As much as I love telling you all about the trips I take, I think it’s time that I talk about something else today: my hometown. After all, Hamburg is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world! (Yes, okay, I’m biased. Don’t judge me.) Let me explain to you why you should make absolutely sure a visit to Hamburg is part of your next Germany trip.
All this water
Did you know Hamburg has more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam put together? True fact. You can imagine, that means there’s a lot of water. No matter where in the city you are, it doesn’t take long until you come across a canal, a river, or a lake.
The two most important bodies of water are the Alster lake and the Elbe river. The Alster is divided into a smaller part, that borders on the Jungfernstieg boulevard in the city centre. Here, you get some of the most beautiful views of the city. The big Alster behind it is a popular spot for running or taking a walk. In summer, kayaking and rowing are popular activities on the water, and you can do boat tours as well.
The river Elbe flows straight through the city and houses the Hamburg Harbour. It’s the biggest seaport in Germany and one of Hamburg’s main economies. No visit to Hamburg would be complete without visiting the harbour as well. You can take sightseeing tours by boat and see everything from the water, including the historic Speicherstadt. It used to be the storage area for goods delivered by ship and is now a cultural heritage site. Or just take a stroll along the riverside and explore the area on foot.
Hamburg’s new pride: The Elbphilharmonie
Whichever way you explore the harbour, don’t forget to pay a visit to the recently built Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s fancy new concert-hall overlooking the river. Construction was often highly debated, especially as costs inflated at an insane level and finishing it seemed to move farther and farther into the future. Now that it’s actually done, the people of Hamburg have adopted their „Elphi” as part of the city, and it keeps drawing heaps of tourists. There’s a viewing platform about half-way up with spectacular views of the harbour. Entry is free there if you get a ticket at the door, and 2€ if you book online. But be warned, queues can be long, especially on weekends.
And all this green
Besides lots of water, Hamburg also has lots of parks. Planten un Blomen and the Stadtpark (City Park) are probably the most famous ones. In summer you find plenty of people here: going for a stroll, having a barbecue, enjoying the sun.
That’s one thing you need to know about Hamburg. We don’t get sun a whole lot during the year. But when we do, we know how to make the best of it. The first rays of sunshine in spring cause everyone in Hamburg to go outside and take a walk or sit in cafes, even though it’s yet too cold to take your winter coat off. Owners of cabriolets (of which there are a lot in this city) open up their cars and drive around roofless, despite low temperatures. You gotta take what you can get when it comes to sunshine in Hamburg.
The many museums
As we do get a lot of rainy days, it would be very amiss of us not to make sure there’s enough to do in bad weather as well. Why not visit one of the many museums in Hamburg?
A good place to start if you want to learn more about the eventful history of the city is the Museum of Hamburg History. Or head to the Maritime Museum and further explore Hamburg’s connection to the sea. Here, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about ships. There’s also an Emigration Museum dedicated to all those leaving good old Europe to find their fortunes abroad.
However, my absolute favourite is the Miniatur Wunderland. It’s an installation of electric toy trains. And if you think that sounds weird, you are absolutely right. Don’t let that stop you though. The tiny trains drive through miniature landscapes built in painstaking detail. You can even watch planes take off and land at the airport, discover aliens at Area 51 or watch an open-air concert complete with sound effects. All in miniature!
Every thirty minutes the lighting in the museum changes from day to night, to show off all the lights and illuminations. Take a stroll past the miniature Las Vegas at this time, it’s worth seeing. All in all, I could spend hours at this place just looking for all the adorable little details in the worlds they created. And apparently, I’m not the only one, because last year Miniatur Wunderland has been voted the best tourist attraction in all of Germany. Better pre-book your ticket online, it can get crowded.
How to spend your evenings
Still not tired from all the sightseeing, and looking for a way to spend your evenings? The most famous option would be to go to the Reeperbahn. This is the main nightlife district of Hamburg, and it used to have quite the reputation. Nowadays, however, there’s mostly tourists or hen parties visiting the many nightclubs, bars and strip clubs along the street.
There’s plenty of guided tours you can take around the Reeperbahn, from those pointing out the best party spots to those more focused on the history of the place. You can also find concert locations, theatres and cabarets in this area.
If the Reeperbahn is too touristy for you and you’re looking for another place to go out, try the Schanze (or Schanzenviertel). It’s not as big and touristy as the Reeperbahn, and offer a lot of places with a more alternative vibe.
Or go for a totally different option and explore Hamburg’s theatre scene. Why not try a musical for instance? One little-known fact is that Hamburg, after New York and London, is the world’s third-biggest location for musical theatre. Every now and again we get an English musical visiting on its international tour, too. Plus we have plenty of German and English non-musical theatre. So even if you don’t speak German, there’s bound to be something for you there.
VIsit Hamburg and see for yourself
Hamburg can be cold and grey a lot of the time. Just like its people, who have a reputation for being rather cool and reserved. However, once you get to know us we really are a rather friendly lot, just as Hamburg can be a beauty once you look past the rain clouds. All it takes is taking some time to get to know us properly.
Have you been to Hamburg? What did you like about it? Would you be interested in getting to know more of it? Share in the comments!