Yes, we know by now that Berlin is the new London, Paris and New York in one. ‘What happens in Berlin stays in Berlin. It’s the place to be, etc. etc.’ The germans are hip & happening, young and trending. But have you heard or been in Hamburg already? It’s a metropolitan too, the second biggest city in Germany, with the most important and strategic harbour of the country (and the second biggest of Europe), thanks to the Elbe river. Besides those travel guide facts it’s a very cool, nice city to visit; pretty buildings, architecture, lots of hotspots for foodies, exclusive shops, it’s less expensive as Berlin is, and there are many other things to do. In this complete city guide I’ll steal you virtually away with me on city trip and show you around. At the bottom of this article you’ll find a practical city map to not-get-lost. One can easily copy this map to your own Google maps by clicking on the star symbol.
Where to eat & drink
Where most city guides will start with places of interest, musea or sightseeing, I start with the most important of every trip: the food part!
“Because one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf
Have a coffee and a delicious waffle at Nord Coast Coffee Roastery, by far my favourite place for coffee with a casual breakfast or lunch in Hamburg.
Spoil yourself with decadent food at Tschebull restaurant. Excellent cuisine, presentation, luxury ingredients and fantastic wines. We went there twice (!) during our stay in Hamburg; once for dinner and two days later for lunch.
Healthy breakfast/brunch stop at Pauline’s Café and Bistro. The most perfect sweet place to start your Saturday morning, before heading off to the vintage clothing market near the old abattoir (Rinderschlachthalle), or before you visit the creative and extravagant Marktstraße. This area of Berlin is creative, sustainable and a bit more extravagant and alternative, compared to the center.
Cravings for sushi? Have lunch with a view at Se7en Oceans bar & lounge, located in the Europe Passage Shopping Center.
Dine at Atlas bistro, situated in the Chilehaus – an architectural master piece. Food is fresh and tasty, wines are delicious and it’s not expensive.
Wiener Schnitzel. Because you cannot leave Germany without eating Schnitzel.
“Serve her food and give her wine, keep her good company and she will be happy…”
Italian food at Vincenzo, located very close to the Hamburg Fishmarket. Ideal to have lunch if you like to see the pretty fish market building! Only on Sundays you can lunch at Fishmarket, so on other days of the week Vincenzo is a good alternative in this area.
Deichstraße. This street (‘dike street’) is the oldest remaining street in Altstadt (old city) Hamburg. Many restaurants and cafés find their homes in the Deichstraße. A good place to go for a meal.
Parliament in the parliament. Have lunch or dinner at restaurant Parliament, the world‘s only town hall in which „two“ parliaments are at home.
Kaffeerösterei Speicherstadt is a coffee roastery and therefore a nice place to see the process, and stop for coffee and cake in the centre of the pretty and photogenic Speicherstadt.
Tea-lovers go to Wasserschloss: it’s is the most pretty (one of the most photographed!) building with a tea room and restaurant inside. They serve and sell over 250 (!) different teas here. You can find this place in the middle of Speicherstadt, at the end of Holländischer Brook. Keep your camera ready; this whole area is Instagram and Facebook worthy.
Hamburger Fischmärkte. Go there on Sunday for lunch: fresh fish, wine and fun with the locals.
Fleetschlössen. In the middle of Speicherstadt on a busy intersection you’ll find this cute small building where they serve a good lunch (including soup of the day) for a fair price. Ideal for a quick stop.
Brattwürst is very German and I love it. So: no hamburgers when you are in Hamburg, but brattwürst. With mustard. Lots of mustard!
Vlet is another upmarket, fine dining-style restaurant in Hamburg. Located in the Speicherstadt, it’s the only gourmand restaurant in this area of the city. Their menu is based on German cuisine, but served in a creative, innovative way. Six courses cost you 88 euros (excluding beverages) and four courses cost 69 euros. Not cheap, but for sure less expensive than this type of restaurants in Paris or Londen.
What to see & what to do
Go to the Isemarket, underneath the viaducts of 2 train station. Every Tuesday and Friday morning between 8.30 and 14.00. Click here for the article I wrote about this lovely fresh grocery and food market.
The Chilehaus by night is a must see. This building in the neighbourhood Kontorhausviertel is pretty and the Germans also call it Bügeleisen (iron) because it looks a bit like one.
Miniatur Wonderland. World’s largest model railway in Hamburg, Germany. Click here for all the information about tiny Hamburg inside Hamburg.
Visit a Christmas market, when you travel to Hamburg in November-December. It’s lovely. Click here for the full article I wrote about those typical German ‘Weihnachtsmarkten’.
The Rathaus on the Rathaus square. A very pretty and majestic sandstone building, where the Parliament plan their meetings. We did enjoy the Christmas market on this square (Rathausplatz) the most of all Christmas markets, I think. It’s close to the Binnenalster and to the shopping center of Neuer Wall.
Inside the Rathaus it looks like this. Nice detail: the Rathaus is built on top of over 4000 oak wooden posts.
Visit the neighbourhood Eppendorf. It’s chic, upmarket and pretty. Combine with a visit to Isemarket, and walk from there via Klosterallee towards Falkenried, to see or visit the Marsbar at the former ‘Fahrzeugwerke Falkenried’ factory grounds. Walk from there to Eppendorfer Weg and Eppendorfer Landstraße. Finish with a glass of wine at Polettos Winebar.
Walk through and shop a bit in the Marktstraße in the neighbourhood Karoviertel (close to Karolinenplatz). The shops in this Marktstraße are creative and a bit edgy. It’s also very close to the Saturday vintage market near the old slaughterhouse, and close to Pauline’s Cafe and Bistro.
Have a look at the interesting building of the old abattoir/slaughterhouse. On Saturdays the vintage market is held here.
Visit the Elbphilharmonie. Thé symbol of Hamburg since 2015. Besides the concert hall with the beautiful acoustic (thanks to the shape of the building) there is also an hotel, apartments and a car parking in this massive building with the iconic roof.
Enjoy street art. There is a lot of it in Germany. Berlin has the most I think, but in Hamburg you see street art more and more too. I like!
Speicherstadt. By far my most favourite part of Hamburg. Nowhere else in Hamburg does time seem – at first glance – to have stood still more than in the historic warehouse district, the Speicherstadt. Yet behind red brick buildings and between the canals, narrow alleyways and countless bridges, life pulsates like in hardly any other district in the Hanseatic city. Here, within just a stone’s throw of the HafenCity, history meets with cosmopolitanism, and the past with futuristic visions.
HafenCity. Thé harbour city of germany. The future. With it’s most iconic building of the Elbhilharmonie, and with the boats, water, harbours, modern buildings and older buildings, there is an atmosphere of its very own here. I highly recommend you to go for a walk through HafenCity, and combine it with the Speicherstadt walk.
The Reeperbahn. While this night life street was years ago a no-go area full of sex tourism and dangerous places, nowadays it’s safe and fun to go there and have a look. It’s one of the most famous streets of Hamburg, and therefore it must be part of your whole Hamburg experience. You have to see it, and, nowadays it’s not only bars, clubs and cafés. The area around this street becomes more and more a work class neighbourhood with new houses and apartments, nice coffee bars and lunch restaurants. In the evening Reeperbahn is still loud and busy, but it’s not only about sex shows and dodgy places. There are many music cafés too, where young creative musicians and singer-songwriters get a chance to sing, play guitar or piano.
Shop till you drop. Hamburg has many shopping areas: Mönckenbergstraße, Jungfernstieg and the area around the Rathausplatz (including Europa Passage and Gänsemarkt) is the main shopping area, with the big well known shops as Zara, Esprit, &Other stories, Closed (love that shop!) and a huge Asics Runner’s shop (great!). Neuer Wall is the shopping area for designer brands and expensive branding shops, think: Louis Vuitton, Prada and Chanel. The more creative, cheaper shops and vintage finds are near Marktstraße and Karolinenplatz.
Binnenalster and Außenalster (‘inner Alster and outside Alter’), the two waters/lakes of Hamburg. The water from the river Alster comes together above the city in a big lake (Außenalster). It’s a great place for sailing, swimming and walking/running around it during summer and spring time. In the winter, IF it’s really cold and the water becomes ice, this is thé place for ice-skating. The much smaller Binnenalster is close to the shopping area around the Rathaus square, Neuer Wall, Europa Passage and Jungfernstieg. It’s a nice open water that makes the center a bit more spacious and organised, I think. You can do boat tours to Binnen and Außenalster, Hafencity and Elbe river. All boat tours and river tours start from Landungsbrücken – thé terminal since many years for boats, passagiers, tourists, but also for international shipping traffic and maritime.
Churches. There are quite a lot of them in Hamburg: St. Petri, St. Jakobi, the Dreieinigkeitskirche and not to forget the most famous of all: Hauptkirche St. Michael. This one is loved by the locals and from the top (inside the tower) you have a fantastic view over the city.
How to get around
The U-bahn is the metro from Hamburg, the way to get around the city. The Germans have a well developed public transport system here in Hamburg: It’s fast, it’s cheap and it’s convenient. The U-bahn in Hamburg is both an underground and overground, depend on what like you’re on. The system works on a proof of payment check. There are no gates or check-in ports. You can just buy a all-in public transport ticket for the day and hop on and off as many U-bahns, trains and busses as you like.
Where to Stay
Where to sleep? We stayed at the Hapimag resort, Steinstraße. It’s a time sharing apartment place so one can only stay here when you are member. Other nice places to stay in Hamburg are the HENRI boutique hotel or the Steigenberger hotel Hamburg.
With this easy and practical map you can look up all my
personal Hamburg Hotspots, and use it during your city trip!
All hotspots in this article & some extra can be found here. Also,
you can copy and save this map to your own Google Maps
to make life easier. Click on the star-icon to do so.
Have fun in Hamburg & until next time!
*Note: I have not been asked, paid or invited to write about Hamburg. It was my own idea. All images are mine, made with a Canon EOS M3 camera or an iPhone6.