My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Take a walking tour in Schwerin

2013/04/17by Donna Hull

Updated 10.01.2013

Gothic cathedral rises above Schwerin, Germany

The gothic spire of the cathedral in Schwerin, Germany

A walkable European city with cobblestone streets, historic half-timbered buildings and a castle that sits in the middle of a lake—does this sound like a fairytale setting to you? On a walking tour in Schwerin, Germany, you’ll discover this charming scene complemented by cultural festivals and plenty of active travel opportunities.

Schwerin might not be the first destination you think of when planning a trip to Germany. For U.S. visitors, it could even be considered an off-the-beaten-path destination. Located in Western Pomerania between Hamburg and Berlin, Schwerin is surrounded by seven lakes. One of its beauties is that the city did not suffer damage from World War II bombings, although many historic buildings fell into disrepair during the years it was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

I was introduced to Schwerin on a road trip from Gdansk, Poland, to Berlin. The moment I saw the view of Plaffentiech Lake from the window of my room at the 1840’s era Hotel Niderländischen Hof, I knew that Schwerin would be my kind of place and that walking would be the best way to experience it.

It’s a short, but scenic, stroll along the lakefront across from the hotel to Schwerin’s Market Square where the gothic-era Cathedral dominates the skyline. Active travelers will want to climb the 220 steps of the cathedral’s bell tower for a birds-eye view of the city.

Cross-timbered house in Schwerin, Germany

A cross-timbered house on a street in Schwerin

Although World War II spared Schwerin’s historic architecture, only a few half-timbered buildings from the city’s earliest times remain due to fires in the 16th and 17th centuries. You’ll find these charming buildings in the Schelfstadt district of the old town.

Schwerin Palace

Schwerin Castle

But it’s the Schwerin Palace that steals the show of this walking tour. Built over 1,000 years ago as a Slavic fortress on an island in the Schwerin See (lake), the buildings eventually morphed into a castle worthy of Cinderella. The former home of the Dukes of Mecklenburg, the palace currently houses the State Parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommem as well as a 28-room Palace Museum that’s worth a visit (English descriptions are included on exhibits)—don’t miss the throne room. The gardens overlooking the lake are particularly lovely with canals, fountains, sculptures and flowerbeds that have been restored through the use of historical records.

The palace garden in Schwerin, Germany

The Orangerie looks out onto a portion of the palace garden.

Alter Garten Square (unofficially known as the Place of Good Hope for the 1989 demonstrations held there) sits across from Schwerin Palace. It houses the State Museum and State Theater buildings. Opera lovers should plan their visit for the Open-Air Opera Festival (Schlossfestspiel) that runs from mid-June to mid-July.

Cafe Prag pastries in Schwerin, Germany

So much deliciousness at Cafe Prag. Which one pastry should I choose?

Of course, no walk would be complete without stopping for a bit of people watching accompanied by coffee and pastries in a local coffee shop. At Café Prag, I lingered over the display case before finally settling on a custard-filled cake and a cafe au lait.

For a traditional meal in a historic setting complete with leaded windows, spend an evening at Weinhaus Wöhler.

I’d like to return to Schwerin on an April visit for a 1-hour lake tour on the White Fleet. The season starts with a fleet parade that includes coffee, cake and a city view. Or maybe Alan and I will follow Marlys and Michael’s advice at Easy Hiker for hiking in Schwerin.

Have you visited Schwerin? Post a comment to share your experience. I want to bring Alan next time. With outdoor adventures like sailing, canoeing, horseback riding, cycling, hiking and bird watching, we’ll have a hard time choosing what to do first.

Disclosure: This travel experience was provided by Visit Berlin and Air Berlin but the opinions are my own.

A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of My Itchy Travel Feet: Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

April 17, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I love pretty towns like this that are easy to enjoy, and especialy when they are a little less known
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Alexandra April 22, 2013 at 5:09 am

Thanks for sharing. Is Schwerin part of what they call the “lake district?” If so, that’s where my grandparents were part owners of a hotel after the Russian Revolution. On your next trip there, can you take more photos of the lakes? Thanks.
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alisa bowman April 22, 2013 at 6:26 am

I love cities like that–so much beauty, art and architecture. And I love walking them. You experience so much more than if you traveled by vehicle.
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Vera Marie Badertscher
April 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

Beautiful pictures. Ending with a pastry shop is perfect. It reminds me of Austria where we ate so much pastry and whipped cream, and actually lost weight because of all our walking.
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ruth pennebaker April 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

What a dazzling town; you’re right — I’ve never heard of it.
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Living Large April 25, 2013 at 8:51 am

My sister in law visited Schwerin over spring break and loved it!


MyKidsEatSquid April 26, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I’ve never heard of Schwerin Castle. It just looks magical.


Rachel July 29, 2013 at 8:03 am

Donna- Thank you for sharing! This place looks beautiful! Is there a walking tour that you could recommend? I am not familiar with the area, but would like to visit in September.


Donna Hull
July 30, 2013 at 12:38 am

Hi Rachel, I’m currently traveling but will check my notes as soon as I’m back in Montana to recommend a walking guide for you in Schwerin.
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izni August 27, 2013 at 3:44 am

Love the architecture. Have never been there but really sounds interesting from what you had written in your article.


Joanne Joseph
October 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Schwerin Palace looks magical. I am making a note to add that to my wish list when we get to Germany. Thanks for the tips!
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Renuka October 6, 2013 at 5:03 am

So gorgeous! Schwerin is a lovely city – sipping coffee and digging into pastries is obvious :)
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Donna Hull
October 12, 2013 at 7:37 am

I agree, Renuka. Wouldn’t one of those pastries taste good right now?


Craig McBreen October 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hi Donna,

Beautiful place I’ve never heard of ;)

I’ll be living vicariously through your blog for a while while we get ready to travel. My family moved out of a 3500 sf house and into and apt, and travel was one of the main motivators. (Will be writing all about this with a new blog).

Now to plan a great itinerary for our trip to Europe … I suppose reading this blog will help.

Thanks! Love the photos.


Donna Hull
October 12, 2013 at 7:34 am

Thanks for stopping by, Craig. Good luck on your travels and your new blog. Shout if you need any travel ideas.


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