Ultimate Guide & Map for Kayaking the Leine River in Hanover, Germany

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Chances are, if you’ve landed on this post you’re looking for information about good places to paddle around Hanover. Assuming that’s the case and you have your own gear, we’ve gotcha covered! This handy little paddling guide has all the information you need for kayaking the Leine River from Sarstedt to Hanover, Germany. We guarantee you’ll have a fun DIY day on the water!

Travis has been bugging me to kayak the Leine practically since we moved to Hanover. A few weeks ago, we paddled a stretch in town that left him even more determined to find a longer route for us to tackle.

For non-Germans like us, when it comes to kayaking it can be difficult finding information about basic things like where to park, where to put in and take out, and obstacles such as dams and ferry crossings. After much online searching and physical scouting of the river, Travis finally had a clear picture of the route logistics for this beautiful 17.3-km paddling route. If you’re in the same boat as us (pun intended), our little kayaking guide should come in handy.

Map for Kayaking the Leine River: Sarstedt to Hanover, Germany

Who will find this guide most useful?

First and foremost, this is not a guided river trip. It’s a DIY guide, which means you need to bring all your own gear with you to the launching point. This is a wild stretch of river with no amenities or boat rentals anywhere along it.

We personally prefer kayaking, but you could just as easily float this entire route on the Leine River in a canoe, SUP, or even floaties like inner tubes, given you allow yourself plenty of extra time for the entire length.

Kayaking the Leine River near Laatzen in Hanover, Germany
The Leine River is 281 km (175 miles) long. It starts in Thuringia, but most of it falls within the federal state of Lower Saxony. Hanover is the largest town on its banks.
Two Small Potatoes enjoying a day kayaking the Leine River in Germany
These Two Small Potatoes are happiest when we’re kayaking!

What is the difficulty level of this Leine River paddling route?

Intermediate and advanced paddlers won’t find any challenges with the route, which is mostly flat water with a few stretches of faster Class I riffles.

It’s great for inexperienced paddlers as well, with a couple of exceptions.

  1. The total length of the route is 17.3 km (10.7 miles). If you’re not sure you can paddle that far, then you might want to tackle some shorter trips first. There are very few places along the route where you can easily take out. Some stretches of river pass through protected wildlife areas where you’re not even allowed to access the shore.
  2. The route has a single Class II standing wave not far from the put-in, or launching point. For those not comfortable shooting the rapid, you can easily portage around or just walk your boat and gear down on the left if the water level isn’t too high.
Beautiful Innerste River in Sarstedt, Germany
You’ll actually launch on the Innerste River, which is a tributary that flows into the Leine River.
Single Class II rapid on the Innerste River before kayaking the Leine River, Germany
If you like a bit of adrenaline, this rapid will likely be the highlight of the entire route!

Where is the put-in for kayaking the Leine River from Sarstedt to Hanover?

The put-in for this route is in Sarstedt, a small village about 20 km (12 miles) south of Hanover.

Since the Leine itself tends to lack ideal put-in options for boats, Travis found a great place to launch on the Innerste River instead.

Kayak launch point on the Innerste River in Sarstedt, Germany
For those driving, the put-in is 150 meters from a free parking area in Sarstedt.

This small river is a tributary that flows into the Leine about 3 km downstream of Sarstedt.

Of the total route distance, about 14 km of it is on the Leine River. The remainder is on the Innerste, which is narrower and has more current.

Trail to the Innerste River that flows into the Leine River, Germany
A short but steep trail leads to the bank of the Innerste River.
The launching place for kayaking the Leine River in the village of Sarstedt
You’ll first paddle part of the Innerste River where it passes through the village of Sarstedt.

How do you get your boats to and from the river?

The options include taking public transportation, driving two or more cars, or using some combination of the two, which is what we did.

Keep in mind that whichever option you choose, you’ll need to factor in anywhere from 1-3 hours for transportation time. This is in addition to the time you’ll spend paddling.

Logistics for Using Public Transportation

The easiest and most environmentally friendly way to do this trip is to use public transportation, if you can.

Clearly that’s only possible if you have some sort of compact watercraft you can take on the trains and buses in Lower Saxony. We have Oru kayaks, which are absolutely ideal for this kind of trip!

On the train platform in Hanover before kayaking the Leine River
Each of our Oru kayaks weighs about 12 kg (25 lbs) and fits neatly into a custom backpack. There’s no fee to take them on public trains/buses.

Since we were a bit concerned about how tired we’d be and how late it might be by the time we finished paddling, we wanted our car close to the take-out. In the future, we’ll leave our car at home and do the entire trip by train. Anyone who plans to use public transportation though can still re-trace some or all of the steps we took below.

I have to warn you, there’s a fair amount of effort involved. It probably seems crazy to some people!

  1. Drive to the Bothmerstrasse U-Bahn stop in Hanover.

    Find free parking on any side street near the station. You’ll need to carry your kayaks/gear to the southbound platform, which is in the middle of the street, so park as close as you can.

  2. Catch the U-1 train southbound for 37 km to the Sarstedt subway station.

    This should take about 35 minutes. You’ll get off at the end of the line.

  3. Walk 1.1 km to the put-in on the Innerste River.

    Our custom Google map at the beginning of this post shows the exact location of the put-in.

  4. Paddle the Innerste River for just over 3 km.

    The Innerste then flows into the Leine River.

  5. Paddle the Leine River for 14 km.

    You’ll pass through both the Koldinger Lakes and Alter Leinegrunde Nature Reserve.

  6. Take out just south of Leineinsel Doehren (Little Venice) in Hanover.

    The take-out is on the eastern bank, or right-hand side. If you paddle past a small dock on the left bank, you’ve gone a bit too far. This dock is used for portaging around a small dam just downriver on the Leine. If you miss the take-out, don’t worry. The river is wide and slow here (at least when we paddled), so you can easily paddle back upriver.

  7. Walk to your car where you parked it near the Bothmerstrasse U-Bahn stop.

    Drive it over to any street near the take-out, load up your boats and gear, and away you go! If you don’t use a car at all, you can just walk with your gear to the Bothmerstrasse U-Bahn stop and catch the train home.

Logistics for Using Your Own Car

For those who don’t want to use public transportation or who prefer to drive, it’s also possible to tag-team with multiple vehicles. You’ll just need to coordinate it with friends, or to use at least two cars.

For those new to this, the way it works is that everyone with boats drives to the put-in (in this case, Sarstedt), drops off all the boats and gear, then drivers take all the cars to the take-out (in Hanover). You leave all but one car, then all paddlers load up in one car and drive back to the put-in.

When the paddle is over at the take out, two drivers need to take a car back to the put-in, pick up the one car, and drive back to the take-out. From there, everyone can load up and go home. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s doable.

Another option if you have someone with a car who isn’t planning to paddle with you is to have them drop you off at the put-in and just pick you and your kayak up at the take-out.

Where are all the kayakers in Germany?!

Sometimes we feel like we’re the only kayakers in Hanover, even though we know it’s not true. If you’re crazy about paddling like we are and end up using our guide for kayaking the Leine River, feel free to drop a comment below.

Even better, if you have great recommendations for routes you’ve done in the area that you loved, spill the beans!

Looking for more great paddling guides for Germany?

Whether you’re into kayaking or canoeing in Germany, these are some other great options for beautiful paddling routes.

Know Before You Go
  • Total paddling distance is 17.3 km (10.7 miles). Of that, 3.25 km is on the Innerste and the remainder is on the Leine River.
  • Allow 6-7 hours for the entire trip, including time on the water and transportation before and after. If you’re a slow paddler, allow more time.
  • The river conditions when we paddled were perfect – a warm summer day with ideal water levels. Keep in mind that the river conditions can change considerably depending on time of year, weather, etc. Paddle at your own risk, and wear a PFD!
  • If you stick to our exact route to kayak the Leine River, you won’t have to portage around any dams or weirs.
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