Trading places! The best travel book for Lübeck, Germany: Buddenbrooks!

November is a great time to visit the Hanseatic town of Lübeck and the UNESCO-listed Gothic architecture, the Christmas markets and stuff your face with marzipan. Although, I didn’t find the city life very special. But then you can drown your sorrows in beer!

The best things to see is the impressive gate – Burgtor – leaning so much, you will be worried about its future existence. The second thing is the “Danse Macabre” in Marienkirche. That is … the original is no longer there. The actual 30 meter long painting was destroyed in World War II. It shows, that death cares not if you are rich or poor – all will die. I love it.


But let us go on a time travel! To get to know the local mindset and understand the former glory and wealth of the city, I recommend reading the best travel book for Lübeck: “Buddenbrooks: The decline of a family”. But you might have to bring it as a e-book!

You can easily imagine their everyday life and at the same travel more than a hundred years back in time with the family Buddenbrooks. It was written by Thomas Mann in 1922 and follows 4 generations in a wealthy merchants family for 42 years! (Yes, it is a little like Tolstoy’s “War & Peace”).  The great thing about these epic generation-after-generation stories is that you get to experience a whole lifetime – and here almost 4 lifetimes! You can immerse yourself in another person’s ups and downs and see how living in Lübeck in the late 1800 is different and/or similar to your own life. They grow up, get married, have kids and make wrong choices. Just like me!

She and Tom would clamber about in the granaries on the water-side, among the piles of oats and wheat, prattling to the labourers and the clerks in the dark little ground-floor offices, they would even help haul up the sacks of gram. She knew the butchers with their trays and aprons, when she met them in Broad Street, she accosted the dairy women when they came in from the country, and made them take her a little way in their carts. She knew the grey-bearded craftsmen who sat in the narrow goldsmith-shops built into the arcades in the market square, and she knew the fish-wives, the fruit- and vegetable-women, and the porters that stood on the street corners chewing their tobacco.


The family have gone, but the house is still here.  The house is located in the center of Lübeck and was built in 1758 and was the home of Mann’s grandfather. It is now a unique literary museum – Literaturmuseum Buddenbrookhaus – telling both the story of the family and the book.  Thomas Mann won the Nobel prize in literature for this captivating tale. Visit the Buddenbrooks House here

Find the book here. It is way better than the tv-series…

What’s your favourite travel book?

More travel books recommendations here.