Popping up more and more on travel blogs, including Lonely Planet’s recommendation of places to visit in 2018, Hamburg was high on my list of places to check out for a weekend away from London.
A short flight from England’s capital, Germany’s second largest city is the ideal location for a city place- easy to explore on foot, but a lot of things to see and do.
When I found a £55 return fare for a weekend at the end of February, I knew my time to visit the second busiest industrial city in Europe (after Rotterdam) had come.
What to Do
- Wander historic Speicherstadt: Hamburg’s old warehouse district situated over canals is beautiful, worth a stroll to explore and see Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s new concert hall- a stunning display of architecture
- Take in a view of the city from St. Michaelis: For a few euros, you can climb a few flights of stairs and then take a lift to the top of the church tower for a gorgeous view of the city. The church itself is also stunning, take a few moments to appreciate the grandeur
- Go shopping: Normally not one for heavy shopping while on holiday, I enjoyed popping in and out of stores in Hamburg, namely because many of them reminded me of my Scandi favourites in Amsterdam, Denmark and Sweden
- Winkel van Sinkel: Homeware, plants galore and cute accessories. Pretty much perfection
- Granit: PRAISE HANDS. I first discovered the Scandi Granit chain in Sweden a year ago- it’s like a chic Ikea, let’s just say it was love at first sight. Stoked to discover a branch in Hamburg
- & other stories: Another one of my favourite clothing/accessory stores. Even though they’re all over the UK, couldn’t resist treating myself to a pair of earrings and a Moroccan mint tea spray
- All My Friends: Tons of local goods- housewares, clothing, accessories
- B-Lage: A hipster pop-up, but even I’ll admit I was into some of their tote bags and art work
- Take a day trip to Bremen: Known as one of Germany’s most charming cities (actually its own state), Bremen is a perfect day trip from Hamburg
- Enjoy the city’s lakes and canals: Like Venice, the centre of Hamburg is an intersection of canals, lakes and side streets with bridges binding everything together. I visited in February, so didn’t spend too much time outside, but from what I saw, Hamburg would be an excellent place to visit in summer- I’ve heard a bunch of restaurants open outdoor waterfront seating/lounge areas, perfect for enjoying that summer sun
- A few activities I didn’t have time for: City & harbour tours, Miniature Wunderland (miniature model railway display), Chocoversum (a chocolate factory that allows visitor tours), and the Altona fish market (go on Sunday mornings)
Where to Eat & Drink
- Zum Spatzle: When in Germany, I always eat spatzle. This small, cosy restaurant was dishing out the best homemade spatzle I’ve ever had- 10/10 would visit again
- Otto’s Burger: Burgers are mandatory in Hamburg, right? 😉 Ordered one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had here, along with super good rosemary sweet potato fries and an oreo shake. Dug the decor here too, will definitely be back if I’m ever in Hamburg again
- Atelier F: We were supposed to come to this French inspired restaurant for dinner one night, but ended up ordering pizza and drinking wine in our hotel because of some pretty aggressive snow fall. On the to-try list next time, for sure
- Urban Foodie: Vegetarian & super food heaven. If you’re looking for healthy eats (+1 for the fresh salads and sweet potato soup), this is the place to come
- Hej Papa: Came here for a leisurely Sunday breakfast, which proved to be an excellent decision. Curled up in the window seat with a book, brie/apple/honey croissant and fruit salad while watching the snow fall
- Le Lion: Mostly, we drank wine/beer at dinner or in our hotel (Hamburg was a very relaxing trip), but I did pop into one of Hamburg’s best cocktail bars to check it out. Le Lion is known for their gin smashes- I tried the basil one, highly recommend
- Eiskantine: We visited Hamburg in February, and even though it was cold, we couldn’t pass up having ice cream here- on the day we visited, it was packed
- Public Coffee Roasters: Ace flat white, locations all over the city
- Playground Coffee: Awesome spot to hangout and sip delicious coffee
- tornqvist: Excellent filter coffee
- less political: An entire section of the menu dedicated to cold brew? YES, please
- Joe & the Juice: Locations throughout the city, a must visit for great veggie juices/smoothies
Where to Stay
Originally, I’d reserved an Airbnb in the centre of the city. February was a pretty busy month though, and so a few days before I left to visit Hamburg, I decided to cancel my Airbnb and book a hotel- Scandic Hamburg Emporio.
All I wanted that weekend was a biiiiiig comfy bed and blackout curtains, and Scandic delivered on both. It didn’t hurt the hotel was in a cute neighbourhood (nearby Neustadt) and nearby a few U stations and bus stops. A definite splurge (in comparison to the Airbnb I’d booked), but worth it.
How to Get Around
To/from the airport, we took the subway. Cheap and quick. Once in the city, I walked just about everywhere. Hamburg is well connected via subway and bus, but when Google’ing routes, I found walking to take just as long, and in some cases was the quicker option.
One thing to note: Germany’s public transit system relies on the honor code. Once you buy a ticket, you’ll need to validate it and then carry it with you until it expires.