13 places that you need to see in Lübeck

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Lübeck is well known for its incredible historic old town. Conveniently situated on an island; most of the historic buildings can be found in quite close proximity. Making it quite easy to take in all of the places that you need to see in Lübeck.

Historic Lübeck

Brief History

Founded in 1143 by Count Adolf II of Holstein, the city has undergone radical changes in ownership & even use.
Among some of the many rulers, Lübeck briefly belonged to Denmark, before being declared a free imperial city by Frederick II. In this time the city established their own laws, which were eventually adopted by over 100 other Baltic cities.

In 1358 the Hanseatic league made Lübeck its capital, which naturally brought a diversity of wealth into the city. By the 15th Century, Lübeck had become the 2nd largest city in Northern Germany with 22 000 inhabitants.

The Hanseatic league was abolished in 1630, but Lübeck remained the most important harbour on the Baltic Sea. Two decades later and the city was under French Napoleonic rule, briefly, before moving hands to the German Confederation. All of this changing hands and wars occurring during that time meant Lübeck lost some of its economic power. That changed in 1900 however, with the rebuilding of the Elbe-Lübeck Canal.

In 1937 the city’s status as a self-governing state ended, with Nazi Germany making it a part of the Schleswig-Holstein Province. The city suffered greatly during the 2nd world war, with a quarter of the old town being bombed. After the war, 100 000 refugees flooded the city, swelling the population massively and setting it on its way to its current population of around 220 000 residents.

Restorations were started almost immediately & the historical character of the city means it’s been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for over 30 years already.

For Marzipan lovers

Lübeck is most likely a city you’ve come across or heard of before. Thanks to Johann Georg Niederegger, who created a system to speed produce the almond delights. With his company based in Lübeck, the city is nicknamed the ‘Capital of Marzipan’.

That’s enough talking about history though; let’s get straight what to see.

Historic Luebeck

13 places that you need to see in Lübeck.


Lübeck Holstentor - 13 places that you need to see in Lübeck

Marking the western entrance to the historic old town, this iconic gate is one of the symbols of the city. Constructed in the classic northern brick gothic style found throughout Lübeck’s Altstadt. If you are entering the historic town through this gate, you’ll be seeing a lot more of this style. 😉


Salzspeicher - padkos.co

One of the first sights to greet you once you’ve entered through the Holstentor. The ‘Salzspeicher’ are 6 warehouses nestled on the banks of the Obertrave River. When the waters of the Trave are high it can even seem as if the buildings are semi-emerged in the river.


Lübeck Burgtor

The 2nd of the remaining town gates in Lübeck. Often overlooked thanks to the much more dramatic Holstentor, the Burgtor is the northern gate to the city & provides a colossal presence when you’re entering on the road.

European Hansemuseum

Lübeck is the capital to the Hanseatic League, it’s only fitting that the museum is found here. This museum allows you to immerse yourself in the world of the middle age merchants.

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An der Obertrave

The south-western area of the Altstadt survived significant damage during the war. The 720m long promenade is one of the most beautiful & historic promenades in Germany. Home to incredible renaissance & medieval architecture, it’s the perfect spot for a break at one of the many great cafés during the summer.

St Mary’s Church on the left, St. Peter’s Church on the right & the promenade ‘An der Obertrave’ in the foreground.

St. Mary’s Church

Like the Holstentor, the St Mary’s Church is seen as a symbol of the city, and you cannot argue its presence.

Lübeck’s Altstadt holds 5 colossal churches, with St Mary’s church taking up the majority of the skyline.

The architecture is quite interesting, with the northern Gothic brick style. This church dates back to the 13th century and has acted as a template for many of the churches found along the Baltic coastline.

It also happens to have the world’s highest brick vault. The central nave is 38.5m high, this is supported, and possible, by the defining flying buttresses on the exterior of the building.

Church of St. Peter

Enjoy a great view over the city from the top of this church on the western side of the old town.

View from a top of St. Peter's Church in Lübeck
View from the top of the Petrikirche. Photo by Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons.

Hospital of the Holy Spirit

Built in 1286, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit is one of the oldest existing social institutions in the world.

Church of St. Jacob

Found next to the Hospital of the Holy Spirit. If you’re in town during the festive period, you can usually find an awesome Christmas market in the square across.

Lübeck Rathaus – Lübeck Town Hall

lubeck town hall

Having been damaged in the 13th century, and rebuilt multiple times throughout its history, the Town Hall clearly displays multiple architectural styles. This makes it a really interesting spot for lunch and to create equally interesting photos. The Lübeck Town Hall is also one of the largest Town Halls in Germany, which you can notice from its colossal presence.


Lübeck was the birthplace to the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & one of Germany’s most beloved chancellors, Willy Brandt. The Willy-Brandt-Haus acts as a museum to the former chancellor & as a memorial site.

Museum of Theatre Puppets

Near the Church of St. Peter, this museum holds around 300 years’ worth of historical theatre puppets from Europe, Asia & Africa.

Lübeck Cathedral

Another one of the colossal churches found in Lübeck’s old town. Whilst it isn’t the most eye-catching, it is one of the oldest, with construction starting all the way back in 1173.

In short, once you’ve entered through the Holstentor, take your time through the alleys and streets, as you’ll find some history behind every corner!
Lübeck is also fairly close to a number of awesome places to visit. The Schwerin Castle, Kiel, Rostock, Fehmarn & Hamburg are all quite close by.