Germany’s second city is a fascinating place to explore. With distinct, Hanseatic architecture, lots of green spaces and its location close to the sea, it’s certainly an unusual German city in many ways. Here’s an idea for how to spend 24 hours in Hamburg.
Start off with breakfast in one of the city’s most unique neighbourhoods, the Gängeviertel. Historically a working-class block formed of just a few buildings wedged between what is now one of the wealthier parts of the city, it’s been taken over by a plethora of art projects, cultural venues and workshop spaces in a compact area filled with cool street art and sculpture.
Luckily, just around the corner is Nasch, a fully vegan cafe serving delicious German styles breakfasts with a healthy twist. Take your time to get your day off to the right start, people watch and enjoy your food, or at least a coffee!
Walk directly south through the centre of Hamburg to the north bank of the river Elbe to pay a visit to the impressive Elbphilharmonie, the city’s concert hall and tallest building. This architectural wonder is not only great to look at with its steel and glass shape made to resemble the waves in the river (or sail of a ship, depending on your point of view), but makes for an excellent vantage point from which to see the rest of the city.
Entry to the observation deck is free and makes for an interesting visit in itself through a series of unusual escalators taking you up to where you can get amazing panoramic views over Hamburg.
Turning east and walking through the industrial warehouses of the former dock, now the neighbourhood known as HafenCity (harbour city), head towards the Deichtorhallen, home to an expansive collection of contemporary and modern art, especially photography. Spend some time here browsing through the latest temporary exhibit as well as the permanent collection, getting some insight into contemporary German art.
Time for lunch? Luckily there are tons of options in this part of town for good food. Try Green Lovers for healthy but tasty salads, Pho Tinh for quality Vietnamese food, or Sakura Sushi for just that, all of which are within a few blocks of the gallery.
Once you’re sated, take a leisurely walk past the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and between the inner and outer Alster lakes over to the north and west, ending up at Planten un Blomen, an impressive city park with many different kinds of gardens to enjoy.
While many cities have botanical gardens which require paid entry, Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen offers much of the same experience for free. Be sure to check out the Japanese Garden with its authentic Japanese teahouse at the centre, the apothecary garden, and the beautiful lake that everything is built around.
All this walking sure deserves an ice cream, right? Head west over to Eisbande in the hipster Schanzenviertel, a neighbourhood full of wacky street art, cute independent shops and alternative spaces. Wander around the immediate streets nearby to poke your nose in some of the boutiques and to spot some of the hidden art covering sides of buildings.
Next, take the half hour walk (or just the few stops on the U3 if your feet are tired) down to the river and hop on the ferry 62 and ride all the way out to the end of the line at Teufelsbrück to see as much of Hamburg’s harbour as possible, or just hop off at the next stop, Dockland, and explore the neighbourhood of Altona.
However far you decided to go out on the ferry, head back towards downtown Hamburg for dinner, ideally at Happen Pappen, a cute vegan restaurant, decorated with many plants, serving tasty burgers, bowls and some of the most impressive vegan cakes you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Upon leaving the restaurant, take a moment to notice the Flakturm right across the street, built by the Nazis as a tower from which to shoot down enemy planes, and to provide shelter during bomb raids: it’s really ugly and you can’t miss it! It’s then just a short walk over to trendy Schanzenviertel and to Rote Flora specifically, one of the area’s best known bars and clubs housed in a former theatre.
Check the website in advance to see what parties are happening during your visit, but regardless of what it is, you’re bound to have a good time in this unique, and totally hipster place!
If you’re still in the mood to party, or you want something a bit different, head over to the famous Reeperbahn, a street in the equally famous St Pauli neighbourhood. Here you’ll find all kinds of clubs and bars that stay open into the wee hours of the morning, with every kind of music you can wish for. Just people watching and witnessing the safari of party-goers is entertaining in itself!
This guest post was written by Sam Wood.