12 Best Things to do in Cuxhaven (2023)

Cuxhaven, surrounded by water on both sides of the city, is one among Germany’s largest fishing ports and the country’s fish-processing industry, thus shipping and construction are vital and the city’s biggest source of income.

With 50,000 citizens, Cuxhaven is a popular holiday destination for native Germans with huge white beaches and vast mudflats, and a base for sailing expeditions. Despite its size and placement, historic buildings embrace the 14th-century Ritzebüttel Castle, containing a regional depository, and a 14th-century tower, the oldest on the German coast on the island of Neuwerk.

Here is what you should see in Cuxhaven.

12. Ringwall Duhnen

Ringwall Duhnen
Ringwall Duhnen seen from the air (Ra Boe/Wikipedia)

The Duhnen ring wall is at home in the southern part of the Duhnen health resort. Only about 300 meters from the North Sea coast is the ring wall system, “Am Kirchhof.” The ring wall, located in the Duhnen district, is an almost circular system composed of the main wall and a rampart. These two walls are only separated from each other by a berm. The main wall, which is still preserved, was about one meter high at the beginning of the investigation. The rampart has always been in front of this main rampart.

Who is Ringwall Duhnen for? 

Here you can easily walk for miles with a wonderful view of the sea. Also very suitable for older people.

What tourists like about Ringwall Duhnen

Duhnen is a nice little town in the north sea. Fantastic beach with all possibilities for a great vacation. Various options for young and old. The spa administration and the local clubs organize various sporting events in the stadium by the sea, and you can stroll along the sea and visit restaurants and shops. The hotels there are cheap and pleasant. Please take the opportunity to taste the peculiar raw fish sandwich without prejudice.

What tourists didn’t like

The circular ramparts in Duhnen are more suitable for visitors interested in archaeological interest. As with many prehistoric sites, there isn’t much to see right off the bat. The facility has not yet been fully explored. However, the available findings have brought amazing things to the light of day.

11. Feuerschiff-Elbe 1

Feuerschiff Elbe 1 in harbour (Tim Schredder/Wikimedia)

After decommissioning, the ship was acquired by the city of Cuxhaven and is now in the old port. It can be viewed there at certain times. It is looked after by members of the “Feuerschiff-Verein ELBE 1 von 2001 eV” Cuxhaven. 

The accommodations with chambers, galley, crew, and officers mess are just as accessible to visitors as the impressive engine room and, of course, the command bridge. All nautical and technical equipment is in working order, which sets the Cuxhaven lightship apart from many other museum ships. 

The visitors explore the ship using a “guide,” which is available at the cash desk, over a tour of 30 stations with functional facilities such as radar and radio systems as well as nautical metrological and technical devices. The ongoing shipbuilding restoration work is also worth seeing. The officers’ mess now serves as a wedding room for the Cuxhaven registry office. After registering with the registrar, bridal couples can enter “the port of marriage.”

Who is Feuerschiff-Elbe for? 

One should take the time to take in the explanations and the ambiance of this ship, probably representative of all fire ships. Also very interesting for children and families.

What tourists liked about Feuerschiff-Elbe

The lightship is the eye-catcher in the harbor near the old love. A captain welcomes you on the bridge. It is worth visiting this technical monument. You get an insight into the conditions under which the crews performed their important service. 

You have to climb, but this is a historical ship, and it is still in use. Various trips are even offered during summer months. There are always members of the development association on board. They explain everything. However, with the restrictions that comes with such a shi, a stroller is only possible to a limited extent.

What tourists didn’t like about Feuerschiff-Elbe

There is nothing to dislike here. The visitor can move freely on the ship. Here you can explore the history of the lightship and its special design up close.

10. Fort Kugelbake

Fort Kugelbake
Artillery gun guarding the fortress (C. Löser/Wikimedia)

In addition to the Kugelbake, Fort Kugelbake was built as a former Preussian fortification in 1869. The fort is located at the mouth of the Elbe into the North Sea and therefore served to defend the Elbe shipping route. There are guided tours that are still offered in the fort, providing good insights into the fort’s 150-year history. Open-air events are also held here regularly.

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Who is Fort Kugelbake for? 

The guide made a very interesting two-hour tour with the usual Nordic friendliness and told many anecdotes. Children from six years get their money’s worth, for younger ones rather uninteresting though.

What tourists like about Fort Kugelbake

In front of Cuxhaven’s beaches, the estuary of the river Elbe and at the same time very close to Kugelbake is this fortress built in brick that was of great importance in the 1st and 2nd World War, especially in the 1st. 

Already on the main street, there are directions on how to get to Fort Kugelbake. There is parking in the area where you can leave your car. We could only see it from the outside and read the explanations that were on its door since it was closed when we arrived. It is one among the tourist attractions of Cuxhaven.

What tourists didn’t like about Fort Kugelbake

Many interesting facts were given, and you could explore the rooms above and below very well. Not suitable for smaller children under 6, for them, it will be too long.

9. Hapag-Hallen (free)

Hapag Hallen
Hapag Hallen (raboe001/Wikimedia)

In the Hapag halls in Cuxhaven, you can see exhibitions on the first floor about the Hapag halls and the emigration to the USA. On the second floor, you can go out and have a beautiful view of the North Sea and the port of Cuxhaven. 

Here you can experience the history of emigrants to America up close. The building has been beautifully restored and you can view the Hapag halls with great interest. Everything is presented and described very nicely, and the best part is it’s free of charge.

It takes around 90 minutes and you learn a lot about the locality and emigrants in general.

Who is Hapag-Hallen for? 

There is a lot of history in the currently uncluttered buildings, which is told with great dedication. Separate halls for different booking classes, a platform for train travelers from Hamburg to baggage handling. An interesting story for (almost) every photo. It is especially ncie for families with children who only know this part of our story from books.

What tourists like about Hapag-Hallen

There is already a lot to see on the way to the Hapag halls, in which a large piece of the contemporary history of passenger shipping is vividly documented. Also worth seeing is the impressive Art Nouveau dome.

What tourists didn’t like about Hapag-Hallen

This is not for a spontaneous visit. The tours are well-guided, but only for a few days and at fixed times in winter. But it’s also worth it when you’re in the neighborhood!

8. Reederei Cassen Eils

Reederei Cassen Eils
Reederei Cassen Eils (Wusel007/Wikimedia)

The history of the Cassen Eils shipping company goes back to the 1950s when the ship owner and captain Cassen Eils started the company. At that time, today’s GmbH was the first shipping company in Germany to offer regular services to the island of Helgoland in the post-war period. 

The shipping company enjoyed its heyday from the 1970s to the 1990s. At that time, up to seven ships headed for connections in the direction of Helgoland. Today the company operates trips to the islands of Helgoland and Neuwerk. If you would like to use the shipping company Cassen Eils for Heligoland transport from Büsum, Cuxhaven, or Bremerhaven, you can fulfill this wish.

Who is Reederei Cassen Eils for? 

The ships are all getting on in years, but always clean and in top shape. You can book a Heligoland trip for families with children. 

What tourists liked about Reederei Cassen Eils

An entertaining boat trip, with many explanations about Cuxhaven and the Elbe. The ships are run professionally with extremely friendly staff and also, the prices onboard for snacks and drinks are very low. 

What tourists didn’t like about Reederei Cassen Eils

The ship was crowded and there were not enough seats available. As a result, you have to stand on the way back. There wasn’t enough time to look at everything on Heligoland, as there was only an hour’s stop. 

7. Schloss Ritzebüttel

Schloss Ritzebüttel
Schloss Ritzebüttel (Stefan Didam/Wikimedia)

Ritzebüttel Castle is the historical nucleus and still the cultural center of the city of Cuxhaven. After a long renovation phase, which repeatedly raised numerous questions about preserving historical monuments, the interior of the 600-year-old building has had a completely new and unusual appearance since autumn 1996.

The late medieval castle, with the impressive baroque porch added to the front in the 18th century, was an exclave of the city of Hamburg from 1394 and well over five hundred years – much like the associated Ritzebüttel office. After extensive restoration, the castle was opened to the public in 1996 as a “citizen’s castle.”

Who is Schloss Ritzebuettel for? 

It is a gathering place for the area’s young and old people. A peaceful oasis in the big city.

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What tourists liked about Schloss Ritzebuettel?

The Ritzebüttel Castle is worth seeing every season. Here you can spend great evenings with fine food and good drinks. But also for drinking coffee and eating apple pie very comfortably. You can find the beautiful Christmas market lights up the hearts and invites you to treats like warm fresh lard cake, a rustic, juicy sausage. There are not only many weddings, but also a lot of events held. 

What tourists didn’t like about Schloss Ritzebuettel?

The restaurant was significantly overpriced for the quality offered, almost outrageous. Service was okay, but that was all. The facility itself is very beautiful, and you can take great photos here.

6. Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer

Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park
The endless mudflats in the famous Wadden Sea (Glizree/Wikimedia)

The Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer is the ideal place to experience nature on a North Sea holiday. Let yourself be inspired by the animals in the water. Experience the nursery of numerous fish. Watch harbor seals sunbathe on the sandbar. And discover the small creatures in the mudflats, such as crabs, mussels, and lugworms, which feed millions of waders and water birds. Especially in spring and late summer, there are around 10 -12 million birds in the Wadden Sea, which fortify themselves for the onward flight to their breeding areas in Canada, Greenland, and Siberia.

Who is Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer for? 

The mudflats are very interesting with a mudflat guide, and you can also have a lot of fun with the carriage. You can even see the seal banks through binoculars. This place is good for a vacation with your family and kids.

What tourists liked about Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer

It is simply a dream as a vacationer to walk through the unique Wadden Sea in Cuxhaven. If you love nature and the north, you’ve come to the right place. Of course, the mudflat walks should not be missing. Please pay attention to the mudflat hiking times. It is also important to have waterproof clothing and rubber boots in your luggage.

What tourists didn’t like about Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer

The Wadden Sea is very beautiful and wide. But in Cuxhaven, the only possibility is to take the dog directly to the water. At least at certain transitions. The actual dog beach is on the very outside of the beach so very far away and is the puny reason for the dog ban: allergy from other people.

5. Cuxhavener Küstenheide (coastal heath)

Cuxhavener Küstenheide
The stunning heath during a cold morning (Janoliverkunze/Wikimedia)

Simply fantastic what you can do with a military training area. A beautiful landscape has emerged here that can be explored for hours. 

Heck cattle, Koniks, and bison can be observed from the observation tower, which the state of Lower Saxony, west of Altenwalde, uses grazing to maintain the nature reserve. 

The extensive heathland is just a few kilometers from the North Sea on the Wurster Geestrücken. The beautiful landscape is ideal for hiking, horse riding, and cycling. Worth a trip for nature lovers. The coastal heather is the contrast to the Wadden Sea. Only a few hundred meters separate the contrasting landscapes.

Who is Cuxhavener Küstenheide for? 

A beautiful landscape has emerged here that can be explored for hours, and even smaller children won’t get bored because an animal or a whole herd can be discovered at any time.

What tourists liked about Cuxhavener Kütenheide

The heathland is beautiful for walking, horse riding, cycling, and photography. There are plenty of well-marked trails here. The landscape’s size is so that you rarely meet someone, especially as a nature- and wildlife photographer. There is nothing nicer than taking an e-bike tour along with the Cuxhaven coastal health between Duhnen and Sahlenburg. This unique natural landscape enchants with its naturalness and its unmistakable beauty. It provides comfort and a dream in harmony with the fresh North Sea air.

What didn’t tourists like about Cuxhavener Küstenheide

Cuxhaven Küstenheide is the best place for the tourist as it is a very beautiful landscape with a view of the water, the heather, the birds. Great hike to the observation tower, with an all-round view there is nothing to dislike here.

4. Windstärke 10

Windstärke 10
Inside Windstärke 10 (Ra Boe/Wikipedia)

At “Wind Force 10” you’ll learn what it means to be at sea in a severe storm with ten wind speeds – waves as high as a house and heavy breakers that threaten the safety of the ship and crew. 

Waves 40 feet high and winds at hurricane strength – an everyday scenario for Cuxhaven’s deep-sea fishermen. Especially in the early days of fishing in the North Sea, numerous fishing trawlers never returned. Well over 1,000 German fishermen lost their lives in Iceland alone.

Who is Windstärke 10 for? 

Very interesting museum for tourists, also exciting and entertaining for children. You can learn about the sea, shipping, and fishing. A great museum not only for vacationers but also locals should visit it unsung.

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What tourists like about Windstärke 10

This museum is very interactive, which means that your children can pretty much touch everything they see, making it so much more fun for them. The play area is great, and each room has a good display and easy explanations that you can understand. You can spend a long time at the museum as there is so much to explore.

What didn’t tourists like about Windstärke 10

This museum is good, but most of the wreckage is no longer there, the small submarine Is missing, and according to the museum staff, the pieces from World War I are now in private hands. 

3. Wattenmeer Besucherzentrum

Wattenmeer Besucherzentrum
Wattenmeer Visitor center in Cuxhaven

The Wadden Sea Visitor Center is located directly on the Sahlenburg beach between the heath and the tidal flats. The attractively designed exhibition in the architecturally impressive wooden structure shows everything you need to know about the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site. And visitors can experience the mudflats, salt marshes, or coastal heaths on natural history tours. The wide mudflat landscape is a special natural experience in every season.

Who is Wattenmeer Besucherzentrum for? 

This place is good for young and old. You can learn a lot about nature, the environment, pollution, etc. Oh, and also the entry is free!

What tourists liked about Wattenmeer Besucherzentrum

The museum is very new and modern, there is a lot of interesting information about the Wadden Sea, and children shouldn’t get bored here either. The staff are very nice, there are lockers for jackets and bags, and there are also tea, coffee, etc. at reasonable prices. A great destination for everyone interested in the Wadden Sea.

What didn’t tourists like about Wattenmeer Besucherzentrum

Mudflat guides make an effort and are competent and friendly. Only the thing is you better take a brochure with you and discover the mudflats near the beach yourself. 

2. Kugelbake

Kugelbake (C. Löser/Wikimedia)

One of the most important landmarks in Cuxhaven is the 98-foot-tall Kugelbake (Ball Beacon) which stands at the point where the Elbe ends, and North Sea begins. 

Similar structures have stood here in the same spot since 1703, and sometimes a fire was lit inside to help guiding ships in and out of the river mouth.

Who is Kugelbake for? 

A great story and a great view and smell of the sea. From here you can spot merchant ships in all sizes and shapes.

What did tourists like about Kugelbake

A great destination along with the bike in dry weather and you can see container ships entering the Elbe. The view is amazing as you can see the big ships riding by regardless of the sea level. You can see the harbor in the distance, and due to the wall, you can sit there and take it all in. 

What tourists didn’t like about Kugelbake

According to information, the landmark of Cuxhaven – well, it’s a larger wooden pillar. Unlit, difficult to find, no parking spaces, no public transport, no other facilities such as toilets or similar. 

1. Alte Liebe

Alte Liebe Cuxhaven
Alte Liebe (Ra Boe/Wikimedia)

The old love is old. The two-story wooden structure was built in 1733 – as a pier and breakwater. Even today the ships from Alte Liebe set sail for the islands of Neuwerk and Helgoland as well as for the seal banks. Above all, however, you meet at Alte Liebe to marvel at the big pots from all over the world that drive by here very close. The  Schiffsansagedienst Cuxhaven eV informs guests about the size and origin of the passing ships.

Who is Alte Liebe for? 

A beautiful place with its emblematic monuments. It is delightfull to walk along its beach and its promenade. This place for young and old visitors. 

What tourists liked about Alte Liebe

A wonderful vantage point to watch the ships and to dream of distant worlds while looking at the lake. There is also a lot of information about the ships passing by. Just a nice place to relax and dream. Even in bad weather, a visit is worthwhile when the sea storms and the water breaks on the bulwark.

What tourists didn’t like about Alte Liebe

At the parking lot, you are almost forced to take a drive to the seal banks. The building is in very poor condition. Besides, the entire visitor area is very dirty with dog excrement. Unfortunately, this also took several days. The floor covering is partially badly damaged and is a source of danger.

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