Northern Germany is a beautiful destination filled with both bountiful fishing ports and gorgeous natural landscapes, and it’s definitely a place you should visit at least once in your life if for no other reason than to experience its unique and vibrant energy. There’s honestly no place I’ve been around the world yet that compares to it. From the gorgeous, lush greens of the Lüneburg Heath to the classic fairy-tale sights of Bremen to the fishing ports in Bremerhaven, there’s something for everyone on the Northern side of Germany. And, of course, me being me and loving all that there is to love about the weird side of the world, it’s important to mention that there’s a bunch of traditionally weird and also just wonderfully unique places to visit in Northern Germany that are worth the shout out! I give you, the weirdest things to do in Northern Germany!
The Fishery Harbor in Bremerhaven
While this may not immediately come off as weird to you, there’s something that just feels like a rare occurrence getting to walk through the fishing harbor of Bremerhaven and into a beautifully decorated market where you can buy fully-intact fish from happy fisherman ready to sell you their catch of the day. It’s not every day you get to soak in the charming visuals of a small fishing village and get to experience all its history and depth, and Bremerhaven is just a great place for this. Plus, their practices are incredibly eco-friendly and sustainable, so what’s not to love?
Deutsches Auswanderer Haus / German Emigration Center
While an emigration museum may not seem like an unusual place, I can guarantee you that you’ve likely experienced nothing like the German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven. As we were preparing to go into this award-winning museum, one of our guides from the German Tourism Board explained to me that this was one of the most “American” museums he’d seen outside of the states, and I couldn’t even grasp what he meant until I saw it in person. There is a natural scene set in this museum, a stage if you will, where you are put in as the star on this emigration journey from Bremerhaven to Ellis Island back centuries ago. You are given a person (who really immigrated from Bremerhaven), and you follow along with their journey throughout your visit. And you are fully immersed into the scene. As we first walked into that first room, I felt knocked back in awe as I saw a room made to look like an evening scene where passengers left aboard a ship.
The German Emigration Center states in its marketing that you can travel back in time and experience history interactively, with all of your senses, and that really is the best way to put it.
There was a fully built ship in the wall ahead of me complete with an ocean of water, passengers waiting to board, and the full scenery of décor and sounds to accompany it. The scene was set, and I felt as if I was truly there about to board that ship. As the exhibit continues and your person’s story unfolds, you get a tour of the ship and to truly feel what it was like. Every single detail was thought out to a t. For instance, as you walk down the hallway of the ‘ship’ setting, the floor was build slightly uneven, so as your body tries to correct this, you feel as if you are moving back and forth with the waves of a ship. The floor, made to look like the wooden planks of a ship, creaks and moves with your feet in a way that you feel you are on that ship. I’ve never seen so much detail and awe put into the storytelling of a museum, and I was truly blown away. This really stood out as not just a museum- but an experience- one I will never forget. Even at the end of that journey, there’s room emulating the ‘cages’ people were put into as they were screened upon entering, and you can try your best to answer your questions with out getting turned away.
There are even sections dedicated to what life was like in New York after their arrival and a new section on what it is like for people emigrating to Germany in the modern world, complete with manikins that look so real that they even have pores and body hair. The whole experience was exceptionally well-done, very dramatic, awe-inspiring, and it definitely get its message across. I cannot recommend this whole museum experience enough. It truly is a one-of-a-kind, immersive adventure.
Speaking of insanely detailed museums with a focus on sustainability, Klimahaus encompasses all of this and more in a way I only hope I can articulate well enough. Sharing the journey of a man who followed a single longitude line all the way down the world, Klimahaus shows what it was like for him to live in different climates and environments across the world. So, you go throughout his journey with him in an area or room for each country, one that fully encapsulates what that climate is like. So, when you go into Nigeria, not only is there a room of dried, caked sand and dust with huts that show what the accommodation is like, but the room is also heated up to a strikingly hot temperature complete with humidity for you to experience. In a similar way, Antarctica is shown in a snowy room with a single tent put out in quite literally freezing temperatures. There’s fun places to climb and play and amazingly detailed sets laid out so you can experience this tale as if you went on the adventure yourself. It is unlike anything I’ve experience before, and it is a must-visit in every way! It also contains 1,000 small living animals within, making it a mini zoo in its own right, too. Like the German Emigration Center, Klimahaus takes the immersive museum experience to the next level.
Urban Gardening in Bremen
In the parking lot of the former Kellogg’s factory in Bremen, you will find Gemüsewerft, an urban gardening project changing the way that Bremen works sustainably by growing local produce in the heart of the city. But not only that, it’s the only urban gardening project working with the social welfare system to pay their staff (which currently consists of roughly 30 people). Oh, and their staff is made up largely of handicapped workers. It’s all done with the mission of connecting handicapper and non handicapped people together and giving everyone a purpose to work towards. Gemüsewerft celebrabes inclusivity at its finest. And it works in partnership with the locally-owed brewery, Bremer Braumanufaktur, to grow the wheat for its beer, so it’s growing locally and creating local partnerships. It’s one of the most unique farming experiences I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, so I definitely recommend you check both of these places out on your adventures in Bremen.
The Town Musicians of Bremen
If you liked hearing about the Heidelberg Monkey, then you’ll love hearing about the Town Musicians of Bremen, an old Brother’s Grimm tale brought to life in… well, you guessed it, Bremen! As you go throughout the old town of Bremen, you’ll find nods to this tale scattered across the city, including in a small manhole you can put a coin in to hear their music and animal sounds, and a statue of the 4 animals that make up the town musicians in the tale. Legend has it that if you hold the two front legs of the donkey on this statue (and you have to hold both legs or you’ll just look foolish), then you can make a wish, and it will supposedly come true, another of the weirdest things to do in Northern Germany!
The Bleikeller Mummies
In contrast to the beautiful fairy-tale-like feel of Bremen, under Saint Peter’s Cathedral, resting peacefully in the church’s cellar, you’ll find the Bleikeller Mummies, a group of eight mummies (seven you can see) that were discovered in the basement of the church in the late 17th century. These mummies were, in fact, naturally mummified by what was originally thought to be the lead they were stored with (they were stored in the Bleikeller or lead cellar); however, it is now believed it was the dry air they were sealed into that mummified them naturally. Whatever the case, you can see them in the summer and fall months in Bremen, and I highly recommend the quick visit down to see them.
Get Up-Close and Personal with Nature (and Sheep!) at the Lüneburg Heath
While potentially taking a nice stroll through a natural heath may not seem weird or unusual, the Lüneburg Heath is a wonderful landscape where, if you’re lucky enough, you may just bump into a sheepherder and his flock of sheep, as we did. Talk about one of the greatest and strangest experiences of my life, there’s nothing like being surrounded by a bunch of adorable, loud, and energetic sheep. That’s definitely one of the weirdest things to do in Northern Germany.
Or think about taking a carriage ride while you take in the gorgeous views all around you in the heath. It’s a natural wonderland full of elemental energy and lore.
In fact, I was told an old myth from this heath. There are many Junipers that grow there. Supposedly, according to old lore, every Juniper has a human connected with it. During the Thirty Years War, a woman, devastated that her husband went off to war and died, prayed to each of the Junipers for him to ‘wake up’ and return to her (juniper means ‘wake up’ in German). According to the story, she found his Juniper, prayed to it, and he DID come back to her. But… apparently, the worst people say she had found someone better before he did.
Northern Germany is a wonderful place full of myths, lore, fun activities, and more. And I’ll leave you with this… Remember, in Germany, while toasting, if you forget to look people in the eyes, you’ll have 3 years bad sex. So, be sure to make eye contact while toasting!
All in all, Northern Germany truly does have something for everyone, even those of us who love the weird and unusual. I hope your journeys take you up north in Germany, and when they do, I hope you’ll enjoy all of these unique wonders mentioned above, the weirdest things to do in Northern Germany.