Intersected by the tranquil River Leine and patchworked with green spaces such as the smartly groomed Herrenhausen Palace Gardens and the densely forested Eilenriede, commerce is just the tip of Hannover’s iceberg. While its annual tech trade shows have certainly helped to put this vibrant city on the map, Hannover knows how to let its hair down, too. The colourful Schützenfest funfair and beer-swilling extravaganza of Oktoberfest invite their fair share of merrymakers.
Whether visiting for business or pleasure, the captivating Old Town is a must-see. Much of it, including the ornate Brick Gothic Maktkirche and olde-worlde timbered houses, was constructed in the 14th century during the era of the Hanseatic League. Prior to this, the city was a small fishing settlement. Seek out the market hall to take your pick from meaty kochwurst, steaming local stews and other regional delicacies. And be sure to stop by Leineschloss, an imposing palace that’s rumoured to be haunted by aristocratic ghosts.
For a more contemporary pursuit, search out the European Cheese Centre for cheese and wine tasting. Pack away some of your spoils for a picnic and steer the family over to Erlebnis Zoo—the polar bears and penguins are always a hit. Later on, you’ll find a compelling line-up of events at the star-studded Staatsoper opera house.
You don’t need to go far to escape the city, with rolling landscapes nudged up close to Hannover’s borders. For a real taste of tranquillity, visit the glassy Lake Steinhude. Just a 30-minute drive away, this 32km2 expanse of water attracts bathers, boaters and nature-lovers during the summer months.
Stretch your legs in Wunstorfer Moor’s atmospheric wetlands on Lake Steinhude’s eastern cusp. Or, for equally stunning scenery, head for the beech and pine-sheltered Deister hills. Half an hour from Hannover, a hike through its leafy trails provides an instant hit of peace and quiet.
Follow the looping River Weser north to Bremen. Take in the spindly Gothic spires of its St Peter’s Cathedral and the ornamental façade of the town hall from a cheery café lining the broad Marktplatz. Visit in winter to catch Bremen’s lively cinnamon-scented Christmas market.
Hire a car with Avis in Hannover to explore northwest Germany’s charismatic cities, stunning natural scenery and historic treasures.