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Lübeck has a long history, as it was the capital of the Hanseatic League in northern Germany in the Middle Ages. Many of the Brick Gothic buildings are still standing. These include the city’s landmark, the Holsten Gate.

Tips and sights for a day in Lübeck

View of the Old Town of Lübeck

The Gate to the North, as Lübeck is also called, is located on the Bay of Lübeck, which is a bay of the Baltic Sea. A day trip to Lübeck is well worth it, as the beautiful old town, the restaurants along the river Trave, and the flair of the city have a lot of charm. Find out what you can see in a day in Lübeck here.

How to get to Lübeck

The only way to get to Lübeck by plane is to fly into Hamburg Airport and then take a train to Lübeck. There are currently no flights to Lübeck Airport, but connections are planned for the future. All information about flights to Hamburg can be found on Skyscanner.

The best way to get to Lübeck is by car, train, or bus. By car, you can take the A1 highway directly to Lübeck. But be careful: Especially in the summer, when many visitors travel to the Baltic Sea, traffic jams can occur.

Long-distance buses have the same congestion problem as cars, so the Deutsche Bahn is the best option. There are direct ICE connections to Berlin and Munich and of course regional trains to Hamburg. The main station is only a few minutes away from the old town and is, therefore, a good starting point. Tickets, prices and schedules can be found on Omio.

Accommodation in Lübeck – our hotel tip

Hotel Lindenhof is ideal for a central base in Lübeck. It’s close to both the main train station and bus station and within walking distance of the old town with the Holsten Gate. The hotel also offers a nice breakfast buffet in the morning, a sauna area, and charming rooms with comfortable beds. Free Wi-Fi and complimentary coffee are available throughout the day. You can also rent bikes on-site to explore Lübeck.

The proximity to the old town is always a good starting point to explore Lübeck. Find more hotels for your trip to Lübeck here.

1. Holsten Gate

The Holsten Gate is Lübeck’s most famous landmark and the western boundary of the old town. Originally it was part of the fortifications of the city of Lübeck and belonged to a series of three Holsten Gates, which were demolished in the 19th century.

The famous Holstentor of Lübeck

Attached to the Holsten Gate is the green area Holstentorplatz, which many tourists use to take nice photos of the Holsten Gate. The gate has been restored several times because the two towers were leaning and there were fears of collapse, the last time in 2005/2006.

View of the top of the Holsten Gate in Lübeck

Since 1950, the Holsten Gate has also housed a museum dedicated to the history of the city of Lübeck. You can learn about the development of the city and some other interesting things, like models of ships of the old Hanseatic League. Since 2002 there’s also an audio-visual presentation. The entrance fee is €7 and it’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (01.01 – 31.03).

2. Museum Harbor

At the northwestern end of the old town of Lübeck is the Museum Harbor. Many of the cargo sailing ships typical of the Baltic Sea are anchored here. In the summer, however, there are fewer than in the winter, as many ships are at sea or moored in the outer area, the Hanseatic Harbor.

The Museum Harbor on the Trave River in Lübeck

However, in winter, many of the sailing ships aren’t at sea, so you can visit some of them if you’re interested. Besides the active sailing ships, there are also some museum ships that you can take a look at. These include the Fehmarnbelt Lightship and the shark cutter “Hansine”.

3. Buddenbrook House

Since 1993, the Buddenbrook House across from St. Mary’s Church has been a memorial in Lübeck’s old town. The Mann family lived here from 1842, as did Thomas Mann. He was a famous writer and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929 for his novel “Buddenbrooks”.

The white Buddenbrook House of Thomas Mann in Lübeck

Today the Buddenbrook House is a museum with two permanent exhibitions. One is about the book “The Buddenbrooks – Novel of the Century” and the other is “The Manns – A Literary Family”. There are also temporary exhibitions at the Buddenbrook House. Daily guided tours of the house start at 2 p.m. Admission is €7 and the house is open every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (01.04 – 31.12).

4. St. Mary’s Church

On the highest point of the old town of Lübeck stands St. Mary’s Church. Built between 1277 and 1351, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was a sign of Lübeck’s prosperity in the Middle Ages.

St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck

St. Mary’s Church is considered the mother church of Brick Gothic and is still used for church services today. You can also see the inside of the church when there are no services, but there is an entrance fee of €2, which goes towards the upkeep of the church. The church is open daily from 10 a.m. and closes between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., depending on the season.

The Little Devil at St. Mary's Church in Lübeck
The Little Devil at St. Mary’s Church

Fun Fact: Right next to St. Mary’s Church is the “Devil’s Stone” with a little devil figure. The story goes that the devil helped with the construction of the church, which was going fast because he thought it was going to be a wine house. When he found out that it was going to be a church, he wanted to destroy it with a huge stone. However, he was reassured when he was promised that a wine house would be built right next to St. Mary’s Church, the Wine Cellar.

5. Town Hall

One of the largest medieval town halls in Germany is located next to St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck’s old town. It’s an important example of the Brick Gothic style, built between 1230 and 1308. Because it took so long to build, you can see several different architectural styles.

Town Hall of Lübeck

Especially the wall with its two holes facing St. Mary’s church, which is supposed to break the wind, looks impressive. But also the right part (seen from the marketplace) with the many embedded emblems is impressive. It’s not for nothing that Lübeck’s town hall is often considered one of the most beautiful in Germany. On warm days you can sit in one of the cafes and enjoy a drink on the medieval square.

6. Hospital of the Holy Spirit

The Hospital of the Holy Spirit of Lübeck was completed in 1286, making it one of the oldest social institutions in the world. Today, the Holy Spirit Hospital is still in use, but no longer as a hospital, but as a home for the elderly. There are also rooms on the south side that are used for gastronomy.

The Holy Spirit Hospital in the Old Town of Lübeck

Every year, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit also hosts a Christmas Market where about 150 artisans from all over the world display and sell their wares. The market is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In winter only until 4 p.m. Admission is free.

7. Castle Monastery and View

To the north of the old town is the Castle Monastery, a former Dominican monastery that can still be visited today. Inside you can experience some of the history through waxworks, as the castle monastery is part of the European Hanseatic Museum.

The Lübeck Castle Monastery

You can visit the four-wing cloister, the sacristy and the west wing with the chapter house, the north wing with the summer refectory, or the east wing with the winter refectory. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the entrance fee is €7 (including the Hansel Laboratory).

View from the terrace of the castle monastery in Lübeck
View from the terrace of the castle monastery in Lübeck

There’s also a roof terrace where you can relax and enjoy the view over the Lübeck harbor. You can buy a drink in the European Hanse Museum’s ticket shop or the small cafe.

8. St. Peter’s Church

Construction of St. Peter’s Church began in 1170, but it wasn’t completed until the 15th century. Unfortunately, large parts of the church were destroyed during the Second World War, and the church was rebuilt in its present form in 1987. There are no regular masses in St. Peter’s, only special events or art exhibitions.

View of the steeple of St. Peter's Church in Lübeck
Alleys in Lübeck with St. Peter’s Church in the background

A highlight of a visit to St. Peter’s is the view from the church tower. It’s 108 meters high, can be reached via stairs or an elevator, and offers a magnificent view over the old town of Lübeck and the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, the observation deck was closed during our visit due to renovations. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and in the summer months until 8 p.m. Admission to the observation deck is €4. Otherwise, you don’t need to pay to enter the church.

9. Lübeck Cathedral

Lübeck Cathedral was consecrated in 1247 and is located in the southern part of the old town. During a walk along the river Trave you can see it quite often and it makes an excellent photo motif.

View of the Lübeck Cathedral
View of the Lübeck Cathedral

With a length of 131 meters, Lübeck Cathedral is one of the longest churches in Germany, and with its 115 meters high towers, it’s also the second-highest church in Schleswig Holstein. Today, Lübeck Cathedral is still used for service.

10. Niederegger Marzipan

Lübeck is also famous for marzipan, with which the name Niederegger is closely associated. Niederegger produces about 30,000 kg of marzipan every day, which you should try if you like marzipan. Marzipan is exported to more than 40 countries and plays an important role in Lübeck.

A good place to start a walk through Lübeck’s old town is the Niederegger Café on Breite Straße, opposite the town hall. Here you can try not only marzipan but also many other desserts in the cafe. Even if you don’t go inside, it’s worth taking a look at the shop window, where you can see Lübeck’s Holsten Gate made of marzipan.

11. Boat Trip on the River Trave

The 124 km long river Trave flows along the old town of Lübeck and ends in the Baltic Sea. Especially in summer, the river attracts many people who either swim in the cold water or take a boat ride.

Boat Now, boat rental on the river Trave in Lübeck

A traditional “Barkassenfahrt” is popular with many visitors. But you could also rent your own boat at Boat Now, which might be a great alternative. Prices for a “Barkassenfahrt” start at €13 for 1 hour, renting a boat from Boat Now costs €39 for 1 hour (max 6 people). It’s a great way to see Lübeck from the water.

Plan your trip to Lübeck now

More hotel recommendations for Lübeck:

Lübeck: Tours and Tickets

Do you prefer to travel with a guide who knows the area very well? Then we recommend a guided tour with a local. This way you can get to know Lübeck in a completely different way. GetYourGuide offers a wide selection of exciting tours for Lübeck.

Have you been to Lübeck or are you interested in the city? Do you have any tips for a day trip to Lübeck? Leave us a comment.