Germany is more than just dirndl dresses, highways with no speed limits, and obscene amounts of beer. While southern Germany’s larger cities are most popular for tourists, there’s good reason to look north for your next vacation. There are loads of castles to see in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and it’s easy to get out in nature thanks to how top of mind forest conservation is. Whether you’re an art historian, a wild adventurer, a food connoisseur, or fishing pro, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is an ideal vacation spot.
Live your fairytale dreams at a a castle or estate
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is home to dozens of intricate castles rich in both wealth and history that you can stop by for a tour of the grounds.
Located in a town of the same name, Ludwigslust Palace was originally built as a hunting lodge and was later turned into a permanent residence. Ludwigslust became the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in 1765 (it’s since been moved to Schwerin) and the hunting lodge was transformed into a grand residence for the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin: Frederick II, also known as The Pious. He got his name by being a devoutly religious man who built a grand church opposite the palace.
Palais Bülow is also located in the town of Ludwigslust. It was built in 1832 by the same duke who built Ludwigslust Palace for one of his ministers. The Leithold family (who are some of the loveliest people you will ever meet) acquired the building in 2012 and have been painstakingly restoring the residence since. Though it’s their family home, it’s open to the public for tours. For fans of architecture and history, you can view the restoration progress on both Instagram and YouTube.
The town of Neustadt-Glewe is home to both a palace and a castle. The Neustadt-Glewe Castle is made mostly of brick with a red-shingled roof and a circular tower. Inside there’s a museum as well as a restaurant. But the best time to visit is during the summer when the medieval festival, Burgfest, takes over the grounds every year. Then rest your head at the palace in town: Hotel Schloss Neustadt-Glewe. Snag a room in the main palace where each room has its own theme complete with papier-mâché décor.
Schwerin Castle is Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s largest castle and is truly something to behold. It houses a museum, two restaurants, gorgeous gardens, a church, and the regional parliament. It sits on an island and consists of seven different buildings. The stucco on the inside of the castle is made with papier-mâché to help with the weight (it does sit atop an island, after all).
Take a boat ride
Twenty-five percent of Germany’s lake surface area can be found in the region, including the country’s largest inland lake, Lake Müritz. There is no shortage of water activities in the area and can be catered to your type of adventure.
See Schwerin Castle from the water
For a grand cruise to see Schwerin Castle from Lake Schwerin, board one of the luxurious White Fleet boats. There are two islands within the lake: one you can visit while the other is owned by a private landowner.
Immerse yourself in nature at Krakow Lake
Krakow Lake is the sixth largest lake in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and a haven for dozens of bird species, including the majestic sea eagle and thermal wind-riding black kite. The best way to experience the natural splendor of the lake is to hire Frank Tetmeyer of Krakower Flosstour. He has an immense amount of knowledge of the lake from spending his life on its waters. Plus, he might just have a keg of beer on his raft.
Enjoy Lake Müritz with a canoe or picnic
If you’re looking for a human-powered adventure, head to the banks of Lake Müritz where you can rent a canoe or take a tour of the lake with local guides at Waren-Ecktannen. The excursion is not for the faint of heart and will definitely work out your upper arms and core muscles. But the reward of seeing the lake at a slower pace and eating meats and cheeses when you reach the picnic spot is well worth the effort to get there.
Take a sustainable fishing trip
The staff at Müritzfischer are dedicated to their clients and customers as well as the sustainability of the fishing populations within Lake Müritz. It’s a true lake-to-table dining experience. However, if you would prefer just to eat whatever is caught and not do any of the actual fishing, you can do that too. The company only catches what they need to sell each week rather than just catching as much fish as possible. They also help new populations by taking eggs from the lake and fertilizing them to then send back into the lake to keep a sustainable supply of fish.
Explore the woods
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is home to three of the country’s fourteen national parks, and there are thousands of acres of protected land and over three hundred nature preserves in the state. While you’re visiting the Lake Müritz area, opt for a land adventure by traversing the trail in Müritz National Park. Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park sits at the northernmost edge of the region along the Baltic Sea. As the area’s largest national park, there are abundant trails and a diverse range of wildlife species and habitats to explore. But even Germany’s smallest national park, Jasmund, has views and incredible natural beauty to behold.
In Muritz National Park, the plants serve a spirited purpose: it’s where Müritz Gin sources its juniper berries. Forty years ago, there were regulations put in place at Muritz National Park to keep things as natural as possible while also maintaining a healthy ecosystem. This means that every year, there is an annual culling of the juniper trees that can potentially take over habitats. The master distillers at Müritz Gin not only get to help a natural area thrive, but they get their pick of the juniper berries too.
Release your inner child and make some papier-mâché
While visiting Palais Bülow, the Leithold family will be sure to teach you all about the art of papier-mâché. The church in the town of Ludwigslust is famously known due to the larger-than-life altar piece made up of 1,000 panels of papier-mâché. You might not be as artistically talented as those who made the altar piece, but you can still have fun making some of your own.
The recipe for papier-mâché is a combination of paper and water (although the Leithold family have their own special recipe). The family will give you an array of silicon molds to choose from and can guide you through the process. In the end, you’ll go home with some art of your own (or you can buy some of the ornaments from the gift shop).
Where to eat and drink in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Owners Christien and Rico Messerschmidt have combined classic northern German cuisine with Mediterranean influences to create a truly unique dining experience at Herzogliche Dampfwäscherei. Menu items change throughout the year to highlight the seasonal specialties, but you cannot go wrong with the beef tenderloin or green eel, the region’s specialty.
Where: Großer Moor 56, 19055 Schwerin, Germany
Located in the vaulted cellar of the Hotel Schloss Neustadt-Glewe, Restaurant Wallenstein’s feels as if you are stepped back in time. The plastered walls give an essence of sitting in some medieval castle – which, let’s face it, you are. Choose between fish, meat, or vegetarian dishes but the beef stroganoff or the schweineschnitzel can’t be missed.
Where: Neuwieder Weg 1, 18273 Güstrow, Germany
Restaurant & Café Leddermann
You really cannot go wrong when dining at Restaurant & Café Leddermann and it’s obvious from the reviews by customers. The diverse menu options range from tagliatelle to burgers to braised ox cheek. But the real stunners on the menu are the desserts. Both the crème brulee and chocolate mousse are delectable.
Where: Müritzstraße 16, 17192 Waren (Müritz), Germany
The perfect place for a midday lunch along the banks of Lake Müritz. Choose from one of Müritzfischer’s many sandwiches made with freshly caught fish including perch, bass, trout, and, of course, eel. Make sure to pair it with one of the region’s beers and then top it off with ice cream from a local creamery.
Where: Am Seeufer 73, 17192 Waren (Müritz), Germany
Restaurant Kleines Meer
Restaurant Kleines Meer is a fine dining experience fit for any palate. The head chef, Hendrik Türk, uses local producers (including those at Müritzfischer) to fill his menu. Try the wild boar, which are hunted from the surrounding forests of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Where: Strandstraße, Alter Markt 7, 17192 Waren (Müritz), Germany
Where to stay in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
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Seehotel Schloss Klink
In case you need another stay in a castle, look no further than Seehotel Schloss Klink. Located on the shores of Lake Muritz, the castle lies on top of an eight-acre park and includes a white sandy beach perfect for morning yoga or a dip during a hot day. There are three restaurants, including a fireplace bar perfect for a much-deserved beverage after a day full of adventure. A full breakfast is also included with your stay to fuel up for what lies ahead.
Where: Schloßstraße 6, 17192 Klink, Germany
Hotel Speicher am Ziegelsee
Hotel Speicher am Ziegelsee was the first climate-positive hotel in Germany, meaning that the hotel offsets more carbon dioxide than it produces. It sits on the edges of Lake Ziegelsee and is only a 15-minute walk into the downtown hub. This family-owned hotel is the perfect place to start your journey around the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region.
Where: Speicherstraße 11, 19055 Schwerin, Germany
Hotel Schloss Neustadt-Glewe
Stay in an actual palace with a night at Hotel Schloss Neustadt-Glewe. It was originally built for Duke Adolf Friedrich I of Mecklenburg, but is now a high-class hotel. The rooms are decorated in the baroque-style with intricate stucco work. As is the case with many palaces and castles throughout the region, the castle features furnishings and walls defined by papier-mâché. There is a restaurant on-site that sits in the cellar of the palace and brings you back to ancient times.
Where: Schloßfreiheit 1, 19306 Neustadt-Glewe, Germany
This place is a one-stop-shop for all your vacation needs. You can stay at one of Müritzfischer’s small apartments on the shores of Lake Müritz for easy access to all the lake activities. The apartments have everything you need to make your stay comfortable including separate bedrooms and a full kitchen. It even includes a balcony with stellar views of the lake.
Where: Am Seeufer 73, 17192 Waren (Müritz), Germany
How to get to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Start by flying into Hamburg or Berlin (the two closest airports to the region). Just note that direct flights from the United States to either city are few and far between.
Once in Germany, travelers can easily hop a train to their chosen town to start touring Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Most visitors start their journey by making their way to Schwerin if they’ve flown into Hamburg and those who’ve flown into Berlin make their way to Waren.
Renting a car is the easiest and most convenient way to fully take advantage of all the incredible attractions in the area. Almost every town has some sort of train station in their downtown. There are two different types of trains in Germany: ICE/IC high speed trains and the local trains which are clearly labeled on the trains. Tickets can be pre-purchased online or at the train stations themselves.
Cabs can also be found in most of the towns if you have specific places you want to visit without a car. Do not rely on your credit card to pay for things as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is mostly a cash region.