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The capital and largest city in Lower Saxony. Hannover is Germany’s 13th largest city, with over 500,000 inhabitants. It is an important city in Northern Germany and has over a million people living in its metropolitan area.
Founded in Medieval times, Hannover was an important river port city. In 1757 the city was invaded by the French but retaken by an Anglo-German force in 1758. The exiled King’s German Legion of soldiers from Hannover played a key role in the Battle of Waterloo. Around 90% of Hannover was flattened in bombing raids during World War 2.
After the war, the city constructed an old town by moving the surviving historic buildings to one area. Concurrent development left the city with a large collection of concrete buildings. That being said, there is a wide range of green space and cultural venues. The city is known as a conference destination. It has a small but vibrant gay scene.
For information about gay rights in Hannover, please check out our Gay Berlin City Guide page.
Hannover’s gay scene is low-key in comparison to other German cities. However, the LGBT community are firmly established and embedded as part of city life. Hannover is home to the oldest gay sauna in Germany, and there are bars, cruise clubs and a dance club that cater to gay customers.
Hannover Pride takes place every May and is a very popular event. At the annual Schützenfest (Marksman) festival, there is a gay tent with a joyful and carnivalesque atmosphere. The national Queer Film Festival also hosts events in Hannover, usually in the spring and October.
Hannover Airport (HAJ) is located 11 km north of the centre of Hannover and is Germany’s 11th largest airport. It is well-connected, mostly by budget airlines, to cities and leisure destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
From the airport you can take an S-bahn train into the centre. You will need a 2-zone ticket which will cost you €3.50. The journey takes around 17 minutes with services running twice an hour. You will not be able to catch a train between 1.30am and 4am so be prepared with other arrangements. Extra services run during big conferences.
Taxis can be found outside of the arrivals area. You can also pre-arrange private transfers in advance. A standard taxi ride should cost around €20. The car rental centre is between Terminals A and B so ensure you have the appropriate documentation. The drive into the centre take around 20 minutes depending on traffic.
The Hannover Hauptbahnhof is centrally located, making it an excellent gateway to the city. It is well-connected to cities in Germany by high speed ICE trains. There are international connections to the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland with some of these services running overnight (Nachtzug) where you can connect to the wider network.
The design of the city makes getting around on foot a great way to take in the city. There pavements are well-maintained and the area from Central Station to Kröpcke is completely pedestrianised.
By public transport
Üstra operates the public transport network in Hannover which is famous for its buses, trams and trains as some of them have been designed by internationally regarded designers. A single ticket starts at €2.40 and day tickets start at €5.40. Some tickets will need to be validated and inspectors operate on the service.
Services run frequently throughout the day and there are irregular night bus, tram and rail services with more frequent night services on Fridays and Saturdays. There is also a discount system that offers women discounted night travel. Download the transport app to make sure you have up to date travel information.
Taxis are plentiful and can be found at ranks, hailed on the street or ordered in advance. Taxis are expensive in Hannover and it is advisable to take taxis in big groups to save money. Taxis are generally safe but take the obvious precautions just to be sure. Uber does not operate in Hannover.
For a list of recommended hotels in Hannover, please see our recommended hotels in Hannover page.
Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen – despite the fact that the British Royal Family (the House of Hanover) still owned the palace and its grounds, the RAF destroyed the majority of this baroque palace and its gardens in World War 2. Fortunately, the are was painstakingly reconstructed and one of the most important sights in the city.
The New Town Hall – one of Hannover’s main landmarks and opened by Emperor Wilhelm II in 1913. This eclectic style building no longer houses the city governance but does still host the registry office. You can take tours and take a unique lift (it takes a curved route) to the viewing platform in the dome.
Galerie Luise – for upmarket shopping with a boutique feel this is your paradise.
Marktkirche – this brick gothic Lutheran church was built in the 14th Century but damaged and restored during World War 2. It has 11 bells in its church tower and the Bell of Christ and Peace is the largest in the state and only used on special occasions.
The Nanas – these playful and striking sculptures along the Leibnizufer are definitely worth the selfie. Designed by Niki de Saint Phalle as a commentary on how society views women.
Wilhelm Busch Museum – a fascinating museum dedicated to the 19th Century cartoonist and caricaturist Wilhelm Busch. As well as works by Busch you will also find satirical works by Goya and Hogarth. It is located in the Georgengarten.
Hanover State Opera – from September to June you will catch works of classic opera mixed with daring new works by new composers. The building suffered war damage but has gone through several renovations and improvements making it one of the best locations to catch live opera in Germany.
Niedersachsenstadion – the home to Bundeslinga team Hannover 96 (or the Reds to fans). You can take in the atmosphere of a football game here as well as the large pop and rock concerts the venue infrequently hosts.
Hannover has an oceanic climate meaning the weather is cold for half the year and generally quite pleasant in the other half. Rain is infrequent throughout the year but sometimes the city can be dusted in snow and the Machsee will freeze over. Hannover tends not to get swarmed by visitors except for major events so check the calender.
Other than the expos and conferences the city is known for, there is a wide range of festivals and events held throughout the year. It’s Christmas markets, located throughout the city, offer Finnish fare, ice skating and Glühwein. Schützenplatz hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world.
Germany is within the European Schengen visa area. If travelling from outside Europe, check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
Germany is a member of the Eurozone. Cash dispensers are widely available. You may be asked for photo ID if paying with a credit or debit card in a shop.
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