Hamburg Travel Guide
Insiders call Hamburg the “gateway to the world”. And it isn’t hard to see why. This port city combines metropolitan flair with maritime charm and is home to some of the most exciting architecture in all of Germany.
This Hanseatic city is the second largest in Germany and the second smallest state by area. Hanseatic cities are city-states that date all the way back to the Middle Ages. Besides being a city-state, Hamburg also is the second largest port in Europe. The industrial backdrop has been smartly incorporated into the city landscape, melting history, technology and modern architecture into a well-orchestrated symphony. Wondering what to do in Hamburg? Mr Hudson has got you covered.
The best hotels in Hamburg
Hotel Volksschule is located outside the bustling city centre, but all that Hamburg has to offer in terms sightseeing, shopping and going out can easily be reached by public transportation. The hotel is situated in a beautiful brick school building from 1888, boasting the typical architecture of this area.
The eclectic 25hours Hotel is represented three times in the city, but their most eccentric Hamburg property is located in Hafen City. The nautical interior design aesthetic reminds of life at sea and rooms are filled with artefacts suitable for a modern-day sailor.
Zollenspieker Fährhaus is a serene hotel for quiet nights outside the city. The building is a wonderful piece of Hanseatic history and used to be an old ferry house and toll station. With rural surroundings next to a nature reserve, the city of Hamburg can be reached by car or even by boat on the Elbe River.
What to see in Hamburg
In a city like Hamburg, where different architectural styles vie for attention, it is best to see the historical centre first. It consists of various landmarks, such as the steeped in history City Hall, and the nearby St. Michaelis Church, locally known as “Michel”. Between City Hall and the Jungfernsteg, the Alster Arkaden can be found. These arcades, home to exclusive shops, resemble Venetian architecture and inject the city with some flirty Italian flair.
From Jungfernsteg it is best to take the Metro to Hafen City, one of the world’s most impressive architectural sites of the 21st century. It is still under construction and showcases visionary urban architecture. The complex should be completed by 2025, and is expected to double the downtown population, expanding the city with new lofts, waterfront buildings, hotels, restaurants and a new concert hall, which, albeit incomplete, already is the new city landmark of Hamburg.
Adjacent to Hafen City is the warehouse district, called Speicherstadt. It is a beautiful collection of century-old warehouses, cobblestone streets and a spider web of narrow waterways. Some buildings are still being used for storing carpets and silk, but most of them have been transformed into luxury lofts, high-end restaurants and upmarket shops. One of the highlights in this part of town is the Kaffeerösterei, where they roast coffee beans on site; a process that can be enjoyed while sipping a delicious cup of espresso. Further down the Elbe, the Landungsbrücken (docks) are located, where all boats and ferries come and go. Don’t miss the best fish burgers in town at Brücke 10, a small, family-run place. They serve delicious “Fischbrötchen”, German style finger food, in a cosy maritime setting.
Eating fish is all the rage in Hamburg and so the three centuries old Hamburg fish market is well worth a visit. It might be hard to get there between 5 am and 9 am on a Sunday morning, but it is definitely worth the effort, as it is an absolute must for foodies. Exotic flavours and scents transport people to faraway places and underline the city’s significance as a global port. Close to the fish market is Stilwerk, a haven for interior design junkies, located in an industrial harbour building. The store has seven floors filled with high-end furniture, modern design and lifestyle accessories of well-known brands such as Moooi, Montana, Kartell and many more.
Shopping in Hamburg
Hamburg has its fair share of tailors offering traditional elegance with a modern twist for dapper gents. In the Karoviertel, right on Marktstrasse, you will find one of the best menswear stores. Designed in Hamburg, Herr von Eden sells extravagant suits, dress shirts and ties. Down from HvE is Gretchen’s Villa, a neighbourhood café with home made baked goods and cakes, all prepared with love and attention to detail in a very welcoming environment. Lewin is a traditional men’s tailor, which can be found in the Portuguese Quarter. Elegant suits, trousers and jackets are made to measure for every customer. The owner himself, Thorsten Lewin, gives advice on style, fit and fabric, and explains how to best complement your wardrobe with accessories. A few steps away is Milch Feinkost. They serve fabulous coffee from small local roasters and bake their own cookies and cakes, all in a fancy 50s setting. In St. Pauli, close to the Schanzenviertel, a real treasure can be found. Weberei Andreas Möller is a traditional weaving studio where a husband and wife team weave luxurious scarves and blankets on the premises with custom built looms.
Things to do in Hamburg
The Schanzenviertel is a quarter bustling with shops, bars and restaurants. But Carmagnole, a French bistro, is one of the best. They have an excellent chef and in addition to a small basic menu, offerings change every two weeks according to the season. Bar Zoë is a shabby chic surprise. It is a so-called sofa bar and with an odd mixture of old-fashioned sofas and chairs it is like flea market meets saloon. Die Bullerei is the restaurant of German star chef Tim Mälzer serving northern German cuisine with international influences.
Hamburg also has amazing beaches along the Elbe River, home to several beach bars and restaurants. Strandperle, with wooden docks, is the perfect place to see beautiful sunsets over the harbour skyline while enjoying some food and a cocktail.
Lange Reihe in the St. Georg quarter is the street where men go to see and be seen. This is Hamburg’s gay district brimming with street cafes, speciality stores, restaurants and bars. Café Gnosa is an institution and the darling of the local gay community. They serve delicious cakes and coffee, decent food and always exhibitions of local artists on show.
And last but not least, a particularly wonderful way to see Hamburg is by boat. The city looks different from the water. Barkassen Meyer offers the best tours with small boats, a must to access the narrow canals in Speicherstadt and Hafen City.
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Milch Feinkost | Photo: Claudia Schwarz
25hours Hotel HafenCity | Photo: Stephan Lemke
Carmagnole | Photo: Claudia Schwarz
Photo: Claudia Schwarz
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