Cuxhaven, the northernmost point of Lower Saxony in Germany, is located right at the North Sea at the mouth of the Elbe river and it is one of the most popular German seaside places for day trips from Hamburg, Bremen and around, as well as one of the larger climate resorts for longer summer holidays. Besides relaxing at the beach and exploring Cuxhaven´s historical and architectural sights, it is also a great starting point for visiting UNESCO´s Wadden Sea, day trips to Helgoland, Neuwerk and other islands, longer walks and cycling through surrounding coastal heathlands and more. I have visited Cuxhaven a couple of times during my last 10 years living in Germany and it is also one of my favourite places in these parts of the country. Read more about what to see and do in Cuxhaven in this post.
CUXHAVEN BEACHES | endless white sandy beaches with typical “Strandkorb” baskets
Cuxhaven is divided into 3 parts, namely DUHNEN, DÖSE and SAHLENBURG, with the most beautiful kilometers of SANDY BEACH located in the Duhnen area. Besides the beach, there is also a LONG, BEAUTIFUL PROMENADE with associated RESTAURANTS, CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUNDS and SHOPS, followed by an artificially designed protective dune, followed by kilometers of CYCLING TRAILS.
North German beaches are most attractive to me personally because of these TYPICAL “STRANDKORB” BASKETS, which are painted in BRIGHT YELLOW here in Cuxhaven. They are not only charming to look at, but also really necessary here in the north, where the rather cold wind is constantly blowing. Their use is usually paid by the hour or rented for the whole day. All baskets are also numbered, so in some places you can book a specific one online in advance. Believe me, I know a couple of Germans who spend their summer holidays in the same coastal resort every year and always want the same number of the Strandkorb basket.
But even though, despite the wind, I really like the German coast, this love applies more to the sandy beach parts of the coast than to the sea itself. Because the SEA is not only icy cold, the NORTH GERMAN SEA is also quite blurry at the expense of the greyish muddy bottom and thus also visually less attractive. In addition, especially at low tide, the shallow waters go on indefinitely, and at high tide more dangerous waves are formed. So, while it is actually ideal for our youngest ones, who will definitely look forward to splashing in the muddy shallows and playing in the sand, it really isn´t the best for SWIMMING IN THE SEA.
WADDEN SEA AND “WATTWANDERUNG” | Unesco pritected area of mudflats
Between continental northern Europe and the FRISIAN ISLANDS, which lie along the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, lies the LARGEST TIDAL MUDDY FLATS SYSTEM IN THE WORLD, called WATTENMEER in German, WADDENZEE in Dutch and VADEHAVET Danish. Due to its rich flora and fauna and exceptional landscape, the area is not only an important UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a popular excursion point for many German tourists, while international tourists are still mostly unaware of this hidden gem.
At several points on the north German coast, you can explore this unique landscape as part of an ORGANIZED GUIDED TRIP. The most popular are the so-called. WATTWANDERUNG HIKES, where you can walk from the continental coast to one of the islands – from CUXHAVEN you can walk to the island of NEUWERK, but of course you can choose a shorter tour and walk around the muddy flats closer to the mainland. Such hikes are possible only at low tide and with an official guide. Those who do not like to walk can also choose HORSE RIDING or a CARRIAGE RIDE ON THE WADEN SEA. All of these tours start in Cuxhaven and are offered by a number of different operators.
I have explored the WADDEN SEA quite a few times – you can read more about where and how to start such hikes in a special article by clicking on the button below.MORE ABOUT WADDEN SEA
CUXHAVENER KÜSTENHEIDE | coastal sandy dunes overgrown with pink heather
As I am usually more attracted to nature and unspoilt peaceful landscapes rather than to the otherwise really nice German coastal towns, we also explored an interesting area called CUXHAVENER KÜSTENHEIDE as well. The term “Heide” in German describes a landscape overgrown with pink heather. The most famous is certainly LÜNEBÜRGER HEIDE, but in this case it is a special, coastal version. The area is located right next to the Wadden Sea, on the slightly hilly WHITE SAND DUNES and MARSHLANDS MEADOWS, with many marked EASY HIKING TRAILS.
Here we also found an interesting GEOCOACHING PATH and learned more about this interesting grassy PROTECTED AREA on several INFORMATIONAL BOARDS along the trails.
CUXHAVEN TOWN | seaside spa resort with everything you need
The beginnings of tourism in Cuxhaven date back to the 19th century, and ever since 1964 the place has been officially recognized as a SEASIDE SPA RESORT or SEEHEILBAD in German. As a result, here are numerous beautiful SPA HOTELS, RESTAURANTS, PROMENADES, PARKS, POOLS and similar. There is also a CAMP SITE and of course more affordable APARTMENTS.
As already mentioned, there are a lot of CYCLING ROUTES in the vicinity of Cuxhaven, in fact about 200 km. Bicycles can be rented at several points, and cycling is a really great choice here for exploring the surroundings, also because the landscape is completely flat. You can also take part in one of the many ORGANIZED CYCLING TRIPS, which also includes accommodation and a tour guide.
Also interesting is the PORT WITH A WAVE BREAKER called “ALTE LIEBE”, which means “old love”, from 1733. Today there is a VIEWING PLATFORM WITH A PROMENADE from where you can observe the sea and the big boats coming in towards the ports in Hamburg and around. Also don´t miss visiting the most recognizable symbol of Cuxhaven, the so-called KUGELBACKE – a larger wooden structure that still serves as a landmark for sailors.
DAY TRIP TO NEUWERK ISLAND | exploring the Wadden sea
Only a little over 3km² large island in the UNESCO-protected WADDEN SEA, Neuwerk is one of the smaller German islands, of which there are over 80 in the country by the way. Visit the NATIONALPARK HAUS info center, where you can learn more about the island and the interesting Wadden Sea, but otherwise, the GREATEST EXPERIENCE IS THE WAY THERE ITSELF. You can choose a LONGER HIKE OVER THE MUDDY FLATS (obligatory in an organized group, as the tidal times are crucial), HORSEBACK RIDING or A RIDE WITH A SPECIAL HORSE CARRIAGE. You can return to Cuxhaven by boat during the afternoon tide (it takes about 90 min).
DAY TRIP TO HELGOLAND ISLAND | visiting the smallest nature reserve in Germany
While visiting this part of Germany, I also highly recommend a visit to the SMALLEST NATURE RESERVE IN THE COUNTRY, the wild and truly unique island of HELGOLAND, which at times is more reminiscent of Ireland, Iceland and Norway than Germany.
On just 1m² of land in the middle of the stormy north sea, a 3km long circular path called KLIPPENRANDWEG awaits you, leading you past BIRD’S NESTING PLACES on steep red cliffs, with the most famous cliff LANGE ANNA, pass the main town, sandy beaches, lighthouse and meadows where hairy sheep graze. On the neighboring, even smaller uninhabited island, you can also see a SEAL COLONY. The island can be reached by boat from CUXHAVEN, BREMERHAVEN, WILHELMSHAVEN, HAMBURG and BÜSUM. Read the full post about HELGOLAND by clicking on the button below.
Cuxhaven is yet another one of those German coastal towns that I will definitely miss once we move out of the country. If you ever wander around this part of Germany, make sure to stop and see what it has to offer. You can easily combine this visit with a trip to the nearby Bremen, Bremerhaven and other parts of the German northern coast, and of course Hamburg as well. There are several posts about these destinations here on the blog as well.