The majority of Hanover's sights are conveniently located in and around the Altstadt, which is just a few minutes' walk from the main train station. You can follow the red line embedded in the pavement to find many of them.
Of Hanover's many neighbourhoods, two of the most interesting and visit-worthy are the northern section of formerly working-class Linden-Limmer (known as Linden), now popular with students and the tragically hip, and the upmarket Oststadt (also called List), particularly in the side streets around the pedestrianised section of Lister Meile and those fronting the Eilenriede, where you'll find some beautiful heritage architecture that survived WWII. Both areas are quickly and easily reached by public transport.
Despite WWII bombing, Hanover’s restored old town remains appealingly quaint. In the market square, the red-brick, Gothic Marktkirche has original elements, as do both the Altes Rathaus, begun 1455, and the nearby Ballhof, a hall originally built (1649–64) for 17th-century badminton-type games and now used as a theatrical venue. An entire row of half-timbered houses has been re-created along Kramerstrasse and Burgstrasse near the Marktkirche, and here you also find Leibnizhaus, once the home of mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), with its reconstructed Renaissance facade. In front of the Leibnizhaus is the Oskar-Winter-Brunnen; if you make a wish and turn the small brass ring embedded in the ironwork three times, local lore has it that your wish will come true.
Sightseeing by Bus
You can easily take in the main sights by foot in Hanover by following the red line on the pavement, but buses 100 (running clockwise around the centre of town) and 200 (anticlockwise) are also handy for getting around. They run every 10 to 15 minutes. The most convenient section is bus 100 south from Hauptbahnhof to the Maschsee. Good places to pick up the 100/200 are Lister Meile, Kröpcke and Maschsee/Sprengel Museum, near the football stadium.
The Red Line
The city has painted a Roter Faden (red line) on pavements around the centre for a 4.2km, do-it-yourself loop of 36 city highlights. Follow it with the help of the multilingual Red Thread Guide, available from the tourist office or online at www.hannover.de; or download the iPhone app (€0.89). The route is barrier-free.