Is Germany the best place to visit for an eco-responsible city break?

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Traveling to Hamburg, Bremen and Bremerhaven, Gemma Bradley finds all the right ingredients for a green getaway.

Climate change has increasingly become one of the main areas of concern for leaders around the world, but Germany is one of the few countries making progress in ensuring that sustainability is simply in the making. agenda.

Hamburg, Bremen and Bremerhaven are all on their way to becoming sustainable cities, with cycle paths in abundance and some of the best public transport links in the world. There couldn’t be better options for eco-friendly urban breaks.

Beautiful Bremerhaven

My journey begins with a two-hour carpooling ride in an electric Mercedes-Benz EQV from Hamburg Airport to Bremerhaven, a sustainable but fun little town next to the Elbe.

Bremerhaven is home to the Atlantic Hotel Sail City, an all-‘green’ hotel that prides itself on reducing its carbon footprint through tough food waste rules, where all food waste is weighed daily for the hotel to monitor. and permanently limit losses.

The 120-room hotel also has a cluster of beehives on its roof, housing 240,000 bees, and the honey collected is used in the hotel.

The Strom Restaurant, located in the hotel, also offers a wide range of sustainable meals, locally sourced wherever possible.

Right next to the hotel is the Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8 ° Ost (Climate House), an interactive museum that takes visitors on a journey through the world along the eighth longitude, getting up close and personal with the climatic zones of every country, from freezing Antarctica to humid Cameroon.

The Klimahaus is also home to a wide variety of animals native to every climate, from snakes and insects to electric eels, which can be seen up close throughout a guided tour.

Socially enterprising Bremen

After a short tram transfer to Bremen, we visit a Gemüsewerft, an urban gardening project and a beer garden located on a former truck parking lot surrounded by construction projects.

The real specificity of this non-profit social enterprise lies in its staff. The garden employs people with mental illness as well as mental and emotional disabilities to work alongside their own staff and give them key roles in relation to clients within the company.

Some have been here for 15 years and others only stay for a few months, before going to other reception facilities.

The company sees itself more as a “flagship” store for food education, as they are too small to provide food for the whole community.

They do, however, supply some local restaurants with fresh produce, including Canova Bremen, an upscale restaurant located in the city center that operates on key principles of being regional, sustainable, seasonal and environmentally friendly.

Bremen has more cycle paths than most other German cities, and the city’s borders are made up of green parks with a variety of cycle paths, rather than a physical wall.

Ecological Hamburg

A 40-minute train ride brings us to Hamburg, one of the 10 greenest cities in the world, according to their official tourism website, and winner of the US Green City of the Year 2021 design award.

The city of 1.8 million people is full of things to do, from historic walking tours to going to bars and restaurants around every corner.

What makes Hamburg unique is its “urban coast”; the immense Elbe river crosses it and there are even a few mini sandy beaches dotted around.

In Hamburg is the HafenCity, the largest urban development project in Europe located in the old port district. A huge attraction is the Elbphilharmonie, a magnificent concert hall designed by experts so that the sound resonates in exactly the same way no matter where you are seated.

We spend our last two nights in Hamburg at the Raphael Hotel Wälderhaus, another company focused on sustainability.

Made entirely of solid wood, the Wälderhaus building is home to both the Raphael Hotel Wälderhaus and the Science Center Wald, a small museum dedicated to the theme of wood and climate change.

The museum is accessed through the hotel lobby and features various interactive aspects that allow people to explore the ecological system while learning about the climate.

The only downside of the Science Center Wald is that all written comments are completely in German. However, many of the staff will be happy to translate and offer a full guided tour.

In central Hamburg, there are options for a sustainable boat trip on Lake Alster, including a one-hour excursion on the Solarschiff Alstersonne, a fully solar-powered vessel in use since 2000.

The boat tour takes you across the river through Hamburg and is accompanied by narration detailing the history of the city and its buildings.

Hamburg is famous for its red light district, the Reeperbahn, but tucked away in the “mile of sin” is a small, sustainable streetwear store Bidges and Sons, with a vegan restaurant and a rooftop terrace.

It was founded in 2013 by the two brothers Markus and Andy. All products are produced exclusively under fair conditions and no material contains ingredients of animal origin.

Germany is one of the leading European countries when it comes to sustainability, and in Bremen, Bremerhaven and Hamburg you can be sure of a fun, busy and green trip.


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