Duchy of Lauen­burg

A cuckoo calls from afar. Something stirs and scratches in the undergrowth. A squirrel? No, it’s two! The two nimble creatures are involved in a chase, run up the trunk of a beech tree and frolic with cackling sounds among the treetops.

 A large part of the Duchy of Lauenburg is covered by forest. If you wish to discover the special aspects of this region in the south-east of Schleswig-Holstein, you need to take your time. Well signposted hiking routes and cycle paths lead through the nature park and conservation areas, past observation towers, courtyard cafés, to information stops and through the historic cities of Ratzeburg, Mölln, Lauenburg and Geesthacht. The landscape of this region at the gates of Hamburg is also characterised by water: 40 lakes offer a diverse range of holiday activities, with ship excursions, boat tours or a canoe ride. 

Ex­per­i­ence the Duchy of Lauen­burg!

First time at the duchy of Lauen­burg?

 © Nadja Biebow© Nadja Biebow

Duchy of Lauenburg: Natural treasures in woods and water

In the nature conservation area Salemer Moor, the cool, damp air smells of earth and moss. A glittering light penetrates the trees. Surrounded by forest, you will find the Garrensee lake. The slightly ruffled water surface reflects the green of the forest and the silver of the sunlight. At the bathing spot, the water is warm and so shallow that it hardly covers the stones. Like a silk scarf, it wraps itself first around your feet, then your legs, and finally your whole body. No waves and no current, everything flows. Here, you can just let yourself go – right in the middle of nature.

More than 40 lakes with beautiful bathing spots are located here in the Nature Park Lauenburg Lakes (in german), between forests, fields and hills. The nature park was established in 1960 and is thus the oldest in Schleswig-Holstein. You can explore the stretches of water in a canoe or a rowing boat, in a pedal boat or quite comfortably on board a motorboat.

Highlights in the Duchy of Lauenburg

  • The Elbe city of Geesthacht is well-known for its Elbe lock and Europe’s largest fish pass (in german).
  • In the alleyways of Lauenburg (in german), half-timbered houses nestle against each other. Thanks to its hillside location, Lauenburg has an upper town and a lower town, which are linked by steps.
  • In Mölln (in german), Till Eulenspiegel, jester and the most famous town citizen, has left many traces behind. Here, a piece of the middle ages comes to life.
  • The fourth historic town of the Duchy of Lauenburg is Ratzeburg (in german). In the midst of the Ratzeburg Lake, the old island town towers with its dome. Walking routes along the banks, sailing boats and many beautiful squares with a lake view make the town to a very special excursion destination in the land of the 40 lakes.


 © Paetzold / HLMS© Paetzold / HLMS

Colour play and glow worm dancing

The sky shimmers in pink and violet, the sun glows a deep orange like a lampion suspended in the dusk above the trees. The colour play in the sky is repeated in the reflection of the Schaalsee lake in the east of the Duchy. The branching waters with its bays and wooded islands connects Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Animals that are otherwise rarely found live here: cranes and sea eagles draw their circles across the lake landscape, and at night, screech owls go hunting in the forests. On June nights, you can observe a natural spectacle with special effects:  the glow worms, small insects, which glow in the dark thanks to a special enzyme. The Schaalsee lake was created by the forces of the Weichsel Ice Age, when melting glaciers collapsed and formed a new landscape. The body of water covers 24 square kilometres. At its deepest level, it reaches 72 metres to the bottom. 

Not only the deepest lake, but also the largest forest of Schleswig-Holstein lies in the Duchy of Lauenburg (in german). The Sachsenwald forest covers 70 square kilometres from Hamburg. Different hiking trails lead hikers through game reserves, the nature conservation area Billetal and to the Fürst Bismarck Spring.
The Wakenitz (in german), one of the most beautiful river landscapes in Schleswig-Holstein, runs along the former inner-German border. Otters and kingfishers reside in the Erlenbruch forests, The Wakenitz rises at the northern end of the Ratzeburg Lake and snakes along lots of curves across 15 kilometres towards Lübeck. In the northern part, the small river was regularly dammed from the Middle Ages to power water mills: this has resulted in a lake landscape. For paddlers, the Wakenitz is a popular excursion destination. Jungle-like shorelines, bathing spots and restaurants with jetties offer everything needed for a varied boat tour. The Wakenitz can also be explored on foot or by bike. The signposted Drägerweg trail leads close to the river bank from Rothenhusen to Lübeck.

In the mild climate of southern Schleswig-Holstein, hiking, cycling and paddling is lots of fun. Here, the wind blows less strongly than at the coasts, and it is warm in summer, but seldom hot. And even if the temperature should rise to 30 degrees, it is easy to cool down: In the land of 40 lakes, you are never far from a good spot to jump into the water.

 © Carina Jahnke© Carina Jahnke

Dukes and jesters

A journey through the Duchy of Lauenburg is also always a journey to the past. Kings and chancellors, dukes and jesters have left their traces in this region. Museums, monuments and historic buildings bring history to life, from the Middle Ages to modern times. On the Alte Salzstrasse (Old Salt Road), merchants transported the sought-after spice and preservative from the salt works in Lüneburg to the Hanseatic city of Lübeck, from where it was sold across the entire Baltic Sea region. The route leads through Lauenburg, Büchen and Mölln, past the Lüne Monastery, the ship-lift Scharnebeck, as well as several locks and a cable ferry. The old Hanseatic city of Lübeck boasts historic townhouses, churches and museums.

In the city of Mölln (in german), visitors encounter a medieval celebrity, who is still famous today: Till Eulenspiegel. He is arguably the most famous comedian of his time. 96 stories, written by the author Hermann Bote, tell the tales of the pranks with which the witty jester held up a mirror to late medieval society. Citizens, aristocracy or clergy: no one was spared the ridicule and pranks of Eulenspiegel.  In Mölln, a memorial stone, a museum and a fountain pay tribute to the legend. Every three years, the city celebrates his memory and his subtle humour with the Eulenspiegel Festival at the old market square.

Regional events and customs

  • April: Garden romanticism (in german) in Mölln
  • December: Christmas market at Lauenburg Castle
  • Nov-Feb: Ratzeburg Ice Festival

And what does the Duchy of Lauenburg taste like?

  • In addition to its museums and Old Town, Ratzeburg offers not only cultural but also culinary delights: Freshly-caught fish from the Ratzeburg Lake. Whitefish (in german) is a one of the specialities, but seabass, pike and eel are also to be found on the menus of the fish restaurants. 
  • Where there is forest, there is game. Deer, fallow deer, wild boar, venison and hare (in german) from the Sachsenwald forest or the Lauenburg Lake Nature Park fill the plates.  
  • Holidaymakers can find northern country life and good food from the region in the manor houses and on farms. Many farmers offer their products and homemade cakes in farm shops and cafés (in german).
 © photocompany / HLMS© photocompany / HLMS

Water hiking and cycling

The landscape of the Duchy of Lauenburg is dotted with lakes and pervaded by rivers. If you would like to discover the region from the water, you will find a whole range of different activities and routes. The water hiking trail Lauenburg Lakes (in german) – Trave, begins south of Bad Segeberg and leads through Oldesloe, Lübeck, Mölln and Ratzeburg. On Wakenitz, a canoe trail leads through Nordic jungle landscapes and lakes full of water lilies and reeds. Resting places and restaurants with jetties provide a welcome reminder that taking a break completes the paddling experience. Go for a swim in one of the Lauenburg lakes and dive into the tranquillity of nature. Among the many bathing spots, everyone will find a suitable place: small sheltered bays in the forest, beaches and piers, or bathing facilities with changing rooms, kiosks and playgrounds. You can paddle around the island town of Ratzeburg in around one-and-a-half hours, a view the face of the town from the waterside. On a tour through the Mölln lakes, you will experience a landscape formed by the Ice Age: forests and cliffs interspersed by valleys and wetlands. The route, which covers approx. 7 km, begins at the Lütau lake, leads along the Schmalsee lake into the Pinnau, on the Mölln Schulsee, Stadtsee and Ziegelsee lakes. Canoes can be rented at boat rentals on the lakes and water hiking routes.

If you prefer land-based travel, you will find a dense network of cycle routes and hiking trails (in german) in the Duchy of Lauenburg – for example on the Alte Salzstraße, in the Sachsenwald forest, around the Schaalsee lake or along the Wakenitz.

Short and sweet, what else is there to do?

  • Take a ride on an old steamboat: in the Elbe Maritime Museum (in german) in Lauenburg, visitors will find old machines and can get an insight into the live and work on board. From here, you can also take an excursion boat for a tour along the Elbe, among others in the over 100-year-old steamboats (in german) “Kaiser Wilhelm” and “Elbe”.
  • Try out swing golf (in german): In Bergrade near Duvensee, family Petersen operates a swing golf facility on their farm. Here, anyone can try out the game of golf.
  • Cycling in a rope climbing garden or skating between tree tops: families can try this out at the Schnurstracks Kletterpark Aumühle (in german) in Sachsenwald. Archery, tours with GPS navigation or barbequing at a camp fire are also on offer.
  • Overcome your fears: The adventure ride (in german) Ratzeburg is a challenge. 13 kilometres on railway tracks with a hand-lever rail trolley, which can only be moved using muscular force. Water bikes, dragon boats and tandems can also be rented.

Dis­cov­er the Duchy of Lauen­burg!

  • in german
    Book­ing your hol­i­day at the duchy of lauen­burg

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     © TA.SH© TA.SH
  • in german

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     © Mölln Tourismus© Mölln Tourismus
  • in german
    The beauty of nature in the Duchy of Lauen­burg

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     © Ulrike Sindermann© Ulrike Sindermann
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Your local contact for requests

Herzogtum Lauenburg Marketing und Service GmbH

Hauptstraße 150 - 23879 Mölln
fax: + 49 (0) 45 42 85 68 65
e-mail: info@hlms.de
web: www.herzogtum-lauenburg.de

phone: + 49 (0) 45 42 85 68 60