Hannover – 5 reasons to hop off the train and explore

Hannover is a major city and cultural hub in northern Germany located on the route between Amsterdam and Berlin or Munich and Hamburg. Famous for its trade fairs and its royal house, Hannover is often overlooked as a destination but at our loss. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should hop off in Hannover and get discovering.

1. Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen

The gardens at Herrenhausen Palace are among the most beautiful in Europe and represent the jewel in Hannover’s crown. With immaculate lawns, flowerbeds and orangeries, the Großer Garten is one of the most important baroque gardens in existence and has long been a source of inspiration to all who visited, from Peter the Great to the composer Handel. The Berggarten meanwhile is home to an excellent botanical garden with thousands of exotic plants and a world-famous orchid collection, and the Georgengarten pays homage to the classic English landscape style.

The royal gardens of Herrenhausen, Hannover
Herrenhausen Palace and gardens

2. Grotto by Niki de Saint Phalle

Located within the world-famous gardens at Herrenhausen lies another great work of art – the Grotto by Niki de Saint Phalle. Here the renowned French-American artist used a classical baroque setting to create an almost dreamlike experience for visitors. The walls and ceilings are covered in dazzling mosaics made of glass, mirror and stone, with bright reds, yellows and oranges adorning the grotto and colourful sculptures dotting the way.

3. Sculpture Mile & Sprengel Museum

Visitors are often surprised to discover that Hannover is home to one of the largest collections of street art in all of Germany. The ‘Sculpture Mile’, a public exhibition space comprising 200 works of art, features one of the most recognisable symbols of Hannover today – the three voluptuous, multicoloured “Nana” sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle. Twelve of the city’s bus stops have also been transformed into extraordinary modern art installations and, to top things off, Hannover also boasts the Sprengel Museum, which houses one of the most important collections of modern art in Germany.

4. The Red Thread 

Forget Google Maps, there’s an easier way to discover Hannover – the Red Thread, or Roter Faden. Follow this red line painted onto the pavement through the centre of Hannover and visit 36 of the city’s most important sights, from statues and monuments to medieval half-timbered houses, churches and historic buildings, including Hannover’s palatial New Town Hall. So switch off your phone, disconnect and give the Red Thread a go.
Start: Tourist Information, Ernst-August Platz 8, directly opposite the Hauptbahnhof. 

Want to explore the city? Just follow the red thread
Want to explore the city? Just follow the red thread

5. Water Tower, or Wasserturm

What do you do with a decommissioned water tower that is over a hundred years old and almost falling apart? Why, you turn it into an event space of course. Instead of demolishing Hannover’s historic Wasserturm, once Europe’s largest, the city decided to repurpose the building and transform it into a dramatic setting for all kinds of events, from techno parties to art exhibitions. Here, industrial charm meets historic architecture and a modern vibe. You can even dine in the tower’s circular restaurant or climb to the top for a view of the city.

Time for Coffee

Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere at Apartment Hannover, a trendy vegan café that serves a variety of delicious salads, bowls and smoothies. Or try one of their tasty cakes or raw desserts over a cup of coffee or fresh lemon tea. The perfect sustainable option for your time in Hannover.

Falkenstraße 1, Hannover (close to U-Bahn Schwarzer Bär)

Bart Giepmans
Bart practically grew up on a train and has been discovering Europe by rail since his childhood. Stints at the Dutch and German Railways and at Interrail have turned him into an ardent ambassador for train travel. Bart has a passion for history and Alpine trails and is commuting regularly between Utrecht and Berlin.

Translated by: William Simpson. Photos by: Bart Giepmans.