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In cooperation with Herzogtum Lauenburg Marketing & Service GmbH

Between the Elbe, Lübeck and the Hanseatic city of Hamburg stretches a particularly lovely landscape. The beautiful Duchy of Lauenburg is worth a visit, especially at the beginning of the cooler season! Wrap up warmly and go for an autumn walk through the colorful forests. Or you can take a leisurely bike ride along tranquil lakes, go birdwatching, or get a taste of culture - and in historic, romantically illuminated towns, there are now stalls offering fragrant mulled wine and more. Here are six tips for a successful visit to the autumnal Duchy.


Hike in the Hellbach Valley

Put on weatherproof clothing and off you go: The Duchy of Lauenburg with its unspoiled nature is ideal for hiking, especially in the fall. In addition to sections of European long-distance trails, many (circular) tours lure visitors here for extended walks or hikes, for example around one of the enchanting lakes. The route through the Hellbach Valley, for example, is particularly attractive - it leads along tranquil waters, through mixed forests with autumnal colors and to cozy restaurants along the way. 

Start is at the Schmalsee, located a little south of the city of Mölln and from there easily accessible by car or in 20 minutes on foot through the game park. If you just want to go for a walk, simply circle the beautiful little body of water. Otherwise, the signposts will guide you further along the Lütauer See to the Drüsensee, where waterfowl can always be observed, and then southward through the Hellbachtal to the dark Schwarzsee with its viewing platform. Depending on the route, the tour is between 4 and 20 kilometers long, and there are good places to stop at both Drüsensee and Schmalsee.


Forest bathing at the Schaalsee

The breath becomes calm, pure forest air penetrates deep into the lungs. The small group moves slowly through the dense greenery on the shore of Lake Schaalsee, stopping occasionally between the trees. Small eye and mindfulness exercises reinforce the meditative experience, the mind stops for a moment, deceleration sets in. The healing effect of forest bathing for body and soul first became known in Japan in the 1980s under the name Shinrin Yoku, was medically researched and is now also a subject at universities there. But you don't have to travel to Asia to experience the natural benefits for yourself.

In the Duchy of Lauenburg, for example, Coach Kathrin Sohst, designated course leader for forest bathing & mindfulness in nature, offers excursions into the healing world of trees at the Schaalesee. In groups of up to 9 people, she leads for two and a half hours or longer through the beautiful nature reserve Groß Zecher at Schaalsee, there are other dates in Aumühle at the Hotel Waldesruh in the Sachsenwald. Also in the autumn and with rain the meditative trips take place, with appropriate clothing and firm footwear naturally. At the end of a forest bath, the participants then report on their experiences or enjoy a solo time-out - and are happy about the strengthening of their immune system and better physical and mental resilience!


Bike Tour High Elbe Bank

Romantic villages and shady avenues, extensive forests and 40 lakes characterize the landscape in the Duchy of Lauenburg. Around 1,000 kilometers of cycle paths, four long-distance routes and 13 themed circular tours also make the region a paradise for cyclists. One of the most beautiful routes is the Hohes Elbufer bike tour: between Lauenburg and Geesthacht, the tour is about 20 kilometers long. The cycle path leads mainly along natural paths through the forest on the Hohe Elbufer and has a few climbs. The charming river landscape is almost always in sight. The route starts either in the Elbe city of Geesthacht near Hamburg on the northwestern or in the maritime city of Lauenburg on the southeastern tip of the route, on both sides of the great river. 

The bike tour through the nature reserve Hohes Elbufer leads you along natural paths©Tourist Information Geesthacht

There is so much to see along the way! In Geesthacht, for example, the renowned museum, the St. Salvatoris Church from 1685 and the lock with Europe's largest fish ladder. Near Schnakenbek are the imposing remains of the early medieval Ertheneburg with a wonderful view over the river. In Lauenburg, a romantic old town, the Elbe Navigation Museum and the castle with princely garden high up on the Elbe slope, whose fortified tower can be climbed free of charge, entice visitors. And everywhere along the way you can take a break and stop for a bite to eat. The Café Alter Sandkrug in Schnakenbek or the Elbkantinchen in Geesthacht-Tesperhude are particularly well located - the excess calories are quickly burned off in the healthy autumn air.


Viewpoint Oldenburger Wall

In the Duchy, visitors experience unspoiled nature. They can roam through forests and meadows, enjoy magnificent lake views in many places and admire the rich native flora and fauna - whether on guided adventure tours, excursions for amateur photographers or completely on their own with a hiking map in their backpacks. Birdwatchers in particular get their money's worth. For example, in the fall at the Oldenburger Wall, where a very special spectacle takes place every year from late September to mid-November.

Located near Lehmrade between Mölln and the Schaalsee, this ring wall of a Slavic castle from the 8th century is an excellent vantage point for nature lovers. It offers the best view of the moor lowlands with their enchanting forests and Lake Oldenburg opposite. This is one of the most important gathering places for cranes in Schleswig-Holstein - in the fall, large groups of the majestic birds circle there at dusk as they approach their roost. Not only amateur ornithologists are enraptured by this unique sight!


City experience in Lauenburg & Co

The towns and cities of the Duchy are especially cozy in the fall. In the evening, the warm light shimmers from the windows of historic buildings, and there is a tempting aroma from restaurants. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, that's no problem, because there are plenty of sights to see. In the old maritime town of Lauenburg, for example, with its cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses, the Elbe Shipping Museum awaits visitors: in the interactive exhibition, you can learn how shipping and shipbuilding have developed over the last 1,000 years. The largest exhibit is located about 250 meters from the museum on the banks of the river - the paddle steamer "Kaiser Wilhelm," built in 1900, offers relaxing tours until the end of September.

Mölln, the hometown of Till Eulenspiegel, also has a rich program. On the historic market square of the Kneipp spa town, you can meet the wise jester in person as he guides guests through the old town, including the Eulenspiegel fountain and museum, dressed in a colorful jester's costume. A visit to the climatic health resort of Ratzeburg, located at the southern end of the lake of the same name, is also very worthwhile. Its old town island is connected to the mainland only by three dams or bridges. Highlights there include the museum with works by the painter Ernst Barlach (1870-1938), who spent part of his childhood here - it is one of 35 sights along a circular route marked by the orange lion tracks on the cobblestones.


Autumn events

When the days get darker and colder, people in the Duchy of Lauenburg particularly enjoy socializing. Autumn markets have a long tradition here. A particularly beautiful one takes place at the beginning of October at the 800-year-old Basthorst estate, located between Ratzeburg and Geesthacht. As the leaves of the trees turn colorful all around, artisans and sustainable traders present their products in front of the romantic backdrop. Culinary delicacies and fine wines are of course just as well provided for, and perhaps the first Christmas gifts can already be found here.

The autumn market in Mölln is a highlight for young and old © Jochen Buchholz

The traditional Möllner Autumn Market at the beginning of November is much busier. It was first mentioned in a document in 1561 - in the past, school lessons were even cancelled here on market days. Now, in the midst of the historic old town, around 160 rides and stalls, some of them nostalgic, attract visitors, selling lard pastries, grilled delicacies and much more. The pumpkin barn on the farm of the Ohle family in Worth, not far from the northern bank of the Elbe, is also particularly autumnal. There, 130 different pumpkin varieties await, from tasty specimens to eat to the giant ornamental pumpkin - which can be turned into the ultimate Halloween fright with a carving knife!

In collaboration with Duchy of Lauenburg Marketing & Service GmbH

Cover photo: Morning atmosphere at Lake Salem with boathouse © sh-tourismus.de/MOCANOX

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