Tucked between Germany’s great maritime cities of Lübeck and Kiel, among the glacial moraines of easternmost Schleswig-Holstein, is the splendidly varied landscape of the Holstein Switzerland Nature Reserve (German: Holsteinische Schweiz). The River Schwentine courses through several of Holsteinische Schweiz’ more than 200 lakes, including its largest, Großer Plöner See (English: Great Plön Lake) before emptying into the Baltic Sea.
Holstein Switzerland covers about 72,000 hectares (180,000 acres) of woodlands, open pastures, hills, and lakes left as remnants of Europe’s last Ice Age. Its emerald pastures, brilliant yellow rape fields, and enormous hedgerows form the Idyllic backdrop for its sparkling blue lakes, rustic villages, and weathered manors. This is perfect hiking, biking, and canoeing country! Holstein Switzerland even offers winter skiing on the 168 m (551 ft) Bungsberg.
The gateway to the Holsteinische Schweiz lies in the city of Bad Segeberg, with its unforgettable Kalkberg. Standing 91 m (298 ft) tall, this limestone formation provides an astonishing view of this spa town. No less astonishing are the chalk mines which lie beneath it, and provide winter quarters for a bat colony numbering around 15,000 — the largest in northern Europe!
If your ideal vacation involves water and more water, the historic town of Plön is situated in the heart of the region’s lakes, built on a narrow bridge so that it fronts on several of them! The silhouette of Plön Castle is clearly visible from a distance, and the castle’s former stables have been transformed into an information center for visitors. Don’t miss the Prinzenhaus on the castle grounds, in which were educated the sons of Germany’s last Kaiser. Plön is also the site of a summer wine festival and the Schlesweig Holstein Music Festival.
Great Plön Lake has room enough in its 36 sq km (22 sq mi) for twenty-eight islands and the tens of thousands of sailors, anglers, and water sports enthusiasts who visit its shores every year.
Another of its communities, Eutin, was founded in 1143. The medieval Palace of Eutin is now a museum housing many of the trappings of its former royalty, or related to the Czars of Russia. Each summer the Palace gardens revisit their courtly past with the arrival of the Eutin Summer Festival, when the air is filled with the music of romantic operas.
Holstein Switzerland’s two major cities, however, are its seaports Lübeck and Kiel. Lübeck, with a town hall dating back to 1230, has been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its red brick Gothic Saint Mary’s Church is the third-largest in all of Germany. Heinrich and Thomas Mann, the immortal literary brothers, hailed from Lübeck and are memorialized at the Buddenbrooks House Museum. Marzipan, a delightfu concoction of almonds, sugar, and chocolate, is regarded as Lübeck’s finest product and you’ll find 300 ways of enjoying it at the Cafe Neideregger!
Kiel, on the northern edge of Holstein Switzerland, is not only Germany’s biggest passenger port. It’s a charming and historical tourist destination and one of the best places to shop on the entire Baltic coast. The Kiel Firth is where you can enjoy all the festivities of the annual Kiel Week Regatta. Learn about the deep connectedness between Kiel and the sea at the Maritime Museum, with its model of the world’s first functioning submarine!
From the depths of its lakes to the breadth of its historical and cultural marvels, Holstein Switzerland has everything to provide you with the vacation of a lifetime!