Traveling to other countries is a cool part of studying abroad. However, I think it’s important to explore what your host country has to offer! As a student at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg in Germany, your student ID also functions as a train ticket within the state of Lower Saxony. So, you can get to all of these destinations for free (and we college students can’t turn down free). In addition, USAC takes field trips to all of these locations, included in your program fees, so you can go with the group and a guide then return and explore on your own over the weekend with friends.
#1 – Hamburg
Hamburg is an obvious choice to spend the day, an afternoon after class, or a night on the town. With a RE train, it’s only a half-hour ride. During your semester in Lüneburg, you will become very familiar with Hamburg and its train station; I went to Hamburg at least five times. Some of my favorite attractions are the Miniatur Wunderland, the Elbphiloharmonie, St. Nikolai, the Rathaus (city hall) and the shopping center. A few of USAC’s field trips were to fun places in the city; take advantage of them – admission is free!
#2 – Lübeck
An hour and a half from Lüneburg, Lübeck is one of my favorite cities for a day trip. It is actually located in Schleswig-Holstein, but train fare is covered with the semester ticket. In my two trips there, I toured the Museum Holstentor, the Rathaus, Buddenbrookhaus, the Lübeck Cathedral, and St. Jakobi, as well as wandering the city streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site and checking out shops. Don’t forget to buy marzipan!
A bonus destination is Timmendorfer Strand, a beach on the Bay of Lübeck (aka the Baltic Sea); however, the semester ticket doesn’t cover this destination – you’ll have to buy a ticket.
#3 – Bremen
Bremen is in northwest Germany and it takes almost two hours to get there – I promise it is worth the trek! My friends and I spent most of our time there walking around the city. One famous landmark is the Bremer Stadtmusikanten, or the Town Musicians of Bremen, which is a statute depicting a Grimm fairytale. Another landmark is Böttcherstraße, an extremely narrow street lined with shops and art. My favorite feature was the Glockenspiel! Two notable churches to visit are St. Peter’s Cathedral and Liebfrauenkirche, or Our Lady’s Church, which is the oldest church in the city. The last thing we did was walk around the Schnoorviertel, a historic medieval neighborhood.
#4 – Celle
My friend and I visited Celle on Good Friday, which is a federal holiday in Germany, so most of the shops and businesses were closed. Regardless, Celle is a great destination for a day trip. We spent most of our time exploring the city streets and admiring the multitude of half-timbered houses. The beautiful Celle Castle usually offers guided tours; however, it was under renovations. We walked through the French gardens – a great picnic spot. We ended our day with ice cream sundaes, the perfect way to finish the afternoon.
#5 – Hannover
I never made it to Hannover, despite it being the capital of Lower Saxony. After doing some quick research, I wish I had! The new and old city halls are stunning examples of historical architecture. Hannover also has a few cool churches. The Marktkirche is landmark that’s hard to miss – it sits in the center of the Altstadt (historic city center). Aegidienkirche, which was destroyed during WWII, is roofless as a memorial to the victims of war. Hannover’s sister city, Hiroshima, donated a peace bell to the church. If you love nature, Eilenreide is the place for you! It’s a park that’s twice the size of Central Park, with a few cafes and informational posts.
These are just a handful of the cities you can visit with the semester ticket; you could fill up just about every weekend by touring Lower Saxony. Also, most of the activities I mentioned are free – you could save even more money by packing a lunch. Even on rainy days, a day trip is worth the go; there are neat museums and tours in every city (don’t forget to ask about student discounts!).
Where are you going first?
Sammy Kalski is an alum of the USAC Lüneburg Spring 2019 program. You can read about her adventures abroad on her blog S.R. Kalski. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter @srkalski.