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Lüneburg: Quaint Hanseatic city with countless opportunities

The atmosphere in Lüneburg is very much like that of other German cities dating back to the Middle Ages – old, magnificent buildings and narrow alleyways. You can walk or bike to most places in town, and if you ever long for that big-city feeling, Hamburg is just a half an hour away.

by Florian Schubert

The Ilmenau and old harbour © Florian Schubert
The Ilmenau and old harbour . © Florian Schubert

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
174,123
Students:
13,629
Universities:
1
Monthly rent:
305 €
Tip:
Contact the student group L.A.S.S.I. – they’re always organising fun events.
Website:
www.lueneburg.de

Welcome to Lüneburg

As you stroll down the narrow streets of Lüneburg that date back to the Middle Ages, you can’t help but notice the many old buildings in town. Lüneburg was once a very wealthy city thanks to its salt industry, and salt was a very valuable commodity back then. That explains why there are so many magnificent houses and villas here.

St. John’s Church © Florian Schubert
St. John’s Church . © Florian Schubert

The Lüneburg train station is very centrally located. From there, you just have to keep going straight until you reach downtown. If you ever get lost, you can regain your orientation by looking for the towering steeple of St. John’s Church located downtown.

After about a ten-minute walk, you will reach the old city hall. It was built in 1230 and is where the mayor still goes to work every day. The city hall is known throughout northern Germany for its famous white façade. The marketplace lies directly in front of the city hall. Every Wednesday and Saturday, market vendors set up their stalls and sell their produce and wares from 7 am to 1 pm. Definitely check it out! You’ll find lots of things you simply can’t buy at a supermarket, like fresh fish or locally grown vegetables.

My tip

My advice is to join the activities offered by L.A.S.S.I. They’re a great opportunity to meet students from countries everywhere. You should definitely participate if you can!

The white city hall of Lüneburg © Florian Schubert
The white city hall of Lüneburg . © Florian Schubert

Continuing further, you’ll pass many small and large stores until after about ten minutes you reach the "Am Sande" square. This is where you’ll find many cafés and the buses that take you to the university.

In the winter, a well-known Christmas market takes place at "Am Sande", as well as another in front of the city hall. The Christmas market is definitely worth a visit especially if you want to experience a little medieval atmosphere.

If you want to take a beautiful walk in the summer or springtime, we recommend following the Ilmenau River that flows through Lüneburg and leads you past the old harbour.

Recreation in Lüneburg

Lüneburg offers you many opportunities to meet with friends after classes or do something by yourself. Although many buildings in town look very old-fashioned, you’ll discover a wide variety of international shops and restaurants in the alleys and streets. The India Haus, for example, located in Heiligengeiststrasse, is a popular spot with the locals. Word has it that they serve the best curry in Lüneburg.

In the summertime you can sit down and relax at the Ilmenau with other residents of Lüneburg. You can normally find a free seat at one of the numerous bars along the river, or you can sit down on the riverside wall and eat your packed lunch.  

Café Zeitgeist © Florian Schubert
Café Zeitgeist . © Florian Schubert

The student group L.A.S.S.I. organises numerous excursions in and around Lüneburg and regularly hosts a Stammtisch get-together at the "Hausbar". It's a perfect opportunity to get to know people, meet Germans and other international students.

Before going to your first class in the morning, you can wake up with a nice, inexpensive cup of coffee at Café Zeitgeist, and for lunch or supper, you are sure to find a restaurant of your liking at Schrangenplatz.

With your semester ticket, you can easily visit fascinating destinations in and around the city of Lüneburg at no charge. For example, you can take the train to the Lüneburger Heide where you can visit the Salt Museum, or spend a day at the Heidepark in Soltau. And whenever you’re in the mood to go to the coolest clubs and experience the second-largest city in Germany, there are two trains that travel to Hamburg every hour. You can get there in about 30 minutes and the ride is free with your semester ticket. And if that’s not enough, you can visit another old Hanseatic city for free: Lübeck.

Ayana Honda © Florian Schubert
Ayana Honda . © Florian Schubert

Interview with Ayana from Japan

Ayana Honda is 21 years old and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies in Lüneburg.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

I took the ÖSD German exam (Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch) at the B1-level.

What should you definitely do before coming here? What’s the most important thing you should prepare for in your opinion? 

First you have to save a lot of money which you will need for the visa. And you have to bring enough clothes, especially if you’re somewhat shorter like me (laughs). Because in Germany everything is bigger than in Japan.

What is your advice for making it easier to leave home?

My father and I took a small trip together to Hokkaidô before I flew to Germany. That was very good for us!

Did you have any expectations of Lüneburg?

I had heard that Lüneburg was very small, but also very pretty. And that it was located very close to Hamburg. So I guess I expected that I’d be able to enjoy big-city life too!

What was the hardest thing for you in the beginning?

The trains! When I first wanted to take the train, I sometimes had to wait a very long time! Suddenly they said the train was "ausgefallen" – cancelled!

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