Before visiting Bremerhaven I was only familiar with its fourth largest port in Europe and I was eager to see, if there is more to it, than this. Luckily I did not need long to realize that Bremerhaven has lots of interesting and very unique sights to offer to its visitors.
Bremerhaven is a place you can easily visit with children, as the city has many attractions, which will be interesting to visitors no matter what their age is. There’s nothing cooler than spending time with your family, have fun and even learn something in between.
Top sights in Bremerhaven:
As soon as I found out, that the German National Tourist Board put this immigration center in our schedule, I was very excited in visiting the city. These kinds of things have always interested me and I knew the immigration center would be something I would plan myself. Immigration center in Bremerhaven is the largest theme museum in Europe and in 2007 it was announced also as the best theme museum in Europe. The immigration center introduce us with immigrants, who left Europe between 1930 and 1974, to start their life in the New World (North America, Argentina, Australia or Brazil).
People, who left Europe, spent all of their savings, just to buy the boarding pass, which would bring them new and better life. There were more than 7,2 million people, who left Europe from Bremerhaven. Saying goodbye to their families and friends is never easy, even more when you leave your home and not knowing what your future will bring…. Many tears were shared for sure….tears of goodbye, but also tears of hope…
When visiting the immigration center, we, as visitors, get a boarding pass, which we need to get on board of a ship, sailing towards the New World – in our case to New York. We find ourselves in the lower decks, as our boarding pass is only for the third class. Everything in the museum is so well done, that we can easily imagine, how the journey looked like in the past… Squeezing wooden floors and made scenes, which include wax people, can take you back in time in a heartbeat. Due to my good imagination I did not need long, when I felt anxiety of people, not knowing what is waiting for them in the unknown world. I remembered as well, that some of my distant relatives were traveling to Brazil like this and I almost got tears in my eyes, realizing how brave they had to be….
Well, but if you don’t have as much imagination as I do, here in immigration center, many audio footage and stories will help you to get into the right feeling. The stories you will hear, are the true stories of true people, who did travel to the New World from Bremerhaven. Our journey does not last as long as the real one – we reach New York in one, two, maybe three hours (depends on how much time we will take for our exploration). When the ship will come to an end of our journey, we will be taken to the Central train Station in New York. But before we are allowed to make our first steps in the new life, we might be encounter with the biggest challenge so far – answering on 28 questions in 2 minutes. Our answers will allow us to stay in New York and continue the journey or our dreams will be smashed and we will be sent back to Bremerhaven.
Not only that everyone, who wanted to reach the New World, had to know how to read and write, they all had to be healthy, in a good physical condition (no handicaps allowed), should not be polygamist and they had to have at least 25 USD in their pocket for covering the further expenses on the road (food, train ticket etc.). The amount of 25 USD does not sound like a big fuss today, but you have to know that in that time, this amount meant few monthly salaries for a common worker.
The museum is with no doubt one of the best museums I have been to! I am still so happy I have seen it by myself! I recommend it to everyone staying in Bremerhaven or in Hamburg – if you can spare one extra day to travel here for visiting the immigration center, belive me, you will not be sorry! (Entrance fee: adults 12,60€, children between 4 and 16 years 6,90€, students 10,60€, family 32€)
There is another very unique sight in Bremerhaven – it is called Klimahaus (English translation would be Climate house). Bremerhaven stands on the eight degree of longitude east and the idea of the Klimahaus was to introduce its visitors different climate zones around the world, which we can find on 8° east. Visiting Klimahaus is actually a world journey threw five different climates – from desert to tropical.
Not only world climate zones can be seen and felt in the Klimahaus. There are also two different sections well worth your exploration; »Perspectives« and »Opportunities«, which show and teach us, how the climate will be changing in the future and what we can do to help saving the environment we live in.
The Klimahaus is a perfect place for families, as during our jounrey around the world, we do not just observe things, but we can be very active and involved in all kind of exploration. (Entrance fee: adults 14,50€, children between 4 and 18 years and students 10€, family 44€ or 30€).
German shipping Museum
Before the WW2, the German shipping Museum could be found in Berlin, but because of some critical damages, which occurred during the war, they later move it to Bremerhaven. The museum is a perfect place for all the technique admirers! Getting to know the development of shipping industry throughout the history is truly an interesting thing to see, even more, because some of the outdoor ships, including the submarine, can also be visited and seen from the inside. The German shipping Museum has been under the protected heritage since 2005. (Entrance fee: adults 6€, children between 6 and 14 years and students 4€, family 12,50€. You can also visit only the outdoor vessels: 1€/ship, 3€/submarine)
Bremerhaven has its own Zoo, called Zoo Am Meer. It is a relatively small place, but it is specialized only in the animals, which live in this northern part of Germany. Children will be able to observe sea lions, polar bears, penguins, cormorants, snowy owls, snakes, turtles and even different types of fish in some of their aquariums. I guarantee you – children will have a blast here!
Shop Window Fishery Harbor
The main attractions of this place are 100 years old warehouse buildings, which fishermen used to stock their daily catch. Just before the WW2, the buildings were bustling with fishermen, selling and buying fish on the loud and lively auctions. Unfortunately the WW2 did not bring anything good to these buildings, as many of them were damaged. They were left alone, decaying for about three decades, when some people wanted to demolish them completely. Luckily, at the end, instead of demolishing, renovation started and it is now one of the most popular areas in the city among locals and tourists. You can find lots of traditional restaurants, bars and shops here. A nice place to unwind, walk around and get to know the fishing culture in Bremerhaven, including with smoked fish and herrings– a marinated raw fish, which you should definitely try here! The whole building complex is now under protected heritage.
Container port Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven port is not an important port only for Germany, but for the whole Europe and world as well. This port is, believe it or not, the 4th most important port in Europe and the 16th most important in the World. Let me present you with some facts and figures: here more than 3,5 millions of the 6,1 meters containers (TEU; twenty-foot equivalent units) are imported/exported. Just for the info – one ship can have 18.000 containers on board. Bremerhaven port is also the largest port for cars in the world – in the year 2013, there were 2,2 million cars imported/exported here and its garage capacity is 250.000 units. The port is huge and you will not be sorry, if you decide to explore it. If you are in Bremerhaven with your own car, just drive around a little and enjoy the views. Did you know that 90% of all the things we have at home, actually comes from a container? if you see a large number of ships in the port, don’t be surprised if the port employees won’t look very happy, as lots of ships means slow business.
The observation deck
Each real city has an observation deck and Bremerhaven is no exception. In fact, Bremerhaven has 2 observation decks (Radar tower and Sail City). I only visited the observation deck, which can be found at the top of the Atlantic Sail City Hotel, where I staid one night.
The Atlantic Sail City Hotel, together with the Klimahaus, is an attraction of its own, as it is build in the shape of a core and each room has its own sea view. Due to its architecture and design, the Atlantic Sail City hotel, together with the underground garage and a congress center, did cost a fortune – 48 millions to be exact.
Staying in the Atlantic Sail City Hotel or not, I would definitely recommend you to go up to its observation deck at evenings, as nothing can beat stunning views over the city with hundreds of lights. In the clear weather, you can see all the way to the Bremerhaven port. (Entrance fee for the observation deck: 3€)
Even though the city of Bremerhaven has not got the typical city charm, which some of other cities do have, it is still a wonderful place to visit. It is unique for its diverse sights and attractions, where everyone can find something for him/her selves: technique, history, shipping, architecture, nature, environment, traveling, animals, sea food… If you have made a tick with at least one of these features, you have to put Bremerhaven on your bucket list. Bremerhaven is ideal for families, as it is a city that listens and hears the children amazingly well.