For some reason unknown to me Hannover, Germany doesn’t have the best reputation among tourists. They prefer to visit much more famous German cities such as Berlin, Munich or Cologne.
I knew nothing about the city before visiting, I had no clue about any things to do in Hannover but that was actually good. With no expectations at all, I could make my own opinion about Hannover, and it’s a good one!
When I announced on my Instagram profile I’m going to visit Hannover for the weekend one of the comments was “why? this is the most boring city in Germany!”. I must admit this got me intrigued even more as I don’t believe there are places with nothing interesting to see and do, we just need to visit them with the open mind and appreciate what they have to offer.
As it quickly turned out it was super easy with Hannover. The city turned out to be a great weekend destination and even with the not so good weather I enjoyed it big time!
Table of contents
- 1 A short history of Hannover
- 2 The New Town Hall – the must thing to do in Hannover!
- 3 Charming but tiny Hannover Old Town
- 4 Kröpcke – the very heart of Hannover
- 5 Other things to do in the center of Hannover
- 6 Market Hall – a food paradise in Hannover
- 7 Herrenhausen Gardens – a true gem of Hannover
- 8 Hanover – a (modern) art paradise
- 9 Linden – the coolest neighborhood of Hannover
- 10 Exceptional green spaces in Hannover
- 11 Is it worth to visit Hannover?
- 12 Hannover pictures
A short history of Hannover
Even if these days Hannover looks like a fairly new, modern city it has a long and interesting history. The place was first mentioned already in the 11th century and got the town rights some 200 years later. Since 1636 Hannover has been the seat of Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, later known as Kingdom of Hannover.
This strong and independent state, very closely linked with Great Britain, was eventually incorporated into Prussia in the second half of the 19th century. What used to be a grand city was turned into the ruins – during World War 2 Hannover was bombed and 90% of the city was destroyed.
Today Hannover is a lively city, with a mix of architecture and a cool vibe that is so easy to enjoy.
The New Town Hall – the must thing to do in Hannover!
The most known sight of the city and an absolute must thing to do in Hannover is the New Town Hall. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century, finished in 1913 and it is stunning not only from the outside but also inside.
When I entered the building and saw the 38-meter high main hall my jaw literally dropped. It looked like from a fairy tale with all the details and stairs perfect for the princess to walk down. It’s worth to stop here for a second and see four miniature town models, showing how Hannover used to look like in the year 1689, 1939, 1945 and it the present day.
This little overview helps you understand the dramatic history of the city, it’s ups and downs. It must have been such a beautiful place back in the day but only three buildings survived the WW2 in the intact shape…
But the main hall isn’t the only reason why you need to visit the New Town Hall. From the top of the dome you can admire the most splendid view of Hannover, Maschsee and the surrounding area all the way to Harz mountains (on a clear day, I wasn’t so lucky, unfortunately). It’s especially interesting when you keep in mind how the city used to look like on the models – gives you an interesting perspective to see the change.
But before you get to the top of the dome you will take the unique oblique elevator, the only one of that kind in Europe! Since it has a transparent floor you can actually see the angle when moving up and down and it’s such a funny feeling!
Charming but tiny Hannover Old Town
If someone asks me how the typical German old town looks like I’d describe colorful half-timbered houses mixed with red brick buildings. And that’s how the core of Hannover old town is!
Even if the area is really tiny now, after WW2 bombing raids, it’s quaint and so picturesque! Cobbled lanes, buildings covered in ivy, cozy corners and charming little shops or cafes – it kind of felt like the time has stopped there!
After WW2 the half-timbered houses were collected from all over the city and put together to create a small substitute of the old town Hannover used to have. The result is really good and makes you move back in time to the good, old days.
Kröpcke – the very heart of Hannover
The present old town might be tiny but the actual one was pretty impressive and you can still clearly see its shape on the map (or the model in the New Town Hall). These days it’s the social and commercial heart of the city and the meeting point for many is Kröpcke. The name can apply to the square, the cafe or the clock and the last one is where everyone meets.
The origin of the name comes from the first cafe that was opened here in 1869 and a few years later was bought by a man named Wilhelm Kröpcke. He was liked and respected by many so to commemorate him and his cafe (that was destroyed during the war) the square was named after him. How nice is that?!
Other things to do in the center of Hannover
While in the center there are few other sights that cannot be missed.
Only few steps away from Kröpcke there’s a magnificent Opera House that is among the most beautiful neo-classical buildings I’ve ever seen!
A little bit further you will find ruins of Aegidienkirche. The church was built in the 12th century and was one of the largest worship places in Hannover, the reformation in the city started in here. In 1943 it was all destroyed. Just like churches in Berlin or Hamburg Aegidenkirche was never rebuilt to be a somber reminder of the tragedy of war.
On the outskirts of the city walls there is the Leine Palace – now home to the State Parliament of Lower Saxony. In front of it every Saturday, rain or shine, there is the colorful flea market. Established in 1967 it is the oldest flea market in Germany! The selection of good is enormous and everyone can find something for themselves. I had a really hard time trying to resist the urge to buy something at every second stall!
Market Hall – a food paradise in Hannover
But my absolute favorite activity in the old town and one of the best things to do in Hannover was visiting the market hall. It’s pretty compact but offers both local food and delicious dishes from all over the world – everything at very affordable prices!
When I visited the place on Saturday at noon it was bursting at the seams with colors, smells and lots of visitors! I literally couldn’t decide what I want to try, everything looked just so good but eventually I opted for some Middle Eastern goodies (as this is always a good idea!) and it was just the best!
Herrenhausen Gardens – a true gem of Hannover
A little further from the center (a short tram ride or some 4kms walk through a beautiful city park – Georgengarten – where the main lane was designed to be wide enough to fit carriages back in the royalty days) you can find Herrenhausen Gardens – a true gem of Hannover that cannot be missed.
The Great Garden is considered to be the most important baroque garden in Europe and it sure is impressive. Even on the gloomy day, it was beautiful with all the lanes, sculptures, fountains, hidden gardens, and all the carefully planned flower arrangements.
However, my favorite part of Herrenhausen Gardens was the grotto designed by the world-famous artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Even if she was born in France she has always been a great friend of Hannover and eventually was granted an honorary citizen title. The grotto was her gift to the people of Hannover. It’s an impressive modern interior, full of details showing the life of Niki. It somehow fits very well in the baroque surrounding.
Hanover – a (modern) art paradise
But Herrenhausen Gardens aren’t the only place where you can see art by Niki de Saint Phalle. Her most popular work – Nanas – are standing proudly at the bank of Leine River, where Saturday flea market takes place. Three colorful and curvy figures bring a smile even on the gloomy day and are a peculiar symbol of the city.
To see even more of Niki’s works head to the Sprengel Museum with a great collection of modern art. Besides Niki, you can admire there such world-famous names as Picasso, Chagall or Kokoschka.
I honestly didn’t expect the museum will be so amazing and with the brutalism design, I enjoyed every single minute there.
Linden – the coolest neighborhood of Hannover
To my utter joy, Hannover is full of brutalist architecture. I know for many it’s hard to love concrete masterpieces but I’m a huge fan of these and I was almost jumping with joy when I saw them. There are so many of them in the center but the most famous building is the residential block in Linden.
This area is worth exploring anyway! Linden is the closest to famous Berlin lifestyle you will find in Hannover. While Central Linden is chic and sophisticated with more upscale vibe and perfect for young families (kind of like Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin) North Linden is more edgy and funky (like Berlin’s Kreuzberg).
On Saturday early afternoon both places were vibrant, full of people enjoying their lunch or coffee in numerous outdoor places and it was clear to me that Linden is a good place to live in Hannover. Later on, I learned it’s currently the most desired neighborhood in the city so I wasn’t far from the truth.
Exceptional green spaces in Hannover
Another reason why I enjoyed Hannover so much was an unbelievable number of green spaces. The city has the rule that from every place you need to have a 10 minutes’ walk max to the park. There is even a regular forest in the city that used to be a hunting area for the royalty.
Add to this around 500kms of bike lanes and I feel like Hannover might be one of the greenest and eco-friendly cities in Germany!
The most popular green space is definitely Maschsee – a big artificial lake right behind the New Town Hall. It’s the best getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, perfect for relaxing or watersports.
Every summer the lake turns into the venue of Maschseefest – the festival that attracts around 2 million visitors each year! I was lucky to be in Hannover during that time and it was pretty amazing!
There are numerous stages around the lake, each of them with different kind of music, as well as numerous stalls serving food from all over the world. You can hop on the boat and move from one stage to the other while sipping a drink. It was so much fun!
Is it worth to visit Hannover?
For the city that is supposed to be the most boring in Germany, there are surprisingly many things to do in Hannover. From the beautiful architecture to vibrant neighborhoods, from interesting history to amazing art, from really good food scene to amazing green spaces – Hannover has it all!
I’m really glad I didn’t listen to anyone and I’ve decided to spend the weekend in Hannover as it turned out to be a great city. If you’re looking for the perfect yet not so obvious city break destination then I definitely recommend going to Hannover! You might be surprised as much as I was!
If you’d like to see more of my Hannover pictures click here for the whole gallery!
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Disclaimer: my trip to Hannover was in partnership with Visit Hannover but all opinions are my own as always! The city is such a gem!
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