The beauty of Lower Saxony is beyond what you see in photos and videos. Known in German as Niedersachsen, it’s easy to reach and walk to the baroque-style churches, castles, and gardens for a one-of-a-kind adventure in Germany.
The Niedersachsen places to visit are diverse, introducing you to dramatic national parks, lavish palaces, and colorful, opulent gardens different from those around Northern Germany. Everywhere you visit in Germany’s second-largest state can feel like hidden gems, from a visit to the state capital of Hannover to historic galleries in Bremen.
Interested? Check out the list of Lower Saxony’s best attractions to discover on your trip to Europe and the attractions in Lower Saxony.
What We Cover
- Things to Do in Lower Saxony & Places to Visit
- 1. Heide Park Resort
- 2. Schwindequelle
- 3. Herrenhausen Gardens
- 4. Bentheim Castle
- 5. Masch Park
- 6. Harz National Park
- 7. Lüneburg Heath
- 8. Nanas
- 9. SEA LIFE Hannover
- 10. Goslar
- 11. Celle Castle
- 12. Hameln Old Town
- 13. East Frisian Islands
- 14. Bergen Belsen
- When is the best time to visit Niedersachsen?
- What festivals can I enjoy in Niedersachsen?
- What historical sites can I see in Niedersachsen?
Things to Do in Lower Saxony & Places to Visit
1. Heide Park Resort
Heide Park is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the largest amusement park in Northern Germany and one of the largest parks in the country. Present-day Heide Park was opened in 1978 on the former Heidenhof Wildlife Park site and offered just six rides.
Today, the park has several attractions, but most are built for children between three and 10 years old. The attractions feature themes from popular movies and shows such as How To Train Your Dragon, Peppa Pig, and Ghostbusters.
There is also an adventure hotel with uniquely designed interactive rooms with different themes. Solve riddles, hunt for treasure, or battle dragons as a family. An alternative vacation camp gives you access to an all-around experience when you stay at one of the park’s several cabins.
Apart from the attractions for kids, there are also provisions for adults to have fun around the park. Six gigantic roller coasters, including Germany’s biggest wooden roller coaster, can cause your stomach to jump into your throat. Plenty of vendors offer food inside the park, but typical to local culture, you can find restaurants and quintessential German breweries nearby.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Marlow, Germany
The Schwindequelle is a spring located in the Soderstorf municipality on the Lundberg Heath Nature Park grounds. It is one of several natural wonders in Lower Saxony that attracts tourists.
It is a magnificent natural spring that acts as the second-largest water source in Lower Saxony, pushing out nearly 16 gallons of water every second. It also retains a constant temperature of 48.2 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping it a continuous water source for wildlife and contributing to its protected status since 1936.
The water is exceptionally clear, and you can visit the pool to witness the rushing water and iron oxide and magnesium oxide leaving its wake, turning the banks radiant red and turquoise.
When you visit Lundberg Health Nature Park, you can take a stroll to listen to gushing Schwindequelle and watch the veritable collection of wildlife in the area, including elk and red deer.
See Related: German Oktoberfest
3. Herrenhausen Gardens
The Herrenhausen Gardens in Hannover, Germany, consists of four gardens courtesy of the former Kings. The gardens date back 300 years to 1676 and are among Germany’s most important tourist attractions. The garden is divided into four sections, creating one of the greatest attractions in Lower Saxony in the Georgengarten, Welfengarten, Berggarten, and Great Garden
Sophia of Hannover commissioned the Great Garden in 1683, turning an existing garden into a royal retreat. The Berggarten was once a vegetable garden attached to the Herrenhäuser castle. In 1686, the Sophia of Hannover preferred to display several exotic plants, eventually turning the space into a conservatory.
You can wander around the gardens and experience the same views the royalty once did over 300 years ago. The Baroque gardens contain flower beds designed with a luxury specific to that historical period and construction style, often focusing on symmetrical and ornamental patterns and walkways bordered by manicured trees or hedges.
The Bell Fountain is a centerpiece of the Great Garden and rises to an impressive 115 feet tall. High-profile events occasionally occur at the gardens, like in 2016 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed US President Barack Obama in Hannover on a visit to Germany in the Great Garden.
See Related: Tourist Destinations in the World
4. Bentheim Castle
The Bentheim Castle is among the top tourist attractions in the region. The castle was built in the early medieval period on a hill in Bad Bentheim. The castle’s history begins in the 11th century when it is mentioned as owned by Count Otto of Northeim.
Its elevated position on a protrusion of the Teutoburger forest gave it a naturally defensible position. The quarry of Bentheim sandstone sits on provides excellent building material.
Before visiting, you can virtually tour the castle on the Bentheim Castle website. But when visiting the grounds, you can witness a tournament for the Bad Bentheim’s Knights: every May, the castle stages reenactments of scenes from medieval times.
You can also enjoy a nightly tour of the castle and wander the halls by torchlight. Travel past pikemen standing guard and a prince meeting his subjects. Your guide will also offer interesting tidbits about the castle’s history, importance, and inhabitance as you reach the torture chamber.
Depending on when you visit, you can attend one of several events that take place at Bentheim Castle during the year, including weddings. Even if you can’t attend a wedding, your photos of the magnificent castle as a backdrop greatly reward your visit.
See Related: German Christmas Markets to Visit
5. Masch Park
Masch Park in Lower Saxony opened in 1900 as Hannover’s first-ever public park. Famous local landscape architect Julis Trip designed the space in Trammplatz behind the new town hall. It was localized to other shops and establishments in Hannover, including those now selling traditional German gifts.
Find an artificial lake at the park’s heart and a sculpture of the Scottish Cross, designed by Henry Moore. While not huge, the serene and peaceful atmosphere acts as a place to sit or walk among the hidden corners. However, don’t sit for too long during a cold and biting winter’s day.
Masch Park is a great example of the places you can visit and enjoy across Germany. From the thrills of Berlin to quiet alpine villages, you can experience a grand adventure of things to do in Ulm.
See Related: Best Breweries in Düsseldorf
6. Harz National Park
Harz National Park is a biosphere reserve located in Lower Saxony and Saxony Anhalt. It was established in the year 1990 and eventually merged with two more parks to expand to a whopping 61,035 acres.
Visit in summer or fall for the best weather and opportunities to see wildlife like the peregrine falcon, the white-throated dipper, the European wildcat, or the Eurasian Lynx. Hike among the deciduous trees and collect stamps from the 222 station boxes.
It’s like getting your park passport stamped. If you collect all the stamps, you get a gold pin.
You don’t need to take the multi-day hike. You can also enjoy the easy trail through the green forest to reach the river at Bodetal or climb for the view of Agnesburg for a great view of the castle.
See Related: Most Important Landmarks in Germany
7. Lüneburg Heath
Regarding tourist attractions, Lüneburg Heath, or Lüneburger Heide, embodies Lower Saxony’s character. It is a vast center of heath, woodland, and geest unique to this part of Germany. In Lüneburg Heath, the climate conditions, reliefs, geology, flora, and fauna occur naturally in the region to create fairytale scenery.
Heathers blossom in the summer. Mist hovers above the basin in the winter. The absence of cars makes it a great place to explore by foot or bike at your own pace as you travel between the nearby villages across bogs, marshlands, and meadows.
The heath nature reserve was built in 1921 and spread through the heart of the protected landscape. You can stop into the park to relax, cycle in search of the crane breeding grounds, or enjoy the view of the church steeples from as far as Hamburg.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Potsdam
Nanas Leibnizufer is perfect when you’re looking for leisure activities in Germany when you visit Hannover. Voluminous, colorful, and loud, the central art exhibition displays work with a modern cartoonish style.
Local artists and residents of Hannover refer to the works as “Nanas” and have installed them along the walking routes within the city, especially near the bank of the river Leine. They are colorful, playful, joyous, and maybe a bit naughty.
Niki de Saint Phalle designed the Nana’s and bequeathed them to the Sprengel Museum Hannover after becoming an honorary Hannover citizen. They help line the Sculpture Mile along with works by artists like Erich Hauser. Local life fills the walkway at all times of day, especially during the hours hosting Germany’s oldest flea market.
Three sculptures are clear when you approach Old Town. There are also lots and lots of tea shops where you can sit and enjoy the view. In winter, the vendors selling German Christmas glass ornaments set up close to the center on Saturdays.
See Related: Best Breweries in Berlin
9. SEA LIFE Hannover
The Sea Life Hannover is an aquarium in Herrenhauser and gives you access to a variety of sea life—fishes, turtles, etc. More precisely, you can find marine life like yellow-bellied toads, European Crayfish, Atlantic Salmon, and European pond turtles.
Sea Life Hannover is divided into areas, each carrying a collection of aquatic life specific to the ecology. They include the following collections:
- The Leine: represents the river in Lower Saxony known for supporting life like the yellow-bellied toad and European pond turtle.
- Mangroves: feature aquatic animals found in mangrove forests, such as the banded archerfish and four-eyed fish
- Ray Lagoon: shows marine life of the tropics where you can find blue-spotted ribbon tail rays, gardens eel, and longtail carpet sharks
- Laboratory: is a research space where scientists study marine life to learn more about long-snouted seahorses, mantis shrimp, and more
- Coral Reef: gives you a great view of the different and vibrant coral as it grows
- Coral Breeding: find clownfish and the sea anemone in a controlled marine environment
- Shipwreck: resembles the environment of ships sunken at sea to find Longhorn cowfish, leopard moray eel, red lionfish, and starfish
- Ocean tunnel: through the ocean tunnel, the exotic color of fishes glitter in the water around you as blacktip reef sharks, green sea turtles, and whiptail stingrays swim freely
Goslar is a historic town in Lower Saxony, Germany, and is undoubtedly a beautiful place to visit. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its well-preserved medieval center home to over 1,500 half-timbered houses.
With a rich mining history dating back to the 10th century, the medieval streets are only one of the top attractions in Goslar. Find views of the Harz mountains, visit the reflective lakes and rushing rivers, and tour the historic mine to find tools and machinery used to extract silver, copper, and lead for nearly 1,000 years.
From late November to December, the Goslar Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany. Locals set up nearly 200 stalls in the historic center near the town hall featuring traditional Christmas gifts and food. The air quickly fills with the aromas of spiced wine and gingerbread.
11. Celle Castle
Celle Castle is less than 30 miles away from Hannover. It has a Renaissance and Baroque design rising above the Alle River in Lower Saxony, Germany.
It is one of the largest castles in the region and has a rich history dating back to the 13th century as the residence of the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg. It is now a museum.
Not only has the castle served as the home of the nobility, but it also functioned as a prison and military barracks. The elegant architecture provides examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture seen in the symmetrical design with four towers at each corner. The red brick and white limestone exterior stand out against the lush trees.
Ornate stuccowork, paintings, and tapestries decorate the interior. Tour the castle with a guide to the most impressive rooms like the Hall of Ancestors and the Palace Chapel.
The latter is a riot of color with paintings, sandstone reliefs, and biblical quotations designed in the 15th century. In summer, Celle Castle hosts concerts and events in the gardens.
See Related: Things to do in Cologne, Germany
12. Hameln Old Town
Hameln is a feature on the German fairytale route and home of the infamous legend of the Pied Piper. Located within 35 miles of Hannover, the historic city center is a charming space in Lower Saxony, Germany.
The town was a major center of trade and commerce in the Middle Ages. The Pied Piper legend is said to have occurred in 1284 among the medieval narrow streets, half-timbered houses, and preserved Town Hall.
When you visit, you can follow the Pied Piper trail on a self-guided tour that takes you back in time. You get the legend, but see the historical references from a millennium ago.
In the Pied Piper Museum, the exhibits feature the legend with artifacts and art depicting how the pipe lured the children from the city. Every year, locals performed the folktale as a reminder, as a warning, and as an attraction.
You can still find rats all over the city but now with a more celebrated focus. Bakeries feature rat caricatures made of savory bread and sweet cakes.
You can find a liqueur called Rat Killer. Whether traveling with kids or alone, you can do a rat and Pied Piper scavenger hunt throughout Old Town for a fun taste of something different.
13. East Frisian Islands
The East Frisian Islands are a chain of islands in the North Sea off the coast of Lower Saxony. Locals love the islands for their beautiful beaches, charming villages, and unique wildlife.
Germany doesn’t often attract travelers for its famous coastline, but the East Frisian Islands have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The combination of white, soft sands with clear, blue waters offers a majestic escape from daily life. The tall dunes add to the natural beauty of the land area.
Seals often lounge on the shores, dolphins pass by, and seabirds build their nests near the dunes. You can catch glimpses of the wildlife from a cruise or when touring with a local.
If you prefer to avoid lounging in the sun, visit one of the villages known for its history and charm. Borkum is popular with travelers eager to view the native orchids, climb the lighthouse, or taste the roasted pork shoulder marinated with cloves, allspice, and juniper berries.
You can also explore the interior and perimeter of the islands by hiking or cycling, kayaking, or horseback riding. The islands’ many hiking and biking trails are a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty. You can also go horseback riding or kayaking.
14. Bergen Belsen
Bergen Belsen was a Nazi concentration camp in Lower Saxony, Germany, before and during World War II. It was established in 1940 as a prisoner-of-war camp for British and French soldiers and converted into a concentration camp for Jews, Poles, and other groups before its liberation in 1945.
Visiting is an emotional experience with exhibits demonstrating the atrocities of humanity. The main exhibit of Dokumentationszentrum tells the camp’s history through photographs, documents, and artifacts. There is also a memorial site on the grounds, including a cemetery for the victims.
Visiting becomes an act of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and by making you a witness to the camp where an estimated 50,000 people perished. Difficult emotionally, visiting can be incredibly sobering but also moving and educational. Guided tours are available in English, German, French, Spanish, and Russian.
When is the best time to visit Niedersachsen?
The best time to visit Lower Saxony and the Niedersachsen region is in summer, from June to September. The temperatures are warm, and the atmosphere is festive. It gives you the most variety for visiting, from beaches to sailing, hiking to biking.
What festivals can I enjoy in Niedersachsen?
The best festivals in Lower Saxony include the Hurricane music festival, the Deichbrand music festival, and the traditional Oldenburger Kramermarkt, one of the oldest fairs in Germany. Other festivals you’d want to visit include Hannover Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets.
What historical sites can I see in Niedersachsen?
When visiting Lower Saxony, some historical sites you should visit are Hildesheim Cathedral, Hanover Castle, Braunschweig Castle, and Goslar. The variety of historical sites you can visit ranges from medieval times to the homes of Holy Roman Emperors to Baroque nobility.