Salzgitter is widely known as an industrial location. But if you’re thinking of smoking chimneys and spooky yet beautiful scenes steeped in industrial romanticism, you would be mistaken. In fact, Salzgitter is surprisingly green, with plenty of nature in the immediate vicinity – and inside the city as well.
Salzgitter is the ideal starting point for long bike rides and hikes through beautiful landscapes. And even water sports enthusiasts will get their money’s worth. Add to this the abundance of cultural attractions, and you’ve got an weekend break in Salzgitter that offers diverse experiences.
A tour of the town by bike
Salzgitter is made up of a conglomeration of smaller towns and villages – so get on your bike and get an overview of the area on a long bike ride. There are many possibilities, but you have to start somewhere: so the newly designed market square in Salzgitter-Bad is the starting point for the approximately 40-kilometre, idyllic route. Start your weekend here at the weekly market stalls with a hearty breakfast and stock up on local food (market hours Saturdays 8 a.m.–1 p.m.).
Then head west to Ringelheim Castle and Park. The magnificent manor house is actually a former monastery dating back to the 10th century, which lies on the Innerste River. The surrounding, approximately 20-hectare castle park with its landscape of lakes and romantic bridges invites you to make a quick initial visit and enjoy a bit of a rest.
Then continue to follow the course of the Innerste, which is still a nearly-natural, and partially fast-moving river flowing through the ‘Mittleres Innerstetal’ nature reserve. Follow the route north to Baddeckenstedt. Gleaming white Schloss Oelber, a castle from the 16th century, is the culmination of your ride through a beautiful natural landscape. If you fancy a quick lunch break, the traditional Gasthaus Woltmann inn directly on the bank of the Innerste River is the ‘place to be’ in Baddeckenstedt.
Ichthyosaurs and pedal boats – Salzgitter’s waters are full of life
Thus fortified, it’s now time to head back to the east, from the rural idyll back to urban Salzgitter. Your next destination is Schloss Salder (Salder House), an elegant Renaissance building built in 1608. The municipal museum of Salzgitter (Städtische Museum) has been housed here since 1962 (Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and focuses on the prehistory and early history of the region. The skeleton of the remarkable ichthyosaur dating back 115 million years to the Early Cretaceous was discovered a hundred metres underground when ore was being mined in 1940s. Other exhibitions feature Baroque and Art Nouveau history in the area as well as the Industrial Revolution and how work and mobility has developed locally up to the 20th century. A unique collection of historical toys from 1800 to 2000 will fascinate children and adults alike. Incidentally, there is no admission fee, and the same applies to the 2,000-square-metre Ice Age garden in the outdoor area, where you can get an up-close idea of the living conditions of the Neanderthals who once roamed these parts – including mammoths. And that means you can then treat yourself to a slice of cake and a coffee in the castle’s adjacent restaurant – it is sponsored by Lebenshilfe Salzgitter, an aid organisation which helps people with disabilities become integrated into social life.
Finally, we recommend a visit to the Osterlinder Bockwindmühle windmill (Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays and public holidays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), which is no longer in operation after suffering damage in a hurricane in 1972. However, its sails still turn from time to time for demonstration purposes. The art on display in the mill garden is also worth a look.
And then you’re off on the last leg of the tour. From here, it’s no more than five kilometres to Salzgittersee (Salzgitter Lake), a 75-hectare, over two-kilometre-long, artificially created body of water that has since become the main centre for water sports (Wassersportzentrum) in southeast Lower Saxony. Here you can park your bike and go for a refreshing swim along the over one-kilometre-long sandy beaches on the east and west shores of the lake. Or rent a canoe, kayak, sailboat or pedal boat and float into the evening sun to top off your excursion – whichever you prefer.
Two large restaurants on the lake lend a hint of Mediterranean flair and are the ideal place to end the day over a delicious dinner and a few drinks, whether you choose Cafe del Lago on Reppner Bay or Seeterrasse on the southeastern shore.
Dann geht es los zur letzten Etappe. Keine fünf Kilometer mehr sind es bis zum Salzgittersee, ein 75 Hektar großes und über zwei Kilometer langes, künstlich geschaffenes Gewässer, das sich inzwischen zum maßgeblichen Wassersportzentrum im Südosten von Niedersachsen entwickelt hat. Hier können Sie Ihr Fahrrad abstellen und an den über einen Kilometer langen Sandstränden am Ost- und Westufer erst einmal ordentlich ins kühle Nass eintauchen. Oder Sie mieten sich ein Kanu, Kajak, Segel- oder Tretboot und gleiten zum Abschluss Ihres Ausflugstages in die Abendsonne hinein – ganz wie Sie mögen.
The city’s proximity to the Harz mountains is already evident here, with the Salzgitter Hills (Salzgitter-Höhenzug) and the Lichtenberg Mountains shaping the urban area and its surroundings and inviting you to enjoy long excursions into nature. So, lace up your hiking boots for the second day of your Salzgitter adventure weekend. And you will definitely have plenty of options: 150 kilometres of trails wind through the Salzgitter Hills alone. So there will still be plenty to explore next time you come back. And we’re sure you will want to do just that once you have got to know this magnificent landscape with its dense, mixed forests and fantastic views. Take off on your own with a hiking map or join local guides, such as those in the Salzgitter chapter of the Harz Mountains Club (Harzklub Zweigverein Salzgitter). From trips for experienced hikers to relaxed family or senior walks, there’s something for every preference and level of difficulty. The geocache or nature quiz tours are perfect for children.
A perfect hiking destination is Burg Lichtenberg (Lichtenberg Castle), built in the 12th century by Henry the Lion. The Welf Duke used it to keep his neighbours in Hildesheim and Goslar at a distance, and the castle was one of the most important structures of its kind. But after Barbarossa’s troops came the robber barons, and in the 16th century the last intact section, the ‘Bergfried’, collapsed. At the end of the 19th century, the residents of Salzgitter remembered the ruins (Ruine) and began to rebuild the tower at least. Regardless of its historical significance, the wonderful view from the castle over northern Salzgitter and all the way to Braunschweig alone is a good enough reason to visit today. In the castle itself, you can also visit an exhibition on its history – or use the ancient walls as the backdrop when you make your own promises of forever: weddings are held here, too.
Directly across from here, C’era una volta restaurant at Waldhotel Burgberg is the perfect location for a more extended retreat. The half-timbered house, surrounded by centuries-old trees, is just a minute’s walk from the castle – a walk short enough even for tired feet. Once you have recharged your batteries, you can then continue on to the eight-kilometre ‘Geopfad’ (Geo Path), which passes along 200 million-year-old deposits from the Middle Triassic period – with a little luck, you will find fossilised remnants of the former residents of Salzgitter.
All the way to the top with Bismarck
An alternative hiking destination is Bismarckturm (Bismarck Tower), which can be climbed from the borough of Salzgitter-Bad. From this tower built in 1900 in honour of former Chancellor Bismarck, you can see the highest mountain in the Harz mountain range, the famous 1,142 metre-high Brocken, on a clear day.
The old name ‘Klärteich 2’ (clarification pond), a secluded lagoon embedded in the middle of the ridge, admittedly sounds somewhat less appealing. It was once used for iron ore processing, but those days are long gone. Since 1952 it has been a sanctuary for birds – and of course for all human nature lovers as well. Which is why it now goes by the more attractive-sounding name ‘Reihersee’ (or Heron’s Lake), which much more aptly reflects what the lake is all about today.
Wherever your hikes through the low mountain landscape in and around Salzgitter have taken you – at the end of the day, you’ll never be far from the cosy hospitality the region has to offer, whether in one of Salzgitter’s neighbourhoods or enjoying the sunset over Salzgitter Lake. After this trip, smoking chimneys won’t even cross your mind when you hear about the industrial location of Salzgitter.