Lübeck - Queen of the Hanseatic League

Prices from £1,830


2 Sep 2018 - 7 Sep 2018
Duration: 5 nights
Ref: APLUB18
With: Thomas Abbott


Prices from £1,830
Single Supplement: £200
Deposit: £200

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A 12th-century gem boasting more than 1000 historical buildings, Lübeck’s appearance is an enduring reminder of its glorious mercantile past and its moniker of ‘Queen of the Hanse’. Founded in 1143 as the first western city on the Baltic Sea coast, this illustrious early seat of global trade represents a shining example of the character of the Hanseatic towns in the Baltic region. Behind its landmark Holstentor gate lie courtyards and alleys lined with merchants’ homes and spired churches forming Lübeck’s ‘crown’.

The magnificent church of St Mary, considered the mother of all brick Gothic architecture, forms a superb ensemble with the myriad architectural styles that surround it, ranging from Gothic to the Renaissance, Baroque to the Classical. This historic island town was granted its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the first time that an entire Old Town in Northern Europe ever received such an accolade, and encompasses the Town Hall complex, the Koberg — a completely preserved quarter of patrician houses from the 15th and 16th centuries overseen by St. Jacob’s Church and Hospital of the Holy Spirit — and the salt warehouses on the left bank of the River Trave, used to store the ‘White Gold’ which underpinned Lübeck’s vast wealth.

This Study Tour uncovers the history of this crucial trading hub, through exploration of its historic buildings and world-class art collections, as well as by visiting some of the lesser-known surrounding towns which played a vital role in the success of this erstwhile rich and mighty centre.


Tom Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th. In 1987 he moved to Berlin leading tours mainly in Germany, specialising in the German capital.

DAY 1:

Late morning flight at c. 11am with BA from London Heathrow to Hamburg. Coach transfer from Hamburg to Lübeck stopping off en route in Ahrensburg, home to a magnificent Renaissance castle. Continue to Lübeck and your four-star hotel.

DAY 2:

A day in Lübeck on foot and by boat. Explore the enchanting corners and winding alleyways of the town, while catching a first glimpse at the myriad architectural styles that punctuate its skyline. A visit to the Holstentor, since the 1470s symbol of Lübeck and testament to the success of its mercantile class. Its walls enclose a museum, which will introduce the history of Lübeck and its rise to become a leading centre in the Hanseatic league. Known as the city of the seven spires, Lübeck is home to the finest examples of Brick Gothic architecture in northern Germany. The three-naved cathedral is one of the oldest monuments in Lübeck, its foundations laid by Henry the Lion, and today houses numerous works of art such as the gigantic Triumphal Cross by Renaissance sculptor Bernt Notke. The newly-opened European Hanseatic Museum incorporates a mediaeval castle friary, an archaeological excavation site and modern museum complex to tell the story of the rise and fall of the Hanse.

DAY 3:

By coach from Lübeck to Ratzeburg, known as an island town due to its position amid four surrounding lakes, where Henry the Lion established a bishopric in 1154 and founded the late Romanesque cathedral, the oldest of its kind in Northern Germany. Ratzeburg is also the setting of a fascinating chapter in modern art, being home to the studio of A. Paul Weber, whose drawings, paintings, woodcuts and lithographs hold a mirror to Germany’s early 20th-century history, from the delightful to the disturbing. An equally compelling museum displaying the moving works of the Expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach is another of the town’s artistic highlights. Return to Lübeck by boat along the Wakenitz river, which divided post-war Germany until 1989.

DAY 4:

A second day on foot in Lübeck will explore the town’s excellent art collections, from mediaeval to modern. The Behnhouse/Drägerhouse museum combines a significant collection of paintings from the 19th century and the classical modern period with a historic setting, located in two 18th-century palatial houses. The collection housed in the two buildings focuses primarily on art from the Age of Romanticism and includes works by Caspar David Friedrich and the Lübeck-born Johann Friedrich Overbeck, leader of the Nazarene painters. These works are juxtaposed with the collection of modern art, with paintings by Max Liebermann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Edvard Munch, who was active in Lübeck during the first decade of the 20th century. By contrast, the St Anne’s Museum Quarter holds Germany’s largest collection of mediaeval sculpture and altarpieces, including the significant Passion Polyptych by Hans Memling, contained within a historical priory comprising courtyards, gardens and a Late Gothic cloister.

DAY 5:

Morning coach excursion to Eutin, whose position as the hometown of numerous composers and writers has earned it the title ‘the Weimar of the North’. The town’s idyllic setting and picturesque castle were the the focal points for 2016’s ‘Landesgartenschau’, a garden festival that transformed the landscape around lake and castle. Return to Lübeck for some free time before dinner in a handsome palatial patrician house with stepped gabled façade and historic interiors.

DAY 6:

After some free time in the morning, coach transfer from Lübeck to Hamburg for an afternoon flight back to London, scheduled to land at c. 3pm.

Please note that at this stage the programme is still provisional. Although we aim at the greatest degree of accuracy from the outset, some details, especially the order of visits, may be subject to change.


Specific fitness requirements for this Study Tour:

This tour involves a fair amount of walking through the sites listed in the programme. Above all, museum visits require prolonged periods of standing without the possibility of a rest. Coach transfers and excursions should not exceed an hour at a time.

Please note that all our Study Tours involve a significant amount of standing and walking, often across uneven ground, over cobbled streets, or up and down steps and inclines. While we do not have an upper age limit for participants, we require you to have a level of fitness which does not spoil other participents' enjoyment of the holiday and you should be able to walk at a reasonable pace and / or stand for at least thirty minutes without aid or requiring a rest.

If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular tour is suitable for you, please ring us to check before placing your booking.


Twin/double share: £1830 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £200
Price of the tour without flights: £1690 per person
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Scheduled return flights with British Airways between London Heathrow and Hamburg
  • Transfers and excursions in Germany by private coach
  • Five nights B&B in the modern four-star Hotel Atlantic in the centre of Lübeck
  • Two dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to sights and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the lecturer and a tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
  • Small group between 12 and 22 participants


  • Three dinners and five lunches
  • Transport between home and London Heathrow
  • Travel insurance. We strongly advise you to be covered by adequate travel insurance

Hotel Atlantic****

Opened in 2010 the Hotel Atlantic is a modern and contemporary hotel featuring stylish interiors. Ideally located, in the heart of Lübeck’s historic district, with this hotel, your accommodation is quiet, yet in the heart of things.


  • Free WiFi
  • Flat Screen TV
  • Air conditioning
  • Mini bar
  • Tea and Coffee making facilities
  • En suite
  • Telephone
  • Safe


The hotel’s terraced restaurant ‘Salis’ is the perfect spot for some relaxed people watching. The spa area features a steam bath and a glass fronted Finnish Sauna with a unique view across Lubeck. There is also access to the swimming pool at Lübeck Zentralbad.