Is there a better feeling than closing your laptop early on a Friday, packed bag by the door, ready for a weekend getaway? We don’t think so, which is why we’re bringing you this series of 48-hour getaway guides, so you can fit more mini-breaks into your life!
This German holiday is very dog friendly, but also suitable for friends, families, couples and solo travellers.
Friend of The Staycation Collection Amy, her faithful pup Luka and I headed off in search of a weekend adventure, our destination was the Biosphärenreservat Niedersächsische Elbtalaue (the Lower Saxony Elbe Floodplain Biosphere Reserve) for a few days of unspoilt nature, good food and a lot of down time.
If you want the same from your weekend mini-break, follow this schedule and enjoy! Let us know if you try it.
If, like us, you travel from Berlin by car, be sure to stop at INSL Kyritz, an island-based beer garden. Hit the pan on the pier with the hammer to summon the ferry that will transport you across the water. Expect delicious, wholesome food (we had fish and chips, and the veggie burger) and a relaxed atmosphere.
Destinature Elbe Huts in Hitzacker, surrounded by trees at the edge of the Elbe river, has prioritised relaxation and sustainability, and the result is a beautiful collection of wooden tiny houses. The huts are built with locally sourced, sustainable materials, and are all built on stilts so as not to damage the land. While the hut structures are simple, comfort is key, and you get little luxuries like organic mattresses and can book a few hours in a sauna or hot tub.
Sipping a cup of hot coffee while walking to the beach with my swimming gear is always the sign of a perfect holiday morning. A short stroll from Destinature Elbe Huts is a number of sandy beaches that line the Elbe (Elbestrand Hitzacker). Here you can wade into the refreshing waters of the river and watch birds swoop overhead. Just be careful of strong currents.
The Elbe Radweg is one of the area’s main attractions, and the stretch that runs through Wendland is one of the most picturesque (section E on the route maps). That’s because the 400km-long Elbe UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is characterised by its vast, sparsely populated tracks of land and impressive wildlife such as beavers or cranes. We didn’t take out bikes, so instead walked through ancient oak trees and through wildflower-filled meadows. Alternatively, you can take a boat tour, numerous departures from Hitzacker harbour front.
Café Albis is a charming cafe at the heart of Hitzacker, and serves a daily-changing menu of fresh, wholesome meals. They utilise local produce and use bio where possible. The outside terrace is cosy and provides the perfect corner in which to enjoy a German Eiskaffee after a quiche and salad.
Historic Hitzacker deserves to be explored. There’s evidence that suggests humans first here in 3000 B.C (take a walk through the archaeological museum to see the artefacts that evidence this). The area became especially important once the Slavs built a castle atop the hill in the 8th century, and since then, half-timbered houses were built establishing the town as important.
It’s worth climbing the hill (called Weinberg) so you can take in the view from “Aussichtspunkt auf dem Weinberg”: a gorgeous panorama over the river and meadows, as well as to get a cocktail on the terrace at Ferien- und Wellnesshotel Waldfrieden. They have daily cocktail specials that can be enjoyed with a view of the Biosphere Reserve or while playing a round of crazy golf. We recommend the latter...
After a full day out and about, you deserve to spoil yourself. Luckily Destinature Elbe Huts has two hot tubs and four saunas you can rent privately to enjoy. Book them for late in the day so you can be outside as the stars come out (make sure you take mosquito spray!). You can see the constellations incredibly well here thanks to the incredibly limited light pollution in the region.
Michaelshof cafe is located in Sammatz, a village that is also a regenerative farm. As you may imagine, food is therefore incredibly fresh and flavourful. The shaded terrace is surrounded by lavender and rose bushes, and the distant sounds of tractors and sheep are a pleasant reminder to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.
Armed with ice cream produced onsite using milk collected from cows you can meet, it’s worth spending some time walking the Michaelshof Sammatz gorgeously landscaped gardens, in which are signs that encourage you to “trespass”. Highlights include the Waldsee (where concerts take place in warmer months) and farmyard full of cows, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys and chickens.