Lübeck is one of Germany's best-kept secrets, but one very well worth sharing.Getting there Ryanair ( flies from London Stansted to Hamburg-Lübeck Airport.For old Lübeck is an island in the middle of the Trave (its more modern suburbs, some of which are reminiscent of Cheltenham or Tunbridge Wells, extend on the other shores of the river) and an hour-long cruise around it reveals superb vistas of the town, dominated by the breathtakingly tall green copper spires of several of its massive Gothic brick churches.
With its customary reliability, the airline does not make too much noise about the fact that its Hamburg airport is in fact five minutes in a taxi from the centre of Lübeck (and not quite so near the centre of Hamburg, which is a mere 40 miles down the road).That is more or less what it is, but coloured with shredded beetroot.Don't be put off by the sight of it, or by the gasp of admiration from your waiter when you order it (the locals consider visitors, especially the English, too delicate for such a culinary adventure). I ate it at the Schiffergesellschaft, the best restaurant in Lübeck.Much of the town remains as Mann would have known it, if you ignore a somewhat charmless main drag of Sixties-built chain stores. In two or three days you can see most of its architectural splendours on foot, so take some good walking shoes.And when you get tired, go down to the River Trave and hop on one of the pleasure cruisers.
Secret dating Lübeck
The bombing of 1942 was due to the significance of the port to Hitler's war effort.Inside the Holstentor, amid displays of armour and many seafaring relics, is a magnificent wooden model of the town in medieval times: many of the streets and buildings are still recognisable and functioning today, and seeing the model brings home to the visitor what a stunning job of restoration has been done to the town.Lübeck once had four medieval gates and two handsome ones remain, the most notable of them being the Holstentor, which is as good a place as any from which to start a walking tour of the town.In the two, fat, bulging towers of the gate there is a fine museum, which has an unsettling plaque inside it announcing that the building was restored by the Nazis before the last war.There are plenty of hotels in Lübeck in all price brackets, and we were especially happy with the one we stayed in – the four-star Hotel Kaiserhof, a short walk over one of the bridges from the medieval centre.