The German Ferries Route – a maritime experience (k)not to be missed

The German Ferries Route is a 250km waterside museum starting at Bremervörde that connects fords and pram ferries, impressively elaborate 19th-century transporter bridges, modern bridges and tunnels all the way along the Oste river, Elbe estuary and Kiel canal as far as the Kiel Fjord.

Seventeen ferries to travel on, and thirteen bridges to cross, as the route's slogan proudly proclaims. Taking the ferry is an experience to be savoured as you cross between moorland, sandy heathland and marshes, flanked by dikes and lighthouses, with gulls circling overhead and cruise ships gliding gently past. The calm, maritime surroundings of northern Germany showcase nigh on every conceivable method of crossing a stretch of water, from ancient animal fords to the world's most state-of-the-art cruise liners. Exploring this region is a dream come true, with maritime plants blooming in secluded spots and old harbours, ships, cranes and warehouses, each with a 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 German Ferries Route boasts more historical and modern ways of crossing a stretch of water than any other location. The Oste region around the Osten-Hemmoor transporter bridge is also 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.

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