With a beautifully preserved old town, a thriving cultural scene, great city parks and easy access to the Lower Saxony countryside, this German gem ticks more boxes than you might think.
Hannover’s rich array of historical attractions and its lively shopping scene attract visitors at all times of year, and in the festive season traditional Christmas markets bring an extra dose of atmosphere to the medieval streets and squares of the Old Town. Green space is Hannover’s other great strength – they city is blessed with several parks and gardens, from the formal terraces of Herrenhausen in the city centre to the great urban forest of the Eilenreide.
If it’s your first visit, begin at the beginning: the picturesque Old Town. Hannover began life as a medieval trading centre around a thousand years ago, and its historic heart is full of quaint market squares, half-timbered buildings and grand Gothic churches. For an even deeper lesson in local history, head to the Historisches Museum, situated near the banks of the Leine river.
For a sense of how Hannover has changed over the centuries, take a stroll from the medieval Old Town Hall to the New Town Hall, a grand Baroque palace completed in the early 20th century. It overlooks the Maschpark – another of Hannover’s fine green spaces – and offers fine views from its dome observation gallery. Then follow the Roter Faden (Red Thread) trail to discover the rest of Hannover’s key sights. The four-kilometre route is marked by a line on the street.
Ready for some culture? Visit the Sprengel Museum for the best in 20th century art, including works by Picasso, Ernst, Klee and Hannover-born Kurt Schwitters. Later, take a seat in the neoclassical State Opera House, which puts on a varied calendar of classical music, opera and ballet.
If you’re visiting with family, set aside some time for Hannover’s two animal attractions: Hannover Zoo, whose themed zones are packed with rides, shows and naturalistic enclosures; and the SEA LIFE centre, whose tanks hold everything from colourful clown fish to mighty sharks. Like Hannover itself, they surprise and delight at every turn.