Beyond Expo 2000:
What to do in Hannover before, after or instead of Expo
Perhaps you’re in Hannover for the Expo, or maybe you’ve just stumbled onto this part of Germany and don’t have the inclination to shell out the big bucks for an Expo day pass. So what’s there to do here? To sum it up – a lot.
Hannover is a happening place to be right now, with all sorts of events and exhibitions running concurrently to the Expo. As well, there are plenty of permanent attractions in Hannover that are worth a look.
Following are various current events, sights and attractions – many that may not have made it into your guidebook. A list of some favourite local activities is also included. For more detailed information about Hannover’s attractions, check out their tourist web site; they have an English version which provides the most comprehensive information on Hannover. As well, Lonely Planet’s Germany guidebook has a decent section on Hannover.
Hannover is an ideal destination – the relaxed atmosphere, friendly people and myriad of attractions makes this a great place to hang out for a few days.
Hannover is host to plenty of interesting events this summer, from music festivals to cultural fests. Here is a list of the best ones:
Masala World Beat Festival: June 16-July 2
Music from all over the world, including Doudou N’Diaye from Senegal (28/06).
Info at The Pavilion, Lister Meile 4, (0511) 34 45 58
HerrenhÃ¯Â¿Â½user Garten Fest: June 6-October 22
Running all summer long, this festival in the HerrenhÃ¯Â¿Â½user gardens combines theater, music and dance programs. Many of the shows are held outdoors on the grounds of the Gardens.
The highlight is the Little Festival in the Big Garden (Kleines Fest im GroÃ¯Â¿Â½en Garten) from the 7 to the 30 of July, which offers outdoor concerts and plays on 30 different stages throughout the gardens. This is one of Hannover’s favourite cultural events, and since only 2200 people are allowed in at any performance, tickets are snatched up quickly. Some last minute tickets are available an hour before the performances, but get there early to line up.
From Hannover’s KrÃ¯Â¿Â½pcke station take Line 4 Garbsen or Line 5 StÃ¯Â¿Â½cken.
Jam City is a youth festival running throughout the summer at the Maschsee, a man-made lake in central Hannover. The festival includes outdoor rock concerts, plays and parties organized by the Evangelical Youth Organization of Hannover. Many popular local bands and deejays are lined up, and theme nights, like the Ska and Reggae nights of July 7th and 8th, are planned as well.
Jam City Hotline: 0511-1215-167, Seufzerallee 1, beside the stadium pool (Stadionbad)
How You Look at It: until August 6
How You Look at It, is an exhibition at the Sprengel Museum charting the course of photography during the twentieth century. The exhibition, containing more than 500 prints, presents the artistic highlights of twentieth century photography and its foremost representatives.
Sprengel Museum Hannover Kurt-Schwitters-Platz. Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.
SchÃ¯Â¿Â½tzenfest Hannover: June 30-July 9
This festival is one of the biggest in Germany, with rides, concerts, beer and more beer. Hannoverians go all out for their yearly SchÃ¯Â¿Â½tzenfest, and an air of festivity prevails throughout the city. The festival is held at the huge SchÃ¯Â¿Â½tzenplatz in central Hannover.
Every Saturday starting at 7 am, Hannover’s fleamarket at the edge of the old town besides the Leine river comes to life. Anyone is allowed to sell their goods here as long as it conforms to the ‘regulations’ posted on site. You can find all sorts of interesting (and not so interesting) curios, toys, books and collectibles at the market. Don’t forget to bargain, because no one expects you to pay the first price.
Hohen Ufer, behind the Historical Museum
Popular Permanent Attractions
Hannoverians are park fanatics – there are dozens of parks and gardens throughout the city, in all styles and sizes. In good weather and in bad, you’ll see folks outside enjoying some green, and getting away from the rigors of the city. To truly experience Hannover, you should grab a snack and some drinks, put on your walking shoes, and go join them.
Eilenride and the Zoo
The largest city park in Europe (650 hectares) is a good place to walk around, bike, go for a jog, and relax. It’s not actually your typical park, but rather a forest, with winding paths throughout. There’s a bird park on the grounds, and the Hannover Zoo is adjacent.
The zoo is a great destination in itself, with lots of animals and special exhibitions. According to the tourism Hannover web site “The day you visit Hannover Zoo will be the best day of the week”.
Best of all, after a nice long walk through the park or the zoo, you can head straight over to the adjoining Listerturm beer garden where you can rest your weary legs and refresh yourself with some delicious German beer.
Hannover Zoo: Adenauerallee 3.
Admission: Adults 24.50 DM.
Lister Turm Beer Garden, Walderseestr. 100.
Open every day 10 am to 2am, Kitchen open until midnight.
Visiting the beautiful HerrenhÃ¯Â¿Â½user Gardens is a nice way to spend the afternoon. The Gardens are gorgeously landscaped, each section in a different style. You can walk around for hours admiring the fountains, statues and landscaping. If you’re visiting in the summer you’ll be able to also enjoy one of the many art performances that play throughout the gardens during the season.
From Hannover’s KrÃ¯Â¿Â½pcke station take Line 4 Garbsen or Line 5 StÃ¯Â¿Â½cken.
Adjacent to the HerrenhÃ¯Â¿Â½user Gardens is the Regenwaldhaus, a tropical rainforest containing over 6000 plants and animals. You are invited on a multimedia expedition, with headset and guide, through the rainforest to learn about the flora and fauna, and the work of the scientist who collected them.
HerrenhÃ¯Â¿Â½user Strasse 4. Hours: Monday to Sunday 9am to 11pm.
Tickets: Adults 16DM, Students 10DM, With entrance to gardens: Adults 19DM, Students 13DM.
Discos start late here in Hannover. Don’t bother going before 11 pm on weekdays, and midnight on weekends – they never really get going until the wee hours of the morning. For an authentic German techno experience, look out for advertisements for all night parties. The Hannover event guides such as Magascene, available at many stores and restaurants, will usually advertise them, as well as listings for other nightly events.
The Baggi, formally known as Osho Discotheque (Raschplatz 7L) is an institution here in Hannover. Cavernous, crowded and loud, it caters to a younger crowd who favour mainstream music. On weekday nights, a more relaxed mood sets in, and an older crowd invades.
Palo Palo (Raschplatz 8A) is a tiny discotheque with good R & B music and great vibes. Obscenely crowded on the weekends, Palo Palo is at its best on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights when you get some breathing room and no cover charge.
At the popular Beer BÃ¯Â¿Â½rse (corner of Hamburger Allee and Lister Meile), prices go up and down according to demand, just like the stock market. Once a night a ‘crash’ happens, dropping all prices to their minimum (a 2 DM beer anyone?) for a few minutes. Better act quick though, as the prices usually skyrocket after.
Hannover’s Favourite Things to Do
One of the favourite activities in Hannover is people watching, and there are plenty of places to do it. The following are some of the best places in Hannover to watch the locals in their element.
Go to the Mezzo
The Mezzo (Lister Meile 4) is currently one of the trendiest hangouts in Hannover. Part restaurant, part bar and cafÃ¯Â¿Â½, the Mezzo is always full with people watchers and the young and trendy. On warm days the restaurant spills out onto the sidewalk, where people sit for hours, sip their beer and watch the many passersby. On weekends, the place is packed for their excellent all day breakfasts (until 4pm).
Hang out in the old city (Altstadt)
During the day, the old city is filled with dozens of cafÃ¯Â¿Â½s spilling out onto the streets. The tables, especially on weekends, are always full with shoppers relaxing with a drink or some lunch. Most of the places here are generally similar in terms of selection and quality, so take your pick. However, for some delicious tea and cake, try the Tee StÃ¯Â¿Â½bchen (3 63 16 82) which offers dozens of tea selections and mouthwatering traditional German cheesecake.
Eat Ice Cream
Eating ice cream at outdoor cafes is the primary spring and summer time occupation for Hannoverians. It is amazing how many ice cream cafÃ¯Â¿Â½s are in the city – almost one every few blocks. The best ice cream spots can be found in the old city or along the Lister Meile, a pedestrian zone just east of the train station. Of course you can always join the throngs of tourists eating ice cream at the Movenpick at KrÃ¯Â¿Â½pke. Wherever you go, be sure to try Spaghetti Eis (ice cream), a German specialty that tastes much better than it sounds.
Visit a Beergarden
Hankering after a genuine Beer and Bratwurst experience? Hannover offers lots of that too. Many of the places in the city centre are geared towards tourists, but there are a few that give you a more ‘genuine’ local experience.
The Paulaner (Georg Strasse 36, 3 63 11 84) is a favourite, especially during the happy hour between 4 and 6pm.
For a real authentic experience, the PlÃ¯Â¿Â½mecke (VoÃ¯Â¿Â½ Strasse 39, 66 09 69) is as authentic as you can get with stale cigarette smoke-filled air, dark stained furniture and permanently filled tables. It’s incredibly cheap and the waitress keeps your tab on your coaster. Bring your German phrasebook as there is little English spoken here.
On a nice summer evening everyone heads to the Lister Turm (Waldersee Strasse 100, Tel 696.5603) beergarden which is adjacent to the Eilenreide. Grab a beer and some ribs or a bratwurst and bretzel and find yourself a spot on one of the dozens of picnic tables.
Expo 2000 is a definite must see if you are anywhere near the area of Hannover. Over 60 country pavillions, futuristic exhibitions and countless performances and concerts makes this one of the biggest world expositions ever. It runs until the end of October at the massive new Expo land on the outskirts of Hannover.
For information about the Expo, including tickets, event schedules and exhibits, visit the Expo 2000 website.
Some advice: Buy your Expo ticket at the main train station before heading over, it’s not only 10 DM cheaper than at the onsite box office, but your transportation to the grounds is also included.
Mapquest has a good map of Hannover listed under Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany.
With the millions of visitors expected for the Expo, don’t think it’ll be easy (or cheap) getting accommodation in the area. Make sure you call ahead to see if there is still place.
Here are a few links to accommodation sites in the region. If it’s late or you’re really stuck, head straight to the Hannover tourism office at the train station for accommodation help.
List of youth hostels in the Hannover region.
German hostelling network site, unfortunately just in German.
Camping possibilities in the Hannover region.
Easy Room, a hotel and private room agency.
The public transportation system in Hannover is efficient and quick. You can pick up a map of the transportation system at the tourist office, or download an Acrobat version under ‘Stadtbahn‘.
Since it works on an honour system, many people ride “black” (which means they don’t pay) on the transportation system. Be forewarned that random ticket checks are often made, and on the spot 60 DM fines are liberally given.
Biking is also a good option in Hannover, as there are clearly marked bicycle lanes throughout the city. The Hannover website has a list of bike rental companies.
With the advent of the Euro, the German Mark is at its lowest in years, making German travel a pleasure. Current exchange rates according to FX online converter:
US$1 = 2.05 DM
A$1 = 1.21 DM
CAN$1 = 1.39 DM
GB£1 = 3.10 DM
The cheapest (and some say most delicious) meals in Hannover are at the dozen or so Turkish restaurants close to the Steintor. All of them basically serve the same dishes, variations on donars with salad or rice for around 8 DM. Try their Aran yogurt drinks for a refreshing thirst quencher.
For more info about Hannover and its attractions, accommodation and facilities, visit the excellent Hannover website, or the tourism office just outside of the train station (beside the main post office).