Bremerhaven: Big city by the sea

Bremerhaven’s motto is “Meer erleben” – a play on words which could be understood as either “experience the sea” or “experience more”. The slogan is fitting because Bremerhaven is indeed located by the sea, the North Sea. And there is so much to experience there – “more” than in other cities. Both meanings are interchangeable since many of these experiences have something to do with the sea.

by Lisa Tüch

In the foreground you can see a moored ship, in the background the
The “Zoo am Meer” is specialised in northern animal species. . © Mary Hense

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
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Take a geocaching tour of the city.

Welcome to Bremerhaven

Ships, lighthouses, fish – nothing better describes the maritime atmosphere in Bremerhaven. Bremerhaven is located in northern Germany by the sea. It’s the largest city on Germany’s North Sea coast. That’s why its character is so strongly influenced by water and the climate.

Some of the most popular attractions in Bremerhaven can be found at the "Harbor Worlds". These include, for instance, the German Maritime Museum. The museum operates its own harbour where various ships are docked for public viewing. For international guests, the museum offers guided tours in both English and French.

View of the German Maritime Museum Bremerhaven, where tourists and students find out about the history of shipping. © Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum/Wolfhard Scheer
The German Maritime Museum . © Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum/Wolfhard Scheer

The "German Emigration Center" has an international focus as well. Visitors can learn about Germany’s 300-year history of immigration and emigration.

The "Klimahaus® Bremerhaven 8° Ost" is also a part of the Harbor Worlds. At this museum, you can learn about climate and experience different climate zones first hand. The Klimahaus cooperates with several partners such as the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

Bremerhaven is building a reputation as a “climate city”. Consequently, the climate issue is integrated in all areas of life including education, research and business. Bremerhaven is home to the headquarters of the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Maritime Research. A number of wind-power companies are located here as well. There’s even an Institute for Wind Energy at the University of Applied Sciences in Bremerhaven.

Due to its location at the seaboard, the fishing and food industry play an important role in Bremerhaven; there are delicious fish restaurants everywhere. And because Bremerhaven is home to the fourth-largest container port in Europe, port logistics is a key industrial sector for the city.

From atop the radar tower, you can enjoy a great view of the ships, the Harbor Worlds and the maritime flair of Bremerhaven. The viewing platform of the radar tower is 65 metre high.

The museum
The German Emigration Center . © Deutsches Auswandererhaus/Kay Riechers

Living in Bremerhaven

Recreational activities in Bremerhaven often have something to do with water.

The city hosts the well-known event "Sail Bremerhaven", an international sailing festival that draws more than a million visitors and over 200 sailing ships every year. Another important festival is the SeeStadtFest which is held both on water and land. Many ships and sailboats dock in the harbour and the festival culminates in a big fireworks display.

My tip

Bremerhaven offers two geocaching tours. It’s a great way to get to know the city better. With geocaching, you look for hidden locations using a GPS device. It’s like a treasure hunt. The routes take you to places like the Harbor Worlds and the fishing port.

You should also visit the "Schaufenster Fischereihafen" which is located in the historical quarter of the Bremerhaven fishing port. There you can enjoy a beer in a cosy harbour pub and watch how fish are smoked. Naturally, you can order smoked fish at any number of fish restaurants in town. The Schaufenster Fischereihafen frequently hosts events such as the “Musiksommer”, featuring free concerts throughout the summer. The Kino im Hafen is a similar event, but features movies in an open-air cinema. Of course, Bremerhaven has cinemas in real buildings which you can use when the weather is bad.

A typical sight for students in Bremerhaven: ships in the new harbor. © Mary Hense
Typical sight in Bremerhaven – Ships in the new harbour . © Mary Hense

The "TiF", the “Theater im Fischereihafen”, offers a dry, warm alternative to the cinema. In addition to traditional plays, the theatre hosts comedians and performance artists.

Sports enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Bremerhaven, in particular, water sports. For example, you can join a canoeing, fishing or water-skiing club. There are also several of places to go swimming, such as the "Spaßbad" which has a giant slide and flume. Near the dyke you'll find the "Weser-Strandbad" where you can relax in wicker beach chairs or play beach volleyball. Unfortunately, swimming is not permitted for safety reasons.

You can enjoy nature at its finest at the "Zoo am Meer". The zoo specialises in marine life and animals found in northern climates. In addition to polar bears and seals, the zoo is home to numerous species of fish like the sea trout. On a mudflat hike through the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site, make sure to keep your eye out for native creatures such as crabs, clams and worms.

Is that a bit too mucky for you?! Then you might decide to visit the Speckenbüttel Health Park instead. There you’ll find a fitness course and a BMX trail. But you can also relax at the park – on the sunbathing lawn or at the barbecue area.

Being a relatively large city, Bremerhaven offers great places to go shopping, for example, "Mediterrano" – a Mediterranean-style shopping centre, or the "Columbus Center". You can reach the pedestrian zone via the Havenbrücke. That’s where you’ll find numerous shops and cafés.

The Bürgermeister-Smidt-Strasse, better known as “Alte Bürger” is a popular meeting spot for students especially in the evenings. This is Bremerhaven’s pub mile where you find the club "Nachtschicht".

Another popular spot for students is the StuCa, a café on the campus of the University of Applied Sciences in Bremerhaven. They stage various events and functions there including international parties. Bremerhaven’s smallest pub is situated in a very unusual location – in the Brinkamahof lighthouse.

Interview with Vincent from Le Havre, France

Vincent Davot is 22 years old and is enrolled in the master’s programme “Logistics Engineering and Management”. This is his second time in Bremerhaven. Two years ago, he came to Bremerhaven as an Erasmus student.

Portrait of master student Vicent from France in Bremerhaven. © Privat
Vincent from France . © Privat

Why did you decide to study in Bremerhaven?

I decided to come to Bremerhaven because it’s located at the sea. I need that to feel at home and do sports like kitesurfing.

How did you prepare for your stay abroad?

I packed as many clothes as I could and then hopped a ride to Hannover. From there I took the train to Bremerhaven. I’m now living in a flat share. Lots of students live in the house. It’s like a little commune. Everyone helps each other. It never takes longer than half an hour to move someone in or out. Every evening someone rings at somebody’s door and they play games, talk, laugh or party. If you’re looking for a place to live, I’d check the relevant websites and go down to “Alte Bürger” where there are lots of bars and flat shares.

Can you imagine staying here in Bremerhaven?

I do think I’d like to stay and work here. I always wanted an international career so this would be an opportunity to put my language skills and knowledge of logistics to use. But it would be sad living a 1,000 kilometres away from my family. I love them all too much.

How do you finance your studies abroad?

I’m here as an Erasmus student and work part-time. I’ve worked in a restaurant and as a pizza deliverer.

How can international students save money?

I do a lot of my own cooking, for example, noodles, bread and quiche. It’s cheaper and tastes a 1,000 times better. My friends and I also have a big garden plot where we’ve planted all sorts of vegetables – carrots, sugar melons, bell peppers, raspberries, potatoes and corn. Pretty much whatever can grow here.

What do you like best about Bremerhaven?

I love our garden plot. Besides that, I like going biking, kitesurfing or jogging around the harbour.

Do you have any advice about how to make friends?

Just try to be active, like joining a club. My advice is to do something with Germans. That’s why I can speak fluent German now.

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