My weekend in Cuxhaven
I decided to start the new year with a weekend trip to the ocean. I live only an hour away from the North Sea, but well… I’ve seen that spot of the North Sea a few times too often, so I decided for a town a few hours away from Leer, which is still located in East Frisia though:
Cuxhaven is a small town in Lower Saxony, Germany and it’s the northernmost point of this region. It’s at the North Sea and the Elbe River. The town has about 52,000 residents.
So, I decided to explore this cute little town for a weekend and prove that there are reasons why the North Sea is worth visiting in winter…
No. 1: You can walk through an almost empty hotel and feel like a character in the „Shining“ movie
I arrived Friday midday at Cuxhaven by train. There are several ways to get to Cuxhaven:
By car: The motorway A27 from Bremen or the Major road B73 from Hamburg both lead to Cuxhaven.
By train: Cuxhaven has a central station, so you can take a train getting there. If you’re coming from Bremen or Hamburg you have to switch trains in Bremerhaven.
By plane: The next bigger airports are in Hamburg or Bremen. Cuxhaven itself has only a minor airfield, from where you can fly to the islands Helgoland or Sylt.
By boat: The Helgoline is driving from Hamburg to Helgoland passing by Cuxhaven. This is obviously the slowest transport choice.
If your drive by train like me you arrive at the central station of Cuxhaven which is near the city center, 4km away from the North Sea coast. As my hotel was located at the beach, I decided to walk up there instead of taking the bus. My choice for the weekend was Hotel Deichgraf, a 3-star hotel only 2 minutes away from the beach.
I paid exactly 100,00 Euro for two nights in a double-bedded room. It was plain and clean. On a more critical level though I have to add that the internet connection wasn’t working so well, the blow dryer weighted like 5 kg and seemed to be a rarity of the 70s and the room didn’t have smoke detectors.
On a more positive note there weren’t many other tourists in January, so I felt like having the hotel to myself. And I mean look at the halls… It reminded me so much of „Shining“ from Stephen King. I got out alive though…
No. 2: You’re the only tourist and get spoiled
Of course I went to the beach (wait for it!), but Cuxhaven has more to offer than a beautiful ocean. That’s why I spent one day in the town exploring.
Wreck and Fishing Museum Windstärke 10
„Windstärke 10“ (Windstärke = wind force) is a fantastic museum which is placed in two former fish processing halls. It’s an area of 4000 m². It shows the dangers of seafishing, the collections of the former wreck museum and the 100 years of fishing history. I especially loved the ships in the bottles. You won’t regret a visit here and can spend 1-2 hours at this museum – completely on your own, if you like me decide to visit in January. I almost felt like Ben Stiller.
The museum is open from 10am until 5pm in winter (November-March) every day but on Mondays – and daily from 10am until 6pm (April-October).
The entry price for adults is 9,50 Euro.
Address: Ohlroggestraße 1, 27472 Cuxhaven
Cuxhaven has its own small castle, which was the residence of the Hamburg officials. The castle was built in the 14th century and is a very old and only survivor of North German brick Gothic.
I really enjoyed my visit at the Castle Ritzebüttel and the lady at the entrance was so happy to see a tourist. You can spend 30 minutes up to an hour here.
The castle is open from 10am until 1pm and from 2pm untl 5pm (Mondays-Thursdays) and from 11am until 3om (Saturdays + Sundays). It’s closed on Fridays.
The entry price for adults is 3,00 Euro.
Address: Schloß Ritzebüttel, 27472 Cuxhaven
The Penguin Museum
No, Cuxhaven doesn’t have penguins (sadly!), but it has the first and only penguin museum in Germany and probably worldwide. You’ll find 4,000 different penguins articles in an area of 130m². You just have to visit when you’re in Cuxhaven. The owner Birgit is a wonderfully friendly penguin lady, who will tell you a lot about the different penguin species, their distribution and habitats, climate change and everything you want to know, like for example: Do penguins have knees? Yes they have!
The Penguin Museum is open from 2pm until 6pm (Fridays –Mondays). It’s closed Tuesday -Thursday.
The entry is free, but a small donation would be nice.
Address: Schillerstraße 64, 27472 Cuxhaven
No. 3: In winter the North Sea is showing its true beauty
20,000 years ago after the ice age the ice melted and the coldest sea in the world was made: the North Sea.
The North Sea is about 970km / 600miles long and 580km / 360miles wide. It’s deepest point is about 400m / 1200ft). It’s average temperatures are 17°C / 63°F in summer and 6°C / 43°F in winter. The North Sea is a home to 230 species of fish.
In Cuxhaven you’ve the possibilty to see the North Sea from different angles, not just concerning the seasons.
In Cuxhaven is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes („Weltschifffahrtsweg“) passing through. Per year about 40,000 ships are passing through one of the largest fish handling places of Europe. So when you’re visiting Cuxhaven make sure to take a stroll through the harbor area spotting some ships.
The Old Love
As a wonderful spot to watch those ships passing by the the “Old Love”, which really is old. It was built in 1733 and used as a pier. Today it’s a popular tourist spot and of course I visited the Old Love, too.
The sunrises and sundowns
One of the best times to be at the oean are the mornings and the evenings, with a clear sky, so you can watch beautiful sunrises and sundowns. I enjoyed my very first sundown at the ocean – in winter. It was freezing, but it was so beautiful how the whole sky turned pink. And the best part about winter: you don’t have to get up super early or stay awake super late to watch this spectacle.
No. 4: You have the coast to yourself
As in January there’s almost none tourism in Cuxhaven, I had the coast completely to myself on my morning walks. It was cold and grey, but it was just me and the sea – and the Kugelbake. The what?
The Kugelbake is the landmark of Cuxhaven, which was back then used to guide seafarers. It’s a 29m high wooden indicator where the Elbe ends and the North Sea begins. Back then a fire was burning inside the Kugelbake for orientation. Today the Kugelbake has become a tourist spot which marks the northernmost point of Lower Saxony.
No. 5: Walking over UNESCO World Heritage: the Wadden Sea as cold as it gets
The North Sea has a two low and two high tides a day, but did you know that you’re actually able to walk over UNESCO World Heritage Site? There are 10 million birds each year resting in the Wadden Sea and 2300 different animal and plant species. The Wadden Sea is also one of the last real natural landscapes in Central Europe. A place with such variety is unique in this world and therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.
You should only hike the Wadden Sea with a tourist guide, otherwise it’s extremely dangerous especially in winter considering the temperatures of the North Sea. You can walk all the way to the island Neuwerk by foot – how amazing is that?
So, I hope I gave you reasons enough to consider a weekend in Cuxhaven at the North Sea – in winter. Otherwise there’s still summer, but then you have to share the ocean with a lot of tourists!
In the end…
„For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”