After its integration into the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein in 1876, the new district was allowed to keep its ducal title (Herzogtum) as a reminder of its past. It remains an official part of this district’s name today.
The district administrative centre is Ratzeburg; the largest town is Geesthacht.
The variety of natural landscape packed into these 1,263 sq kms is impressive. The Sachsenwald forest, part of the Duchy of Lauenburg, is Schleswig-Holstein’s greatest contiguous area of woodland; to the south is the Lauenburg Lakes nature park, one of the state's oldest.
The Lauenburg Elbe harbour marks the beginning of the Elbe-Lübeck canal, opened in 1900. It links the central European waterway network, via the Trave river at Lübeck, to the Baltic Sea. The towpaths along the canal – and the old salt route “Alte Salzstraße” – now serve as excellent cycling trails.
The district’s agricultural landscape, with its natural and cultural potential, has a lot to offer to everyone. Farmhouse cafés, riding schools, hay hostels or cycling hotels offer an inviting welcome – and you don’t need a bike.
The economic heart of the district is in the immediate surroundings of Hamburg, whilst the eastern part in the Lauenburg Lakes nature park is mainly farming land and tends more towards soft tourism.