Here we rented a car ahead of time from a company called Sixt. I used Kayak to search for car deals. With local insurance (which I would recommend), we paid about $100 for the rental. I apparently wasn’t the only one to rent a car, as ... Read More
Here we rented a car ahead of time from a company called Sixt. I used Kayak to search for car deals. With local insurance (which I would recommend), we paid about $100 for the rental. I apparently wasn’t the only one to rent a car, as there was another car rental representative at the port waiting for their people to check in. I was the only one to rent from Sixt. There are no car rental agencies at the port, but all the local car rental agencies will deliver the car to you at the port and have drop boxes for the keys when you return. A word of advice, if you ask to have the car at 6:00 a.m. – the rental agent will be at the port waiting for you at 6 a.m. We could not get off the boat until 8 a.m. and I felt so bad that the agent had to wait for us. The delay was due to weather and not because of us. We were given a brand new BMW and interestingly enough they gave us an automatic. We can drive manual and preferred it, but they must have thought that since we were American we could only drive automatic. So those who don’t know manual, have no fear!
We opted to rent the car because not many options were available for excursions. HAL basically offered a trip to Berlin, which sounded insane to me, since it was at least 3 hours each way and Berlin is like NYC. Rostock and Warnemunde on their own were pretty boring, as both were part of the former East Germany or USSR. However, a local friend recommended that we visit some of the Northern somewhat coastal towns and I thought that was a good idea. There is really no easy way to get to these towns through alternative transportation. A car was the most efficient way to do this. Apparently, HAL did offer an excursion that covered some of the towns we visited, but from Kiel, Germany (which was actually farther away than Rostock).
We ended up visiting three world heritage UNESCO cities and even though the car rental was expensive relatively speaking, it was way cheaper than an excursion through HAL to Berlin and any other excursion. Gas is easy to find and its more expensive than the USA, but not as much as I thought it would be. Plus the car we had was economical. Also when we visited the dollar was very strong and was just about 1 to 1 with the Euro. By the way you can tell which cities were in East Germany vs. West Germany. If you decided to try this trip – I will let you figure it out.
The countryside is also stunning along the autobahn (no speed limit on their highways – but be smart). When we went there were fields of bright yellow flowers, which we later learned were canola fields for harvesting canola oil. But when in bloom, these fields of gold were stunning.
1. Lubeck, Germany: Gorgeous city! I can see why this is an UNESCO World Heritage City. It is an old medieval walled city and you can still sort of make out some of the old walls. The old gates mark the entrance to town and are very distinctive – it is known as the Holstein Gate. The city is surrounded by a river and there are some river tours. There is a small museum in the Holstein Gate – I am not sure I would recommend it, but it has a really cool miniature of the entire town with walls and the gates from the height of this city. I think that along is worth the time and price of admission. Otherwise it is a stunning town to walk around and wander. We ate lunch at the food stands in the old market square which has beautiful old buildings surrounding it. I highly recommend trying local foods at the stands. Just point to what you want. We stopped and had a coffee and delicious cake at the Niederegger Arkadencafe in the town square. Their cakes and pastries are dreamy. Their specialty is marzipan. It is a great place to pick up some of their marzipan treats for souvenirs.
2. Wismar, Germany: Another stunning little town with some incredible churches. It’s a very small town, we also had a snack here at Café Hegede located in the town square. Their cathedrals are empty and being restored after having suffered great damage in WWII. But they are mostly restored.
3. Schwerin, Germany: We were running out of time, but I wanted to see one of their gorgeous palaces on the lake. We were not disappointed. We got there and only stayed for a short while but we took some amazing photos of their palace, which is now a working government building. We were sad that we arrived just as they closed the building.
4. Rostock, Germany: More modern of a town than the others we visited, but there were some cathedrals and it’s a nice little town, but nothing to special to me. I am glad we drove and visited the other towns. Lubeck was our favorite. Read Less