From cruises around the world’s largest warehouse complex to the notorious Reeperbahn,offers a surprising range of city break surprises…
HAMBURG SIGHTS AND ATTRACTIONS
The Speicherstadt is the world’s largest warehouse complex, and the canal-side giant red brick buildings are fantastic to explore. The area is riddled with intriguing attractions, ranging from a spice museum (Spicy’s Gewurzmuseum, 32 Am Sandtorkai, 367 989) to the world’s biggest model railway (Miniatur Wunderland, 4 Kehrwieder, 300 68 00). Speicherstadt backs on to the audacious HafenCity. The latter is currently the biggest urban construction project in Europe – it will eventually house 40,000 people and an architecturally striking philharmonic hall.
Then, of course, there’s the Reeperbahn. This red-lit strip of almost cartoonish seediness is synonymous with the city, and has become a zoo-like tourist attraction in its own right.
Cultural attractions in Hamburg
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BOOK YOUR OWN ADVENTUREThe following sites are usually my first port of call when booking a trip - so I recommend them as somewhere to start when booking your own holiday.
HOTELS: Hotels.com (£) or Agoda (£)
FLIGHTS: Skyscanner (£) Kayak or Roundtheworldflights.com
CAR HIRE: Car Rentals (£)
GUIDE BOOKS: Amazon (£)
TOURS AND ACTIVITIES: Viator (£)
Hamburg is home of musical theatre. The most interesting venue is the Theatre im Hafen (6 Norderelbstrasse, *18 05 44 44), which is reached by boat and looks like a giant yellow domed tent. To take a trip upmarket, Aussie Simone Young conducts the Philharmoniker Hamburg orchestra at Laeiszhalle (1 Johannes-Brahms-Platz, 3576 6666).’s
In terms of museums, the Deutsches Zollmuseum (German Customs Museum, 16 Alter Wandrahm 16, 300 876 11, EUR2) is an unexpected treat. If you ever want to differentiate a fake from the real thing or smuggle drugs in golf balls, here’s where to learn your lessons.
The 3km amble from the ferry hub at Landungsbrücken to the parkland lookout at Altonaer Balkon takes in some great riverside views and some interesting sites, such as the St Pauli Fishmarket plus the bright paint and slogans of the former squatter’s street of Hafenstrasse. Another obvious route is the 7.6km circuit around the Aussenalster ‘lake’ (it’s really the result of river damming). The truly hardy of shoe can link the two, via the green belt that includes the Grosse Wallanlagen Park and the primped gardens of Planten un Blomen.
For a solid overview, Viator sells a EUR30 Essential Hamburg combo ticket which gets you a hop-on, hop-off bus tour around the city’s highlights, plus cruises on the harbour and the Alster Lake. Alas, Hamburg has a real dearth in English-language walking tours, but if your German’s up to it, there are some odd topics to be tackled around the Reeperbahn. These range from the history of prostitution (*41 638 680 311, EUR28.50) to a drag queen-guided exploration of the back streets of the St Pauli area (3005 1666, EUR34).
Budget accommodation in Hamburg
The Jugendherberge Auf dem Stintfang (5 Alfred-Wegener-Weg, 313 488, dorm beds from EUR22.90) tends to attract the school groups, but the harbour views are some of the best in town. Backpackers St Pauli (98 Bernstorffstrasse, 2351 7043, dorm beds from EUR19.50) is close to the action and very sociable, but also clean and with quirky maritime design features. Superbude (152 Spaldingstrasse, 380 87 80, dorm beds from EUR16, en-suite doubles from EUR59) is the budget star however, with bags of personality, arty touches everywhere, Nintendo Wiis, a private cinema and free Wifi.
Mid-range hotels in Hamburg
The location may be slightly inconvenient, but it’s hard to beat the NH Hamburg Horn (90 Rennbahnstrasse, 655 970, doubles from EUR73) in terms of four star bang for your buck. Hotel Hafen (9 Seewartenstrasse, 311 130), however, has a top location at the junction of the city and St Pauli to go with its endearing maritime theme – and rooms start at EUR90.
For something a little different, try staying overnight in one of the original cabins of the enormous museum ship, Cap San Diego (Überseebrücke, 364 209, doubles from EUR95). Even though it’s a novelty option, the rooms and facilities are surprisingly decent.
Luxury hotels in Hamburg
East (31 Simon-von-Utrecht-Strasse, 309 930) is a highly impressive design hotel, with the beds that merge into writing desks being just one of the touches that will have the style aficionados purring in return for their EUR150-plus. For old school elegance and personalized service in a plush townhouse, the eight room Hotel Abtei (14 Abteistrasse, 442 905) offers dignified refinement for from EUR170.
Top value at the top end comes from Hanse Clipper Haus (1 Ditmar-Koel-Strasse, 376 960) though. The well-located apartment suites come with an in-house sauna and are available for EUR132pn – less if staying for a week or more.
Top end hotels in Hamburg
The Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (9 Neuer Jungfernstieg, 3494 3151) is a grand old lakeside dame, and the recent refurbishment has kept the vibe whilst adding modern touches such as iPod docking stations. The rooms are spacious and the attention to detail is superb. Lake views are available for from EUR215. Hotel Louis C Jacob (401 Elbchaussee, 822 550, suites from EUR268) also practices dignity with a contemporary twist. The river views and spa in this old merchant’s house are part of the appeal. For a designer option, SIDE (49 Drehbahn, 309 990, suites from EUR292.50) is very cool indeed.
Markets in Hamburg
The waterside St Pauli Fishmarket is as much about entertainment as it is selling fish. It’s often regarded as the end point of an all -Saturday night session, ending at 9.30am on a Sunday morning. The banter with the market criers and the bric-a-brac stalls elevate it above a regular fish market. The St Pauli night time markets in Spielbundenplatz on a Wednesday evening are slightly less raucous, and have a nice mix of art, knick-knacks and multicultural food stalls. From late November to mid December, the Christmas Markets sprawl all over the city centre, radiating out from Rathausplatz.
Shops in Hamburg
Spitalerstrasse and Mönckebergstrasse host many of the big high street names, while the area around Gansemarkt – particularly ABC-Strasse – attracts higher-end designer labels and the big spenders. For something a little bit more interesting, Marktstrasse to the west of the city centre is an eclectic hive of small independent fashion stores, skater-chic outlets and Tibetan fabric shops, amongst others. For a proper Hamburg shopping experience, however, browse amongst the multitude of oriental carpet warehouses in Speicherstadt – particularly along Am Sandtorkai – the city is a holding pen for some of the most incredible rugs, covering the gamut from the Middle East to.
HAMBURG ENTERTAINMENT AND NIGHTLIFE
Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht (7 Adolphsbrücke, 367 740) brews its own beers – the copper stills are proudly on show behind the bar – and it has some excellent canal-side views. As with much of the city centre, however, it can be a little lacking in atmosphere at night. The Reeperbahn is the place to go wild, but the nearby Tower Bar at the Hotel Hafen is a classier cocktail-oriented option with a cute nautical look and unbeatable harbour views. For something truly absurd, try the marvellous Central Park (277 Max-Brauer-Allee, 433 684). It’s a beach bar, complete with sand and deckchairs, surrounded by parking lots and nowhere near the water.
Live music in Hamburg
The Kaiserkeller (36 Grosse Freiheit, 3177 7811) is one of the places where The Beatles played marathon stints on a nightly basis. Now a model of respectability, it has spruced itself up and has hosted the likes of Green Day, Robbie Williams and Kylie amongst its regular live acts. The Molotow Club (5 Spielbudenplatz, 430 11 10) is darker and rockier, but The Killers and The White Stripes are amongst the bands that have played there. For jazz combos rather than guitar bands, head for the delightful Cotton Club (10 Alter Steinweg, 343 878). The music from this old time cellar bar spills out into the sleepy surrounding streets.
Nightclubs in Hamburg
Golden Pudel Club (27 St. Pauli Fischmarkt, 3197 9930) looks like a shack, but it’s a Hamburg institution, pumping out everything from electro to reggae until the early hours. Hafenklang (84 Grosse Elbstrasse, 388 744) gets credibility points – it’s run by a group of big names in the Hamburg music industry, and picks out good up-and-coming DJs and bands as well as throwing hot-ticket special club nights. The Komet Musik Bar (11 Erichstrasse, 2786 8686) is a place where only serious vinyl-lovers man the decks, and the music policy is different every night. It might be ska, it might be surf rock, it might be hip hop…
Coffee-lovers will drool themselves into a frenzy at the Speicherstadt Kafferosterei (5 Kehrweider, 3181 6161). Here staff empty hessian sacks of beans from Guatemala, Sumatra, India and more into smaller packets – and some of the fresh-off-the-boat good stuff is served in the café alongside naughty cakes. Café Paris (4 Rathausstrasse, 3252 7777) is a splendid old-style art deco option in the city centre, while Don’t Tell Mama (41 Paul-Roosen-Strasse, 3864 3702) offers a cutesy escape from the St Pauli bedlam. There are leopard-print couches to sit on, and old cookbooks to read as you tuck into the world-beating cheesecake slices.
The Markthall (Am Sandtorkai 23) in Speicherstadt has been essentially turned into a posh food court – round the world flavours compliment the obligatory bakery. Otherwise, the Mö-Grill stall outside the Mönckebergstrasse U-Bahn station is hugely popular, which is unsurprising given its bewildering array of sausage options. These include one wurst that’s 100% bison. If you fancy fishy rather than meaty, head round the corner to Daniel Wischer (12 Spitalerstrasse, 32 52 58 15). A rather delicious fishburger and potato salad is yours for under EUR5.
Best restaurants in Hamburg
Küchenwerkstatt (1 Hans-Henny-Jahnn-Weg, 22 92 75 88) is the latest addition to Hamburg’s surprisingly large Michelin-star club. The setting – it’s in a former ferry house – may be old, but the emphasis is on creative, contemporary dishes and degustation dinners cost between EUR45 and EUR126 depending on the number of courses. Also boasting a Michelin star is Le Canard Nouveau (139 Elbchausee, 8812 9531, mains from EUR35) where chef Ali Güngörmüs presents inventive Mediterranean dishes with flair. Tafelhaus (17 Neumühlen, 892 760) has arguably the best rep, however, concentrating largely on fish dishes, and charging from EUR61 for three courses.
HAMBURG TRAVEL INFORMATION
Hamburg travel tip
Hamburg’s city centre – barring a couple of tiny pockets – has the atmosphere of a remote graveyard at night while the area around the Reeperbahn swings too far the other way with its all-out enforced fun. If you’re the type that likes to hang out and get a proper feel for the city rather than see sights, it pays to venture away from the obvious. Schanzenviertel to the north-west of the city centre has a slightly student, grungy vibe, while St Georg to the north-east is more multicultural and Ottensen further west on the Elbe River is relaxed but lively enough to have a distinct scene.
The currency is the Euro.
The country code is +49 and the Hamburg city code is 40. To call any of the numbers listed from abroad, put in 00 11 49 40 first. If marked with an asterisk, drop the 40 – they’re not a Hamburg number.