Top 10 excursion tips compiled by Altes Land am Elbstrom

The Altes Land Orchards - from cherry blossom to the apple harvest

An endless skyline of blossom - that’s what awaits visitors in springtime in the Altes Land. The cherry blossom leads the way at the end of April, followed by the pink petals of the apple blossom. Nowhere else in Europe is there such a unique cultural landscape as in the Altes Land.

Fruit farmers grow their produce on around 10,500 hectares of land, 90 per cent of which is dedicated to delicious varieties of apples. You can travel along the Obstmarschenweg (Fruit Marsh Trail) through Northern Europe’s largest continuous fruit-growing region. In summer the trees are weighed down by sweet cherries, in autumn it is the turn of the crunchy apples. During the harvest season, the Altes Land is a fruit-laden paradise, and farm shops, local restaurants and hotels pamper their visitors with culinary delights and rural experiences.

The maritime Hanseatic towns of Stade and Buxtehude

While standing next to Stade’s old harbour and gazing over towards the historic, colourful half-timbered houses, it is hard to resist imagining the comings and goings in this harbour during the Hanseatic period almost 1,000 years ago. It is just as bustling and brightly coloured today. Cafés, restaurants and bars line the Hanseatic town’s old harbour.

The Hanseatic fairy tale town of Buxtehude is just as historic and romantic. Water and commerce have gone hand in hand here since time immemorial. Why not take a walk in the company of a Nachtwächer (night watchman) through the illuminated old town. Alternatively, you can discover Buxtehude by going on a fairy tale tour, during which you will find out all about the race between the hare and the hedgehog.

The Kehdingen nature experience

The northern-most part of the holiday region is a landscape full of natural spectacles. Visitors can marvel at its wonderful marshy moorland landscape, huge fruit plantations and horse pastures, nature reserves and an island called Krautsand. During spring and autumn, Kehdingen becomes a heaven for migrating birds. Thousands of birds take a rest or breed in the nature reserves along the Elbe. The nature reserves with their moors and rare plant and animal species offer tranquillity and relaxation. On a trip with the Moorkieker (a moorland railway), you will encounter sundews and cotton grass. The Lower Elbe Nature Museum in Balje hosts exciting exhibitions focussing on natural history.

Rural beauty in the Stader Geest

Woods, moors, sunrises - the landscape here certainly provides for fascinating experiences in nature and the countryside. Two circular trails lead visitors through the 640 hectare High Moor nnear Oldendorf, taking you past romantic moor lakes, damp moorland woods and marshes. Alternatively, why not step aboard the historic Moorexpress train and set off on a journey through the nearby moorland. Barge ferries that are still in operation today are part of the German Ferry Road. Pulling yourself across the river using manpower alone is something that just has to be tried once!

Himmelpforten (meaning Gate of Heaven) is known far and wide as Father Christmas’ village and for its Christmas post office. Travellers will find a particularly beautiful outdoor space in the Klosterpark in Harsefeld.

Museum treasures

The Swedish Warehouse Museum in Stade provides abundant information about the history of the Hanseatic League. The Museum has won multiple awards, and is exciting, interactive and engaging. The Swedish Warehouse, the Kunsthaus (Art Museum) and the Freilichtmuseum (Open-Air Museum) can all be visited with the Museen Stade Ticket. The Schloss Agathenburg offers a permanent exhibition on the exciting history of the wealthy and powerful aristocratic Königsmarck family. The Buxtehude Museum, the Stade Kunsthaus, the Altes Land Museum, museums of local history, mills, watermills, churches, organs, distinctive regional houses and farmsteads - there is quite simply an abundance of museum treasures and special features to discover in the region.

Over 1,000 kilometre cycle path network

Welcome to a truly first-rate cycling region. Long-distance cycle routes such as the Elberadweg and the 6,000 kilometre-long North Sea Coast Cycle Route lead visitors through the most beautiful landscapes in the region. Many local themed cycle routes, such as the Fruit, Hare and Hedgehog, Elbe Marsh and Elbe Island routes are best suited to a day trip. Enjoy bicycle tours along a stretch of the 1,000 kilometre network of fantastic cycle paths. If you wish to put your feet up and cover part of the distance by bus, simply climb aboard the Elbe Radwanderbus while your bicycle is safely stowed in the trailer behind. E-bike fans will be delighted to know that there are a large number of charging points across the holiday region.

Tour Planner app Altes Land am Elbstrom

The Tour Planner app for mobile phones opens up the entire cycle path network to you. With it you can choose from twelve regional bicycle tours. Descriptions with maps of bike tours, the long-distance cycle paths and even footpaths provide very convenient assistance for planning an excursion. A selection of bicycle tours through the Altes Land, Stade and Buxtehude, the Stader Geest and even as far as Kehdingen are available. The app also provides information about rest points and accommodation along the entire route. After all, what would a cycling tour be without pauses to take a break and savour the enjoyment. Further services and details provided by the app include levels of difficulty, route profiles and weather information.

Krautsand island and the Elbe-Cycle-Path

Sun, sand and water all lie in store on the four kilometre-long sandy beach on the Elbe island of Krautsand. Why not come and sunbathe or walk through the mudflats on this little island in the river! Krautsand is accessed via two bridges suitable for cars and bicycles. One of the most popular long-distance cycle routes in Germany - the Elbe-Cycle-Path - also passes through the island. The most beautiful jetty on the entire river is the jetty on Krautsand, which reaches far out into the Elbe. It is the best viewing platform for watching cruise ships, giant container ships and the many sail ships that pass by. Very nearby, a beach-side bistro invites you to take some refreshment in a beach chair or a deckchair.

Maritime experiences

Around 10,000 ocean-going ships from all over the world slip past the 100 kilometre-long stretch of the Elbe in the holiday region during their journey to Hamburg. The Port of Hamburg is also becoming increasingly popular for cruise ships. Simply take a walk along the dykes, watch the ships and enjoy the fresh North Sea air! The Oste, Este, Lühe and Schwinge tributaries offer the ideal location for some canoeing, rowing or motorboat trips, and of course there is the Elbe itself for a spot of sailing. Striking red and white lighthouses line the dykes and provide useful points of orientation. The Lühe Jetty is a popular meeting point for all who love the views over the Elbe and to enjoy a little snack. It’s also the departure point for ferries heading up the river towards Hamburg.

Cultural riches

Among the region’s most distinctive cultural treasures are the traditional half-timbered houses. The colourful timber and masonry façades with their various different patterns are unmistakable. There might even be an Altländer-style ornamental gate in front of the door. The richly decorated portals of these old half-timbered houses are surviving evidence of Altländer culture. Fans of special sounds will find three Schnitger organs in the holiday region, just 32 of which have been preserved worldwide. Churches, museums and concerts all provide stimulation for the imagination. So many cultural treasures - what’s to stop you discovering them all!

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