The Hanseatic League.
For 400 years, the Hanseatic League was an association of North German merchants who worked together to ensure a safe passage of their goods and represent their economic interests. However, the Hanseatic League was important not only economically, but also politically and culturally. Although it ceased to exist in the middle of the 17th century, its traces can still be explored by bike or on foot.
Connecting the Hanseatic city of Hamburg with the Polish Hanseatic city of Szczecin, the 550-kilometer-long (342 mile) Hanseatic Trail makes this possible. The NaturFreunde e.V association established this long-distance trail.
This alternative route focuses on my new home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where the Hanseatic Way runs right through the country. You cycle along quiet paths through Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania far away from the big tourist hot spots, which only serve as destinations or starting points for individual Tours. The route is waymarked by the symbol of a white stylized Hanseatic cog (a type of sailing ship of the Hanseatic League) on a black background.
You start from the Priwall Peninsula near the borough of Travemünde in Lübeck and follow the alternative route of the Hanseatic League Trail to the city of Swinoujscie (Polish: Świnoujście). In contrast to the normal course of the Hanseatic Way, you see a little of the Baltic Sea and even ride along it during one stage.
On the individual stages, you can expect brick architecture and manor houses set amongst varied coastal landscapes. Ranging in length from 20 to 35 kilometres (12.4 to 21.7 miles), all stages are ideal for half-day or full-day Tours. Only two stages require you to pedal longer.
You can plan your arrival and departure by train, as each of the stage starting points and destinations is connected to the regional train network. This allows you to travel to and from the start points easily so you can complete several days in a row or just ride individual sections. There are also places to stop off for refreshments on the Tours, at the very least at the start and finish points.
With the exception of the town of Velgast, the destination of stage 7, each starting point and each stage destination offers overnight accommodation. You can find more information about overnight accommodations in Velgast in the respective Tour description.
So now all you have to do is hop on your saddle and follow the cog!
The first stage of the Hanseatenweg begins for you on the Priwall, i.e. in Schleswig-Holstein and ends in Grevesmühlen, in the heart of northwest Mecklenburg.On this route you will discover brick churches that are typical of the Baltic Sea region. During this tour you will drive through the flat, undulating landscape of the district of Northwest Mecklenburg, which was shaped by the Ice Age.Your tour begins on the Priwall at the Priwall ferry. To do this, you first drive almost straight ahead until you come to the memorial stone for the former inner-German border.From here a narrow bike path leads you south to the village of Pötenitz. On a well-developed and paved bike path, you continue to the next village, where you can admire a brick building: the Nikolaikirche von Dassow.You continue south through the small village of Prieschendorf and then through a small forest area.The last two village churches, one in Kirch Mummendorf and one in Börzow, can be reached quickly thanks to the paved road. At Börzow, the Hanseatenweg leads you over the tracks in an easterly direction through the Questiner forest.As soon as you have crossed the next level crossing, you will have arrived at your destination Grevesmühlen.
On the second stage of the Hanseatenweg you drive through the Klützer Winkel, a part of the district of Northwest Mecklenburg and your destination will be the Hanseatic city of Wismar.There are a few hills to overcome here, but in return you have the opportunity to look as far as the Baltic Sea.Today you start in Grevesmühlen. From here you drive east to the Hamberge viewpoint. You can stretch your legs on the observation tower there and enjoy the great view over the Klützer Winkel with the Baltic Sea on the horizon.
It continues through the Hamberge. Here you drive on a traffic-calmed road through a section of forest. At Everstorf atonement stone you drive straight ahead until you make a sharp bend to the south.You then drive through a small forest area through the villages of Jameln and Alt Jassewitz. Beware, the cobblestone path can be a bit uncomfortable for you as a cyclist. Only when you have left the village behind you will you drive on asphalt again.On the way towards Neu Jassewitz you then turn onto the field path, which is signposted with "Kunstradweg". You cannot miss it, as the art objects are already recognizable from afar. After this "art detour" you continue to Weitendorf , through Proseken, where the village church from the 13th century stands.
You continue on a forest path to Zierow. Here you can literally recharge your batteries and stretch your legs at the “Kraftquelle”. It is a very popular rest stop for cyclists and hikers, especially since it offers almost everything for daily needs.
It then continues via Fliemstorf and the fishing village of Hoben to Wismar. The Baltic Sea is now within your grasp. But be careful - the path on the coast is very sandy. Here it may be possible that you have to push your bike.
But the sandy path is not very long and soon you will continue on a very well-developed cycle path towards the Hanseatic city of Wismar, which is now only a few minutes' drive away.
Once there, you will be led through the city to the "Old Port". The goal is reached. Here at the “Old Harbor” you can buy fish rolls directly from the cutter.Hanseatic city, port and fish sandwiches: you couldn't ask for a nicer way to end the stage.
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On the third stage, you cycle out of the Hanseatic city of Wismar into a rural area of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. On this stage you will experience a unique ship and impressive brick architecture.You start at the old water gate. From here you drive on the bike path and follow the signs towards the island of Poel.On the way to Poel you should take a look at the Wismar Bay. Because Redentin's concrete ship is lying there on the ground. If there is little water in the bay, the ship can even be reached on foot, as it lies on a sandbank.After Redentin you take the road that leads to the right in the direction of Krusenhagen. In the Redentiner Tannen forest you can relax from the first part of your tour or you can continue pedaling to Neuburg, where you can admire the listed village church. It was built in the 13th century. Another church that is on the tour is the village church of Altbukow.While driving, it is noticeable that the names of the places often end in "-ow". This shows that the Slavs once settled here.The last section of this tour is a piece of forest that you drive through before you approach your destination Neubukow from the south. You drive twice over the tracks and then straight ahead towards the market. Once there, you have made the third stage.
In addition to the typical brick churches, a “walking aid” for fish as well as a machine on the roadside, which is somewhat unusual for this region, await you on this stage.You start your fourth stage at the market in Neubukow. Right around the corner from your starting point is the city church of Neubukow, a brick church that is built from both early and late Gothic style elements.Past the town church, you drive along the mill pond, where a fish ladder has been installed. It was built to make it easier for the fish to overcome the height difference between Mühlenteich and Hellbach during their fish migration.Behind Neubukow on the main street you drive through Malpen. There is an egg vending machine on the main street, where you can buy fresh eggs. Here in the region it is the only machine of its kind.You drive along the street through the village of Hof Jörnstorf, carefully over the tracks south of Jörnstorf you continue until you have reached the village of Westenbrügge. Here is a late Gothic village church, which, like almost all churches here in the Mecklenburg Baltic Sea region, belongs to the Gothic brick style.At Kröpelin you will notice that not everything on the Baltic Sea coast is flat, because Kröpelin lies on a mountain range. But do not worry, there are no major inclines to be expected here. At least not like in the Alpine or low mountain range.Behind Kröpelin it goes slightly downhill again. At Reddelich you drive past the orchard meadow "Garden of Eden", a project that has set itself the task of preserving old types of fruit.The last kilometers to Bad Doberan are now ahead of you. Your destination is the city center, where you might have the chance to see Molli, the steam train that runs between Bad Doberan and Kühlungsborn.
On the fifth stage, the Hanseatenweg leads you out of Bad Doberan via villages to the Hanseatic city of Rostock.You start in the center of Bad Doberan. Molli, the steam train that runs between Kühlungsborn and Bad Doberan, also drives along here.You drive in a southerly direction and after a few kilometers you reach Althof, where the oldest secular brickwork in Mecklenburg is. Not far to the south is the Althof chapel, which was also built from bricks in the brick Gothic style.Behind Althof you drive on a dirt road through forest sections to the Fischerhof Parkentin. Here you can take a break and try a freshly caught fish from the former monastery ponds.Wherever there are monastery ponds, a church institution is certainly not far away. The village church of Parkentin, which you will pass by after visiting the Fischerhof, is only 1.5 kilometers away.
At the village church, go along the main street, then turn right, where you then drive through the area of a building materials recycling company. Here you follow the Hanseatenweg through the villages of Wilsen, Klein Sch Maß and Groß Sch Maß.Once you have crossed the bridge over the B103 and you are in the city of Rostock. You drive past the Westfriedhof through the Barnstorfer Forest, a local recreation area in the southwest of the Hanseatic city.Almost in a straight line you pass an emergency church. The Johanniskirche was only built after the Second World War and is one of the so-called Bartning-Notkirchen. The last kilometers lead you through Rostock to the old town on the Neuer Markt. Here you have reached your fifth stage goal.
You start the sixth stage in the old town of Rostock, the most populous city in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.First you cycle past the liqueur factory and the Church of St. Petri. Both buildings are of different ages, but what they have in common is the typical brick style.You leave the Hanseatic city over the Warnow River and come to rural areas. Here you first drive in the direction of Bentwisch.A cycle path leads along tracks in a northerly direction. You follow the course until you see "Häschen Camping" on the opposite side, here you turn left to Häschendorf.Past Karls Erlebnis-Hof and continue to Rövershagen. Here the Hanseatenweg leads you past the open-air museum Forst- und Köhlerhof Wiethagen. There the traditional production of charcoal, wood tar and turpentine can be experienced with the help of charcoal burners.You drive a few kilometers through the Rostocker Heide, the largest closed coastal forest in Germany, until you come to an intersection on Meyerhausstelle. Here you can take a break in the restaurant. What is interesting about this place is that it is a settlement that consists only of a former, listed forester's house with an associated courtyard.At Gelbensande it goes over the tracks on a village street that leads you through Willershagen and the Altheider Forest. Initially you drive here over a gravel road, which then turns into a dirt road.Leaving the Altheider forest behind, you drive north directly towards Ribnitz-Damgarten. Behind the water tower, which is great for orientation, you drive right past the tower over the tracks, directly to the market.Welcome to the amber town of Ribnitz-Damgarten!
On this stage you drive through the Western Pomerania landscape, which consists of wide fields with little trees.On this route you will not only cross a once historically significant border, but also experience churches and the "white gold".There are no overnight accommodations at the Velgast destination. The next place to stay is in Karnin. It is only 20 minutes by bike from Velgast to there.
The start of the seventh stage is the Ribnitz-Damgarten market. From here you drive directly to the port. Here on the banks of the Ribnitzer See you have great views of the lake and Damgarten. You cycle through the only park in the city: the Nizzepark.Over the tracks you leave Damgarten and drive along the Recknitz on a route that lies between meadows and floodplains. This river once formed the border between Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania.Past Daskow you drive on the Hanseatenweg to Ahrenshagen. A village church from the second half of the 13th century stands here.It continues through the municipality of Trinwillershagen, where you should make a stop at the salt factory in Trinwillershagen. Here you can find out everything about salt, which is also called "white gold".In the last third of the stage you can really pedal again. Here you drive through smaller places. Another stop is recommended at the Starkow. Here you can discover and taste old types of fruit in the local parish garden. The village church of St. Jürgen located there is also worth a visit. Their basilica is one of the earliest of its kind that can be found in the brick churches in Western Pomerania.You can reach the stage destination Velgast with its small train station in a few minutes after driving through Manschenhagen.
This stage takes you from the small town of Velgast to the large Hanseatic city of Stralsund, which is also known as the “gateway to the island of Rügen”.On this stage you will pass a brick Gothic church, which is a typical architectural style for the region. At this stage there is also a manor castle from the early 20th century.As soon as you have left the Velgast train station, the cog of the Hanseatenweg leads you to the Christ Church, a sacred building from the 13th century.Following the main street, you will reach the district of Kummerow. This is where the Kummerow mansion, built in 1912, stands; a two-storey plastered building with a large entrance hall and a central projectile. From 1945 to 1955 it was used as a primary school. The first renovation work on the manor castle began in 2012.For the rest of the route to Stralsund you drive comfortably along the route and let the Western Pomeranian landscape affect you. Western Pomerania is a fairly flat region here near Stralsund, so cycling - even over longer distances - is not a problem.You drive through small districts of the communities Pantenitz and Lüssow before you drive past the Stralsund Zoo from the east. You continue through the idyllic city forest with its moor lake before heading north on the hectic Carl-Heydemann-Ring.On the Küterdamm it goes over the Knieperteich into the old town of Stralsund. When you arrive at the Old Market, it's time for you: Welcome to the gateway to the island of Rügen!
There is a very important note in advance for this stage. Two large sections of this stage (13 and 25 kilometers) consist of small cobblestone pavement.If you own a bike with good suspension, this fact won't bother you, everyone else probably won't enjoy these sections as much. Here it is advisable to take the alternative route, which is located directly on the Strelasund.On the ninth stage, you can expect some typical brick churches and many views of the flat, undulating Western Pomerania region and, to the left, almost always in view: the Strelasund.From the old market in Stralsund you first drive towards Kiepenteich. There you drive along the bank in the direction of Stralsund train station and from there continue south to the Stralsund district of Voigdehagen. This district is very ecclesiastical. The village church, which is the mother church of all Stralsund parish churches, is particularly important.You leave the Hanseatic city of Stralsund behind you over the track. Attention: At the intersection of Brandsheimer Weg / Täschenhäger Weg, a cycle path made of cobblestone begins for the next 25 kilometers. For many cyclists, this path now has a notorious reputation.If you are one of the brave, the Hanseatenweg will lead you through the municipality of Sundhagen. In the district of Brandshagen you will see one of the largest village churches in Northern Germany: the Marienkirche Brandshagen.Unless you are bothered by the cobblestones and therefore do not have to concentrate on the path, you should now look to the left again and again on the way towards Reinberg, because here you get great views of the Strelasund.The next church building, which dates from the 13th century, is waiting in Reinberg. This is also a Gothic brick church. In front of the church building is the 1000-year-old Reinberger linden tree; a summer linden tree that consists of several trunks.After Reinberg you continue straight through Mesekenhagen, here you have to overcome the last kilometers of cobblestone.Via Oldenhagen it goes towards the home straight. Neuenkirchen bei Greifswald with its brick village church from the 14th century with a half-timbered tower and surrounding cemetery with historical grave sites and stones invites you to linger for a while. You then cross the bridge on the Ryck into the old town of Greifswald.The university and Hanseatic city welcomes you now!
The tenth stage is the last stage on the Western Pomerania mainland before the next and last stage goes to the island of Usedom.You start in the old town of the university and Hanseatic city of Greifswald. From here it goes directly to the museum harbor. With 50 adjacent ships, it is the largest museum harbor in Germany.You orient yourself on the well-developed bike path here, which runs almost parallel to the course of the Ryck river. You follow its course to the Wiecker bridge.From here you follow the Hanseatenweg to the Eldena district, where there is a former Cistercian abbey, which unfortunately has only been preserved as a ruin.As far as Kemnitz you continue on the bike path that runs parallel to Wolgaster Straße. On the way you can take a look at the Danish Wiek, a bay in the south of the Greifswald Bodden.Always following the bike path, you drive through the districts of Kemnitz and Kemnitzerhagen of the municipality of Kemnitz.Arrived in the municipality of Hanshagen at the intersection of Waldstrasse and Zum Fliederbusch, the Hanseatenweg splits up here. One route continues via Anklam to Stettin, but you take the alternative route that takes you via Wolgast to the island of Usedom.You leave Hanshagen in the east as soon as you have passed the watermill. We continue on a forest path to the Wrangelsburg district, where Wrangelsburg Castle is located. The name is a bit confusing because it is not a castle but a mansion.At Lühmannsdorf you cross the road that leads you through another forest. Leaving the forest behind you are almost there. Through the Wolgast district of Hohendorf you drive directly to the port of Wolgast.When you arrive at the port, you have more than earned a fish sandwich as a reward for successfully completing the stages.
Your last stage of the Hanseatenweg starts in the port of Wolgast on the German side, because the destination Swinoujscie (Polish: Świnoujście) is already in Poland.On this tour you drive from Wolgast to the island of Usedom. There you will find not only well-developed bike paths that make cycling on the island a pleasure, but also many Baltic Sea resorts with beautiful sandy beaches and interesting spa architecture.From the port of Wolgast you drive directly over the Peene bridge to the islands of Usedom. Once there, you first drive along the Peenestrom and then through the municipality of Mölschow on a beautiful bike path with pastures that takes you across the island to the other side.Arrived in Ostseebad Trassenheide you follow the Hanseatenweg in the direction of Bansin. Here it goes through a pine forest directly along the Baltic Sea coast. Here you cycle through the Baltic seaside resorts of Zinnowitz, Zempin and Koserow.The journey becomes more adventurous when you have passed the Kölpinsee, because this is where a mountain-and-valley journey begins. Gradients of up to 16% are not uncommon.Arrived in the Ostseebad Bansin, you have done the most strenuous part of the bike tour. Because from here it is mainly on the level beach promenade through the Baltic seaside resorts of Bansin, Heringsdorf and Ahlbeck. Here it's time to enjoy, not to race; especially since you partly share the bike path with pedestrians.Behind Ahlbeck, the Germany-Poland border is not far and before you know it, you have already crossed it. Since Poland is part of the EU, no controls are carried out here at the border. The last kilometers lead you straight to Swinoujscie to the beach promenade.Congratulation! You have completed the Hanseatenweg with the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania section!