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German Ferries Route

Grazing sheep by the river Oste

The river Oste winds its way through the tranquil countryside between verdant dikes and dense reedbeds. The idyllic Oste region around the Osten-Hemmoor transporter bridge, Germany's oldest, is perfect for sea kayaks and cabin cruisers. No licence is needed for 5 horsepower houseboats in the Oste river as far as the flood barrier at Neuhaus. Cycling around the Oste estuary is a dream come true with maritime plants blooming in secluded places and old harbours, ships, cranes and warehouses with their own story to tell. Every so often you encounter a historical town, a quaint little village, a church with a pencil-thin spire, fascinating marsh scenery or a perfect habitat for birds. Rivers and the sea cut across your route but fords and ferries allow you to continue. The region around the Elbe, its tributary the Oste and the Kiel Canal is closely packed with examples of how people have endeavoured to overcome the problem of crossing waterways.

The bascule bridge in Kiel

The German Ferries Route is full of contrasts, such as the tranquil Oste river and the most intensively used sea canal in the world. It connects fords and pram ferries, imposing 19th century transporter bridges and modern bridges and tunnels. The German Ferries Route boasts a remarkably large collection of ancient and modern methods of crossing a stretch of water. Discover north Germany where broad swathes of magnificent countryside are ideal for leisurely or more energetic cycling tours. This is perfect territory for water sports enthusiasts and walkers too, and for gourmets, art fans and of course children, who will find a wealth of exciting and fun things to do.

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Basic information

  • Length
  • Themes
    Water, bridges, ferries, nature, culture

Highlights in brief

  • Kiel
    Harbour town, bascule bridge, firth, Maritime Museum
  • Rendsburg
    Elevated bridge with transporter, ship viewing area
  • Brunsbüttel
    Lock, canal museum
  • Balje
    Lighthouse, Lower Elbe "Natureum" natural history museum
  • Oberndorf
    Bascule bridge
  • Bremervörde
    Speedboat harbour, Bachmann Museum, children's play ferry
  • Geesthof holiday park
  • Gräpel
  • Hemmoor
    Cement Museum, transporter ferry
  • Osten
    Local history museum, Buddelmuseum (bottle museum)