I returned from my weekend away in Hamburg yesterday – exhausted isn’t the word! It was a jam-packed 3 days of sightseeing and partying with little time for anything else (like sleep). November is a really nice time to visit the city as, although the weather is cold, there are lots of Christmassy things going on to keep you entertained. If you only have spare weekend available then Hamburg is a good choice. Here are a few ideas of how to spend it…
When you arrive in Hamburg the first thing you should do is walk into the city, get your bearings and take a walk by the water. If you have arrived at Hamburg Haufbahnhoff then it will only take you a 5 minute walk until you reach the main shopping area, Town Hall and Hamburgmuseum. It’s worth buying a day ticket for the subway which costs about 5 Euros and means you can easily explore the surrounding districts.
Hamburg is also great for vintage shopping. You’ll find lots of vintage shops dotted around the centre, but it’s also worth heading to St Pauli. There’s a flea market there as well where you can pick up antiques, collectables and lots more vintage clothes. I’ve never seen so many leather handbags! You should also get your photo taken in the photo booth here. It’s 2 Euros for a strip of photos and makes a pretty good retro souvenir.
After you’ve finished your shopping you might want to head to Beatles-Platz which is a short tube journey from the centre. The Beatles regularly performed at several different clubs in Hamburg throughout 1960 to 1962 and it is said to be the city in which they launched their career. To be honest, when I read about this part of town in the guide book, my expectations were a lot higher. The guide described an impressive sculpture of the band but to me they kind of looked like some sort of bicycle rack! The area is also a little dodgy, being in the middle of Hamburg’s red light strip, so you’ll definitely walk past quite a few ‘adult’ shops and clubs.
For something a little more cultural, you should head to Hamburger Kunsthalle, a massive art gallery right near the main station. Admission is free and you could spend a good few hours wandering around. There are several different exhibitions including Old Masters, 19th Century, Modern and Contemporary art.
As the night draws in head to Dom, the biggest public festival in the North of Germany. It’s great to visit during winter when you can get some hot food from one of the stalls or sit in one of the bars. It’s so tempting just to try everything as you’re walking round. There are stalls selling sweets, crepes, sausages, pizza – everything you could want! There’s also loads of fairground rides so it looks really good when it’s all lit up at night.
If you haven’t stuffed yourself at the fairground and want to go somewhere for a nice meal, I ate out at Frau Möller’s with is about 5 minutes from Haufbahnhof. It’s a really cosy German restaurant with good beer and cheap meals (between about 5-8 Euros) – and they do really big portions!
For a night out, the Reeperbahn is the place to be. Here you’ll find loads of clubs and bars. On a Saturday night Manderlay is a good night out and plays electro in the first half of the night and hip-hop in the second. I visited too many bars to remember them all but one of the bars did have blankets on the seats outside which was much appreciated on a cold night! I wouldn’t say the drinks were particularly cheap, but beer is generally cheaper than spirits.
If you manage to get up early on Sunday morning (or just stay up all night) then you should go to the Fischemarkt which is open from 5am until 9am. It’s located at the Hamburg Harbour and as well as fresh seafood there’s also fruit, nuts, flowers and teas on sale. Most people get there early to get their produce fresh off the boat and you’ll find a mixture of visitors including tourists, locals and people who have come straight from partying on the Reeperbahn.
I would definitely recommend Hamburg for a weekend away. If you’re looking for a good hostel to stay in then I would opt for Generator Hostel. It’s right in the centre of Hamburg, the rooms are really clean and spacious and there is a hostel bar where you can grab food and drink. I found that 3 days was a good amount of time to spend in the city, although I didn’t really want to leave!