Things to do in Hamburg

Overshadowed by the popularity of Berlin, Hamburg is not a destination I often hear recommended. But aside from the notoriously rainy weather, there is a lot about this major port city to be excited about. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with a population of around 1.8 million people. There are several beautiful historic districts as well as young hip neighbourhoods offering cool cafes and on-trend restaurants. During the day you can wander the shopping streets, admire the artwork at the museums or be amazed at the world’s largest miniature attraction, Miniatur Wunderland. Hamburg is a short flight from the UK, reasonably priced, and relatively untouristy, making it a great emerging city for weekend trips away.


To Stay

Sir Nikolai Hotel – Hamburg has its fair share of hipster hotels but Sir Nikolai is the most luxurious and stylish of the lot. The hotel is located between Altstadt and HafenCity on Nikolaifleet, one of Hamburg’s oldest canals. The design-focussed rooms feature beautiful custom-made furniture, and book selections are curated by emerging local writers.

The Westin Hamburg – The Westin Hotel in Hamburg is housed in perhaps the most impressive modern building in the city, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. This visionary glass construction is by architecture firm Herzog & Meuron and resembles a hoisted sail or rising wave. The bedrooms are modern and minimalist, with plenty of light from the floor to ceiling windows.


To Eat

Carls – An atmospheric French style brasserie, located nearby to the Elbphilharmonie concert hall with fantastic views of the city’s port. Stop by for a hearty lunch, everything from the boeuf bourguignon to sole meuniere is delicious.

Haerlin Haerlin is one of Germany’s leading gourmet restaurants, found within the luxurious Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten hotel. It is the proud bearer of 2 Michelin stars and numerous other awards. The tasting menu showcases Christoph Rüffer’s classic technique, love of seasonality and attention to detail. The immaculate service will ensure you always have a meal to remember at Haerlin.

Leche de Tigre – Leche de Tigre is an example of Hamburg’s diverse culinary scene. This fun and colourful Peruvian restaurant serves a menu of exciting and flavoursome dishes from ceviche to grilled steak and seafood. Don’t miss out on the speciality pisco sours.

Klippkroog – This charming eatery is a lovely place to have lunch in Hamburg’s Ottensen area, needless to say it is a favourite with locals and tourists. Sit in the sparse industrial style dining room and choose a plate from the daily menu of seasonal recipes.


To Drink

Milch – Found in the Portuguese Quarter, this retro coffee shop was previously the Meyer family’s milk and delicatessen shop, which they ran for more than 50 years before going into retirement in 2014. Nico Ueckermann opened the modern coffee shop on the site a few years ago and satisfies customers with good quality coffee and homemade cakes (I can recommend the creme brulee cake!)

Less Political – A favourite on the Hamburg speciality coffee scene, Less Political is located in the trendy Schanze neighbourhood. The tiny cafe was launched by Mika Neu and Filine Manthey in 2012 and continues to challenge visitors with interesting and exceptional coffee from some of Europe’s finest roasteries.

Public Coffee Roasters – This coffee shop always features on ‘best coffee in Hamburg’ lists, and for good reason. The cafe interiors are basic but the great coffee makes it worth a trip. Every few weeks the cafe offer a public “cupping” where you can taste newly discovered coffee varieties.

Le Lion – The place for late night cocktails in Hamburg. This classic bar is glamorous and sophisticated inside and the mixologists behind the bar have an encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails, ensuring you always get a top notch drink.


To Do

Speicherstadt (Warehouse District) – The Speicherstadt in Hamburg is the largest warehouse district in the world where the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations. It is a beautiful area to wander round and see the tall red brick buildings and magical parallel canals.

Miniatur Wunderland – Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest model railway exhibition. Marvel at the miniature versions of Hamburg’s greatest sites as well as model versions of some of the world’s most famous destinations. This incredible attraction should be the first stop on your Hamburg itinerary.

Kunsthalle Hamburg – This expansive art museum was founded in 1850 and is one of the largest in the country. The Kunsthalle’s permanent collections focus on North German painting of the 14th century, and paintings by Dutch, Flemish and Italian artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, French and German drawings and paintings of the 19th century, and international modern and contemporary art.


To Shop

Winkel van Sinkel – An eclectic lifestyle store selling a range of unique stationery, design-focussed homeware and plants. A perfect shop to pick up a special gift.

Ply – The Ply shop is found in a former fish smokehouse and has a great selection of industrial style objects and decorative items from the 1920s – 1960s. I loved the unusual limited-edition prints.

Hanseplatte This cute retro shop has a great selection of vintage records and local products. The friendly shop assistants will help you find the perfect Hamburg souvenir to take home with you.

Many thanks to the Hamburg Tourist Board for their help with this trip.

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