Freilandmuseum Lehde: Open-Air Museum in Spreewald

Freilandmuseum Lehde is an open-air museum in Spreewald, Germany.

The family-friendly folk museum is one of the most popular attractions in Spreewald. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour of Freilandmuseum Lehde, exploring historical buildings unique to Germany’s canal community.

Staff welcome guests in local folk fashions at Freilandmuseum Lehde.
Staff welcome guests in local folk fashions at Freilandmuseum Lehde.

Freilandmuseum Lehde History

Freilandmuseum Lehde is the oldest open-air museum in Brandenburg. Visitors have an opportunity to step back in time to discover what life was like during the 19th-century in the Spreewald.

Freilandmuseum Lehde has an interesting origin story. The first historical museum in the region opened in 1950 in Lubbeneau’s country hall grounds in what was previously a court house. In the exhibition of 1950 curators had assembled a “Spreewald room,” featuring furnishings, costumes and cultural artifacts.

As the history and unique lifestyle became more captivating to tourists, the idea came about to put the entire village of Lehde under a protection order. The inhabitants of the small German village protested, not so pleased at the idea of being gawked at by visitors in an open-air museum. In 1955 a compromise was made. It was decided an uninhabitable stable house would be renovated and furnished with the collection of the “Spreewald room.”

In May 1957 the Lehde stable house first opened to the public. It was an instant hit, helping cultivate a local passion and pride that would later expand the museums offerings.

Today, Freilandmuseum Lehde features four complete farmyards, representative of the building and living conditions in the Spreewald during the 18th-century. The ethnographic open-air museum in Lehde continues to remain dedicated to preserving and celebrating the folk architecture, culture and lifestyle of the Spreewald.

The view of the canals at the entrance of Freilandmuseum Lehde.
The view of the canals at the entrance of Freilandmuseum Lehde.

Spreewald Canal Tour at Freilandmuseum Lehde

Visitors arrive to Freilandmuseum Lehde by crossing a scenic wooden bridge that straddles two canals. Before visiting the museum you can stop at a local restaurant for a beer-sloshed meal.

You’ll also find tour operators here that rent kayaks and canoes. Paddling up Spreewald’s scenic canals at your own pace is the perfect option if you’re looking to exercise while surrounded by Spreewald’s natural beauty.

Is relaxing with a glass of wine more your cup of tea? You’ll find a parade of traditional Spreewald canal cruise boats tied up to the river bank. These group boat tours are hosted by friendly gondola guides who use long poles to push their boats up Lehde’s extensive canal system.

We suggest hopping on a two hour trip. Guests learn about the history of the region, gawk at gorgeous luxury cottages and can even spot local wildlife like fish, birds and beaver. Spreewald canal tours are the best way to appreciate how the unique water system in the region impacts local way of life. Even to this day, the local post office delivers packages and mail by a canal boat and most locals simply cruise the canals to go grocery shopping or travel about town.

Our favourite aspect of the Spreedwald canal tour experience is the merry beverage offering. Before hopping on the boat your guide will offer you a selection of local beer, cider, wine or radler’s flavoured with rhubarb.

Food fans take note, Spreewald is famous in Germany for being the heart of pickle country! Most boat tours include a stop at a local market, which sits perched over the canal and sells a variety of local pickles. We suggest crunching on a plump dill cucumber before your boat returns to the entrance of Freilandmuseum Lehde.

Enjoy gorgeous gardens and traditional thatched houses at the open-air museum.
Enjoy gorgeous gardens and traditional thatched houses at the open-air museum.

Experience Freilandmuseum Lehde

We suggest parking your car in Lubbenau and then strolling through the old town to the Freilandmuseum Lehde. From the old town of Lubbenau, featuring cute local shops and cafes to the Freilandmuseum, it is about 2 kilometers on foot. The short hike is worth the walk as you’ll encounter many picturesque photo opportunities along the way. 

After purchasing your Freilandmuseum Lehde ticket, push through the entrance gate and enjoy a classic Spreewald greeting. Local tradition dictates that families offer a plate of sliced rye bread, dipped in a bowl of salt. Plop the treat in your mouth and say danke before enjoying a self guided tour of the open-air museum.

For those who have visited a pioneer village in North America, Freilandmuseum Lehde will seem familiar, albeit decidedly German. All of the friendly staff are dressed in traditional Spreewald folk costumes.

As you walk through the open-air museum the staff offer interesting facts about the exhibition. The property features four historical farms that originate from different regions of the Spreewald.

In the open-air museum you’ll find everything that made the Spreewald famous: thatched wooden houses, Sorbian costumes and typical delicacies, such as spicy horseradish and the crunchy Spreewald cucumber pickle.

Learn how Spreewald's famous canal boats are made.
Learn how Spreewald’s famous canal boats are made.

Freilandmuseum Lehde’s Farms

  • Lehde Farm: Discover how a family from 1850 Spreewald lived under one roof. Gawk at the families tiny shared bed. Find out what the farmer did in the cold of winter. And see how close the family cow lived to the kitchen.
  • Living in the Village: discover the village’s shared bakery and firefighting station. Stand in awe at the Spreewald boat workshop where all of the communities gondola’s are made.
  • Burg Farm: This Burg farmhouse from 1916 offers a small gallery barn and stable featuring a laundry area with vintage soap and washboard. You’ll learn about how traditional thatched houses protected from the rain and sun. You can also have your try at milking a cow.
  • Haus Kittlitz: The oldest building in the museum dates back to 1775. Here you can learn about rope-making and visit the cellar stove and black kitchen. The museum’s best exhibit is here and showcases the colourful costumes and traditions (such as Easter egg making) of the Sorbian community.
Enjoy nature trails or a walk along the canal at Freilandmuseum Lehde.

Must-See Museum Highlights

At Freilandmuseum Lehde you’ll explore a time without electricity, television or the iPhone. The water had to be scooped out of the river with buckets and the laundry was scrubbed in the tub with a brush and hard soap. The entire family- grandparents, father, mother and children all shared one single room, and shockingly slept in the same bed (upright with their backs to the wall).

Not to be missed attractions at Freilandmuseum Lehde include:

  • the historic village firemen brigade from Lehde
  • four original farmhouses from different areas of the Spreewald region
  • practice milking a cow, running with wooden shoes or building a real Spreewald log cabin
  • the large Spreewald family bed
  • the oldest barge in the village
  • Spreewald cucumber and spicy horseradish
Learn about local Sorbian wedding culture through vintage fashions.
Learn about local Sorbian wedding culture through vintage fashions.

Special Events at Freilandmuseum Lehde

Easter: Enjoy the first spring sun over coffee and cake. Stroll through the Easter exhibition or try your hand at designing a Sorbian Easter eggs. The museum’s East festival runs from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

Christmas: Enjoy two festive markets and a canal boat cruise. Guests visit two German Christmas markets in the Spreewald on the first and second Advent. The tour starts at the Christmas market at the Great Harbour in Lubbenau. Guests then hop in a boat and cruise to the historic Christmas market in the Freilandmuseum Lehde.

Weddings: Lehde’s open-air museum is so magical that many couples book it as their wedding backdrop. Tiny wedding ceremonies take place in one of the historic buildings and can seat up to 20 guests. Afterwards, the wedding party can rent out different locations on site for a champagne reception or celebratory meal.

Skip through historic Spreewald homes to see how people lived in the 19th-century.
Skip through historic Spreewald homes to see how people lived in the 19th-century.

The Farm

Finish your tour of the open-air museum by enjoying a stroll through the properties lush gardens and vegetable farm.

On a hot day enjoy a break under the shade of a fruit tree. Or smell and sample local flowers, herbs and crops in the farmers garden. You can also taste typical Spreewald culinary specialities such as cucumbers and spicy horseradish in the old mill.

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Admire all the plants that grow at Freilandmuseum Lehde's working farm.
Admire all the plants that grow at Freilandmuseum Lehde’s working farm.

Hotels Near Freilandmuseum Lehde

We suggest staying in the Spreewald region for 2-3 nights. The best hotels in the region are located in Lubben, Lubbenau and Burg.

  • Zum Alten Backhaus: Located in Burg, this luxury apartment building features a 24 hour health club, sauna, laundry facilities, free WiFi and BBQ picnic area.
  • Spreewelten Hotel: Located in Lubbenau, this luxury hotel features a spa, indoor and outdoor pool, restaurant, bar and free WiFi.
  • Strandhaus: Located in Lubben, this stylish boutique hotel offers Wifi, two restaurants and full-service spa.
  • Spree Balance: Situated on a river near Burg, this luxury spa hotel offers a restaurant and bar, free breakfast and WiFi.

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