by Janis on 18th December 2018 / 0 comments

A visiting to Hamburg at Christmas

Watch for Santa taking flight in his sleigh!!

Leaving Berlin in our rearview mirror, we’re heading north to Hamburg, our third destination on our 2018 German Christmas market road trip.

Perhaps not the most exciting journey en-route, but, hey we’re heading to Hamburg, and all is looking promising, chocolate delights, bratwurst & glühwein, perfect.

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Where is Hamburg?

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Exploring Hamburg at Christmas

Just a few of Hamburg’s Christmas markets

The hotel we’d chosen was in a great location, just around a five-minute walk and we’re straight into our first Christmas Market at St Peter’s Church, this was going to be fun.

What better way to start than with a bit of sustenance to keep you going.

A close-up of four little frankfurter style sausages in a bun in a paper tray on the Hamburg Christmas markets
Four sausages  - a little Hamburg snack
Two steaming decorative red mugs of glühwein on the St Peter's Hamburg Christmas markets
The first glühwein
The Christmas market encircling St Peter’s church was charming, slightly on the smaller side; however, it still ticked all the boxes for entertainment, gifts and cuisine.
A Christmas market stall offering a large selection of Chocolate kisses in Hamburg
Stall of chocolate kisses

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Discovering Hamburg's Christmas Market

Ho Ho Ho – Santa’s at the Rathaus
Just around the corner from St Peter’s church is Hamburg’s incredible Rathaus. This is a stunning building, and even with all the festivities unravelling at its feet, you can’t be distracted from this lovely backdrop.
The decorative illuminated entrance gates to Hamburg's Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas market with the Rathaus tower in the background.
An entrance to the Rathuas market
The decorative illuminated entrance gates to Hamburg's Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas market at night with the Rathaus tower in the edge of the shot.
The entrance at night
Gary and I instantly loved this market, it was bustling full of people, young and old, all enjoying themselves. We felt like we had found another city potentially on par with Cologne, in regards to its festive fun (although time will tell).
People walking between rows of Christmas huts in the Weihnachtsmarkt in Hamburg late in the evening.
The Christmas market stalls
So there we were enjoying a lovely hot glühwein when there was a little commotion outside the cabin, and everyone was looking up. Suddenly, Santa had taken to the skies.
A real Santa is sitting in a sleigh drawn by four plastic reindeer that 'flies' above the Rathaus market in Hamburg.
Santa and his reindeer
I must admit initially I thought Santa was a mannequin or a model figure and then he stood up and addressed the crowds below with a Christmas story.
Santa in his sleigh, pulled by his reindeer, soaring above the Hamburg Christmas Market with a church tower in the background.
Santa really does fly!
Unfortunately, due to my lack of German, I couldn’t quite understand what he was saying.

Good to know

Father Christmas flies across the sky every evening at 4pm, 6pm & 8pm.

Hamburg's White Christmas Market

Weißerzauber
Then there’s the white market ‘Weißerzauber’, which runs alongside Binnenalster (lake). Floating in the centre of the lake is a very sparkly Christmas tree.
The entrance to Hamburg's weißerzauber Christmas market
The White Market
All around this area are beautifully decorated shops and streets, no expense has been spared. The Weißerzauber market had a modern nautical feel about it and had some really attractive unusual gifts.
A view of the Speicherstadt warehouse district of Hamburg at dusk. You look down the canal to the water castle with red brick buildings on either side with illuminated balconies.
Attractive white huts

- Where to eat & drink in Hamburg

If feasting on the Christmas Markets is not enough, or you want to take the weight off your feet then you can try these out.

Hamburg's Gingerbread Christmas Market

Gänsemarkt
The Christmas market in Gänsemarkt was really quite cute, we had never seen a market with the gingerbread house theme before.
Gingerbread styled cabins in Hamburg's Gänsemarkt Christmas Market
Entrance at Gänsemarkt
We visited this market mid-afternoon, so the revelries hadn’t quite kicked off for the day. Although during the daytime it’s a good opportunity to have a closer look at the markets. It’s also a lot easier to grab a glühwein.
Gingerbread styled cabins in Hamburg's Gänsemarkt Christmas Market
Gingerbread House huts at the Gänsemark

Our Tip

There are more Christmas markets dotted around the city, if time is not on your side, you may have to pick and choose which ones to visit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to see them all.

Winter World in Hamburg at Christmas

Winterwald
Winterwald market is in Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz, we strolled into this market early evening, and it was already fairly busy. What I enjoy about the markets is that they’re appreciated by locals as well as visitors, everyone enjoying a few drinks together.
An impressive two-storey decorated food hut in Hamburg's Winterwald Christmas Market
Sweet treats on the market
What was also great here was that there was live music being played in a section of the market, it was free for everyone to enjoy, but you’d be lucky if you got very close.
Looking across the heads of the crowd in the Winterwald Market to the Forsthaus drinks hut.
Local enjoying a couple of tipples
So many goodies to be had again, it’s too hard to resist at times.
A close-up of gingerbread cookies hanging from a stall in Hamburg's Winterwald Christmas Market
Gingerbread hearts
A water wheel in front of a Christmas tree under a canopy of lanterns in Hamburg's Winterwald Christmas Market
The Waterwheel in the Winterwald

Why not?

Start creating your own German Christmas Market adventure. Search for your flights in one easy place with ebookers.com. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

Or alternatively, like us discover a few of Germany’s Christmas markets on a road trip. If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle.

Although, if you’re unable to bring your own car or you are flying into this lovely country give Rental Cars a go. They search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals.

The streets of Hamburg at Christmas

Spitalerstraße
Spitalerstraße was a bit more of a foodie Christmas market and once again really pleasant.
A row of Christmas huts along Spitalerstraße in Hamburg
Cabins on Spitalerstraße
It ran along a pedestrian street that leads up to the station.
A large illuminated Christmas tree behind a stall in Hamburg's Spitalerstraße Christmas Market
Sharing a glühwein on Spitalerstraße Market
So handy for grabbing those last-minute gifts before you jump on the train.

Be prepared

Comfy shoes and warm layers are a must.

Our video of Hamburg at Christmas

The Christmas Markets experience through our eyes

We have created a little YouTube video of Hamburg at Christmas, why not check it out.

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

If you've yet to discover Hamburg, then let’s start planning. I find these DK Travel Guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

Discover more of Hamburg

A city to be explored and enjoyed
This was our first visit to Hamburg, so we were keen to see a bit more of the city other than the Christmas markets. And what better place to start than at Chilehaus, designed by German architect Fritz Höger.
The beautiful curves of the brick-built, Chilehaus office building, From the 1920s.
The outside of Chilehaus buildings
The 1920’s architecture of this building is incredible, it has such beautiful lines. You must walk through the centre to really appreciate the detail.
The inside courtyard of the art deco Chilehaus building in Hamburg
Chilehaus inner courtyard

Did you know?

Hamburg’s Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A must-see in Hamburg

Speicherstadt
We strolled over to Speicherstadt, Hamburg’s iconic warehouse district. This is once again a fantastic area for some amazing architecture.
A view of the Speicherstadt warehouse district of Hamburg. You look down the canal to the water castle with red brick buildings on either side.
A view along Speicherstadt

Rows and rows of red brick warehouses interlaced with meandering canals, some of the facades are wonderful.

It’s a charming area just to wander around and take it all in.

Where to stay in Hamburg

- Adina Apartment Hotel Hamburg Speicherstadt - A pleasant, modern hotel on the edge of Hamburg's Speicherstadt district. Central for most amenities
Iconic buildings in the Speicherstadt warehouse district of Hamburg.
Iconic warehouses in Hamburg
A view of the Speicherstadt warehouse district of Hamburg.
Speicherstadt warehouses
We wandered further along to the end of the vast warehouses and was greeted by the incredible Elbe Philharmonic.
The Elbphilharmonie on an island in Hamburg's Harbour with its red brick base and the unique glass upper levels of this impressive concert hall.
Elbe Philharmonic

This eye-catching concert hall which was designed by the architectural company Herzog & de Meuron and was opened in 2017.

Hamburg’s harbour is continually working, with boats coming and going all time, it’s a busy old place.

A view of Hamburg's bustling harbour with its mix of different ships & boats
Hamburg harbour

We enjoyed Hamburg so much...

... we returned a year later to discover the city before the Christmas Market festivities appeared.

We spent 36 hours in Hamburg and our fondness for this city only grew.

I know we will return again

Not to be missed in Hamburg

Miniature Wonderland
Well, I never thought I would be visiting a model railway while in Hamburg. When enjoying a glühwein the previous day, we got chatting to a British family, and they recommended visiting Miniatur Wunderland.
A model scene from Miniature Wonderland depicting the red brick warehouses of the Speicherstadt district with train tracks running alongside in front of the old Harbour building.
Speicherstadt in the Model Village

Never ones to turn down a recommendation we sought it out and it was in the Speicherstadt district. Some of the warehouses around this area have been converted for different uses, offices, museums and one conceals Miniature Wonderland.

Perhaps not initially my cup of tea; however, the work and incredible detail that has gone into creating the miniature world is amazing.

The impressive scaled-down version of an airport in Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg's Speicherstadt district
The airport in the model world
They have recreated different regions of the world and iconic sights and sounds. As you wander around, there are interactive buttons to set off little displays, and every so often the lights are dimmed throughout the museum and night-time descends upon the model world.
The Las Vegas section in Miniatur Wunderland, illuminated during its night phase, in Hamburg's Speicherstadt district
Vegas at night in the Model World
If you are interested in Miniatur Wunderland, why not look at our post dedicated to the experience for more details of what you will discover.

Our Tip

Drop your coat off in the cloakroom, it does get busy and hot inside Miniature Wonderland.

St Nicholas’ Church, Hamburg

Memories of a darker time
We headed back across the canal to St Nicholas’ Church, now just the neo-gothic tower remains. However, this church holds a significant part of Hamburg’s history and houses a museum beneath.
Looking up at the tower of bombed of St Nikolai-church tower from the nave. This ruined church has now become a memorial and museum to the bombing of Hamburg during the Second World war.
St Nicholas’ Church tower
The Ordeal, by Edith Breckwoldt. A bronze statue of a barefooted man sitting on a pile of bricks with his head in his hands.
The Ordeal sculpture in memory of Sandbostel

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