This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Hamburg, Germany with some of my fellow Nordic Travel Bloggers as guests of Hamburg Tourism. They’re incredibly excited about the addition of a new UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the many other sights and experiences the city has to offer, and wanted to share it with us and all of you. I spent a great three days exploring all aspects of Hamburg, from the historic to the hip, and got some great insight into this vibrant city. Here’s what I got up to!
Hamburg is a true port city, with the second biggest in Europe (after Rotterdam), so what better place to experience it than from our base in Hafen City? 25 Hours is a quirky design hotel with a sea-dog theme, and perfect inspiration for our Hamburg adventure. First up was a tour of the new UNESCO World Heritage site of Speicherstadt, the warehouse city. The buildings here were built to store the port city’s goods, with the thick walls keeping everything well-protected from the elements. The canals flow along the gorgeous buildings, and the many bridges provide a perfect vantage point for stunning views of this historic area. A striking piece of Speicherstadt is the Chilehaus, a marvel of design, which seen from the right angle looks like the bow of a ship. From there, we headed to the Coffee Museum and Roastery, where we toured the museum and had a tasting of five coffees from around the world. It was a coffee-lovers dream, and its setting in the old coffee warehouse added charm and history to the visit. You can read more about Speicherstadt, the Coffee Museum, and more in my next post, ‘Discovering UNESCO Hamburg‘.
|The Coffee Museum and Roastery
Friday night was the perfect time to check out Hamburg’s infamous Reeperbahn in the St Pauli district. The Reeperbahn is incredibly vibrant, with everything you’d expect from a Red Light District: bright lights, loud music, risqué venues and colourful characters. Even if that’s not your really your scene, it’s definitely worth checking out, just for the experience. There’s even a Beatles connection: you can visit Indra, where the band played before they found fame, take your photo at Beatlesplatz, and even take a tour and follow in their footsteps.
|Flohschanze Flea Market
Saturday morning, I took the U-Bahn to Feldstrasse and headed for the Flohschanze Flea Market,which has an incredibly local feel and some interesting trinkets for sale. As the rain started to fall, it was a perfect opportunity to stop into the nearby Herr Max Konditori & Patisserie. It was a bustling spot, full of locals enjoying their Saturday afternoon, and the goodies on offer all looked delicious! I managed to find a perfect little spot for one, where I enjoyed a raspberry cheesecake and a cup of tea while taking in the charming café and its customers.
In the early evening, I headed to the Altona area to pay a visit to the DIY Night Market and check out the local handmade goods on offer. The market was small, but full of great products, like jewellery, clothing, and gourmet foods. I strolled the aisles, enjoying the community feel, then munched on some tasty tacos from the Mexicostrasse food truck parked outside, before heading back towards the city centre and the Hamburger DOM.
|The Hamburger Winter DOM
The DOM is a carnival which takes place in St Pauli three times a year. The Winter DOM had the flavours of Christmas in the air, with endless food stalls selling traditional carnival fair and German specialties like sausages, doughy bites of sugary Schmaltzkuchen, and Lebkuchenherzen gingerbread hearts. The entire fairground was bright with glittering lights from rides and games, the centrepiece being the massive Ferris wheel with Hamburg’s castle logo in the centre. Despite the wet weather, the DOM was filled with fairgoers of all ages, screaming on the rides, trying their luck at the games, and sampling the goodies on offer. It was a great atmosphere and a lot of fun.
|The iconic Ferris wheel
Our last day in Hamburg, and a wet one! We headed to Landungsbrücken for a boat tour of Hamburg’s harbour, mostly keeping warm and dry in the comfortable lounge of the boat and enjoying the scenery. We sailed around the port, filled with huge ships and containers, before cruising past the beautiful Landungsbrücken piers. Across the way is the Theatre im Hafen, the permanent home of the musical The Lion King, where a ticket to the show includes a boat ride across the harbour! We then sailed past one of the gems of Hafen City, the Elbphilharmonie, a marvel of innovative architecture, still in progress and scheduled to open in January 2017.
|Entrance to the tunnel
After the boat tour, I headed down into the Old Elbtunnel, 24 metres below ground.The tunnel was built in 1911, and is today still open to pedestrians, bikes, and at certain times – cars! The tunnel is equipped with a lift that can lower and raise the cars to and from the surface. I chose to take the stairs, which went down, down, down, until finally I arrived at the bottom and the beginning of the 426-metre-long tunnel that stretches under the Elbe River. The tunnel was surprisingly quiet with ample opportunity to enjoy the space and the silence. As I was halfway along the tunnel, there was sudden singing behind me – an entire choir of elderly singers had come down to make use of the amazing acoustics, and it was a beautifully unexpected experience.
|The Old Elbtunnel
As our time in Hamburg grew short, we headed to a unique lunch spot. The Oberhafen Kantine is located under a Hafen City bridge, and is completely crooked! The floor, the lights hanging from the ceiling, and the pictures hanging on the walls, all on a slant. Your drink tilts in its glass and if you lay your bottle on the table, it will roll all the way down. I wanted to have a truly traditional meal and ordered Flammekuchen – crispy dough covered in thick cream and topped with bacon, onions and parsley – and Frikadeller, a patty of ground pork & beef mixed with breadcrumbs and onions with a side of potato salad and a healthy portion of mustard. It was all delicious, and in such a unique setting, it was a great meal and experience.
|The charmingly crooked Obenhafen Kantine
My final stop in Hamburg was the perfect place to spend a rainy day: Miniature Wonderland, the largest model railway in the world. The Wonderland is so popular that if you don’t have an advance booking, you may end up waiting for hours, or even being turned away. And for good reason: it really is something to see! My visit started in the mountains of Switzerland, and took me though Germany, Scandinavia, and America. The level of detail really is incredible, with movement, lights, sounds, and even a cycle between day and night. My favourite parts were the incredible airport, complete with airplanes taking off and landing, and Hamburg, where you could watch the Elbphilharmonie building open up to reveal the concert happening inside. You can also read more about Miniature Wonderland, in my upcoming post on Hamburg’s UNESCO World Heritage district.
|The airport by night – doesn’t it look real?
Miniature Wonderland was a great way to end my stay in Hamburg. It was a fantastic weekend, and I truly got to experience the many sides of the city, from the historic sites and traditional foods to the lively Reeperbahn and modern architecture. From couples to families, young to old, museum buffs to party people, there truly is something for everyone in Hamburg.
This trip was part of a collaborative campaign between Hamburg Tourism and Nordic Travel Bloggers. They invited me to Hamburg, and provided support and suggestions to help ensure I got some extra insights into what the city has to offer. I’m also being compensated for the trip. However, I retained full control over my itinerary as well as all material being shared, and I will only be sharing with you authentic and original experiences I believe you’ll enjoy.