Guide to Lubeck, Germany. We spent a couple of days in Lubeck and during that time we fell in love with the city. This old Hanseatic city had so much to offer. Our first day there, we got a guided tour in the old town and that was so interesting and it changed the way we looked at the city from thereon. Here is our guide to Lubeck and with all the great stuff that we got to explore.
Table of Contents
Guide to Lubeck – The town with a bragging history
We have visited a lot of different cities that are really old but the history of Lubeck was so much fun to learn more about. Our favorite part of all was the bragging that this city used to do. Sure, Lubeck was a rich city (still is) and they were also showing off at every chance they got.
We were invited to Lubeck by the Lubeck and Travemunde Marketing and they had arranged a walking tour in Swedish for us, our first day. Synia Brendler was our guide for the day and there are few people that can tell a story of a city with her presence. She made it so fun and interesting that we didn’t want the tour to end. She walked all around the old town with us – giving us fun anecdotes and facts. We recommend everyone to join a walking tour of Lubeck to get the most out of their visit. A walking tour is diffidently in our guide to Lubeck.
Lubeck has the perfect position
Now we are back in the medieval times and the Hansa period. Lubeck was the perfect place to build a city in and it was for several different reasons. First of all, there are two rivers running through the old town and it’s only 17 kilometers to the sea. This makes Lubeck perfect because it was easy to sail all the way up to the city center. At the same time, they could see the enemy coming from far and had time to prepare for war.
One other thing that made Lubeck’s placement perfect was that it was surrounded by marshland. For that reason, the army could not invade the city by land. It’s so impressive to learn how smart the people that built the city were. And there was also a lot of trading going on in the city.
Did you know that the people that handled the scales (when trading) were super powerful people. The “scalemasters” word was law. If he said that one thing weighed xx kilograms, you weren’t allowed to question that! His word was law!
How Lubeck became so rich
There are a lot of factors that worked to the advantage of Lubeck and how the city became so rich and fortunate. One thing is that it was a “free national city”. This means that Lubeck was directly under the emperor and taxes were paid to him and no one else. Usually, there is a king or some other people to whom you would need to pay taxes but in Lubeck, it was only to the emperor.
There were also a lot of bribes involved and Lubeck was allowed to buy and sell products from different countries because they would pay off and bribe the right people. To put it in an easy way – Lubeck made sure that it had all the advantages they needed and that they could show the world how rich they were.
Did you know that Lubeck was first built out of wood. When the city burned down the new “owner” made a law that you were only allowed to build houses and buildings in stone (or bricks).
Lubeck is mostly Old town
When coming to Lubeck, Old Town is the place to be. Old Town is 2,5 kilometers long and 1,5 kilometers wide so not a big place. At the same time, you have everything you need right here. In all of Lubeck, there are about 200 000 people living there. But that’s in all of Lubeck and not just in Old Town. I can’t imagine how crowded the city center would be otherwise.😎
Everything that surrounds Old Town is residential areas, food stores, and shops. So, you want to find a hotel that is close to, or inside the Old Town. And while being in Lubeck, a trip to Travemunde is almost mandatory. It only takes about 20 minutes by train or bus and will set you back 3,20 euros (one way).
Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site
All of the Old Town in Lubeck is protected and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is really great because the town is so old. But at the same time, we can imagine that it must be hard for the people that are actually living in old town. They are not allowed to do any restorations or remodeling of their homes. They are not even allowed to change the windows.
For us as tourists, it’s great because we get to explore the town as it’s supposed to be. But I can’t imagine living here and not be able to change my house as I want. Well, you can change things but it becomes super expensive because you need to stick to all the rules and regulations.
The house that burned down
One great example of that is a house that burned down in Old Town, Lubeck. Because the road was heavily trafficked and had cars parked all over, the firefighters weren’t able to reach the house. Due to all the parked cars, the firefighters got delayed by 20 minutes and the result of that was that the house burned down.
To this day no one knows what will happen to the house. The fire was in 2018 and the owner said that he could not afford to rebuild due to all the rules and regulations. There are speculations that the city of Lubeck will pay some parts of the restoration but there is nothing decided yet. They want it done because this is a place where a lot of tourists are walking and a burned-down house doesn’t look great.
What to do in Lubeck
There is plenty of things to do while being in Lubeck. We have picked our favorite stops and places that we visited during our stay in Lubeck. We were super impressed by all of the city and can’t wait to go back and explore some more. Here is a long list of what to do, and where to eat while visiting Lubeck.
Is there something missing on our list? Please let us know about your favorite places in Lubeck so that we can check them out and add them to the guide.
Visit the European Hansemuseum
Lubeck was one of the most important Hanse cities during the golden days. So there’s no better place than to have a Hansemuseum in Lubeck. And it must be one of the most high-tech and interactive museums in Germany. And this place is one of the most important in the guide to Lubeck because you need to visit this place! Learn all about the Hanse and how it rose and fell.
Your entrance ticket will help to guide you around the museum. It’s super awesome and a great place for the whole family.
Address: An der Untertrave 1, Lubeck.
Opening hours: Daily 10.00 – 18.00.
Entrance fee: 13 euros per adult.
Read more about the Hansemuseum here.
Admire the town hall
This is a real “wow- factor”. The town hall in Lubeck (called Rathaus) is a breathtaking building that was first built in the 1400s. After it was built, it kept growing over the years. Some parts of the town hall are in a baroque style. All the different years that are written on the building are only the years of restoration and not years when it was built.
As the city grew, so did the town hall and it’s a really impressive building. This is also a place where the bragging of the town is super visual. If you look at the top of the building, you will see huge walls and circles where you can see through the building. This means that there’s nothing there – just a wall. This was built to impress and to show how big the building is and nothing else. If you want, you can also take a guided tour of the town hall (if you want to see it from the inside).
The black bricks on the town hall and other buildings
Lubeck is extraordinary also because of its black bricks. There are several buildings in the old town where you can see the bricks being black on the buildings and the town hall is one of them. The bricks were made in Germany from “regular” clay. After that, they were sent to Italy where they were glazed with the black paint and burned again.
Then they returned to Lubeck and were used in building the different houses and buildings. Expensive? Well, yes – very much so! All of this just to brag and show how rich the town was. Because there is no reason to glaze the bricks more than for the look of them. Now they are black instead of orange.
Holstentor – A landmark for Lubeck
If you google Lubeck, this is probably the first picture you will see. Holstentor is a gate that allowed people to enter within its walls. Built between 1464 and 1478 and reconstructed in 1871 this is a really impressive building that is also called the Holstein Gate. To this day, it’s considered to be the most important city gate from the late middle ages anywhere in Germany.
When the walls that surrounded the city were torn down, there was a poll where the people in Lubeck voted if they wanted the Holstentor to be demolished or if it should stay. The voting was in 1871 (so a long time ago). Fortunately, they voted for it to stay and that’s great because that gives travelers something to admire! But it was a close call and Holstentor made it by only one vote!
Walking around the Holstentor
If you take a closer look, you will see that the building is leaning. This is really visible if you look at it from the side. This is due to the ground being swampy and the gate has really embedded itself in the ground. No, not like leaning tower of Pisa – but at the same time, maybe a bit! In total there were a total of four gates but this one was the most important one. In the 1930s they poured concrete to make the gate stop sinking and that did the trick. Today it’s stable.
Holstentor really did its job and kept everyone out. How impressive is that?! From the outside, there is a sentence written in Latin “concordia domi foris pax“. In English, that translates to “harmony at home and peace abroad“. The people living here were not into war and fighting. All they wanted was to live in peace and do their trading. People paid taxes and then they were allowed to pass without anyone getting harmed. They spent all their money on themselves and didn’t make troops and get involved in war.
The Holstentor is also a museum
If you want to learn more about Lubeck’s history we are glad to inform you that inside the Holstein Gate is a museum. There is so much interesting information about Lubeck and how smart they were and how they became so incredibly rich. They all just wanted to live in peace and harmony. If there was a war that they needed to attend – they paid others to fight for them = so smart!
The Holstentor is also a great piece of work where you can see how much money they had. If you look at the tiles, you will see that some of them are black and that they are mixed with the orange “regular tiles”. This was just another way of showing off since the tiles were so expensive. The building was made round so that the bullets would bounce off the building. Whether that worked or not is beyond us! But the walls are 3 meters thick so that might also stop a bullet (or two).
Opening hours for the museum: Daily 10:00 – 18:00.
Visit the medieval Courtyards
The history behind the medieval courtyards in Lubeck is a really fascinating one. The merchants were rich people, living in big houses and always showing off. You can see a lot of their old houses in the old town and what makes them stand out are the big and wide gates. The gates were made that big so that a lorry or smaller wagon could get inside and offload things.
Since the merchants were so rich, they had people working for them. The staff that worked for the merchants were poor people and it didn’t look good if they were seen, living on the same streets as the merchants. So, to fix that “problem”, they build small houses behind their own huge houses – in the courtyard. These were super small houses for the poor people that worked for the rich.
Entering the courtyard through a hole
In order to keep the working people separated from their employers, small holes were made in the walls and paths were created to the courtyards. In order to enter you sometimes even need to lean down and it’s pretty tight to get to the courtyard. Once inside, it’s almost like walking into someone’s living room. The medieval small houses are actually apartments today so there are people living there.
It’s not that expensive to rent such an apartment but it’s almost impossible without the right connections. Since people are living so close to each other, most of these places are rented by family and friends. I mean, you really need to like your neighbors if you are going to live like this.
The largest medieval courtyard in Lubeck
There are different courtyards scattered around the old town. We visited the largest one that is located on An der Undertrave (number 11) so that’s the one that we are including in our guide to Lubeck. It’s really fascinating to see because the apartments are really small and super close together. I get the idea of how close all the people that are living here must be even if they have their own apartments. There used to be around 180 courtyards like this in Lubeck before. Today there are about 80 left.
Keep in mind that there are people living in these houses and respect that. Be careful with what you photograph and just walk through this place. We want you to see this place because it’s so special but at the same time we want you to not disturb the people that are living there. This is not such a place that you would want becoming crowded with tourists.
Take a walk down Obertrave boulevard
This picture-perfect place lays along the banks of the river Trave (from the junction with Holstenstrasse to Effengrube). It begins close to the Holstentor and there you see six houses that are built together. They were built between the 1600s and 1800s and had an important thing that they stored – salt. So what was the salt used for? Well, most of you will know that salt is great for preserving food. But did you know that salt is great for transporting fur?! Well, now you know!
Obertrave is where the people working by the river lived. And one funny thing is that the people that are living here now are still allowed to hang their laundry to dry between the trees on the boulevard. For some reason, there are not many people doing that but they are allowed to. This place is great for a walk and there are nice cafés that you also can check out during your stroll around the Obertrave boulevard. Another thing that can be spotted here is the different styles of buildings – standing close together!
Visit the churches of Lubeck
Lubeck is known as the town with the seven spires even if there are only five churches in the Old Town. Each profession had its own church and it’s really nice to walk around the churches. They are all unique and have something special about them. St Mary’s church costs two euros to enter and all the money goes straight to restoring the church. Inside the church, there are church bells that are left like the day they fell (during world war II). It’s a special sight to see, that’s for sure.
If you want to see Lubeck from above, then St Petri is the church to visit. There you can take the elevator to a viewing platform, located 50 meters up in the church tower. Inside St Jacob’s church, you can see a lifeboat that is the only thing left from the ship Pamir. Oh, and did I need to say that this church is the Seafarers church. You can read more about the churches of Lubeck and our visit there here.
Gunter Grass House Museum
A museum that is dedicated to the Nobel prize winner, Gunter Grass. What’s great about this place is that it’s suitable for the whole family. It might not sound too interesting for the smaller children but there is a lot for them to do while you are enjoying the museum and learning more about Gunter Grass and about him as a person, an author, and an artist.
The exhibitions are also very nicely arranged and we enjoyed this place and feel that it’s worth being featured in our guide to Lubeck.
Read more about our visit to the Gunter Grass House museum here.
Address: Glockengiesserstrasse 21, 23552 Lubeck.
Opening hours: Daily 10.00 – 17.00.
Entrance fee: 7 € per adult.
Willy Brandt House Museum
Willy Brandt was a foreign minister for Germany between 1966 and 1969. He was also the chancellor for West Germany 1969 to 1974. This is a separate museum that’s free of charge and it’s connected to the Gunter Grass House. We recommend that you visit both museums at the same time. Our favorite part of the museum was the part of the Berlin wall that is on display at the museum.
Read more about our visit to the Willy Brandt House Museum and the Gunter Grass House Museum by clicking here.
Address: Königstrasse 21, 23552 Lübeck.
Opening hours: Daily 10.00 – 18.00.
Boat tour around Old Town
A guide to Lubeck wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the boat tour. The boats are E-boats so they don’t make any sounds (which is great). If you are over 18 years, you are good to go. No need to have any license or certificates because the boats are practically driving themselves. Rent a boat for an hour (or more) and see the old town from another angle. It is a romantic and nice thing to do while visiting Lubeck.
Read more about our own romantic boat tour around Lubeck here.
Address: An der Obertrave, Lubeck.
Price: 39 euro for one hour.
Go shopping at Huxstrasse
Even if our guide to Lubeck isn’t a shopping guide – a walk down Huxstrasse is a must to mention. It’s a shopping street that stretches for 517 meters in the heart of Old Town. The most awesome things here are that all the shops are special. Here, you don’t find the traditional stores – it’s more of an artistic center. A store that sells hats and a store that sells homemade jewelry. And it just goes on and on with amazing stores.
I love stores that sell kitchen stuff and at Huxstrasse, there are more than one. The only downside is that cars are allowed to drive here. We went window-shopping here and we had lunch at the restaurant Miera that’s located on the street. Read more about restaurant Miera further down in our guide to Lubeck.
Take a day trip to Travemunde
Travemunde is located right by the Baltic Sea and is a great place to visit if you want to spend a day at the beach. Since there’s no beach in Lubeck, Travemunde is only 20 minutes away by bus or train. When you arrive in Travemunde, you are about five minutes away from the beach and the Strandkorbs (beach baskets that are famous). And even if that’s the main reason that people come to this town, there’s more to do in Travemunde.
Make sure to check out Germanys oldest lighthouse while visiting Travemunde. And don’t be confused that our guide to Lubeck involves Travemunde – they are part of the same region. Read more about how we spent our day in Travemunde here.
Magic of Lights Festival in Travemunde
If you are visiting Lubeck in September, a visit to Magic of Lights Festival is a must. The Godewindpark transforms into a big festival with lights in all shapes and sizes. It only takes 20 minutes to get to Travemunde from Lubeck and the festival is a really fun event that many people visit each year. If you can, make sure to plan your visit to Lubeck in September and join the festival.
Food, drinks, shows and everything in between makes this fun for the whole family. Our favorite part was the underwear that was lighted. Yes, you read the right thing. Underwear that hung in rows with lights in them. We ended up having a great time at the Magic of Lights Festival in Travemunde.
Where to eat and drink in Lubeck
Lubeck has many different restaurants and cafés that we can recommend that you try out. In or guide of Lubeck, we have included all the places that we visited and that we liked. We hope that you enjoy them just as much as we did!
Neue Rosterei – The best coffee in town
If you are looking for a great cup of coffee and something to go with it, The Neue Rosterei is a great place to visit. And in a guide to Lubeck, you need to have some coffee places – right?! At the Neue Rosterei, you can sit down in a nice environment and just relax. It’s close to the hustle and bustle of the city but since it’s placed inside a courtyard, you have peace and quiet while drinking your coffee.
We can also recommend that you try one of their sandwiches, they are really awesome! You can read all about our visit to the Neue Rosterei here.
Address: Wahmstraße 43-45, 23552 Lubeck.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 09:30 – 19:00. Sunday: 09:30am – 18.00.
Located inside the Hansemuseum, this is a great place for lunch. Their soups are really good and they serve super fresh salads. You don’t need to visit the museum to be able to eat here. However, we do recommend you to visit the museum and then take a break for lunch at this restaurant. We recommend you to try one of their soups as a starter. They are creamy and really good.
In our guide to Lubeck, we want to only recommend places that we have been to and that we liked. Restaurant Nord is such a place that we would recommend to everyone that is visiting Lubeck.
Try marzipan at Lubecker Marzipan-Speicher
Try Marzipan for free at Lubecker Marzipan-Speicher since 1995. Niederegger is the oldest place but the Lubecker Marzipan-Speicher is also worth a visit. Here, you can actually try the famous Lubeck marzipan. This place is famous for its marzipan bread too. If Niederegger is too crowded for you – this is a great option and a good place to buy marzipan.
There is also a café attached to the marzipan shop and they serve some really good marzipan treats.
Address: An der Untertrave 97-98.
Opening hours: Daily 10:00 – 18:00.
Restaurant Miera – Fine dining, and Italian Specialities
If you are up for some Italian food, the restaurant Miera is the place to be. This place is also a shop and you can buy some delicacies with you to bring back home. In our guide to Lubeck, we recommend you to try the lunch menu. It’s well priced and you get a three coarse meal that is really good. Check out our post and read more about our visit to Restaurant Miera.
If you rather have some pasta, there is a Miera Nudelbude just across the street that serves some really great fresh pasta.
Address: Hüxstrasse 57, 23552 Lubeck.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:30 – 00:00. Sundays it’s closed.
The Newport Restaurant & Marina
Famous for their fresh fish and location in the harbor. We went there for dinner one night and we were very happy with our visit there. I had the flounder and it was really good. Mini vent for the veal escalope and he was also very satisfied. The restaurant has an open kitchen so that you can see how the food is prepared and cooked into perfection. Make sure to make reservations because the place is very popular.
Address: Willy-Brandt-Allee 31A, 23554 Lubeck.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 12:00 – 00.00. Weekends: 09:00 – 00:00.
Read more about our visit to the restaurant here.
There is such a rich story to this restaurant. It’s from the 1500s and it was the drinking place for the seafarers. Today it’s a popular restaurant that you need to make reservations to be able to get a table. According to us, they serve rustic homemade food and you are one hundred percent to be satisfied with a visit to this place. The food, combined with the rich history of the restaurant is a winning concept.
Address: Breite Str. 2, 23552 Lübeck.
Opening hours: Daily 10.00 – 24.00.
Read all about our visit to the restaurant Schiffergesellschaft.
This is much more than a café and restaurant and it would be impossible to do a guide to Lubeck without having Niederegger in it. Niederegger marzipan has an important part in Lubeck’s history. They sell marzipan in all shapes and sizes and they also have a museum – all dedicated to the marzipan. At the museum, you can see the world’s largest marzipan sculpture.
We spent a couple of hours at Niederegger and you can read all about it here.
Address: Zeiss-Straße 1–7.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 09.00 – 19.00. Saturdays: 09.00 – 18.00. Sundays 10.00 – 18.00.
Fangfrisch – The best shrimp cocktail
Shrimp cocktail! All of you born in the 70s and 80s know exactly what I’m talking about. When we first saw on the menu that Fangfrisch was serving shrimp cocktails, we were surprised. Is that still a thing? Well, boy am I glad that I decided to try it because their cocktail was incredible. And they also serve different sandwiches that are really good.
At Fangfrisch, you will be served fresh and good food with a focus from the sea. Since the restaurant is located close to the harbor, they have fresh fish and seafood. And it shows because all their dishes are great.
Read more about our visit to Fangfrisch here.
Address: An der Untertrave 51, Lubeck.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00 – 21.00 (closes at 22.00 on Friday and Saturday). Mondays are closed.
Staying in Lubeck
We recommend that you choose a hotel that is located inside the Old Town or within walking distance to it. The hotel prices are fair and it’s worth to choose a place with the focus on the location. During our visit to Lubeck, we stayed at the “Niu Rig Lubeck“. It’s located just by the train station and you are in the city center within minutes. It’s a modern and fresh hotel with young vibes that will make your stay a pleasurable one.
Book your stay with breakfast at the hotel because the buffet is awesome at the Niu Rig Lubeck.
Address: Am Bahnhof 17, 23558 Lübeck.
Price: From 63 € for two persons.
Getting to Lubeck
Lubeck is located in the northern parts of Germany and it’s easily accessible from most parts of the world. If you fly, you will get to Hamburg airport and from there it is about an hour’s drive (70 kilometers) to Lubeck. There is also a train that runs back and forth throughout the day between the cities.
When we visited Lubeck, we took the train from Sweden and it was super easy. You can read all about our train ride from Sweden in this post. We hope that you are intrigued to visit after reading our guide to Lubeck!