The Old Country: 30 relaxed excursion tips & Sights in the Alte Land

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, in the context of this mission, also to "Altes Land bei Hamburg", along the river Elbe.

The region Altes Land Hamburg (exactly it lies before the gates of 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 excursion tips and sights in the Alte Land. 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 which are completely free and also tips which cost a few Euros.

Surely there will be something for everyone.

Discovery tour through the Alte Land

Old country sights&>> Excursion tips – free of charge&>> Fun at the same time!

I don't know about you, but who travels with family, is as far as I know also always looking for free excursion tips for a region. Because such a family vacation can go otherwise already times quite in the money. So I'll 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.

The Old Country Hamburg

#1 Destination Altes Land: The Elbe beach

Along the river Elbe stretches the Alte Land and to said Elbe also belongs a beach. To chill on the beach in the north, you don't always have to go to the North Sea or the Baltic Sea. This can be done "in between" also super at the Elbe – and that also completely free of charge. The Elbe beach is ideal for walks in all seasons and in summer of course to relax in the sun or to practice yoga there early in the morning.

Stade short vacation - On the Elbe beach

#2 Altes Land Hamburg invites you to look at pots

If we are already at the Elbe, you should use the time to see how big and small ships sail into the harbor of Hamburg or out again. This fascinating spectacle is completely free of charge.

Of course, along the Elbe, you will also find some piers – like e.g. the Luheanleger. From there you can set sail yourself. But then of course no longer free of charge.

Yoga on the beach in Stade with Rieke from Karmacouch

#3 Destinations in the Alte Land: Exploring the Hanseatic City of Stade

There are also a few old Hanseatic towns in the Old Country that have quite a bit to tell, such as.B. the pretty Stade, with its half-timbered houses, the Fleet and various museums.

Altes Land Stade: The historic center of the Hanseatic city of Stade is located within the old ramparts, on the Schwingeinsel (island).

The detour into the city is worthwhile in any case and on top of that it is completely free of charge. Who has desire on a round Shopping, will have in Stade certainly also its joy.

Hanseatic City of Stade

#4 Hanseatic town 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 Road, for it is the birthplace of the Hare and the Hedgehog, who race against each other, or the Wizard from Hotzenplotz the Robber.

By the way, Buxtehude comes along with a very pretty old town, half-timbered houses and a canal. Take a look around and start a special search for hare and hedgehog – bet you won't find them all in town!?

Hanseatic City of Buxtehude

#5 Destinations Old Country by bike along the Elbe River

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 to be experienced above all completely free of charge and there are many objects of interest in the old country to discover, practically in the passing at 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.

Easter bike trail

#6 Fruit pilgrimage and hiking in the Alte Land

The north of Germany is now 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 e.g. the Este hiking trail, which leads through Buxtehude. Also one of the north paths is to be found in the old country.

You would prefer to go on a pilgrimage? But very gladly, because even the Jabobsweg or also the Via Romea lead by parts of the old country.

Altes Land Cherry blossom: The cherry blossom usually starts in the middle of April and the magic ends at the end of April, beginning of May at the latest.

A hike in the Alte Land is particularly idyllic when the fruit trees are in delicate pink and white bloom in spring or when they are full of fruit in autumn.

Vacation region Altes Land

#7 Altes Land Hamburg: On the trail of the 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. A visit to the region during this time offers an impressively beautiful picture and costs nothing at all!

Altes Land apple blossom: In April the apple trees in the Alte Land blossom and so do the cherry trees.

My special tip is to simply get on your bike and cycle along the fields and blossoming 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". It is indicated by the so-called "Altes Land Blossom Barometer".

Cherry blossom old country

#8 A little pearl: Jork Altes Land

A pearl in the Alte Land is also certainly the municipality of Jork. Jork, with its sweet half-timbered houses, grand gates and cobblestone alleys, is considered the center of the Alte Land. To the municipality belong such melodious places as Estebrugge or also Konigreich. 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 numerous festivals around cherries and apples throughout the year.

Old Country Jork

#9 Stories from the apple box

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.

A total of seven of these apple boxes were set up in the Old Country. Of course it is very exciting to cycle the route along the boxes.

The story-telling boxes, which look a bit like a beach chair, were actually built from boxes in which the apples are usually stored after the harvest.

Old country sights& Highlights: The Alte Land is one of the largest fruit-growing areas, not only in northern Germany.

You can find them in Grunendeich, Kingdom, Hollern-Twielenfleth, Neuenfelde, Francop, at the church in Estebrugge and at the ferry pier in Cranz.

Apple boxes - story boxes in the Alte Land

#10 Lighthouse hopping through the Alte Land

Personally I am a huge fan of lighthouses. There are also a few of them in the Alte Land. Some of them can still be visited on special occasions… others simply make a nice photo motif.

The official name for a lighthouse is of course also not lighthouse but beacon. One differentiates by the way after guidance or also directional light. Direction lights guide ships through difficult waters and leading lights mark the way through the deep fairway in the river Elbe.

Old country Elbe& Lighthouses: The lighthouse museum in the Alte Land can be found in Hollern-Twielenfleth.

By the way, there are more than 55 lighthouses in total between the small island Neuwerk and the Bunthauser Spitze. Of these, 43 lighthouses are currently still active to guide shipping traffic.

Lighthouse Altes Land

#11 Sights Old Country: half-timbered houses& Grand gates

The Alte Land is not only known for its large fruit tree plantations. Particularly admired are 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 grand gates. 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 was able to show what he has to offer through the elaborately constructed half-timbered houses and state ports.

Old country near Hamburg

#12 Hogendiekbrucke leads over the Luhe river

Everywhere in the Alte Land, you will find small white bridges that remind a little of a trip through Holland. These bridges are not only among the special sights in the Old Country. They are also popular photo motifs.

One of the most beautiful bridges is definitely the Hogendiek Bridge in Steinkirchen.

Old country Hamburg-Buxtehude

Discover the Alte Land: These tips come with a cost

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 bit, you will of course find some more exciting adventures and opportunities for discovery in the Alte Land.

#13 Discovering sights in the Alte Land on a bullitour

Last summer I made a tour with Waterkanttouren in an old bus through the Alte Land. We started in the Hamburg Speicherstadt and then we went along the Elbe to Jork. With 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.

Bullitour Old Country

#14 Suspense. Game. Puzzle fun in the Escape Game Buxtehude Harburg

Escape Games are absolutely in the trend and also in the old country such a play highlight hid itself. You can set sail on board a real ship simulator in Buxtehude.

Cruise Control is the name of the adventure in the Escape Room Buxtehude. Always on weekends the ship simulator is ready for the game fun, for groups up to 8 persons.*

On the south side of the Elbe you can also find the Escape Game Rooms of the Mystery House in Harburg. Granted, Harburg is strictly speaking part of the Old Country, but it's quickly accessible – by car or even 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 only offers the games in the neighboring region.

An alternative to the Waterkanttouren tour in summer is certainly the round trip with the "red" flower biplane from Hamburg.

Time runs backwards - Real life Escape Game Hamburg

#15 Time for a little wellness& Relaxation

The landscape in the Alte Land is of course 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 will find for example the Solemio with swimming pool and sauna or the small wellness studio "Wellness am Elbstrom". Also the Aquarella in Buxtehude offers besides 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!

Krautsand beach

#16 Pure pleasure: Cafe's& Farm stores in the Alte Land at the river Elbe

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.

Numerous farm stores offer Altlander specialties such as juices, schnapps, honey, vinegar and oils, up 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.

Hamburg Old Country

#17 A look behind the scenes: Visit the orchards

In the Alte Land it is also worthwhile to take a look behind the scenes of the apple farmers. How about e.g. with an orchard hike, a ride with the apple crate express, a not quite serious apple diploma or with an apple tree sponsorship?

You can actually discover and experience all of this in the Alte Land! Such special guided tours are offered e.g. from Herzapfelhof in Jork, Obshof Lefers in Jork, at Obsthof Matthies and Obsthof Bey – both also in Jork.

Hofcafe Alten Land

#18 Animal get-together at Wingst Zoo

I was already as a child in the zoo in Wingst (which was opened in 1972) on the way. Since then, a lot has happened on the grounds, because in the meantime one has specialized more on native forest and farm animal species.

A petting zoo with goats and alpacas is just as much a part of the offer 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.

Zoo in the Wingst

#19 "From above" Stade& Co.: Viewpoints in the Alte Land

Personally, I always like to look at a region "from above". Also in the Alte Land there are a few lookout towers and possibilities to have a look at the region from airy heights. e.g. Only a few steps 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 have the opportunity to climb the steeple of the St. Petri church to take a look at the fairy tale town.

Also in Stade there are from time to time guided tours to the church tower of the St. Cosmae church.

From the 25 meter high tower on the Litberg you can look over the Alte Land and on good days even as far as Hamburg.

View from the German Olymp

#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 there is the possibility to go on a journey through time with the moorland express train. In summer, the train runs every weekend, and even in winter, trips are possible on special dates.

Like on rails - or where does the digital path take us?

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 the thatching trade (as also found in the Alte Land) have been part of the World Heritage for a few years now. But in my opinion, the unique cultural landscape of the Alte Land definitely deserves to be included in the World Heritage List.

But this only as a small additional info on the side. Because with the next excursion tips for the Alte Land I take you with me into the summer through the region. Some of the tips and destinations I present here can even be experienced completely free of charge.

When summer comes to the Alte Land

#21 Now it's getting natural: Natureum Niederelbe

Natureum Niederelbe, at the end of the Oste River 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 on about 100 hectares of land.000 square meters, with zoo, discovery stations, exhibitions, playgrounds, fruit tree meadows and various 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.

Natureum Lower Elbe

#22 tips& Sights of the Old Country at harvest time

An experience, which one can experience 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 absorb this splendor.

Apples are healthy and an indispensable part of the feel-good world

#23 On Safari with the Tidenkieker

If you are in the mood for a very special tour, you can climb the Tidenkieker. Whether you choose the "Waterkanttour" (Low German for water's edge), on which you can 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 can be sure that your trip will be a success.

This decision you make all alone! All tours will be worthwhile. The tours cost around 17.- Euro per person.

On a river safari

#24 Puddle hopping with the Puttenhupper

A ride on the Puttenhupper is also worthwhile. The Putten serve as a home for rare birds. With luck you can even see a white-tailed eagle.

Tours on the Puttenhupper are available with 60 minutes, 120 minutes and 300 minutes – starting from 7,50 Euro per person.

The departures with the Puttenhupper start in Hechthausen from the Freizeit- und Campingpark Geesthof GmbH& Co.KG.

Ride with the Puettenhuepper

#25 Experience ride with the suspension ferry – a very special sight in the Alte Land

A possibility of the completely different kind, in order to come over the water, is the Schwebefahre between Hemmoor and east.

Since 2006 the ferry is in operation again and for a small amount of money you can cross from one side of the river to the other. The ferry was inaugurated in 1909 – that makes it the oldest ferry in Germany. There are only 8 of them left in the world.

Floating ferry east Hemmoor

#26 Hamburg Altes Land Day trip: Island adventure Luhesand

Many people don't know that there are small islands within the Elbe, where you can even live temporarily or at least camp (in summer).

Old country vacation it is now not exactly, however a genuine small adventure quite certainly! One of these islands is Luhesand. Read also my Hamburg island adventure on Luhesand.

In summer a car free little paradise. You can only get to the island by a small ferry, which is driven by a real ferryman. The departure to the island starts in summer several times a day from a small pier in Grunendeich.

On the island there is a large campground and a small inn and even a few cottages. Let yourselves absolutely on the small adventure. It is worth!

Vacation on Luehesand

#27 Venice starts in Stade..

A very special experience in Stade is certainly the tour in a Venetian gondola. Starting at the museum island in Stade and then it goes 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. The trips will be from 15.- Euro per person and are a really unusual experience… find by the way also the strollers who discover the gondola on the Schwinge in Stade. 😉

-> You want to know more about the gondola tour through Stade? Then read everything about my excursion to Venice in the middle of the Old Country!

With the Venetian gondola through Stade

#28 Excursion Altes Land: In my canoe I am the captain

If you prefer to paddle through Stade, Buxtehude or on the river Este, you can rent a canoe. A canoe trip like this is a lot of fun and makes the passing landscape look completely different.

I myself have actually paddled on the Este very often. This was already as a child, in the summer vacations, one of my favorite activities. The river Este meanders through meadows and forests and opens a very fairytale-like picture from the canoe.

Estewanderweg Paddling on the river Este

#29 Stand-up paddling through the old town of Stade

Ever tried stand-up paddling? The new tren sport can be experienced now also in the Alte Land. The canoe trail leads through the fairy-tale old town of Stade. The SUP-Club Stade offers, besides 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!

Museum Island Stade

#30 Old country excursion: Ever heard of "Grauerort?

A very impressive place in the Alte Land is also the "Grauerort" fortress. Hidden in the forest is the old fortress, once built as a protection against enemy ships on the Elbe river.

Grauerort" was already built around 1870 by the Prussians. The "Grauerort" promontory, on which the fortress of the same name was built, looks back on a much longer history. Already around 1330 a Zwingerburg, as protection against the pirates, was built.

Also the Swedes built a protection against the Danes at this place, which 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:

Grauerort Stade

Small additional info at this point: The Alte Land is officially the region from Hamburg to Stade – it runs under Altes Land Tourism. Downstream from the Elbe, however, the Kehdingen region joins it. Kehdingen is a separate tourism district, with its seat in Wischhafen/Drochtersen. Many of the tips listed here, actually already fall into this region.

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