In the matter of "Heimatliebe Norddeutschland" I will of course not get tired to present you numerous travel and excursion tips in the North. Every now and then I take you, within the scope of this mission, also to "Altes Land bei Hamburg", along the river Elbe.
The Altes Land Hamburg region (to be precise, it is located just outside Hamburg in Lower Saxony) is one of the largest fruit-growing areas in Germany.
Altes Land: Sights, adventures & relaxing moments
Today in the luggage 30 trip tips and places of interest in the old country. Honestly, I have to admit that I've been writing this article for quite a while now. Good things take time… and are also regularly revised.
Summarized I have tips for all seasons – tips that are both completely free and also excursion tips that cost a few euros.
Surely there will be something for everyone.
Altes Land sightseeing & excursion destinations – free of charge & fun to do!
I don't know about you, but to the best of my knowledge, anyone traveling with family is also always on the lookout for free trip tips for a region. Because such a family vacation can go otherwise already times quite in the money. So I start the listing of 33 tips, ideas and sights for the Alte Land, just outside Hamburg, with a few free recommendations to get you in the mood.
#1 Destination Old Country: The Elbe beach
Along the Elbe stretches the Alte Land and to said Elbe also belongs a beach. Heard right, to chill on the beach in the north, it doesn't always have to be to the North Sea or Baltic Sea. It's great to do "in between" on the Elbe River – and it's completely free, too. The Elbe beach offers itself at all seasons for walks and in the summer of course to lie relaxed in the sun or to practice also early in the morning yoga there.
#2 Altes Land Hamburg invites you to watch pots
If we are already at the Elbe, you should also use the time and look, as large and small ships, in the port of Hamburg drive or also out again. This fascinating spectacle is completely free of charge.
Of course, along the Elbe River, you'll also find a number of piers – such as z.B. the Luhe jetty. From there you can set sail yourself. That then however naturally no longer free of charge.
#3 Destinations in the Alte Land: Exploring the Hanseatic City of Stade
In the Alte Land there are also a few old Hanseatic cities that have a lot to tell, such as.B. the pretty Stade, with its half-timbered houses, Fleet and various museums.
Altes Land Stade: The historical center of the hanseatic city of Stade lies within the old ramparts, on the Schwingeinsel (island).
The side trip to the city is worthwhile in any case and on top of that it is completely free of charge. If you feel like a round of shopping, you will certainly have fun in Stade too.
#4 Hanseatic City of Buxtehude on the German Fairy Tale Route
Another very pretty hanseatic town in the Alte Land is the fairytale town of Buxtehude. It is not without reason that it lies on the Fairy Tale Route, because it is the origin of the Hare and the Hedgehog, who race each other, or the Wizard from the Robber Hotzenplotz.
By the way, Buxtehude comes along with a very pretty old town, half-timbered houses and a canal. Look around and start a special search for hare and hedgehog – bet you won't find them all in the city?
#5 excursion destinations Old Country by bike along the river Elbe
Pedal and always glide along the Elbe… a wonderful route, sometimes on the dike, sometimes behind the dike, sometimes through meadows, sometimes through fields or small villages.
The way is the goal and that is worthwhile and is above all completely free to experience and there are many sights in the Alte Land to discover, practically in passing by the wayside.
O.K. you must have your own bicycle with you.
Special tip: A part of the Easter cycle track leads through the Alte Land.
#6 Fruit pilgrimage and hiking in the Alte Land
The north of Germany is not necessarily known for its wonderful hiking trails. But in my opinion, the experience "hiking in northern Germany" is totally underestimated.
Also in the Alte Land there are some really nice hiking routes like z.B. the Estewanderweg, which leads through Buxtehude. Also one of the Nordpfade circular hiking trails can be found in the Alte Land.
You would rather go on a pilgrimage? But very gladly, because even the Jabobsweg or also the Via Romea lead through parts of the Alte Land.
Old country cherry blossom: The cherry blossom usually starts in the middle of April and the magic ends at the latest at the end of April, beginning of May.
Of course, a hike in the Alte Land is particularly idyllic when the fruit trees are in delicate pink and white blossom in the spring or when they are full of fruit in the fall.
#7 Old Country Hamburg: On the trail of apple blossom & cherry blossom
About 17 billion. Fruit trees stand in the Alte Land. A special spectacle spreads the fruit trees and plantations in the bloom time. The visit of the region offers in this time an impressively beautiful picture and costs nothing at all!
Old country apple blossom: In April the apple trees blossom in the old country and also the cherry trees.
My special tip is to get on your bike and cycle along the fields and flowering plantations.
If you want to make sure that the Alte Land is really in bloom when you go on tour, then take a look at the "Blutenticker". This is indicated by the so-called "Altes Land Blossom Barometer".
#8 A little pearl: Jork Altes Land
A pearl in the Alte Land is also for sure the community Jork. Jork, with its sweet half-timbered houses, magnificent gates and cobblestone streets, it is considered the center of the Old Country. To the municipality belong such melodious places as Estebrugge or also kingdom. It is framed by numerous fruit fields and meadows.
Altes Land Jork: Jork was first mentioned in a document in 1221.
In Jork there are also many festivals around the cherry and apple throughout the year.
#9 Stories from the apple crate
Who is on the way in the old country, stumbles again and again over special fruit boxes. The stories from the apple crates are interesting and instructive. They tell a lot about the history of one of the largest fruit growing areas in Germany.
Altogether seven of these apple crates were set up in the Alte Land. Of course, it is especially exciting to cycle the route along the boxes.
The story-telling boxes, which resemble a beach chair a little, were built by the way actually from boxes, in which otherwise the apples after the harvest, are stored.
Alte Land Sights & Highlights: The Alte Land is one of the largest fruit-growing areas, not only in northern Germany.
The boxes can be found in Grunendeich, Kingdom, Hollern-Twielenfleth, Neuenfelde, Francop, at the church in Estebrugge and at the ferry terminal in Cranz.
#10 Lighthouse hopping through the Old Country
I personally am a huge fan of lighthouses. There are also a few of them in the Alte Land. Some of them may still be visited at special dates… others are simply nice as photo motifs.
The official name for a lighthouse is of course not lighthouse but beacon. One differentiates by the way after leading or also leading lights. Direction lights guide ships through difficult waters and direction lights mark the way through the deep fairway in the Elbe River.
Old country Elbe & lighthouses: The lighthouse museum in the Old Country you find in Hollern-Twielenfleth.
By the way, there are a total of more than 55 lighthouses between the small island of Neuwerk and Bunthauser Spitze. Of these, 43 lighthouses are currently still active to guide shipping traffic.
#11 Sights of the Old Country: half-timbered houses & magnificent gates
The Alte Land is not only known for its large fruit tree plantations. Especially admired are also the beautiful half-timbered houses and magnificent gates of the proud fruit farmers.
Altes Land fruit farm: The magnificent gates and half-timbered houses in the Alte Land look back on a long tradition.
If you look closely, you will discover large bunches of grapes and fruit on the showpieces. They were considered a symbol of fertility. Animal heads, left and right at the gate, should probably represent court guardians or were perhaps also status symbols. The fruit farmer could show what he has to offer through the elaborately built half-timbered houses and magnificent gateways.
#12 Hogendiek bridge leads over the Luhe river
Everywhere in the Alte Land, you will find small white bridges, which remind a little of a trip through Holland. These bridges are not only among the special sights in the Old Country. They also represent popular photo motifs.
One of the most beautiful bridges is definitely the Hogendiekbrucke in Steinkirchen.
Discover the Alte Land: These tips are associated with costs
I hope that you have already found one or the other suggestion in my free tips for the Alte Land. If you want to invest a little more, you will of course find some more exciting adventures and discovery possibilities in the Alte Land.
#13 Discovering sights in the Alte Land on a bullitour
I took a tour in an old bus through the Alte Land with Waterkanttouren last summer. We started in Hamburg's Speicherstadt and then went along the Elbe to Jork. In sunshine we drove ca. four hours through the orchards, tasted apple juice from the farm store, stopped at the dike and ate delicious cake at the organic farm Ottilie.
The cost for such a tour is 65.- Euro per person.
#14 Excitement. Game. Puzzle fun in the Escape Game Buxtehude Harburg
Escape Games are absolutely trendy and also in the Old Country such a game highlight is hidden. On board a real ship simulator you can set sail in Buxtehude.
Cruise Control is the name of the adventure in the Escape Room Buxtehude. The ship simulator is always available on weekends for groups of up to 8 people to have fun.*
On the south side of the Elbe you will also find the Escape Game Rooms of Mystery House in Harburg. Admittedly, Harburg is strictly speaking part of the Alte Land, but it can be reached quickly – by car or by S-Bahn from Stade and Buxtehude.
Info about the Mystery House Escape Game Hamburg / Harburg / *unfortunately the ship simulator is currently defective. Therefore, the operator offers only the games in the neighboring region.
An alternative to the tour with Waterkanttouren is in the summer certainly also the round trip with the "red" flower double-decker from Hamburg.
#15 Time for a little wellness & relaxation
The landscape in the Alte Land is naturally very relaxing and has a good effect on health due to the influence of the North Sea climate.
But if you want to get even more wellness feeling, you can visit one of the wellness oases in the region. In Stade you can find for example the Solemio with swimming pool and sauna or the small wellness studio "Wellness am Elbstrom". Also the Aquarella in Buxtehude offers beside swimming fun a little sauna pleasure. The region also has a wellness hotel to offer – the Elbstrand Resort is located on the beach of the Krautsand peninsula.
Desire for even more wellness & relaxation? Then take a look at our overview incl. Map with all spas in Northern Germany!
#16 Pure enjoyment: cafes & farm stores in the Alte Land on the Elbe River
Of course, in a region like the Alte Land, with its fruit plantations and blooming gardens, no cafes and farm stores should be missing. I have already mentioned the Biohof Ottilie in this list, but of course this is not the only cozy farm cafe in the region along the Elbe River.
Numerous farm stores offer Altlander specialties such as juices, schnapps, honey, vinegar and oils, to gift and decoration ideas for all seasons.
Numerous cafes invite, in the summer with seats in blooming farmer gardens, to coffee and fruit cake. Here you can really enjoy life all around.
#17 A look behind the scenes: Visit the fruit farms
In the Alte Land it is also worth taking a look behind the scenes of the apple farmers. How about z.B. with an orchard hike, a ride with the apple crate express, a not quite serious apple diploma or with an apple tree sponsorship?
All this you can actually discover and experience in the Old Country! Such special tours are offered z.B. from the Herzapfelhof in Jork, Obshof Lefers in Jork, at the Obsthof Matthies and Obsthof Bey – both also in Jork.
#18 Animal encounter in the zoo Wingst
I went to the zoo in Wingst (which opened in 1972) as a child. Since then, a lot has happened on the premises, because in the meantime they have specialized more in native forest and farm animal species.
A petting zoo with goats and alpacas is part of the offer, as well as the new, spacious wolf and bear forest, playgrounds, a handcart rental and rest areas for relaxed traveling families.
You can easily spend a day in the small zoo in Wingst. Because around the zoo area also hiking trails, forests and viewpoints are waiting for you.
#19 "From above" Stade & Co.: Viewpoints in the Alte Land
Personally, I always like to have a look at a region "from above". Also in the Alte Land there are some lookout towers and possibilities to have a look at the region from airy heights. Z.B. only a few steps away from the zoo in Wingst you will find the 29 meter high lookout tower on the "German Olymp".
In Buxtehude, on the other hand, you'll have the opportunity to climb the church tower of St. Petri church to climb to have a look at the fairy tale town.
Also in Stade there are now and then guided tours to the church tower of St. Cosmae Church.
Also from the 25 meter high tower on the Litberg you can look over the Alte Land and on good days even to Hamburg.
#20 On a great trip with the Moorexpress
The Moorexpress is a very special railroad line. The train got its name when it used to run officially from Bremervorde, through the Teufelsmoor, via Worpswede to Osterholz-Scharmbeck.
Even today the possibility is offered to go on a time travel with the Moorexpress. In the summer, the train runs every weekend and also in the winter, trips are possible on special dates.
Discoveries & sights in the Alte Land in summer
Did you know that the Alte Land has applied to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site?? Organ building and thatching (as it can be found in the Alte Land) have been part of the world heritage for a few years now. But I think that the unique cultural landscape of the Alte Land has definitely deserved to be included in the World Heritage List.
But this is only a small additional information on the side. Because with the next excursion tips for the Alte Land, I take you with me in the summer through the region. Some of the tips and destinations I present here can even be experienced completely free of charge.
#21 Now it becomes natural: Natureum Niederelbe
The Natureum Niederelbe, at the end of the Oste, before it flows into the Elbe, is also one of the sights that are only open in summer. The Natureum Niederelbe is a small adventure park located on about 100.000 square meters, with zoo, discovery stations, exhibitions, playgrounds, fruit tree meadows and different gardens.
In the summer months the Natureum is open daily, except on Mondays. In winter there are shortened opening hours.
Especially for families the Natureum Niederelbe is a worthwhile excursion destination.
#22 Tips & Sights Old Country at harvest time
An experience, which can be experienced naturally only at the end of the summer in the old country is the harvest time. First come the cherries and then follows the apple harvest.
Old country apple harvest: It usually begins from mid-September and runs, as a rule, throughout the month of October and sometimes even into November.
It really is a dream to walk or cycle through the fragrant fields and fully take in this splendor.
#23 On Safari with the Tidenkieker
If you feel like a very special tour, climb the Tidenkieker. Whether you choose the "Waterkanttour" (Low German for water's edge), on which you will see seals, breeding and migratory birds, or sail through a reed landscape, or whether your trip is more along the lines of "Island Worlds", you are on your own.
This decision you make all alone! All tours will be worthwhile. The tours cost around 17.- Euro per person.
#24 Puddle hopping with the Puttenhupper
A ride on the Puttenhupper is also well worthwhile. The Putten serve as a home for rare birds. With luck you can even see a sea eagle.
Tours on the Puttenhupper are available with 60 minutes, 120 minutes and 300 minutes – starting at 7.50 euros per person.
The departures with the Puttenhupper start in Hechthausen from the leisure and camping park Geesthof GmbH & Co.KG.
#25 Experience ride with the suspension ferry – a very special sight in the Alte Land
A very different way to get across the water is the suspension ferry between Hemmoor and Osten.
Since 2006 the ferry is in operation again and for a small amount of money you can cross the river from one side to the other. The suspension ferry was inaugurated back in 1909 – making it the oldest suspension ferry in all of Germany. There are only 8 of them left in the world.
#26 Hamburg Altes Land day trip: island adventure Luhesand
Many people don't know that there are small islands within the Elbe River, where you can even live temporarily or at least camp (in summer).
It's not exactly an old country vacation, but it's definitely a real little adventure! One of these islands is Luhesand. Read also my Hamburg island adventure on Luhesand.
In summer a car free little paradise. You can get to the island only with a small ferry, which is steered by a real ferryman. Departure to the island starts several times a day during the summer from a small pier in Grunendeich.
On the island there is a large campground and a small inn and even a few cottages. Be sure to go on this little adventure. It is worthwhile!
#27 Venice starts in Stade..
A very special experience in Stade is certainly the tour in a Venetian gondola. Start at the museum island in Stade and then go through the city out into the idyllic Schwingewiesen.
The gondola is safely steered by gondolier Carlo, whose real name is Uwe. It offers place for up to 6 persons. Rides are available from 15.- The paddles are offered at a price of € 1 per person and are a really unusual experience… incidentally, this is also the opinion of the strollers who discover the gondola on the Schwinge in Stade. 😉
-> You want to know more about the gondola tour through Stade? Then read all about my excursion to Venice in the middle of the Old Country!
#28 Excursion Altes Land: In my canoe I am the captain
If you prefer to paddle yourself through Stade, Buxtehude or even on the Este, rent a canoe. Such a canoe trip brings really fun and lets the passing landscape appear simply times completely differently.
I myself have actually paddled the Este quite often. This was already as a child, in the summer vacations, one of my favorite activities. The Este River meanders through meadows and forests and opens a very fairy-tale picture from the canoe.
#29 Stand-Up-Paddling through the old town of Stade
Have you ever tried stand-up paddling?? The new parting sport can be experienced now also in the old country. In the process, the paddle path leads right through the fairy-tale old town of Stade. The SUP Club Stade offers, in addition to the rental of stand-up paddling boards, also yoga on the SUP. You can also chill out at the rental station and enjoy a cool drink with a view of the water, of course.
-> Never tried SUP? Read also my SUP test report!
#30 Altes Land excursion: Have you ever heard of "Grauerort"??
A very impressive place in the Alte Land is also the fortress "Grauerort". Hidden in the forest is the old fortress, once built as protection against enemy ships on the Elbe River.
Grauerort" was already built around 1870 by the Prussians. The Altmarsch headland "Grauerort" on which the fortress of the same name was built, however, looks back on a much longer history. Already around 1330 a Zwingerburg, as protection against the pirates, was built.
The Swedes also built a defense against the Danes in this place, but it finally fell in 1712. In summer (from April to October), the fortress is always open on Sundays, for guided tours. The entrance fee is 2.- Euro per person. More info: www.grauerort.com
Small additional info at this point: The Alte Land is officially the region from Hamburg to Stade – it runs under Alte Land Tourism. Downstream from the Elbe, however, you will find the country of Kehdingen. Kehdingen is a tourist district in its own right, based in Wischhafen/Drochtersen. Many of the tips listed here, actually already fall into this region.