Top 10 excursion trips compiled by Altes Land am Elbstrom - natürlich vor Hamburg
1. 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 delicate pink petals of the apple blossom. 18 million fruit trees combine to create a veritable ocean of blossom! Nowhere else in Europe is there such a unique cultural landscape as in the Altes Land.
It was shaped during the 12th and 13th centuries to a large extent by Dutch settlers, who are the source of the region’s other name - the Hollerlandschaft. Today, fruit farmers grow their produce on around 10,500 hectares of land, 90 per cent of which is dedicated to delicious varieties of apples. Now 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, and 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.
2. 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, and in summer life moves outdoors and revolves around the little Hafenmeile (harbour promenade).
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, which is still surrounded by an old moat to this day. 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.
3. 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 in the Elbe 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. Every year, up to 120,000 barnacle geese pause for rest in the meadows surrounding 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) through the Aschhorner moor, you will encounter sundews and cotton grass. The Lower Elbe Nature Museum in Balje hosts exciting exhibitions focussing on natural history. Spreading out from the museum is the Elbe Coastal Park - a huge area devoted to marvelling at, researching, experimenting with and experiencing nature.
4. 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 Hohe Moor (High Moor) near Oldendorf, taking you past romantic moor lakes, damp moorland woods and marshes. For many holiday visitors, a journey along the Niedersächsische Milchstraße (‘Lower Saxony Milk Road’) is an eye-opening experience. As you proceed from farmyard to farmyard, you will be able to discover how milk, butter and cheese are produced (registration required for groups). 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 Deutsche Fährstraße (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.
5. 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 new permanent exhibition on the exciting history of the wealthy and powerful aristocratic Königsmarck family. The BuxtehudeMuseum, 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.
6. 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.
7. Tour Planner app
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 focussing on fruit growing, the Hanseatic towns or maritime aspects. 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. www.tourenplaner-altesland.de
8. Krautsand island and the Elberadweg
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 Elberadweg - 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.
9. 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 Altes Land 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 (or LA for Lühe Anleger) is a popular meeting point for all who love the views over the Elbe and is somewhere to enjoy a little snack. It’s also the departure point for ferries heading up the river towards Hamburg. At the point where the Schwinge meets the Elbe are the Stader Sands, which offer magnificent panoramic views across the Elbe.
10. 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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Altes Land am Elbstrom - Natürlich vor Hamburg
Tourismusverband Landkreis Stade / Elbe e.V.
Kirchenstieg 30, 21720 Grünendeich
Telephone: +49 41 42 / 81 38 38 or Fax: +49 41 42 / 81 38 40