Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Hamburg Germany
one of the many canals of Hamburg
Tell us a little about Hamburg and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel there.
Hamburg is one of the three cities in Germany with over one million inhabitants. It has the biggest seaport in Germany and is such a charming and chic metropolis. It is this certain atmosphere Hamburg exudes that makes you want to wear your best clothes, wander the streets, sit down for coffee and cake and simply feel a bit…special.
There are many posh areas, boutiques as well as restaurants and cafés. If you feel like spending money, look no further. I have been to Hamburg numerous times – for weekend getaways or simply a few relaxed Saturdays – due to the fact that it only takes about an hour by car from where I live to get there. Whether it is with my family, a friend or boyfriend, the Marriott in Hamburg’s heart is a 5 star hotel close to all the amenities as well as shopping area and restaurants. You won’t be disappointed, for the Marriott makes your heart flutter.
What makes Hamburg a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
First of all, Hamburg itself is glamorous. There are so many fancy hotels and bars as well as entertainment possibilities that there is something for everyone. You probably wouldn’t know where to start. Also, Hamburg is different, for it is located right at the river Elbe, which means that there are quite a few hotels, restaurants etc. offering a stunning view on the river or port, which adds to a great atmosphere. Moreover, don’t miss a boat trip. They give you a different perspective on this beautiful city.
It’s not without good reason that Hamburg is oftentimes referred to as the “Pear of the German North”.
What boutique hotel would you recommend to your friends that are stopping through?
As mentioned before: stay at the Hamburg Marriott. It’s a place which leaves nothing to be desired. The rooms are very modern, yet cozy with a king size bed, wifi and 24-hour room service. A gym as well as a swimming pool and spa offers help you relax and forget the hustle and bustle of the city for a little while. Right outside of the hotel is the so-called Gänsemarkt, with many independent and thus unique boutiques. Shopping, anyone? Come back to the hotel to finish off the day in the Piano Bar or eat at the restaurant.
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler?
You will never get bored in Hamburg. Some of the things you should consider doing are the following, for example:
1. “Call a Bike” and gain an overview of the city.
This is an excellent way to be active while getting familiar with the city – ideally on a sunny day. The “call a bike” concept is simple: you have to register on the internet in advance and then you are good to go, wherever you want to, as long as you wish. The bicycles are sponsored by the German national rail company and can be found in about fifty German cities. Once you have registered, you are allowed to use them all. You will be asked for your mobile phone number in order to be sent the code, which you have to type into a little display on the bike of your choice. There are 120 drop-off stations in Hamburg, which means the nearest one is not far once you decide to end your cycling tour. After having dropped-off the bike, the amount will be deducted from your credit card. It is free for 30 minutes; afterwards it costs 4 cents per minute and 6 cents per minute after one hour. If you choose to borrow it for 24 hours, you will have to pay 12 Euros.
2. See Hamburg from a boat.
If you are keen on going on a boat trip to see Hamburg from a different angle, you don’t have to go far as they start right from there. The Alster trip is an old classic and you should give it a try. Boats leave every 30 minutes and the tour last approximately an hour. With 14,50 Euros per person, this can still be considered affordable. Once you’ve made it to the Außenalster, rent a pedal boat and drift. If you feel like exercising, grab your jogging shoes and enjoy a scenic, “green” run.
even a rainy day in Hamburg is great!
3. Check out the Kiez.
The famous Reeperbahn and St. Pauli make up the so-called Kiez. The Reeperbahn – within walking distance from the port – is not only St. Pauli’s but also Hamburg’s main entertainment quarter. Apart from that, it’s known for its iconic red-light district. Many tourists come there just to get a feel for the “edgy” atmosphere. This part of the city is especially vibrant after dark, when the bars and clubs come to life. Also, the most famous police station in Germany, the so-called Davidwache, can be found here and makes the area safe. You should definitely see the “Große Freiheit” (Great Freedom), which is one of the side streets where you can find most of the music-clubs.
4. Be sure to visit the fish market.
Get up early and dive into the hustle and bustle of the “Fischmarkt.” Hamburg and fish? That’s a must. Fresh fish is even better and so you should roll out of bed early on a Sunday morning to experience the fish market. If you don’t feel like getting up early, have an all-nigh-party and then pay a visit to the Fischmarkt afterwards. You might be surprised at first but it is indeed common that people dance to live music in the early morning hours. It’s only open from 5am – 9.30am (April until October) in the morning but worth the experience.
Where are the best hang outs during the day?
- When in Blankenese, you hardly feel as if you are in a big city. This rather suburban area is located right at the river Elbe and makes this part of Hamburg very idyllic. Blankenese is a former fishing village and the little houses have their own charm. It has become one of the rather posh parts of Hamburg. A few of the houses are located on a hill and only accessible via a staircase with 5,000 steps. The surrounding is beautiful and a long walk along the river adds to a relaxed afternoon.
- The Speicherstadt – or warehouse district – is what characterizes Hamburg and reminds of the active ship trade in former times. It is now under a preservation order. If you are interested in the brief history, then a boat trip through the canal is the right choice as is the Speicherstadt Museum. Also, The HafenCity (or HarbourCity) is a district surrounded by courses of a river and the most significant urban development project in Hamburg. Rather expensive residential property is emerging which is well-worth a look. I can assure you: some apartments will make you want to move to this city. Afterwards, go for a stroll along the port and do ship-watching while grabbing some fries on the go.
- The Binnen- and Außenalster are one of the most iconic places in Hamburg. The Alster is a tributary of the river Elbe and in the area around the Binnenalster, you will find many cafés, chic hotels, such as the Four Seasons or the Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg, and many extraordinary – or even more ordinary – shopping opportunities. Make sure you grab a drink or a bite to eat at the “Alex” as you will have a great view over the Binnenalster. If you are keen on going on a boat trip to see Hamburg from a different angle, you don’t have to go far as they start right from there. The Alster trip is an old classic and you should give it a try. Boats leave every 30 minutes and the tour last approximately an hour. With 14,50 Euros per person, this can still be considered affordable. Once you’ve made it to the Außenalster, rent a pedal boat and drift. If you feel like exercising, grab your jogging shoes and enjoy a scenic, “green” run.
view from town hall
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Hamburg and what are their best dishes?
Have sushi at the White Lounge. I was introduced to this design restaurant a couple of years ago, in the course of a so called “lying dinner.” For all the sushi lovers out there, the White Lounge in Winderhude is a hotspot you have to give try. All covered in white, freshly made sushi and dimmed light – the perfect atmosphere for a romantic dinner. If you even want your very personal space, you can book your private, cosy section of the restaurant with a view on the canal. It’s like a sofa lounge where you can make yourself as comfy as you would in your own living-room while enjoying fresh Asian food. It definitely is a somewhat different dinner experience if you choose this option. I would also recommend booking in advance.
Also, try the Tschebull located at the Mönckebergstraße, which is very stylish and impresses with an alpine decoration. Hearty Austrian food is what they cook.
Well-known and very romantic is the La Luna, an Italian restaurant with candle light. Go for one of their pasta dishes – everyone likes them!
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
It is not a surprise that, due to the fact that Hamburg is such a charming, diverse city that has much to offer, many wealthy people live there in their big mansions. You can find them in the Elbchaussee, for instance, one of Hamburg’s most well-known residential streets.
If you feel like spending some money, you can shop your way around the Binnenalster (Inner Alster Lake, an artificial lake) where many great stores and unique little boutiques are. Also, this is where you will find the Europa Passage, a shopping mall. If you haven’t gone crazy enough – shopping wise – go to the Mönckebergstraße, actually the main shopping district. It’s a shopaholic’s paradise. If you feel the need to re-energize in between times, there are bars, restaurants and cafés around.This is where you’ll find the boutiques!
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
A walk by the port never gets old and is always something special in Hamburg. Beyond that, the Strandperle (Beach Pearl) at the beach right by the river Elbe in Altona is worth the visit. Beach flair, a cold drink, deck chairs and the sundown – what more could you ask for?
In addition, the Cliff in Harvestehude is a posh little place for colorful cocktails and a great atmosphere – including one of the best spots to watch the sunset.
Now the the sun’s gone down, fill us on the best places to go for some evening drinks or a great pre-gaming spot.
Enjoy cocktails with a view at the 20Up Bar. This is one of the more extraordinary bars and my all-time favourite. High above Hamburg and located at the 20th floor of the Empire Riverside Hotel, you can indulge in delicious cocktails. The music and lighting are perfect and it’s a great opportunity to dress up (you are even advised to stick to the dress code), go for a pre-party or post-dinner drink and just soak in the great atmosphere and – last but not least – be amazed by the stunning view over Hamburg’s port. I highly recommend booking a table at the window maybe even weeks before your trip because this bar is always crowded and you want to avoid disappointment. You can, of course, try your luck but there’s only a remote chance that you will get a table.
If you end the night at a fancy club, which one do you head towards?
The Reeperbahn in general is a good starting point. Don’t miss the Große Freiheit 36, the venue where the Beatles and Lenny Kravitz as well as Chris Isaak have performed already, inter alia. The Große Freiheit is Hamburg’s most iconic party area.
What else is there you can do apart from dancing the night away?
Go see a musical, theatre performance or cabaret.This is what I get very excited about when I am in Hamburg. Dirty Dancing, Phantom of the Opera, Tarzan, The Lion King – I am a total freak when it comes to musicals. The latter, I have even seen four times. The city offers a wide range of musicals, theatre performances or traditional cabaret. The best way to make sure you get the evening entertainment you want is to book online. As for cabaret and theatre, the Schmidt’s Tivoli located right on the Reeperbahn is one of the iconic theatres. The Imperial Theatre is also worth a visit. If you feel like being more spontaneous, you can get discount tickets at the evening box-office. However, due to oftentimes high demand performances sell out quickly.
Julia Haase (23) is a German expat and a recent graduate of Political Communications in London. She wonders what this new chapter of her life holds for her and tries to expand her own horizon through travel – on the road with a pocket full of dreams and an unquenchable desire to expand her mind. She is the writer behind The Redhead Story, tweets happily about her life journey @julia_freckles and shares moments on instagram @julia_freckles. You can also find her on facebook & google+ for travel and culture related content. Join her (rocky) journey around the globe and get inspired to pack your bag.
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I’ve only been to Berlin in Germany and knew almost nothing about Hamburg before this- so it was really interesting. The 20up bar sounds lovely! Enjoying this series!
I agree with you, I didn’t know a thing!
Hamburg is really a great city to visit! It’s a shame when I went there it was really windy and freezing, so we couldn’t enjoy the city as much as we wanted. Exploring the canals and enjoying warm cocktails is just perfect! We went to the miniatur museum as well, which is a must stop. We went to nice restaurants, but was disappointed that after 21h many kitchens are actually already closed, so we couldn’t go for German food and had to find something else. Worth the visit though
Ahh I hate when weather interferes and you only have a small time in a place. That’s an early close time. Good to know!
As a German I can say Hamburg is the best city in Germany! I love the people there and the flair.
Totally agreed! I guess it’s not called the pearl of the German North for no reason :) Should maybe be the pearl of whole Germany? Definitely the city to be.
Yes it certainly seems like the place to be. I miss Europe!
Wow the best in Germany. Good to know!
Hamburg looks so cute. I’m dying to visit. I almost went during my trip to Copenhagen in April as it’s nearby, but my sister was desperate to go to Norway instead and she wont the argument :)
Haha one reason to travel solo! Maybe next time you’ll get to go :)
Hmmmm Hamburg is a city I had never considered visiting. Thanks for sharing – it looks lovely!
I love Hamburg, its such a party destination and a very beautiful city!