Cottbus (Sorbian: Chóśebuz) is a city in the southeast of Brandenburg state, in Germany. It is the state's second-largest city and is considered one of the cultural centres of the Sorbs, a Slavic ethnic minority in eastern Germany. Cottbus sits on the southern edge of the famous Spreewald and north of the developing man-made Lusatian Lake District. After the flooding of the Cottbus-Nord surface mine, the city will lie on the shore of Germany's largest artificial lake by surface area. Also to the north is the beautiful Schlaube Valley, which can easily be reached by day trip.
The name of the city comes from "Chotibuz" from the Sorbian (Wendish) language, which is itself a derivation of Choitische Budky, meaning approximately "pretty little houses".
Modern Cottbus is a small city, in what used to be East Germany (GDR), and due to high unemployment the city has suffered from the "brain drain" to more prosperous German cities. Its proximity to Berlin allows a lot of people to commute between the two cities. Today, it is most associated with coal mining, Communist-era prefabricated buildings, and the nearby Spreewald forest, but the city has much more to offer visitors than drab East German nostalgia.
The city first reached a population of more than 100,000 (the lower limit for the German term Großstadt) in the 1970s and peaked at over 130,000 during the East German period. Cottbus had about 100,000 inhabitants in 2019. While it seemed that after Reunification that it would lose the designation Großstadt once and for all, the population is rising again, fitting a Germany-wide trend of people moving into cities.
The city's history is inexorably linked to its expansion during the industrial revolution. Today, it offers a beautiful and well-preserved medieval core and its surrounding 19th century districts that arose during the city's textile boom. There are many parks in and around the old city centre which give the city a "green" reputation. The Soviet-era suburbs do not have much to interest tourists, but significant efforts to refurbish these districts and make them more attractive are being undertaken.
Historically, Cottbus is renowned for three specialties: cloth, grain and beer, and "baumkuche" (lit. tree-cakes), a traditional circular layer cake that resembles tree rings.
Starting in around 1860, the arrival of the industrial revolution granted Cottbus huge economic benefits. The first clothmaking factory and the first military barracks were founded here during that time. Then, in 1865, the railway connecting Berlin to Görlitz was built through Cottbus, which resulted in an industrial and economic boom. Other railway companies eventually connected their lines through the city as well, interconnecting the city with the nearby clothing mill towns of Guben and Forst, as well as Wroclaw.
Dr. Carl-Thiem, the father of trauma surgery in Germany, founded a private clinic in the city in 1885, where it still resides. In 1886, the first telephone system was installed, and after a merger of the three largest German carpet manufacturers, a public textile college was also founded.
- 1 Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BER IATA) (South of Berlin just off the highway.). It's around 1.5 hours by rail including a change of trains in Königs Wusterhausen. The trip by car takes about one hour.
- 2 Dresden Airport (DRS IATA) (North of Berlin, 20 minutes by commuter train.). Another airport with a few international routes is Dresden, 100 km south. The airport has an own train station. The train ride from Cottbus takes around 2.5 hours, by car 1.5.
3 Cottbus Station. Near Cottbus there is a railway station connected to the Intercity network (IC), with morning arrivals from Hamburg and Berlin, and evening arrivals from Norddeich via Berlin. Direct daily regional connections to Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Frankfurt (Oder) are also available. The train station is near a connection to the municipal streetcar network, and several bus lines stop at the station proper.
Cottbus can be reached on the regional bus network that serves Brandenburg and the surrounding areas, the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg. The regional bus terminal is now part of the train station.
Cottbus is on the federal Autobahn Route A15 (E36), which runs west to Lübbenau, where is connects with A13 (E55) running northbound to Berlin and southbound to Dresden with a and Spur towards Dresden. Eastbound, the route terminates at the border with Poland and connects on to the Polish highway network. This motorway has two exits to the city Cottbus-West (16), and Cottbus-South (17).
Secondary regional route connecting to Cottbus are B97 from Guben to Spremberg and Hoyerswerda, B115 from Bad Muskau and Görlitz to Lübbenau and Lübben, B122 from Forst, and B169 from Senftenberg
The Cottbusverkehr GmbH (Cottbus Transit Authority) operates a network of four streetcar lines and eight primary bus routes in the city, in addition to three nighttime bus lines. Late night service runs from 21:00 to 04:30 daily. It's operated by three bus lines (2N, 3N, 4N). They busses always meet at the train station.
Due to the compact size of the city, most destinations are easily reachable by bicycle or on foot.
- 1 Fahrradservice Schenker, Beuchstraße 25 (Tram line 1 to the "Beuchstraße" stop), ☏ . M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa 09:00-16:00.
- 1 Cottbuser Postkutscher Tour (Cottbus Coachman), Berliner Platz (in front of City Hall). Tu Sa 10:00. Guided tours of the city by the Cottbus Coachman are available. Tours run about 2 hours. A climb up the Spremberger Tower is included. €6, €5 reduced.
- 2 Triebwagen 24 (Streetcar 24), Vetschauer Straße 70, ☏ . During daylight hours, reservation required. A traditional streetcar that began operation over 100 years ago. Visitors can take a tour of the city centre. The tour is approximately 1½ hours. Group rate only. €114 for up to 20 persons, €149 for 20-40 persons).
- 3 Theater, Theater. A special travel offer for the culturally inclined couple, with the following services: overnight stay in the Hotel am Theater with a romantic dinner and champagne breakfast. Attendance of a show at the State Theatre, a guided tour of the old city or Branitzer Park. €99.
- 4 Cottbuser Tierpark (Cottbus Zoo), Kiekebuscher Straße 5 (Adjacent to Branitzer Park), ☏ . 09:00 to 18:00. The largest zoo in the state of Brandenburg featuring a large number of bird species, large predators and other animals. Adults €5.00, children €2.50.
- 5 Parkeisenbahn (Park Railroad). Apr 16-Jun 1, Sep 1-Oct 31: 10:00 to 17:40; July–August: 10:00-18:30; Christmas trips December 1–6. A light-gauge railway, built in the 1950s, that runs primarily in the summer months between the stations of Sandower Dreieck (with ample parking) and Friedenseiche. The nearly 4-km-long line runs from the Sandow neighbourhood, passing by the Football Stadium, stopping at the Cottbus Zoo, and then on into Branitzer Park to the "Peace Oak". From here, it is a 15-minute walk to the Kiekebuscher Dam on the Spree river. €3, reduced fare €2, surcharge with steam locomotive €1.
- 6 Cottbuser Ostsee (Cottbus Eastern Lake). The name, which is (apart from its grammatical gender) identical to the German term for the Baltic Sea is (as of 2020) being developed from the former open pit lignite mine "Cottbus Nord". Flooding started in 2019 but low water levels in the Spree River and the general dry climate in the area have forced several interruptions. There are grand plans for the lake once it is fully flooded, but until then you can see the "lunar landscape" of lignite mining slowly transforming into a lake of 19 km2 (7.3 sq mi) surface area.
- 7 Oberkirche St. Nikolai, Oberkircheplatz (Near the "Altmarkt" stop on Line 3). Daily 10:00-17:00. This Protestant church is still largely intact from the middle ages, except for a new spire which was repaired a few years ago. With the new spire, it now stands as the tallest church in the Lower Lusatia region. The church spire is open to the public offering a scenic panorama of the whole city. Due to its excellent acoustics, this church is also a popular music venue. Spire access €2.
- 8 Schlosskirche/Synagogue (Castle Church), Spremberger Straße 5. The Protestant church "Schlosskirche" was built in 1419 and is next to the pedestrian zone in the city centre. Its was rededicated to a synagogue in 2014.
- 9 Klosterkirche (Cloister Church), Klosterplatz 1, ☏ . M-F 09:00-11:00, Th 15:00-17:00. This Wendish church is attached to an old Franciscan monastery and is located along the north edge of the old city wall.
- 10 Kirche St. Maria Friedenskönigin (Church of St. Mary, Queen of Peace), Adolph Kolping Straße 17. Catholic church just south of the city centre.
- 11 Lutherkirche (Luther Church), Brauhausbergstraße 1. A Protestant church near the central train station.
Castles and palaces
- 12 Schloss Branitz (Branitz Castle), Robinienweg 5, ☏ . Tuesday-Sunday: Nov–Mar 11:00-17:00; Apr–Oct 10:00-18:00. The castle of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau. It features two permanent exhibits and a regularly rotating theme exhibition of "... all that is different than elsewhere, fantastical, or fairytale" - Everything about the famous landscape artist, bookseller, and world-traveler, who lived from 1785 to 1871. The permanent exhibit featuring Carl Blechen (1789-1840), is also worth seeing. The castle is located in scenic Branitzer Park, which was created by the Prince in the English garden style. Castle: €5.50/€4.00 reduced. Estate: €4.50/€3.50 Stables: €3.50/€2.50. Comprehensive: €10.00/€7.00.
- 13 Schloss in Cottbus (Cottbus Castle), Magazinstraße 1. The former city castle (first mentioned in the 10th century!) is now the seat of the district courthouse, but is still beautiful in its own right, with its imposing 46-m spire springing from the peak of the castle hill. The castle grounds feature a waterfall on the back side of the hill.
- 14 Gerber Cottages, Uferstraße 16 (Take Line 3 to Sandower Brücke station). The Gerber houses are the oldest private buildings in Cottbus. There were erected, respectively, in 1727, 1760, and 1860.
- 15 Konservatorium (Conservatory), Puschkinpromenade 14, ☏ .
- 16 Neue Rathaus (New City Hall), Puschkinpromenade 1. Built between 1934 and 1936.
- 17 Staatstheater Cottbus (State Theatre), Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 23, ☏ . This theatre was designed by the Berlin architect Bernhard Sehring and completed in 1908. It is the sole remaining art nouveau theatre in Europe.
- 18 Spremberger Turm (Spremberg Tower), ☏ . W-M 11:30-18:00. A fortified tower preserved from the old city wall, overlooking the medieval city core. €1.
- 19 Elektrizitätswerk (Old powerhouse), am Spreeufer 1. The 19th-century power plant, near the old city castle, provided hydroelectric power for the city's many textile mills. It was later home to a discotheque, which has subsequently closed due to neighborhood complaints, but guided tours can still be made by special arrangement.
- 20 Weltspiegel Cottbus (World-Mirror Cinema Cottbus), Rudolf Breitscheid Straße 78, ☏ . Opened to the public in 1911. One of the few cinemas of this era still operating, featuring impressive art nouveau architecture.
- 21 Apothekenmuseum (Pharmacology Museum), Altmarkt 24 (Line 3 to "Altmarkt" station.), ☏ . Tours Tu-F 11:00 and 14:00, Sa Su 14:00 and 15:00. Unusual exhibit of pharmacy facilities and related historical objects from the 18th through the 20th century. Guided tour only. €4.00/€2.00 reduced.
- 22 Dieselkraftwerk Kunstmuseum (Diesel Power Plant Art Museum), Am Amtsteich 15, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. A technologically significant historic structure, which in was constructed in 1928 to satisfy the city's ever-increasing electrical demand, utilizing (then-unique) diesel power generation. The restored building now houses the Brandenburg state art collection, featuring exhibits of photography, painting, sculpture, and posters. €5.00/€2.50 reduced, free entry the first Monday each month.
- 23 Flugplatzmuseum (Airfield Museum), Dahlitzer Straße. Mar–Oct: Tu-F 10:00-16:00, Sa Su 10:00-17:00; Nov–Feb Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00. The Cottbus Airfield is over 90 years old, with more than 20 airplanes, helicopters, and service vehicles in its outdoor public viewing area.
- 24 Raumflugplanetarium Cottbus, Lindenplatz 21, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Projection planetarium, built in 1974 and named in honour of Yuri Gagarin, it has been modernized and now offers daily shows and educational content featuring 3,000 stars from the northern and southern hemisphere skies.
- 25 Museum der Natur und Umwelt (Natural History Museum), Bahnhofstraße 52, ☏ , fax: . Tu-Th 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 14:00-17:00.
- 26 Wendisches Museum (Wendish Museum), Mühlenstraße 12, ☏ , fax: . Tu-F 08:30-18:00, Sa Su 14:00-18:00. Exhibits on Wendish/Sorbian art, culture, music, and traditions. €2.50 adult, €1.50 reduced, €0.75 children.
- 1 FC Energie Cottbus, Ludwig Leichhardt Allee 1. Despite the city's moderate size, Cottbus' football (soccer) club has enjoyed some success in both the 1st and 2nd divisions of the Bundesliga (professional soccer association) and has a strong regional fan following.
- 2 Lagune, Sielower Straße 19, ☏ . This sports and recreation complex features a 50-m indoor pool, spa, sauna, and outdoor pool. €5.
- Sauna village of Almsick, Weinbergstraße 1, 03116 Drebkau, OT Leuthen, ☏ . M-F 14:00-23:00, Sa Su 11:00-23:00. In Leuthen, south of the city, there is the sauna village. In a beautiful garden there is a classic Finnish sauna, an earth sauna with a real fire in the oven, and a herbal sauna. There is also a pool and several relaxation areas in the garden. Of course, physical well-being is also taken care of.
There is a Saturday market in Oberkirchplatz from 07:00 until about midday. You can buy delicacies from the nearby Spreewald, sold in person by the producer. A slimmed-down version of the market takes place on Wednesdays in front of the city hall and on Thursdays in the Sprem (shopping area near the Old Market). Elsewhere, the Blechen-Carre is a large shopping centre containing the usual retail chains to be found across Germany.
Meanwhile, dedicated shopaholics should explore the old town, where there are many small shops and specialist boutiques.
- In the hamlet of Hornow at Spremberg (about 20 km south-east of Cottbus) chocaholics are guaranteed to find something in the fine Felicitas confectionery store, which sells real homemade chocolates.
- Brau und Bistro, Altmarkt 18, ☏ .
- [dead link] Die Suppenbar, Sandower Str. 3 (Altmarkt), ☏ , fax: . M-F 11:00-17:00.
- 1 Coffeelatte, Altmarkt 13, email@example.com.
- 2 Da Capo, Marktstraße 14, firstname.lastname@example.org. Eiscafé.
- Deniro, Schillerstraße 65, ☏ . Italian
- 3 Stadtwächter, Mauerstr. 1, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 4 Da Nando, Deffkestraße.
- 5 Roma, Marktstraße 7, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 6 Mythos, Sandower Str. 54, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Th 17:00-24:00; F Su 11:30-14:30, 17:00-24:00.
- 7 Restaurant Shiva, Oberkirchplatz 5, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:30-15:00, 17:00-23:00.
- Primo (Lindner Congress Hotel).
- 1 Jugenherberge Cottbus (Cottbus youth hostel), Klosterpl. 2-3, 03046 Cottbus, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Very nicely located on the monastery square by the medieval city wall in a historic half-timbered house. Opening hours 07:00-12:00 and 17:00-20:00. Arriving outside of these time slots can be arranged by phone call or email. overnight from €20 with youth hostel card.
- Hotel Zur Sonne, Taubenstraße 7, ☏ . Regional specialties and German home cooking. Open: restaurant, M-Sa (in July and August: closed on Sa) from 16:00. single from €42, double from €64.
- AHORN - Hotel & Restaurant, Bautzener Straße 134/ 135}.
- SORAT Hotel Cottbus, Schlosskirchplatz 2, ☏ . The hotel for business and leisure guests is on the Schlosskirchplatz in the old town.
- Hotel Willmersdorfer Hof (http://www.willmersdorferhof.de/), Mauster Straße 11. Accommodation in the northeastern part of Willmersdorf.
- Hotel & Restaurant Jahrmarkthof, Friedensplatz 8 (South edge of Cottbus in the quarter of Gallinchen.), ☏ . Home-style, regional cuisine. Single from €49, double from €69.
- Hotel & inn "Zum Postkutscher", Dresdener Straße 50, ☏ . Home cooking with fish, grill and game specialties. Restaurant: M - F 11:00-14:30, 17:30-20:30; Sa by arrangement; Su 11:00-16:00. single room from €45, double room from €65.
- 2 Spree-Waldhotel-Cottbus, Drachhausener Str. 70, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. "Hubertus" restaurant with traditional, regional cuisine. In-house bowling alley and sauna with relaxation area available. Open: restaurant daily 11:00-22:00. single room from €57, double room from €78.
- 3 Lindner Congress Hotel Cottbus, Karl-Marx-Str. 68a (next to the town hall), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Berliner Platz is very easy to reach by several tram lines. The hotel is one of the best in town.
- 4 Radisson Blu Hotel, Vetschauer Str. 12 (directly opposite the main train station), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal safety is generally not a concern, though you may encounter drunk youth on weekend nights and after games of the local football club FC Energie Cottbus. Don't provoke, use common sense and you should be fine.
Being a flat and compact city, many people commute by bike. Watch out for cyclists racing along sidewalks and around blind corners, often in dark clothes and unlit. Don't expect priority to be given to pedestrians even when required by law. Bike theft (or parts thereof) can also be a concern.
The city of Cottbus is surrounded by a dense network of cycle paths that can quickly take you deep into attractive countryside. For the adventurous, a selection of bicycle tour routes of varying distances can be found in a dedicated German Wikivoyage article.
Only a few kilometres north of the city is the Spreeaue, a 160-ha (400-acre) area along the course of the Spree river has been reclaimed as a nature reserve. Meadows and traditional villages invite you to explore on foot or by bike.
Burg (Spreewald), the southern gateway to the Spreewald, lies about 15 km northwest of Cottbus. The route there runs through the low-lying, rural Spreewald foothills. The Spreewald is very well developed for tourism and offers an ideal starting point for boat, paddle and bike rides. Lübben and Lübbenau are two other major points of departure to visit the Spreewald area.
- 27 Klinger Lake (about 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Cottbus, on the edge of a former open-cast lignite mine). The lake is still being filled and will be a major feature in the future Lower Lusatia Lake District. Many former lignite mines have fallen victim to changing economic circumstances, and are now gradually being repurposed. The lake's bizarre landscape is reminiscent of the lunar surface and has a certain gruff charm.
- Klinger Raubritter gate. Another minor attraction .
About 40 km to the north-east in the former hat-making town of Guben you can find the Plastinarium, the demonstration workshop of the internationally renowned/notorious "Body Worlds" exhibitor, Gunther von Hagen. Daily 10:00-18:00 (last entrance 16:00), admission starting from €12 per person, concessions €8. Uferstraße, 03172 Guben, ☏.
About 20 km west of Cottbus in Slawenburg Raddusch you can find a mock castle built as part of an international building exhibition. The model houses a museum and reflects castles of 1000 years ago built by the then Lusizi (ancestors of today's Sorbian/Wendish minority). Opening times from April to October 10:00 to 18:00, November to March 10:00 to 16:00. A15 exit Vetschau.