… and a bit of a Waikiki vibe! Waller Sand, a new urban beach on the harbour in Überseestadt, opened a week ago. It’s right by the lighthouse, with views of the Waterfront complex and the historical grain storehouse. I just had to go and see it.
Cycle tour via Rablinghausen
Just to be clear – I didn’t take my swimming costume. Swimming isn’t permitted at Waller Sand, and anyway I had a cold. But wrapped up warmly, taking it slow and breathing in the fresh air, it felt like it was doing me good. I chose the route through Neustädter Hafen, via the wonderful Weseruferpark in Rablinghausen. It offers great views of the skyline of the new Überseestadt district opposite, which ends by the pier lighthouse. To the right, behind the lighthouse, is the harbour’s turning basin with the new Waller Sand urban beach.
Every weekend from May to September, the Pusdorp ferry connects the Lankenauer Höft, Waterfront and Molenturm piers. My journey took me further along to Lankenauer Höft, which was still closed at this time of the morning. Next to the pier, the Golden City harbour bar is open for its summer season.
I could make out my destination, and even see the beach. Behind it was the backdrop of the Walle quarter with the television tower and the Überseestadt district.
The Pusdorp ferry to ‘mouse tower’
It was easy to get on the ferry with my bike. The first stop was the shopping centre on the opposite side, but that wasn’t my destination. I was already looking forward to seeing the lighthouse, known as Mäuseturm (mouse tower).
A seagull has built its nest right by the pier, and above it wildflowers have found a place to thrive. The insects were very happy, and so was I. Very much so.
It used to be a struggle to get to the Molenturm lighthouse by bike along what was a narrow, sandy path. It was overgrown with shrubs, but at least the anglers had some peace. Nowadays, you pass flowers and newly planted trees on the way to this old tree, with the historical Molenturm lighthouse behind it. A collection of wooden beams provides a place to sit; otherwise the path is clear. And there are a lot of day trippers. It’s all very smart, but I did like the old rough-and-ready feel, too.
You can’t go into the lighthouse, only admire it from the outside. But more importantly, you can enjoy the panoramic views, right here between the Weser river and the turning basin. The surrounding districts are the almost rural Woltmershausen, Rablinghausen (known as Pusdorp, where the ferry gets its name from) and Gröpelingen, home to the futuristic Waterfront complex and the massive grain storehouse, known as the Colossus. When you turn around, you look out towards Walle and Überseestadt.
What a difference a bit of green makes … It will take a while for the plants to spread out over the gravel, but once they do it will look so much better. It’s just a matter of time before nature reclaims this space.
Waller Sand – an idyll in the harbour
The path leads right to the edge of the water, which is lined with rocks. They offer protection from the water – no way you can go swimming here. Not even dogs, which have to be kept on a lead anyway …
All a matter of perspective – everything looks much more inviting from the sandy beach.
The plants still need to grow quite a bit, but it should become prettier as the years go by. I was getting mighty hungry, and I spotted some tasty sea kale. At least I think I identified it correctly. But you can’t pick it, of course. There are no restaurants or cafés here, something that all parties involved agreed on. Which is a pity, but I spotted a bakery on the corner. There were so many people there that it had run out of cold drinks, but there was a pastry left for me. In my haste I missed the Yup Yup superfood bar, so I’ll try its vegan treats on my next visit. Another option would be the RIVA restaurant behind the Landmark Tower.
It’s probably best to bring your own food and drink, but don’t forget to take it all with you when you leave. You should also bring along some sun cream, as there’s very little shade around.
If you’d rather not lie on the sand, you might get lucky and find a spot on one of the permanent sunloungers – with views over the water, of course. At the weekends, you hardly notice the construction sites that lay beyond. It’s all a matter of perspective. That’s the way it is in Überseestadt, one of Europe’s largest urban redevelopment projects. And in a working docklands, of course. But it is exactly these contrasts that draw me here.
To the side there’s a container with a viewing platform, and, more importantly, toilets. I’m not really one for heading off into the bushes. And you’d have to go a long way to find any here anyway. The toilets are a big plus for me, and in my mind I’m already packing my cool bag for my next visit.
By the way, there’s also a play area with water for the little ones, who of course can’t get to the edge of the basin here, and a volleyball court for older kids and grown-ups.
If you prefer not to walk on the sand, there are various paths that lead around Waller Sand, which is great for prams, wheelchairs, etc.
I really love these Hawaiian-style straw parasols; they make you feel like you’re on holiday. You can just see the steelworks in the distance above the one on the left …
If I hadn’t had an urgent appointment with my inhaler, I might have taken the ferry to the Waterfront complex. It’s a bit of a trek there by bicycle, so it would have been much more pleasant by ferry. But instead, I made my way home through Überseestadt and along the Schlachte Embankment. Anyhow, I quite like the idea of shopping and chilling.
And finally, here’s a panorama shot to finish it off. I’m really impressed, perhaps even a little surprised, as I have to admit it was a lot better than I had expected. Watching the sun set from there would’ve been the icing on the cake.
Our tip: if you’re travelling to Bremen and would like to check out our exciting new urban beach, then the minibreak deal with overnight accommodation at Innside (category B) or Steigenberger (category C) is the perfect choice.
Beaches on Bremen’s Weser river
Bremen has a number of other beaches along the Weser river. For example, the beach in Weseruferpark in Rablinghausen, which I cycled through on my way to Waller Sand. You can’t swim here as the Weser is a federal waterway – but then you wouldn’t go for a stroll on the motorway, would you? There aren’t any toilets or facilities (at least none that I’ve found), but there are play areas, parks nearby and disc golf. And bushes …
The best-known beach on the Weser river is located in the city centre, next to Café Sand. Hordes of kids charge around here fetching water from the river. Swimming isn’t permitted here either, and dogs have to be kept on a lead. Otherwise, there’s everything you need: toilets, fast food, a beer garden, cake, cold drinks and ice cream. The best way to get here from the Viertel quarter is to take the Sielwall ferry.
Pedants would probably not include the beach on Werdersee lake in this list, as it’s not on the Weser river but on the Kleine Weser, which is called Werdersee lake at this end. You can actually go for a swim here as there’s a German Lifeguard Association station. And a toilet, although that’s only open when the lifeguards are around. So far, I’ve always been disappointed … Anyway, there are barbecue areas, a play area, pretty parts away from the water, and even a nudist area. And bushes …
Quite a bit further away from where I took my photos of Werdersee lake is the beach in Habenhausen. Here, we’re back on the Weser river. There are no facilities, and I assume that swimming is allowed – if not officially – as the beach is protected from the shipping lane by a small island.
If you look closely at the picture above, you can see two large buildings above the island, one grey and one blue. Over there in Hemelingen is another beach. During the summer months (the soft opening was last Sunday), the Komplette Palette cultural centre uses pallets to build a bar and a stage for bands and DJs. Sometimes you have to pay to get in if there are events on. This small slice of paradise is great if – like me – you prefer your culture to be a little less mainstream. Part of the water has been cordoned off so that you can go swimming here. You can just see the fine dark line in the water in the picture on the right. It’s sort of a swimming pool in the river, and obviously works particularly well with a cold drink to hand.
There are quite a few smaller beaches near the Weser Stadium, but often there are dogs, even though dogs aren’t officially allowed. Take a look for yourself to see if they do it for you; in any case, the promenade there is very nice.
Have I missed out any Weser beaches? Probably some in the north of Bremen, but what about in the city centre? If I have, let me know. What I can say is that Waller Sand has immediately made it to the top of my list!