired contemporaneous writers to draw a resigned picture of the cities' residents, most famously read in the novel Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann who earned the Nobel Prize for it in 1929.

After World War II, the city was ultimately marginalized due to the nearby iron curtain which impeded access to many trading partners in the eastern Baltic and even cut off two minor urban districts of the city itself. Despite efforts to boost commerce in the Baltic region, the city is still struggling from that time with a fragile economy that leads to a comparably deteriorated infrastructure outside the touristic city centre.

Get in[edit]

View from the tower Sankt Petri of Lübeck.

By plane[edit]

The Lübeck Airport (LBC) is located in Blankensee[5]. The closest international airport is Hamburg (HAM).

From Hamburg Airport you get to Lübeck best by train. Take the S1 (suburban train - runs every 10 Mins) from Airport to Hamburg Main Station and then a commuter train to Lübeck (see section by Train). Total travel time is around 1h30m.

The former direct bus service from Hamburg Airport to Lübeck is discontinued.

Lübeck Airport (LBC) is no longer operating commercial flights.

By road[edit]

Lübeck is about 60 km northeast of Hamburg and easily accessible by car through the Autobahn A1. With the opening of the new highway A20 (Baltic Sea highway) to Rostock the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania is only a very short distance away.

By rail[edit]

On working days, commuter trains from/to Hamburg go every 30 minutes (on weekends and on holidays every 60 minutes). Additonally, InterCity trains via Hamburg leave/arrive every 2 hours. A few trains continue to Berlin, München, Cologne or Frankfurt. Local trains to Lüneburg, Kiel, Schwerin and the beach resorts Travemünde and Timmendorfer Strand depart on an hourly basis. Other regular trains for Copenhagen, Szczecin and the Island of Fehmarn leave every 2 hours.

By boat[edit]

Lübeck, and its borough Travemünde, is a major Baltic ferry port. Most of the ferries run 1 or 2 times every day. Current connections are:

From Lübeck Nordkai[edit]

From Travemünde Skandinavienkai[edit]

Skandinavienkai is served by buses 40, 30, and 31 (timetable), which travel between Travemünde Strandbahnhof and Lübeck ZOB. There is also a train station called "Travemünde Skandinavienkai"; it is about 1km from ferry terminal building. However, the only way between the ferry terminal and the train station is by those same buses. It is not possible to walk. The ferry companies will send a car to pick you up at this train station, if you let them know in advance.

Get around[edit]

From a sight-seeing point of view, it is best to go around Lübeck by foot. In fact you may find posters around Lübeck with a caption like "Lübeck: The place of short distances"!

There is a local bus service hub at the Hauptbahnhof/ZOB (central rail station) with services to all parts of the town and nearby towns. Taxis are available nearly everywhere but have got their price. Within the city centre walking is by far the best way to get around.

Tourist information can be obtained in the city hall (Rathaus, Breite Straße) or at the "Welcome Centre", opposite Holstentor.

You can take a virtual tour to view the points of interest on CityPanoramas Lübeck[6]

See[edit][add listing]

Windows in old Lübeck

The main attraction is the medieval Altstadt (old city) located on an island surrounded by the Trave river and channels. Listed as an UNESCO heritage site [7], it offers an astonishing variety of different architectural styles. The streets of Lübeck are a delight for a connoisseur of architecture.

Bear in mind that Lübeck's Altstadt is not an open-air museum but a living city centre, so don't expect a complete medieval site. You'll find many beautiful old buildings intertwined with modern ones and a modern infrastructure. A particularly well-preserved 13th c. part of the Altstadt is the Koberg area at the island's northern end. And don't miss the Gänge, small streets off the bigger roads, with small houses and a peculiar atmosphere.

Noteworthy historical buildings include:

  • The churches, housing several of the finest Northern German artworks:
    • St. Mary's Church (Marienkirche), [1]. the biggest one, a fine brick gothic building, located near the Rathaus (city hall) at the very centre of the Altstadt;  edit
    • the Dom: very nicely situated on the quiet southern end of the island, contains a wooden crucifix by Bernd Notke;
    • St. Petri or Petrikirche, near Marienkirche: its tower platform (to be reached by an elevator) offers a great view over the city, and if weather conditions allow it you can even see Travemünde (17 km to the north-east);
    • St. Jakobi or Jakobikirche: north of St. Marien, at the Koberg;
    • St. Aegidien or Aegidienkirche: the smallest one, in the eastern Altstadt;
    • St. Catherine's Church (Katharinenkirche). A church without a tower south of St. Jakobi. Contains works of Ernst Barlach.  edit
  • The two remaining city gates:
    • Holstentor, (near train station/ZOB bus terminal). A mighty two-towered gate and probably the most recognisable building in Lübeck.  edit
    • Burgtor (northern Altstadt); they both contain museums nowadays;
      Buildings in Lübeck
  • Heiligen-Geist-Hospital near Koberg;
  • Classicist Behnhaus/Drägerhaus in Königstraße, hosting an art museum;
  • The Rathaus or city hall: its architecture is a stylistic potpourri reaching back to the 12th c. Note that it is still the seat of the city administration and not a museum, so you're not expected to have a look inside on your own. But there are guided tours every hour or so where the many historic rooms and the gallery of city leaders' portraits are explained (in German and possibly other languages).
  • The Willy Brandt House: His childhood home has now been turned into a museum about his life and career in politics. Entrance is free.

There are two houses dedicated to Lübeck's two literature nobel prize laureates: The Buddenbrookhaus is dedicated to the brothers Thomas and Heinrich Mann, who spent their youth there, and contains many of their works. It's near Marienkirche, in Mengstraße. Then there is the Günter-Grass-Haus (of The Tin Drum fame) in Glockengießerstraße.

The Museumshafen (museal port) between Beckergrube and the Musik- und Kongreßhalle building features some old-fashioned ships, among them a rebuilt Hanseatic kraweel ("Lisa von Lübeck")—more so in winter, because many of these ships are still in use during summer.

The borough of Moisling has a special Jewish history. An old Jewish cemetery is still to be found there.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Walk around the Altstadt and enjoy the the charming atmosphere of the former queen of the Hanseatic League.
  • The Lübeck Tourism site [8] offers excellent guidance on self guided tours as well as guided tours.
  • Take a bus/boat ride to Travemünde, a sea side resort and enjoy the view of the Baltic Sea. A bus journey is preferred, as it would take about 20 minutes. A boat ride however, would be much more scenic. For further information, enquire at the "Welcome Center" at the Holstentor.
  • Visit the newly restored St.-Annen-Museum and the Buddenbrookhaus for some cultural experience.
  • Visit the new (2016) European Hanse Museum at the northern end of the old town island, wich gives a good impression of Luebeck and the sea trade in the middle age. Multilingual and interactive, the museum is also for foreigners a very good choice.[9]
  • Take a seat on one of the tourist boats and ship around the city (boats go off every hour or so on the Holstentor side of the Altstadt island). For example you get a beautiful view of the Salzspeicher (Hanseatic salt warehouses; fans of classic horror movies might be interested by the fact that one of these Salzspeicher was the house of Count Nosferatu both in the Murnau film and the Werner Herzog remake with Klaus Kinski). If you've got more time to spent ship on along the Wakenitz river which links the Trave river with the Ratzeburg lake. Parts of the river offer an astonishing flora.
  • Go to the Cafe Niederegger [10] (Breite Straße) and fill your stomach with marzipan and cakes
  • Swim in the river: there's a number of man-made beaches along the river, at least some supervised. The Altstadtbad Krähenteich has sunbathing and facilities for swimmers and non-swimmers.


  • Theater Lübeck: Beckergrube;
  • Puppet theatre;
  • several smaller theatres.


  • Stadthalle (southern Altstadt): mainstream;
  • Filmhaus (Königstraße, vis-à-vis Katharinenkirche): the special and off-beat film cinema;
  • Kommunales Kino (Mengstraße): niche films. > Aktuelles > Kinoprogramm [11] keeps an updated programme for all cinemas in town.

Note that almost all films are dubbed in Germany, including Hollywood productions. Kommunales Kino is an exception, showing many subtitled films.

If you are visiting Lübeck during autumn, you might want to check out the Nordische Filmtage (Nordic film days), a festival where films from Northern Europe (especially Scandinavia) are shown in all cinemas, most of them in the original languages with German or sometimes English subtitles. Get a festival programme in one of the cinemas.

Clubs and discotheques[edit]

Normally, they don't cater to a special scene, but have themes and playlists changing on a daily basis. Have a look at the respective web pages or at Piste Lübeck [12] for a programme. If you are in Lübeck, you can get a free printed copy of Piste magazine in newspaper shops or some restaurants.

In Germany, the normal age to be admitted into a club/disco is 18 years or older. Some clubs (Parkhaus) do offer parties for 16 an older from time to time, ending at midnight.

If you are staying in the old city, there are two main clubs, located right next to each other in the Hüxstrasse. Parkhaus tv offers mostly Mainstream, 90'so and/or Hip hop. 25 years old and older have free entry. Hüx [13] is a sweaty small disco, always full and with mixed music for every taste. Lots of lubeckians end up here at the weekend, often after an extended pub crawl.

Clubs outside the old town are:

Other regular events[edit]

  • July: Travemünder Woche sailing festival in Travemünde;
  • August: Duckstein Festival;
  • November/December: Artificers' market on Koberg;
  • July to September: Sand World sand sculpture exposition Travemünde;
  • December/January: Ice World ice sculpture exposition (Willy-Brandt-Allee);
  • December: Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas fair) at central market place, mediaeval market at St. Marien.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Lübecker Marzipan is the most famous export from the City. It is available in several varieties. The excellent Cafe Niederegger [16] has outlets throughout the city. It's main store on the Alter Markt is a tourist attraction in its own right. It includes a museum dedicated to the Manufacture of Marzipan as well as many Marzipan sculptures.
  • Walk down the Hüxstrasse and the "Fleischhauerstrase", Lübeck's famous shopping streets and enjoy shopping. You may find artists, painting various interpretations of the Holstentor, which make an excellent souvenir.
  • Rotspon wine, available in nearly every shop.
  • Souvenirs and Lübeck-related literature can be purchased eg at the Rathaus bookshop (between market place and Marienkirche).

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are several restaurants within the city centre which will satisfy most tastes. At the top is Michelin starred Wullenwever [17]. Other good options include Markgraf [18] and Schabbelhaus [19] while the most popular spot for tourists is the Schiffergesellschaft [20]. If you're in for locally brewed beer, check out the slightly Bavarian-themed Brauberger in Alfstraße. Lübeck is well-known for its high density of cafés and "Kneipen" (~pubs), so peep into some of the smaller streets as well and look if you find something that fits your taste. Shortys Cantina [21] has some special TexMex Food you have to try. The Remise in a beautiful "Hinterhof" (~court) in Wahmstraße is specialised in great steaks. Its not cheap but you're in for a treat. If you want to snack on delicate mediterranean food go to the Hüxstraße and check out the Miera. They have wonderful wine as well. Be sure to wear something nice, it's slightly posh. Home made pasta and antipasti is found in Beckergrube at the Nudelkontor. A wonderful chinese restaurant with some more uncommon choices such as pork ribs with aniseed or calamari with black beans is found directly at the Koberg. Shanghai offers modern interieur and classic food. Nice view over the Koberg and onto the St. Jacobs-Church.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • There are many traditional bars in Lübeck, but if you're after a bit of international "big city" vibe, Cole Street on Beckergrube 18, right next to the theatre, is a great find. Cool design, music and regularly changing contemporary art exhibitions. Check colestreets site [22] for their latest info.
  • Studentic scene meets only one road northerly from Beckergrube at the Clemensstrasse. Several pubs with cheap prices and good athmosphere. Try the Blauer Engel first and later Sechs or No.12.
  • Find cozy places with good drinks in the Fleischhauserstr. Sternschnuppe with a Billard table in the back is a nice spot as well as the Kandinsky and Cherry&Port, which offers also delicious tapas.
  • For gazing into the Sun on a lazy afternoon try out Deja Vu at the Untertrave. It's located directly at the water and a common drinkinghole for many lubecians after a hard work's day. You can get pub grub here.



There is an wireless community network in Lübeck called "Freifunk Lübeck" where you can get free access to the internet. Just look up the map at Access-Map, search for the SSID "" and feel free.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Jugendherberge (Youth Hostel) Altstadt, Mengstrasse 33, Tel: +49 451 70 20 399; Fax: 0451 77 012
  • Jugendherberge (Youth Hostel) Vor dem Burgtor, Am Gertrudenkirchhof 4, Tel: +49 451 33 433; Fax: 0451 34 540
  • RuckSack Hotel, Kanalstraße 70, +49 451 706892, [2]. Friendly and helpful owner. Clean and well kept rooms. Opposite Aldi food store and next to the hostel is a restaurant. Located on north side of old town next to river. Can get off bus 6 (airport bus) at Sandstrasse or Koenigstrasse and walk to hostel. Dorms for 14€, double 20€ per person.  edit


  • Ibis Hotel Lübeck, Fackenburger Allee 54€, +49 451 400 40, [3]. Budget hotel located quite close to the Main railway station. from 55€.  edit


  • Radisson Blu Senator Hotel [23], Willy-Brandt-Allee 6.
  • Mövenpick, Willy-Brandt-Allee 1, hotel with superb views of the Altstadt.
  • Atlantic Hotel[24], Schmiedestraße 9.

Get out[edit]

There are several options to spend your time around Lübeck.

  • Sea-side towns for sun & beaches are:
  • Travemünde Still part of Lübeck and only a 15-20 minute drive away
  • Timmendorfer Strand /Niendorf about 20-30 minutes and a more stylish resort and very popular with people from Hamburg

Somewhat north of Travemünde is a cliff (Brodtener Ufer) that has a hiking way from Travemünde to Niendorf (1-1,5 hrs walk) with good views on the Baltic coastline. Niendorf/Ostsee is somewhat more cosy and family oriented with its fishery port and a new renovated public swimming pool and a well-known bird zoo (Vogelpark Niendorf, situated in a small nature resort).

The Baltic coast resorts in Mecklenburg Pommerania are about 1-2 hrs drive on the Autobahn A20 away and might be worth a day trip

For nature lovers a trip to the lakes south of Lübeck may be of interest as there are great opportunities for bird-watching (eg the Ratzeburger See and the Schaalsee). Ratzeburg (with its Ernst-Barlach and A.-Paul-Weber museums) and Mölln are also worth a visit, especially as they are easily accessible by train. Near Ratzeburg is also one of the rare places to see the nearly extinct European bison—not a very spectacular facility, just some buffaloes on a pasture, but if you're in the area and have never seen one you might want to look out for the "Wisentgehege".

If you're travelling on northwards to Kiel, consider a (train) stop in one of the three small towns of Eutin, Plön, and Preetz. Among other sites, each of them boasts a "Schloß" or former aristocratic mansion. The towns are situated in a lake district which is popular for rambling and canoeing in summer (you can eg rent a canoe in Plön and go to Preetz by Schwentine River and through various lakes, then the canoe-centre people will get you and your canoe back to Plön by car).

And don't forget that it's just a mere 50 minutes by train to Hamburg (they go each hour).

During the summer the Schleswig-Holstein music festival [25] is one of the largest events in northern Germany. An abundance of concerts with world-famous artists and orchestras attracts many people every year.

Port of Lubeck is a gateway to visit Baltic States (especially Latvia).

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