The German Ferries Route is a 250 km 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 dykes 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.
A water route with countless detours
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 scenery or a perfect habitat for birds. Here in the north of Germany there are countless leisure activities to help while away the time, with something to suit casual and sports cyclists, watersports enthusiasts and hikers, gourmets, art lovers and of course children.
Detour: cycling along the canal
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 five-horsepower houseboats in the Oste river as far as the flood barrier at Neuhaus.
From the Oste to Kiel
The marshes and fens between the Oste river and Baltic Sea feature more than 50 ferries, bridges, tunnels, locks, barrages, as well as natural wonders, culture and a rich array of maritime treasures. Savour all the surprises of all shapes and sizes along this waterway through the north of Germany.
Length: approximately 250 km
Theme: bridges, ferries, waterways, nature, culture
Balje: lighthouse, the Natureum Niederelbe open-air museum
Bremervörde: marina, play ferry
Brunsbüttel: North Baltic Canal, lock, canal museum
Glücksstadt: Elbe port (Elbhafen) Gräpel: pram ferry
Hechthausen: Geesthof holiday park
Hemmoor: cement barge, transporter bridge
Kiel: bascule bridge, coastal inlet, Maritime Museum
Oberndorf: bascule bridge
Osten: ferry house in the local history museum, bottle museum (Buddelmuseum)
Rendsburg: high bridge and ferry house
Wischhafen: Kehding Coastal Shipping Museum (Kehdinger Küstenschifffahrtsmuseum)
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