Considering going to Lübeck and want to know all the fun things to do in Lübeck Germany? We have you covered! Below you will find our full guide to all the best things to see in Lübeck to plan your ultimate trip.
Lübeck is one of the best cities to visit in Northern Germany. From its UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town to its long and interesting history, there is much to captivate you here in Lübeck.
I was first fascinated by Lübeck when I was researching places to go on our drive south into Germany from Copenhagen. As soon as I saw photos of Lübeck’s Old Town, I knew it was somewhere we had to stop. Just. So. Gorgeous.
And as I read more, I wondered how I hadn’t heard of Lübeck before. From being the administrative capital of the powerful Hanseatic League to making its way into many lists of Germany’s best Old Towns, it was a must visit on our list.
So did it live up to the hype?
Definitely! Lübeck is a great place to visit and I highly recommend a stop here on your own Germany adventures. It has a great range of attractions with just about all handily located in an easy to access Old Town that you won’t be able to get enough of. It’s awesome.
Ready to plan your own trip?
Below, you will find our Lübeck travel blog with everything you need to know about what to do in Lübeck Germany, the top Lübeck tourist attractions as well as the best places to stay for your ultimate Lübeck holiday. There is also a handy map of all the top Lübeck things to do.
An Introduction To Lübeck
Hansestadt Lübeck (“Hanseatic City of Lübeck”) is located in the northern part of Germany about 14 kilometres from the Baltic Sea. It has the largest Baltic harbour in Germany and a population of over 200,000.
Lübeck has a long history of being an important commercial centre after being founded in 1143. From 1230 – 1535, it was one of the main cities in the Hanseatic League, a powerful force at the time. It was even the administrative headquarters of the League for a period.
In the 1200s, Lübeck was briefly part of Denmark and in the 1800s, was briefly under French control. In 1815, it became part of the German Confederation.
In World War II, a large part of the Old Town was destroyed. However, it was restored postwar and the basic structure of the Old Town remains.
In 1987, Lübeck’s Old Town became the first in northern Europe to be UNESCO World Heritage listed.
You can learn more about Lübeck’s past here.
Top 19 Things To Do In Lübeck Germany
Here are the best Lübeck places to visit. Read through and select the ones that fit your interests and timeframe. If you only have one day to visit Lübeck top attractions, find our one day itinerary below.
The good news is that our list of what to see and do in Lübeck is all centered on the Old Town except for one item so it’s very easy to visit everything you want.
Altstadt (Old Town)
Lübeck’s UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town is exactly what tempted us to visit Lübeck. It’s so picturesque in photos and the real thing is even more amazing.
Walking around the Old Town has to be my #1 of the things to do in Lübeck. The 13th – 15th century buildings here are well restored and it’s fun to just walk in whatever direction you want to see what you’ll discover.
So don’t just follow a map but walk around and try to get lost. You’ll never stay lost for long, but it’s part of the fun.
Find some hidden courtyards (more on this below), look out for the merchants’ houses and warehouses that show the importance of this trading hub. Explore museums, look our for steeples, eat the local food, enjoy half-timbered houses and more.
Lübeck’s Old Town is surrounded by the Trave River on a small island. I recommend you don’t just stroll within the Old Town but try walking around its edges by the river. It’s all very picturesque.
The whole area is like a living museum and you can easily enjoy strolling around this area for a couple of hours.
While you are doing it, you can take in some of the following…
Holstentor (Holsten Gate)
The most famous landmark in Lübeck, Holsten Gate was originally built in 1464 and is well known throughout Germany.
Once one of four medieval gates into the Old Town, only two now remain and this is by far the most impressive. If you are arriving by train, this will be your entry point into the Old Town. If you aren’t, still enter this way if you can. It does add to the whole experience.
It’s been rebuilt twice but has kept its grand appearance with twin towers leaning towards each other. A weak foundation makes it appear like they are sagging inward.
Inside the towers is the Museum Holstentor which documents the history of the gate as well as Lübeck’s history as a Hanseatic and Free Imperial City.
Petrikirche (Church Of St Peter)
Not far from Holstentor, Petrikirche is the perfect place to head next on your Lübeck adventure.
While it’s no longer a church, it is an exhibition and function space and, most importantly for tourists, it has a great viewing platform at around 50 metres high which can be accessed via a lift – so no steep stairs to climb up in this church tower.
This is the best place to get great views in the city. In clear weather, it’s possible to see the Baltic Sea. Either way, it’ll give you great views over the Old Town and I found it useful to understand the lay of the land.
At Christmas time, it’s also home to an arts and crafts market.
First mentioned in 1170, this church was in ruins in the 20th century until it was finally restored in 1987. You can see the towers from all around.
Lübeck Rathaus (Lübeck Town Hall)
Regarded as one of the most beautiful in Germany, you’ll want to at least stroll past the Lübeck Rathaus. It dates back to the 13th century and was built in a Romanesque style along two sides of the Markt Platz (Market Square).
In the 1570s, Renaissance additions were made in light standstone with the darker brick coming from earlier times.
Inside is beautiful as well with interesting art work and the stunning Audience Hall (Audienzsaal).
The only way to venture inside is on a tour which take place three times a day Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, this is only in German.
Marienkirche (St Mary’s Church)
While there is no shortage of churches in Lübeck, this is the one to visit if you want the (in my opinion) best one. It’s also Germany’s third largest church and has the highest brick-vaulted roof in the world at 38.5 metres. The towers are 125 metres high and the whole church makes for quite a sight.
Built between 1250 and 1350, the brick Gothic design inspired many others around the Baltic.
Today, it is also known for its broken bells which fell during a bombing raid during World War II and have been left where they fell.
There are beautiful stained glass windows and also an astronomical clock which performs at midday when eight people figures pass by a Christ figure who blesses them.
The whole inside of the church is quite lovely and it’s a great place to explore and take a moment to reflect.
Buddenbrookhaus (Buddenbrook House)
Literary lovers will want to consider a visisit to Buddenbrookhaus, the former family home of Nobel Literature prize winner, Thomas Mann who was born in Lübeck.
Buddenbrookhaus is a museum devoted to Thomas Mann and his “family of writers”. It aims to help people experience his book in real life as well as giving a history of their writing work.
The house itself is a stunning white Rococo-style house which dates from 1758 and is named after Mann’s novel about a wealthy Lübeck family that fails, The Buddenbrooks.
Europäisches Hansemuseum (European Hansemuseum)
If you want to learn more about the Hanseatic League, this museum should be on your list of must visit attractions. Opened in 2015, it does a magnificent job of detailing the history of the Hanseatic League and Lübeck.
It’s interactive and chock-a-block with information.
One of the cool aspects of this museum is that you get an RFID chip in your ticket which lets you select which town in the Hanseatic League you are most interested in (from a list of 50), what you are most interested in learning about (like how life was like for people at the time) and which language you want information in. As you walk around the museum, you can use this chip to display information related to this.
The story of the Hanseatic League is fascinating and it played such a big part in Lübeck’s history that I recommend you dedicate at least a couple of hours to this museum if you can.
On-site is also the restored Castle Friary which was formerly a monastery and worth a look if you have the time.
Burgtor (Castle Gate)
We already talked about Holstentor, Burgtor is the other remaining medieval gate.
Located on the north side of the Old Town by the Hansemuseum, Burgtor may not be as grand but is still worth a look.
Built in late Gothic-style, construction started in 1227 but did not finish for another couple of hundred years. Its five floors have pretty arched windows, and it used to be the residence of prominent Lübeck residents.
While you can’t go inside, it’s worth walking through.
Museumsquartier St Annen (St Annen Museum Quarter)
Another top attraction in Lübeck, Museumsquartier St Annen is well worth a visit.
Not just a museum, St Annen is home to a church, old synagogue and medieval buildings. The museum tells the history of this area and Lübeck over the last 700 years of art and culture.
Included is St Annen Kunsthalle which is home to art from the area both old and contemporary.
Günter Grass-Haus (Gunter Grass House)
Another place to visit for literary lovers, this museum is in honour of the 20th century author, Günter Grass. He spent much of this later life in Lübeck and passed away here in 2015. He is known for being a political writer and for winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999.
Günter Grass-Haus was opened in 2002 and focuses not just on his writing but also his art including paintings, sculptures and graphic art.
Other writers and artists are also featured.
Katharinenkirche (St Catherine’s Church)
This stop is for art lovers with sculptures by Gerhard Marcks and Ernst Barlach as well as some other art works.
It’s also a pretty building with some great decoration that was built in 1300. It is one of three former monastery churches that have been preserved in Lübeck.
It has limited opening hours so make sure you check before you go. At the time of publishing, this was only Thursday – Sunday in warmer months.
Willy Brandt Haus
Another Lübeck Nobel Prize winner is Willy Brandt, perhaps Lübeck’s most famous person. He was born here in 1913. The chancellor of West Germany from 1969 – 1974, Willy Brandt won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 thanks to his efforts to reunite West and East Germany.
Willy Brandt Haus is a museum which not only follows the career and life of Willy Brandt but also documents The Cold War era in Germany.
Brandt certainly lead an interesting life from being the mayor of Berlin when the wall was built to working as a reporter during the Nuremberg Trials. However, most space is dedicated to his efforts to reunite Germany, bridge the North-South divide and promote human rights.
Entry is free.
Behnhaus Drägerhaus Museum
The Behnhaus Drägerhaus Museum is an art museum housed in two former patrician villas. It’s home to a big collection of paintings and sculptures from the 19th century and classical modernity with a focus on the art of Romanticism and the Nazarenes.
The buildings that it calls home are the Behnhaus and the Drägerhaus, and there are also typical furniture displays.
Heiligen-Geist-Hospital (Hospital Of The Holy Spirit)
This hospital, founded in 1286, is one of the oldest social institutions in the world. It has been taking care of poor, sick and elderly residents from Medieval times to the 1960s.
Today, you can explore the architecture with 14th century frescoes and an altar from the 16th century in the Gothic hall church. It’s been well preserved and it’s worth a quick wander through its warren of cubicles where people used to live.
Entry is free but do note there isn’t that much to see here so you’ll be quick!
Dom (Lübeck Cathedral)
Another church worth the visit is Lübeck Cathedral at the southern end of Lübeck’s Old Town. It’s the oldest building in Lübeck and dates back to 1173 although the original Romanesque church was changed and enlarged using a Gothic style in the 14th century.
It was also bombed in WWII and was restored over nearly 40 years. Details and pictures of this restoration can be found inside as well as sculptures, a large organ and the 17 metre Triumphal Cross.
Lübeck’s Old Town is famous for its “hidden” courtyards and walkways. These date back to the Middle Ages when Lübeck’s burgeoning population meant that housing was is short supply. As a solution, single-store tiny homes were built in courtyards behind existing houses.
These courtyards were then accessed via walkways from the street.
If you love the idea of hidden homes and unexpected courtyards reached by little walkways, you’ll love looking for Lübeck’s courtyards with almost 90 still existing today.
They can mostly be found in Kober which is the northern area of the Old Town. Try looking along Engeslwisch, Glockengießerstraße and Engelsgrub. Around Lübeck Cathedral is also a good place to look.
If you don’t have any luck, try Füchtingshof and Glandorps Gang in Google maps for two more well known options. We did not find some examples hard to find though.
It’s quite a treat when you find them. Many are home to pretty flowers, timbered houses, cobbled paths and tiny gardens. They were a highlight of my time in Lübeck.
City Bus Tour
For an easy way to see more and learn more about Lübeck, consider a city bus tour. This is especially a good idea if your time in Lübeck is limited or you have limited mobility.
This 50-minute tour will take you around the Old Town starting at the Untertrave near the Holstentor. The tour price includes a headset so you can listen to the tour in your preferred language.
If there’s one thing in Lübeck you have to eat, it’s marzipan. Lübeck is so serious about its marzipan that there are even rules about the fact that Lübeck marzipan must be at least 70% almond paste and no more than 30% sugar and oils.
This pays off as I am usually not a fan of marzipan as I don’t like how sugary it is. However here, I loved it!
There are many places you can try marzipan across the city with the most iconic being Cafe Niederegger. There are so many marzipan items you can try from cakes to ice cream. You can even have some marzipan liqeur (so good, I recommend it 🙂 )
You won’t regret trying some Lübeck marzipan even if, like me, you don’t usually like it.
Looking for things to do near Lübeck Germany? Head to Travemünde on the Baltic Sea for some beach time.
A popular seaside resort town for hundreds of years, the beach has white sand and is around 1.7 kilometres long. The promenade by the beach is the place to stroll.
If you can leave the beach, Travemünde’s Old Town is pretty to explore having remained largely unchanged for centuries.
Just 20 minutes from Lübeck, Travemünde is at the mouth of the Trave River (münde means mouth). You can catch the train here from Lübeck.
Fun Things To Do In Lübeck In December
While most of the things to see in Lübeck Germany listed above are possible in winter time, there is a particular fun thing to do in Lübeck which is especially in the winter months.
Lübeck Christmas Market
First mentioned in 1648, Lübeck Christmas Market has a long history and a fabulous setting in the Old Town around the Rathaus, Breite Strasse and in Koberg Square. With thousands of colourful lights, it makes for quite a sight.
With more than 400 wooden huts and stalls, there’s plenty to buy here from handcrafts to hot chestnuts, candied almonds and Glühwein. There’s a ferris wheel and other amusement rides. Close by, you’ll also find a market around Marienkirche with a fairy tale theme.
The market generally runs from mid to late November until the end of December.
But this is not all, by the railway station is another market that runs until Christmas. Petrikirche also has an arts and craft market.
All in all, you’ll have no problems getting into the Christmas spirit in Lübeck.
Overview Of Lübeck
You can check out many of the above attractions in this quick video overview of Lübeck.
What To Do In Lübeck In One Day
Only have one day in Lübeck? What a shame! But it’s ok, it’s still worth going to Lübeck if you only have one day.
With one day, I recommend you stick to the Old Town which is home to all the top Lübeck attractions apart from the beach at Travemünde.
With a day, you can visit most places apart from all of the museums. I recommend you head to the Old Town via Holstentor and then wander and enter the attractions that most interest you.
I especially recommend you make sure you get to:
- The viewing platform at Petrikirche
- Walk past the Rathaus
- Europäisches Hansemuseum
- And find some hidden courtyards
You can pick other attractions based on your interests.
The bus tour is also a great way to go if you are short on time.
In winter, definitely check out the Christmas Market if you are in town at the right time.
Lübeck Attractions Map
Best Place To Stay In Lübeck
When it comes to where to stay in Lübeck, there is a great range of hotels and other accommodation options. You won’t have any problem finding somewhere to stay.
Below I’ve listed a few different places to consider depending on what type of accommodation you are looking for.
If you want more options, you can use this map to help you find hotels and home rental accommodation around Lübeck.
BEST – Hotel Die Reederin Review
Located near the Hansemuseum in the northern part of the Old Town, Hotel Die Reederin is in a great position for exploring Lübeck. With only seven rooms (named after ships), this is a boutique, atmospheric hotel in a renovated old town house that used to be the seat of the shipping company FH Bertling.
Rooms here range from king rooms to family rooms for five to a king suite option. The rooms are themed and set up using their shipping heritage in unique and interesting ways. For example, sea containers were used in the bathrooms as wall cladding for the showers.
All rooms have toiletries, safes, free wifi and TVs and are beautifully presented. Some have balconies. Breakfast is included.
This is the place to stay in Lübeck if you want somewhere beautiful and unique in the Old Town.
VALUE – B&B Hotel Lübeck Review
Located by the train station and just a short walk from Holstentor and the Old Town, B&B Hotel is a great choice if you want a budget price tag within an easy walk of the Old Town.
Rooms range from double and twin to triples and family rooms with a bunk bed. Rooms all have private bathrooms, desks, TV and wifi.
Buffet breakfast is available for a reasonable extra fee and pets can also stay for an extra fee.
A big pro of this hotel for us was the free on-site parking although it does fill up.
5 STAR – Radisson Blu Senator Hotel Review
If you like your hotels 5 star, this is the choice for you! Located on the Trave River opposite the Old Town, it’s just a few minutes walk to Holstentor and the Old Town as well as being close to the train station.
This hotel has everything you need with three eating options including a cafe, tavern and a fine dining restaurant. You can also get room service. There’s a pool and sauna as well as a billiard table, a playground and play corner for kids.
There are great outdoor spaces by the river as well.
Rooms are double or twin and come in standard, superior or suite options. The suites also have a living room. All rooms come with air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, bathrobes and TVs.
Parking is available for an extra fee.
How To Get To Lübeck
We travelled to Lübeck by hire car which made it very easy to get here. It’s easy to make your way here from anywhere in Germany. We actually travelled here from Copenhagen and a ferry takes you from Denmark about an hour from Lübeck very easily (Rødby Sogn – Puttgarden ferry).
There are also ferries to Travemünde from places in Finland and Sweden.
Lübeck has an airport with flights from key places in Germany and a few places in Europe. A better bet can be Hamburg Airport which is about an hour’s drive away as it has much better connections.
There are regular trains and buses here. You can find timetables and all your options here.
Once in Lübeck, it’s easy to get around as everything you’ll want to see is in the Old Town. Simply get here and then explore by foot. It’s an easy walk from the main train station.
Lübeck With Kids
Lübeck is a fun place to visit with kids as long as they love exploring Old Towns as that’s mostly what you’ll be doing!
We visited Lübeck with our three kids aged 6 to 12 and they had a great time. However, we did keep the museum visits to a minimum and made finding hidden courtyards into a game. And, of course, there was the reward (bribe) of marzipan for well behaved kids!
The city bus tour also worked well for us. For an hour, they love riding around in a bus listening to a tour and it’s a good break for all of us.
If you visit during summer, Travemünde is a great distraction for kids as some beach time is sure to make a great break from history for travel weary kids.
Lübeck is a fun, beautiful and easy place to visit and explore. It has one of my favourite Old Towns of any in the world and I recommend a visit here, even if you just have a few hours to wander and enjoy.
It has a good amount of attractions. In a couple of days, you could get to just about everything while still having plenty of time to just enjoy. We loved it.
I hope you found this guide to Lübeck useful and you have a great visit as well.