At first glance, Hanover (Hannover in German) seems easy to grasp. However, there are quite a few corners worth a second look: the old buildings from the time when Hanover was reigned by a king, the idyllic green areas where you can relax and enjoy nature and the culturally diverse districts which are interesting to explore.
In Hanover, people meet "under the tail" of Ernst-August statue 's horse in front of the Main Station . Another meeting point is the Kröpcke-clock, a few minutes straight ahead. There you are in the middle of Hanover's shopping district, with the usual range of department stores. Opposite, there is more to see on Georgstrasse, above all the Opera House . Further on you will find the memorial for the Jewish victims of National Socialism.
Just opposite, you will find Hanover's most expensive shopping boulevard where jewelers, perfumeries and expensive boutiques await potential customers. In the evening the GOP and the New Theater offer entertainment.
On Sunday mornings during summer, people meet in the Georgstraße for the "Schorsenbummel", with music and open-air bars. This traditional "stroll" dates back to King Georg II; "Schorse" is Hanover's nickname for George.
Altstadt (Old Town)
Of all the original narrow streets and picturesque buildings, only about 15 percent survived World War II. But the mix of designer boutiques, restaurants and historical architecture form a lively part of town. The old half-timbered houses around the Holzmarkt (Wood Market), the reconstructed renaissance facade of Leibniz's house, the Market Church and the Old Town Hall give evidence of Hanover's former beauty. The 350 year-old Leineschloss , originally a castle, houses Lower Saxony's state government. The Market Hall, also known as "Hanover's stomach", is a nice place to buy fresh food or have a cappuccino. The old town offers a culinary variety ranging from sophisticated dinners to a simple stew. Small breweries like the Brauhaus Ernst August continue Hanover's beer tradition.
On Saturday mornings, a large flea market is set up along the banks of the river Leine, between the antique Beginen tower and the colorful Nanas. By the way, Hanover's sights are best explored along "the Line": painted in red on the pavement, it connects all major places of interest.
Südstadt (South Town)
Traditionally, Hanover's districts are identified with social groups. According to this, the southern part of the town is inhabited by clerks and civil servants. But on its outskirts, all of Hanover likes to practice running, Rollerblading, or cycling around the Maschsee lake; ice skating nights are organized in winter.
A vast green area starts behind the New Town Hall with the Maschpark and the "Maschteich" pond. To the south, Hanover's largest lake expands to 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in length, there is a boat service between the two banks. At the southern end, small children splash in the shallow water. In August, the idyll is interrupted for a few days as the Maschseefest , begins. The Maschseefest is a festival with open-air stages and bars which is celebrated all around the lake. If it is raining, visit the Sprengel Museum with its excellent exhibition of Modern Art.
South of the Maschsee, the green area continues with the Döhrener Masch and the Ricklinger ponds. Situated close to the town center these bathing ponds are very popular in summer. People cook on barbecues, fly kites and have parties. One of the ponds is nudist, at the others bathing clothes are advisable.
This traditional working class district was one of North Germany's first industrial centers. Today, a multicultural society prevails peacefully, impossible to imagine Linden without Spanish restaurants and Turkish groceries. However, the old natives there still speak a special Linden dialect. The district displays the self-confident image of an independent town. The redevelopment has rendered a friendlier face to the blocks; only the shopping center, Ihme-Zentrum, is an unsightly relict of the concrete prevalence.
A positive example of today's culture in Linden is the listed building of the former bed spring factory, Faust, now used as a concert hall and place for meetings and events. On Hanover's only natural hill, the Lindener Hill, the Jazz Club stages outstanding concerts, and at the top, around the Lindner tower, there is a very popular beer garden.
Oststadt (East Town) & List
Many of the beautifully ornamented Art Deco houses in this area are inhabited by media personalities, artists, actors or musicians. The residents are possibly the reason why this district shows quite a concentration of restaurants and pubs! At the North-eastern end of the Passarelle (the subterranean arcades under the main station) the so called Bermuda-triangle starts; an accumulation of clubs, bars and cafes where you can easily get lost.
During the day, passers-by exchange greetings and glances on the Lister Meile, a shopping street leading through the district. Bordering on the East Town and extending to Kleefeld and to the Maschsee you'll find Hanover's municipal forest, the Eilenriede .
If you love old patrician houses, you will find some interesting examples here. Hanover Zoo is an interesting place to visit for everyone. In the municipal park behind the Kuppelsaal of Hanover's congress-center, flower lovers will enjoy the remnants of the first German gardening exhibition in 1951. Nordstadt (North Town)
Formerly the North Town was a worker's district, but for decades Hanover's students have occupied it. The University itself is a ostentatious building designed as a Welfen castle in 1857. But in the streets behind it, the houses are narrow and show traces of the times. A colorful mix of people congregate in student pubs, public meeting places and squats, and the times when punks would scare the older inhabitants off with "chaos days" seem to be over for good.
Hanover's famous gardens start opposite the university. Georgengarten is a great place for people to play ball and boules or rest by the Leibniz temple. In the middle of the green meadows sits the Wilhelm-Busch-Museum , which is a special attraction.
The Große Garten (large garden) with its garden theater, waterfalls and fountains, is one of the most beautiful baroque gardens in Europe. In summer, an international fireworks, theater and comedy festival, called Das Kleine Fest im Großen Garten (small festival in a large garden), uses the neatly trimmed hedges and regimented flower-beds as a romantic background. Opposite the Große Garten is the Berggarten (hill garden) that presents a collection of orchids and cacti in tropical hothouses.
Despite the fact that a typical Hanover restaurant is much the same in Hanover as anywhere else, the city has a great number of diverse and interesting restaurants scattered across the Hanover. But there are also a great number of smaller, but very individual places which are really worth discovering. As in most German cities, there are a substantial number of Italian restaurants, which are very diverse in value and quality. You will also find many Greek and Balkan restaurants and ethnic Spanish places. French cuisine, however, is rare. For local German restaurants you'll get all the facets, which are as diverse as the country itself: hearty Bavarian dishes, pancake specialties, potatoes in all possible variations, sauerkraut and highly nutritious vegetarian meals.
If you love rustic Bavarian comfort, ambiance and dishes, visit Bavarium. As well as good hearty food and Bavarian beer, you can also experience the blue-white folklore style, just like you would imagine a Bavarian Bierzelt. Although the restaurant has 200 seats it is very crowded most of the time, if you go there in groups, a reservation is recommended. You can also expect a cozy and homey German ambiance at Vater & Sohn , a very rustic environment with some of the best fried potatoes around. Right beside the historic Kröpcke Clock in the middle of the pedestrian district, you'll not only be able to taste the legendary ice cream which gave the place its name, you can also enjoy high quality international dishes, as the house encompasses several restaurants: Cafe Kröpcke with Swiss specialties, the American-oriented Opus 1, the vegetarian Grünschnabel . Neustadt & Südstadt
Da Lello is a very popular place in the Südstadt. For more than 17 years it has been a Mecca for high society and VIPs. The restaurant also guarantees high class Italian dishes. So does the small but very exclusive Roma . If you are looking for Chinese food in the center of Hanover, you should note the Ente Von Peking , it is the only restaurant in Hanover where you don't have to order the Peking duck in advance. If you love homemade German food, you should also check out the Pfannkuchenhaus in the Calenberger Strasse. Here you'll get all sorts of truly tasty pancakes, which are baked over an open fire and served with real maple syrup. A bit more high-class is the Landhaus Ammann.
Oststadt & Südstadt
When in the Oststadt and Südstadt area, take a walk around the Maschsee, an artificial lake in southern Hanover. You'll find the Bell'Arte first, a fine Italian restaurant with ever-changing art exhibitions and a great view of the Maschsee. Then there is Pier 51, which is built on the lake, once a yacht school it has been rebuilt into a wonderful restaurant with international food. One of the best 600 restaurants in Germany is the multi-honored Die Insel. The specialty here is pleasant with cream and cabbage in Champagne. If you dine on the big terrace, you'll have a great view of the Maschsee. The Oststadt is mostly about high quality dishes. You'll find one high class gourmet temple after another, especially on the Listermeile and around the Weißekreuzplatz. A must is Clichy , of course, run by Eckkehard Reimann, a much honored cook who is very popular not only in Hanover for his French cuisine; the second Reimann restaurant, Königsberg, on the Lister Meile quickly became famous for its high quality German and international meals. At the historic Plümecke you can experience quite the opposite: the old Listermeile and the Old Hanover in a rustic ambience with curried sausages and brawn! Make a stop at Confiserie Mövenpick for a delicious dessert.
Nordstadt, Linden & Outskirts
For years now, a central and highly recommended address for South American specialties has been Chimu (Nordstadt). Besides the very famous turkey in chocolate sauce, you can get high quality fish dishes and other delicacies from South America. Chimu is also a favorite meeting point for many prominent people. For Italian dishes in the Nordstadt go to Gattopardo . The municipal district Linden is is also special as most of the Spanish and Portuguese restaurants are based here. Sängerburg (despite the German name a classical Spanish restaurant!) and the Algarve , have fine Portuguese cuisine and very good seafood dishes. If you like Turkish food, you should visit Tandure (but never without reservation!) or Büfe, which is a bit hidden in the Schwarzer Bär. You can also expect great quality organic French dishes at La Provence. In Hanover's surroundings, La Forge in Schmiedegasthaus Gehrke has been number one in Lower Saxony for years; and the creative cuisine of the restaurant Endtenfang in Fürstenhof Celle is improving by the year.