Still famous as the city of Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion), nine centuries after this powerful medieval duke made it his capital, Braunschweig (Brunswick) reveals its past with a reconstructed town centre: 90% of the city's buildings were destroyed in WWII. Its handful of museums and impressive buildings make it an interesting place to while away a day or two.
Arriving in Wolfsburg by train, the first thing you see is an enormous, almost surreal, VW emblem on the side of a factory. It's an image that could have been ripped straight from Fritz Lang’s classic film Metropolis. Volkswagen is the world’s second-largest vehicle manufacturer, and its global headquarters is right here, employing about 40% of Wolfsburg's residents.
Being shuffled between Danish and German rule has left the relaxed capital of the Weser-Ems region with a somewhat difficult-to-pin-down identity. Most of its medieval buildings were destroyed in a huge fire in 1676, while others were later refashioned at various stages according to the prevailing architectural style of the time.
The smallest inhabited East Frisian Island, delightful Baltrum is just 1km wide and 5km long, and peppered with dunes and salty marshland. It’s so tiny that villagers don’t bother with street names but make do with house numbers instead. Numbers have been allocated on a chronological basis; houses No 1 to 4 no longer exist so the oldest is now No 5.
The largest of the East Frisian Islands – once even larger before it was ripped apart by a flood in the 12th century – has a tough seafaring and whaling history. Reminders of those frontier times are the whalebones that you’ll occasionally see, stacked up side by side or as unusual garden fences.
Juist, shaped like a snake, is 17km long and only 500m wide. The only ways to travel are by bike, horse-drawn carriage or on your own two feet. Here, you’re often alone with the screeching seagulls, the wild sea and the howling winds. Forest, brambles and elderberry bushes blanket large sections of the island.