Exploring North Germany’s port city
The port city of Hamburg, on the northern shores of Germany, is unquestionably a location you ought to be adding to your mini-break wish list. Hamburg has an incredible mix of astonishing history, modern culture, quirky features, and of course, charming waterways.
Hamburg is an eclectic city and embraces its past, present, and future equally. With my fondness for any town, village or city with meandering waterways, snaking canals, or bustling harbours, I knew Hamburg would be a city I loved.
There is so much to see and do in Hamburg. I recommend heading to the Visit Hamburg Tourist Information. There is one located just by St. Pauli Landungsbrücken, and from here, you can begin discovering Hamburg’s delightful riverside and Hafencity.
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Where is Hamburg
How to get to Hamburg
- By Air
Start creating your own Hamburg adventure and discover the UNESCO Speicherstadt district for yourself.
Search for your flights in one easy place with ebookers.com. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.
- By Car
If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and tour Hamburg under your own steam.
Alternatively, it’s so easy to visit on a road trip. Rental Cars search multiple well-known car hire brands and discover the best deals that suit you.
Why not stop over in Aachen on the way?
The Chilehaus is located in the Kontorhaus district of Hamburg, just a short hop from Speicherstadt and forms part of Hamburg’s UNESCO World Heritage site.
The modernist 10-story office building is a wonderful example of Brick Expressionism and was designed by the German architect Fritz Höger and built during the 1920s.
The Chilehaus is incredibly stylish with its sleek angles and definitive lines, designed to represent a ship’s prow. The building was commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry Brarens Sloman who was once the wealthiest person in Hamburg and imported saltpeter from his Chilean salt mines, hence Chilehaus.
Ensure you stroll past of an evening when the Chilehaus is illuminated.
Where to stay in Hamburg
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.
I particularly enjoyed that every 15 minutes, the miniature railway covered a 24-hour period, so whichever location you are in, the museum descends into nightfall. This is great to see when the streets of Las Vegas are illuminated.
Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg is a great place to visit with all the family, even if they aren’t train enthusiasts.
Grab your Hamburg Card
As you stroll west along the banks of the River Elbe, passing by the Elbphilharmonie, you’ll effortlessly arrive at Landungsbrücken Piers.
This delightful area of Hamburg is bustling with entertainment, cafés, and restaurants. It’s a lovely place to sit and watch boats sail by and an opportunity to grab an ice-cream.
The floating piers and docks have become popular for locals and visitors alike to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and enjoy a traditional fischbrötchen.
Also, from the Landungsbrücken Piers, jump aboard a river and harbour tour and discover all about Hamburg’s nautical history.
As you continue to wend your way along the Landungsbrücken, you’ll arrive at the Old Elbe Tunnel, a historic site not to be missed.
This incredible tunnel was built in 1911 as a pedestrian and vehicle tunnel. For the tens of thousands of local dockworkers in Hamburg, this made a significant improvement to their day-to-day lives.
The Old Elbe Tunnel in Hamburg has now been beautifully refurbished and kept in its original Art Deco style, with detailed glazed ceramic tiling all the way through. Dotted along the tunnel are stoneware depictions of fish, animals and litter associated with the Elbe River.
The Old Elbe Tunnel is free of charge to visit. When you emerge on the southern banks of the Elbe, you’ll get a spectacular view across to Landungsbrücken piers and the Hamburg skyline.
Hop-on Hop-off, sightseeing tour
There are plenty of museums for you to visit in Hamburg and appears to have something to suit everyone.
If, like me, you love art and fancy brushing up on your artist knowledge head to Hamburg Kunsthalle. This a beautiful gallery, full of spectacular and captivating exhibitions.
The Hamburg Kunsthalle is one of the largest museums in Germany and has seven centuries of European art on display; the gallery is housed across three buildings.
Alternatively, if you’d like to experience Hamburg’s gruesome and darker history, head to Hamburg Dungeons in the catacombs of Speicherstadt, just by the Miniatur Wunderland.
Or if you fancy swotting up on Hamburg’s nautical history, then visit the nearby International Maritime Museum housed in Hamburg’s oldest standing warehouse. If you love seafaring yarns, maritime history, and model ships, this is for you.
HafenCity Universität station is on the U4 line, and all along the roofline are huge, illuminated, vibrant cubes which continually pulsate and change colour; they are truly mesmerising.
The station was designed by the architectural company Raupach Architekten. The design reflects the evolving nature of HafenCity, caused by the ever-changing appearance of the red brick warehouses throughout the day.
No German city is complete without its spectacular market square and Town Hall, and Hamburg is no exception.
The historic Rathaus in Hamburg stands proud within the Old Town and is very nearby Hamburg’s stylish shopping district and the Binnenalster, the vast open lake.
The City Hall houses Hamburg’s seat of government, the parliament and the senate, which still regularly assembles here.
The Rathausmarkt, the main square in front of Hamburg City Hall, is where various events occur throughout the year. One, in particular, is at Christmas time, when Santa takes to his sleigh and flies across the rooftops of the festive Christmas cabins.
We’ve visited many Christmas markets in Germany, and Hamburg at Christmastime was one of our favourites.
There are so many different yuletide markets to visit around Hamburg. Still, one that is particularly special is the main Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt in front of the historic Rathaus.
Each evening Santa Claus takes to the skies and flies across the wooden rooftops of the festive cabins in is overflowing sleigh pulled by four reindeer.
Labskaus can be made in various ways, although the main ingredients in this dish were minced beef, egg, beetroot and a side dish of pickles and herring. Gary enjoyed it, although it wasn’t really my cup of tea.
In the UK, Scouse refers to locals from the city of Liverpool and is also the name of a regional Liverpudlian dish. Scouse and labskaus are believed to be derived from a hearty stew often eaten by sailors. So, it’s not just the Beatles that Hamburg and Liverpool have in common.
For Gary and I, any trip to Germany wouldn’t be complete without a currywurst, especially standing in a Christmas market with a glühwein.
If you fancy trying one or maybe two of the region’s beers, head to Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht just by Adolphsbrücke. It has a great selection of beers and a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere.
Other places you may like to check out are;
- Restaurant Schoppenhauer - traditional half-timbered Inn where we had our Labskaus.
- Altstädter Stube Willig - a smokey little bar/restaurant, but friendly and great beer.
- Roncalli Grand Cafe - to be honest we didn't go in, but it looked fabulous - one for next time.
- Störtebeker - In the Elbphilharmonie, we stopped for a pitstop & pretzel. Cool, stylish and a great range of beers.
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