Perfect Weekend: 48 Hours in Hamburg, GermanyBy Eva Caiden
There’s more to Berlin’s stylish little sister than the notorious red lights of the Reeperbahn. Germany is home of multi-national companies such as thyssenkrupp who are leaders in industrial engineering and steel production. Our round-up of the top things to do in Hamburg will help you uncover a secret side to this waterfront metropolis.
1. Must See: Take in the alternative vibes of Marketstrasse
A two-minute walk from the U-bahn station, (get off at Feldstrasse) Marketstrasse has got that dishevelled Hackney thing going on. The first thing you’ll encounter is a bijoux urban garden surrounded by street art and torn posters. The faded charm continues as you wander on: pug dogs sit nonchalantly in front of independent designer shops. A scattering of vintage and bric-a-brac shops line the street adding to the scruffy, laid-back feel. Continue up to Schanzenstrasse for more of the same plus plenty of quirky bars and cafes. (Photo: www.mediaserver.hamburg.de/S.Schwarze)
2. Must Do: Rent a pedalo around Alster lake
If you want a peaceful respite from hectic city life, this 160-hectare lake surrounded by parkland is a must. Despite being situated in the heart of Hamburg, the pace of life is slower here, punctuated mainly by regular steamer boats, riverside eateries and plenty of joggers. Skip the crowded (and pricey) tourist boats and take a punt on a pedalo (around €16 an hour) for your own private tour of the region. (Photo: www.mediaserver.hamburg.de/C. O. Bruch)
Even the toilets have a view at Heaven’s Nest, the go-to place for VIP cityscape views and cocktails (around €10 each) . Discretely tucked off the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s tacky tourist-ridden red light district, this neutrally decorated, luxurious rooftop terrace is on the 24th floor with panoramic views of the harbour and River Elbe. Stretch out in style in one of the cabanas in the VIP area and sip on champagne cocktails from the Moet Ice Bar. The bar is best enjoyed at night, when the city becomes a blur of flickering lights and Hamburg’s most beautiful are out to play. (Photo: Heaven’s Nest/Facebook)
There’s only one word to describe this place and that’s slick. An award-winning design hotel, east wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Sex and the City. Its 128 rooms are self-consciously cool, but don’t discount the restaurant. Descend the staircase into an imposing dining room, all sculptural white pillars and curves, and a Euro-Asian feast will await. The finest sushi and sashimi prepared by chefs from an open middle island is served up on impressive wooden boats. It’s worth the pricetag. (Expect to pay around €34 for the chef’s special). For those with more traditional tastes, schnitzel, steaks and other European fare is also on the menu, all prepared using local, seasonal ingredients.
This former water tower, set in the decadently shabby Sternschanze district, has been gently restored into something special. Step inside and, after a random journey on an escalator, you’ll be transported into a cavernous church-like building, with huge arches, beautiful brickwork and plenty of cosy corners. Head to the aptly named Cave Bar, with its striking blue-lit bar counter and lofty vaults for a cocktail (around €10 each). The onsite restaurant offers traditional Swiss food at reasonable prices, with parkland views. (Photo: Cave Bar, Hamburg).
6. Must See: Hamburg Fish Market
No trip to Hamburg is complete without a visit to the famous Fischmarkt, in the port. Open from 5am to 9:30am, there’s not only fish for sale in this 100-year-old hall, but flowers, fruit and everything in between. A live band keeps revellers on their way home from the Reeperbahn entertained while the fish sandwiches and coffee will revive your spirits after an early start. Head there just for the halibut. (Ahem)
This 17th century church is one of the region’s most famous and is Germany’s largest clock tower. Make sure you head to the top of the 132m high tower for spectacular views of the city and harbour. The observation deck is particularly special at night time. Entry is free but a suggested donation is €5. (Photo: flamenc/WikiCommons)
Hamburg’s StadtRAD [insert link: http://stadtrad.hamburg.de/] citybike scheme is the equivalent to London’s hugely successful Boris bikes. On a sunny day it’s the perfect way to see the city. Use your bank card to pay at any of the 129 docking stations or pay by phone and pedal away. Free for the first 30 minutes or €12 per day.
It’s all in the detail at this stylish 11-year-old cafe in Michaelisbrücke. The floor to ceiling windows, parquet floor, and vintage tellies at Erste Liebe (translated: first love) make it a stylish spot to stop for coffee or lunch. The menu is small (think simple salads, pasta and cakes) and the coffee is good. Really good. Watch out for the changing artworks on the walls.
Located at the eastern edge of the Altstadt, along with some of the city’s best museums, the Kunsthalle is one of Germany’s most important art museums. Filled with works of art dating from the Renaissance to present day, the Kunsthalle spans two buildings. Highlights include paintings by 17th century Dutch artists Rembrandt and Ruisdael as well as more moden offerings from David Hockney, Jeff Koons and Barbara Kruger. Closed Mondays, entry from €8. (Picture: www.mediaserver.hamburg.de/C. Spahrbier)
Everything about this hotel is based around port-life. From the shipping containers in the lobby to the captain’s logbook in every bedroom (which features interviews from real seamen who form the inspiration for the illustrated wallpaper in the bedrooms), 25Hours Hafencity effortlessly combines industrial edge with a cosy, welcoming feel. The top floor sauna has waterside views while the retro Vinyl Room is decked out with shelf upon shelf of – you guessed it – vinyl for guests to listen to. The onsite restaurant and bar, Heimat, serves up substantial breakfasts, while Thursday and Friday evenings bring live music in the form of DJs and singer-songwriters. Pst: you can even borrow the hotel Mini for half a day’s exploring – for free! Rooms from €105 excluding breakfast.