City guide: Hamburg

One of Germany’s largest port cities, Hamburg has always been welcoming of visitors from abroad. This is a busy city that offers visitors any number of fun, fascinating activities to do over a weekend break. You may well find that one visit to Hamburg simply isn’t enough.

miniatur wunderland
Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg

Miniatur Wunderland
One of Hamburg’s most popular tourist destinations, Miniatur Wunderland takes you from Rome’s Colosseum to the Las Vegas strip – and everywhere in between – in the space of a few hours. With various attractions to lure in visitors of all ages and interests, Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland takes some of the most sophisticated sights known to humankind and, with incredible attention to detail, lets you examine them from every possible angle. The miniature replica of Hamburg airport always attracts big numbers. And why would people be so transfixed by the building they likely passed through just days earlier, you might ask? Well, every few minutes a new plane glides along the runway before taking off into the sky. It’s a mesmerising sight. The model railway is another feature that will grab your attention. The largest of its kind in the world, it boasts over 15km of track, ranging across beautiful scenic outposts in Norway, to the incredible replica of the football stadium belonging to the city’s own Hamburger SV. To avoid the lengthy queues, make sure to book ahead to experience the Miniatur Wunderland without unnecessary hassle.

Hamburger Kunsthalle
Kunsthalle, Hamburger

Museum Mile
If your the kind of person that likes to take it easy on your city break, but doesn’t want to miss what’s on offer culturally, Hamburg’s Museum mile offers you the best of both worlds. Containing five major art galleries within close walking distance of one another, there’s something here for art lovers of any era. At the northern end of the mile, you’ll find the Kunsthalle, one of Germany’s most impressive art museums. Taking you through seven centuries of art, you’ll find everything from medieval altars to works from some of the best-known artists of the twentieth-century; Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, and many others besides. At the southern end however, you’ll find the Deichtorhallen. A beautiful red-brick building, this museum contains one of Europe’s most significant exhibitions for contemporary art and photography; with works from Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Tracey Emin. If you can imagine yourself wanting to visit each of the galleries on offer, you can buy one ticket that will cover all five here. For €25 you can even buy a 3-day pass that allows you to come and go as you please.

Hamburg Flea Market

Flohschanze Market
Like so many other major cities, Hamburg has found a way to transform the old and defunct into something truly special. Located within the city’s old meatpacking district in the bohemian Sternschanze neighbourhood, the Flohschanze market comes highly recommended. Every Saturday, from 8am to 4pm, where once there were abattoirs, hundreds of individual stalls now stand, selling everything from books, paintings, vintage clothes to incredibly expensive antiques. A visit to the market would be a lovely way to begin a day of wandering through this old city.

Planten un Blomen park and Hamburg TV Tower
Planten un Blomen park and Hamburg TV Tower

Planten un Blomen
Located within the city itself, Planten un Blomen is one of Europe’s finest urban parks. With over 100 acres of gardens, lawns, ponds and ponds, it’s a wonderful place to just wander around in peace and tranquillity. But this is more than just a park. Planten un Blomen possesses some pretty spectacular botanical displays. In the Old Botanical Garden, which dates back to the early 19th century, you’ll find five inter-connected greenhouses. Catering for an exotic range of plants and flowers from all over the world, the Schaugewachshaus greenhouse is one you won’t want to miss. The largest of the five, it’s collection of laurels, olive trees, palms and eucalyptus may make forget you are in the north of Germany, and not the Mediterranean.

Entry of old Elbe Tunnel
Entry into old Elbe Tunnel

Assorted Activities
If you are open to more of what Hamburg has to offer, your best bet is to get on one of the city’s red double-decker buses and let it direct you to places of interest. Once the tallest building in the world, Hamburg’s St. Nicholas’ Church remains a pretty daunting prospect. Almost 150 years old, visitors can ride the elevator to the top of the tower for a view of the city you’ll not want to miss. Built on the River Elbe, Hamburg is also a city with many, many bridges – the most of any city in Europe, as it goes. You’re sure to cross plenty of them during your stay, but the one you cannot miss is the St. Pauli Elbtunnel. Work started on this tunnel in 1907 and instead of going over the river, it went under it. A source of immense pride for the local community, it caters for pedestrians and cyclists – and it’s open 24 hours a day.

U-434 Submarine docked at Hamburg port
U-434 Submarine docked at Hamburg port

Given that Hamburg is famous as a port-city it’s definitely worthwhile taking a boat tour around a structure that has been 800 years in the making. If the Elbtunnel has given you a taste for adventure, why not visit the Soviet submarine that has found a permanent resting place on the Hamburg docks. Giving you some idea of what life is like operating beneath sea level, it’s not necessarily one for the claustrophobic. If you can’t think of Hamburg without recalling the time spent here by the Beatles in the early 1960s, why not join Stefanie Hempel on her highly-rated tour throughout the city; following in the tracks of John, Paul, George & Ringo.

Food & Drink

German beer

Brachmann’s Galeron Restaurant
If you’ve ever found yourself walking around Dublin’s city-centre and noticing a sticker (usually on a lamppost) promoting something called ‘St. Pauli’, Hamburg is where the origin of this strange practice lies. Loaded with allusions toward left-leaning politics, St. Pauli is one of the city’s local sports clubs. One of Hamburg’s more edgier neighbourhoods, St. Pauli is, nevertheless, considered the heart and soul of Hamburg. With pubs like the Jolly Roger and Old Sailor offering beer and shots of rum for €2, there are also some incredibly sophisticated, innovative restaurants on offer too. Brachmann’s Galeron restaurant happens to be one of the finest. With its locally themed and sourced menu, its plentiful offerings of hearty food come at very competitive prices. More intriguing still, if you find yourself visiting anytime between Thursday to Saturday, a lively Whiskey Bar beneath the restaurant will be waiting for you.

Altes Madchen Brewhouse
Whatever your tastes, Hamburg will have something to offer. While it will surprise nobody that the German people love their beer, Hamburg has plenty to offer those who fancy themselves as something of a connoisseur. If you like the idea of trying some homemade beers in a local brewery, Altes Madchen Brewhouse might be just what you’re looking for. With its in-house brewer, Ratsherrn, you’ll have half a dozen ales to choose from on tap. Taking their beer very seriously, there very own in-house experts can direct you toward one (or more) of 60 different craft beers they offer from across the world. It’s not only beer that they have a grasp on either; fresh local food is also available to compliment your drinking choices. If you are visiting in winter, the scene in Altes Madchen Brewhouse will be all the more spectacular. With a roaring log fire for you to sit around, you could find yourself spending longer than you expected, sipping on innovative local beers.

Book your adventure in Hamburg.

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