Hamburg is hot. The second largest city of Germany even made it to the Lonely Planet list of cities to visit in 2018 . And we understand that with the lively harbor right in the center, all the Hamburgers that run out of their houses as soon as the sun shines, and the new shiny almost famous 790 million gain – the Elbphilharmonie. Is it a crown? A castle? waves? Or clouds? Doesn’t matter, it will draw your attention.. We had the privilege to live like locals in this happening place for more than five weeks. Living close to the main train station right in the city center, petting four sweet cats, we had a great time. We explored Hamburg, asked locals for advice what to visit, and we share what to do and things to do in Hamburg in this blog with you.
Red bikes – things to do in Hamburg #1
Let’s get started with the most convenient way to go around the city. We ourselves call them the ‘red bikes’ but officially they go under the name StadtRAD. You can find them everywhere in the city and the first half hour they don’t cost you anything to use them. The only thing you have to do is get yourself an account (5 euro for the use of two bikes at the same time) and start cycling. The bikes are of high quality with great brakes and even gears. You will overtake the congested traffic easily. Don’t forget to download the app. It helps to search easier for the bikes.
I wouldn’t call Hamburg a typical bicycle city like Amsterdam and Copenhagen are. But that is part of the fun if you like sporty cycling. Make sure you drive carefully since not everyone is used to bikes on the road. We didn’t find fellow road users too grumpy. Especially not when I compare to Amsterdam.
Hipster village – things to do in Hamburg #2
For me it is always interesting to know where the hipsters hang out. Hipster places all over the world don’t differ that much from each other. So what you know is that you will find eye-catching interiors, good coffee, interesting art and art galleries and an energetic vibe. Most of the time those neighborhoods are nice to take a stroll and meet for lunch. And that is exactly right for the hipster village in Hamburg. Hipsters, wannabe hipsters and hipsters spotters should head to the neighborhood with the name Sternschanze and Schanzenviertel.
Elbe stroll – things to do in Hamburg #3
I mention this thing to do in Hamburg as number 3 but for me this is definitely my number 1 activity in Hamburg. The Elbe river floating through the city and the always busy harbor make the city so unique. So make sure you experience the Elbe during your visit to Hamburg. Nothing better than heading to the Elbe on a sunny day and join the Hamburgers for a stroll. The views on the harbor at the other side of the river are beautiful from the North side of the river. Start your small hike for example at the ferry point Teufelsbruck and walk the way back to the city center along the river. A big container ship will pass by every now and then and many highlights will come your way naturally. At Dockland you can climb the roof top for great harbor and city views. The cool thing you might not expect about this city; they have real beaches! Dotted everywhere at the north shore of the Elbe, you can’t miss them.
Harbor tour – things to do in Hamburg #4
Do you prefer to see the harbor and city skyline from the water instead from the shore? We highly recommend to admire the city and harbor from a boat as well. There are plenty of organisations desperate willingly to take you on a boat trip through the harbor starting from US 30,-. We suggest you choose the local way of traveling on water by the public transport boats operated by HVV. In case you are with a group of five persons it can get as cheap as a little bit more than €2,- per person. With a 9 Uhr Gruppen Karte you can travel through the city for nine hours by all means of transport. That includes the ferries bringing you almost everywhere.
Strand Perle and surroundings – things to do in Hamburg #5
The ferries bring you to Hamburgs’ best secret ‘Strand Perle’ as well. We barely had arrived in the city and the first thing two different locals highly recommended was this so called Pearl of the Beach. This is where the Hamburgers drink their coffee and cocktails when they are off and are in for a holiday vibe. Bare feet in the sand, and the brave go for a dip in the water. Although it is nice enough to spend a whole day, don’t forget to climb the stairs behind the restaurant. They bring you to small cute paths besides cottages that make you feel you are in Britain. No car traffic but beautiful gardens and skating and sauntering people.
Alte Elbe tunnel – things to do in Hamburg #6
To us it didn’t sound very appealing, an old tunnel under the Elbe river. But because Hamburgers strongly advised to visit this place we decided we couldn’t leave Hamburg without going to the Old Elbe tunnel. I am glad we didn’t! The entrance in the St. Pauli-Elbtunnel building is stunning. An industrial decor with wooden touches, and heavy lifts bringing both cars and pedestrians to the bottom 24 meter under the river. Only 24 meters down but being in the more than 100 years-old tunnels feels like travelling back in time. At the time of building it was a technical master piece and the first tunnel on the continent, now it is a cherished memory. The tunnel is car free on weekends and holidays.
Best and cheapest restaurant in town – things to do in Hamburg #7
Are we going to give this one away or not? Yes we do it. The name of the best and cheapest restaurant in Hamburg is Badshah and she is located in the street Bremer Reihe (#26). It is an Indian restaurant like how an Indian restaurant should look like. Bright TL light shining from the ceilings on your plate filled with the most delicious Indian food in town. And we know this for sure since many Indian families eat their meals here. That isn’t coincidence. It is a small basement, and don’t expect here endlessly long dinners in a nice ambiance. Expect nice food for a bargain. Within an hour maximum you are out again and you can continue your afternoon or evening in the street Lange Reihe close by with a lot of nice cafe’s and bars.
Blankenese and around the Alster for more strolling – things to do in Hamburg #8
Blankenese is one of the richest neighborhoods of Hamburg and located on the right bank of the Elbe river 15 km’s from downtown. The red bike system doesn’t reach all the way to Blankenese but you can easily reach the place by ferry or metro. Bring some extra food or money for food because you are going to exercise. Blankenese is known as the Treppenviertel; “Stair Quarter”. Hit the stairs, peek into the gardens of Hamburgs most fortunate citizens and see the big container ships passing by.
Still not tired of hiking? We suggest you go to the small lake with the name Aussenalster close to the main railway station. While you go around the lake there are plenty of opportunities to drink a coffee with a view on tens of sailboats on the lake, or to eat a very German delicious potato salad. Or do as many Hamburgers do in the weekend, have a ‘torte’ (cake) or lunch at very popular Alex. With lake views as well.
Hafencity and Elbphilharmonie – things to do in Hamburg #9
When you go to Hamburg, you will almost automatically visit this place. Admire the grandeur of the precious Elbphilharmonie and her reflections on the whole neighborhood and even city. The Elbphilharmonie is the new landmark of Hamburg and will attract more visitors to the city in the future. With a free ticket you can visit the Harmonie building via a spectacular entrance. The whole Hafencity neighborhood is worth visiting with it’s great modern architecture, vibrant cafes and playful canals.
Speicherstadt – things to do in Hamburg #10
The ‘Speicherstadt’ is part of the Hafencity neighborhood but also worth mentioning separately since we don’t want you to miss this special place. When you are looking for a historical city Hamburg isn’t the best city to visit since most old buildings were faded away in two big fires. The part of the city that still has old buildings to offer goes under the name Speicherstadt – Warehouse City. The characteristic red tile warehouse were awarded with a spot on the UNESCO world heritage list in 2005.
In this blog we revealed our favorite things of what to do and what to see in Hamburg. We wish you a great time visiting Hamburg. Do you miss a nice spot or activity in Hamburg in this blog? Let us know in the comments, thanks!