In case you hadn’t gathered from the 27438 Instagrams I’ve posted already, last week I spent 2 days (well, 34 hours to be precise) in Hamburg.
Short trips are kinda my thing at the minute!
But yes, despite having only a super short time to enjoy Hamburg, enjoy it I bloody well did. 🙂 As I expected to tbh – I’ve loved every German city I’ve visited in the past and Hamburg was no exception. Ahh Deutschland <3 <3 <3
Rather than bleat on about how much fun I had or do a photo diary kinda thing, I thought I’d give you all the reasons why Hamburg should scoot to the top of your city break list this winter. Because it defo should. Usually I feel in no way qualified to rattle off facts and suggestions after just one visit, but I had a helping hand this time to make the most of a short trip. So here I am giving you my reasons why it’s The Place To Be (specifically for a short break), with a few interesting facts thrown in because I spent an afternoon with the most helpful tour guide ever and feel a bit like I’ve swallowed a guidebook.
I’ll start off by stating the obvious; Hamburg’s position in northern Germany means the flight from the UK is super quick (and cheap, if you snag a banging deal like me heh heh heh), so flying out doesn’t eat into your exploring time. Leaving more time for actual eating. Can’t guarantee the flight won’t be full of drunken hooligans even at 6am, but oh well, was only a short time. Thank god.
Without further ado!
Christmas markets are equally good day and night
At this time of year they’re the main attraction, and it’s pretty obvious why. My first experience of real German Weinachtsmarkt didn’t disappoint! I could totally have gone OTT buying all manner of cute bits and pieces (and food) had it not been for carry-on baggage allowance. Just soaking up the atmosphere is more than enough though. Plus Santa flies across the sky at 4, 6, and 8pm (punctual guy) so there’s that. I can safely say that I, who hadn’t felt the slightest bit Christmassy until then, was in full on festive mood. I would have embraced all things Christmas save for tacky jumpers and tinsel because forever a scrooge about tacky jumpers and tinsel.
I digress. On such a short break (and especially in winter when it’s obviously dark early) it’s great to be able to make the most of early evenings with places that are just as fun in darkness as they are during the day. Much as lack of daylight can be a pain in the arse, I like that on winter breaks you can experience the ‘city at night’ feeling without being out too late, which is especially good when on your own. Just to clarify, this was originally going to be a solo trip until I found out that my bloggy pal Tasmin and her friend Sarah had booked the same flight out – hello gals trip! And I spent Tuesday afternoon with lovely people from Hamburg Tourism too, so was only alone in the evening and didn’t stay out very late after a 3:30am start.
Good food for everyone’s tastebuds
My recommendation for Christmas market eating is as follows: don’t have meals, just eat all day. OK I’ll admit this was Tasmin’s bratwurst that I borrowed as a prop because the one I’d bought earlier at a different stall was a disappointment (one huge sausage and a teeny tiny bun??? Innuendo not intended) but she confirmed it was an A+ bratwurst. I also intended to photograph my mini lebkuchen but I ate them too quickly. Oops. We felt it would have been sinful to buy food from the Chinese and Italian style stalls around the markets so kept to the most cliché German eats (like all good cliché tourists) and I think that was a pretty good call. Also, glühwein. What could possibly be better than hot fruity alcohol, other than hot fruity alcohol in cute mugs huh?
However, if the cliché bratwurst and Glühwein isn’t your thing, I noticed a ton of vegan/vegetarian/gluten free places too. During my short trip I only had chance to check out one restaurant, but my oh my did it hit the spot. Yes to Bullerei‘s menu filling the haven’t-eaten-since-4am void and then some!
Pulled duck burger and a rose lemonade gets a yes from me. It’s celebrity chef Tim Mälzer’s restaurant (apparently Germany’s Jamie Oliver) and the whole menu looked all kinds of yum.
Plus cute chilled interior and instagrammable tablecloths of course.
Street art (and other quirky hipster stuff) a plenty
Never have I ever seen so many painted walls! We’re used to thinking of it as graffiti, so it was really interesting to hear about how street art is very much considered art in Hamburg. The areas of Sternschanze and Karolinenviertel really stood out for this. I thought it was cool to see the old ornate buildings at the top with loads of funky street art at the bottom, too!
Or just covering the entire building and then some, in some cases.
I’ll make now the time to thank Tomas for being a brill guide/walking encyclopedia around Hamburg and showing me both the hotspots and the hidden spots!
Upcoming fashion scene
Much as I wish I could say this dress was mine, sadly not! Mid-tour we popped into Maison Suneve, one of the many fashion boutiques in Hamburg’s trendy areas, and within a short while of arriving the lovely Katharina was showing me the design studio and SS17 collection upstairs. 2 minutes later I’d ditched my jeans and coat and was trying it on. So here’s a sneaky preview! Sporty meets lacy meets Lily’s style exactly. I’m sure that’s just what she was going for.
Takes you by surprise
Literally! I stayed in Hafencity (more on the hotel experience later, the length of this post is already getting out of hand) and the whole area was full of surprises. Starting with the Überseequartier underground station. It confused me because the station I’d been told to go to wasn’t even on some of the tube maps online – I thought I was just being dim, but it turns out it’s because it’s so new. By far the most impressive underground station I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure! The really strange part is exiting to find yourself on a concrete platform in the middle of a port. I don’t know if you’ll be able to see, but I snapped this panorama from my hotel window and you can just about make out said concrete platforms in the middle. Very unassuming location for such a snazzy place! Hafencity itself is still under construction so that explains it. 😀
Cycling around the city centre doesn’t feel unsafe
Until last week I’d never taken advantage of free bikes in city centres, but I’m so glad I did! In the past I’ve wanted to focus on either getting from A to B or taking in my surroundings, because attempting both simultaneously seems like a risky idea for numpties like me. BUT, when someone who knows every inch of the place does the navigating for you, it felt like a fab way to cover lots of ground without spending half the time on a subway. Missing out on these views of the city in the evening would have been a real shame.
Has an edgier side
Apologies that for this one I am only relaying information! This dimwit turned up at the Santa Pauli Christmas Markets and found that buggeration, we hadn’t checked the opening times and they were shut. Which does make sense given that we went to the red light district area at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon… Didn’t really fancy heading there on my own on my only night in Hamburg though! Apparently the ‘adult’ christmas markets are quite the experience though so that’s just reason no. 20801 why I need to go back.
Hamburg isn’t just a ‘pretty city’
Yes I’m including this on a list of positive reasons you should go to Hamburg. Most of the cities I’ve been to this year would fall in the ‘pretty city’ category (Budapest, Barcelona, Ljubljana, soon to be Tallinn(!!!)) but Hamburg has a style of it’s own. I’d call it ‘impressive’ rather than necessarily ‘pretty’. I mean, not that I’ve visited every city on the planet to know it’s unique, but it’s different to any others I’ve seen, anyway. Hamburg’s more industrial, and the Spiecherstadt/Warehouse District was actually one of my favourite areas. Helps that it’s terribly photogenic of course 😉
According to my guide, one of Hamburg’s top Instagram-spots!
Tasmin and I rocking the engaged couple sunset photoshoot look. ;D
Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined, don’t you know!
Tons of diversity between the quarters
In other words, this is the part where I’m gonna add all the rest of my photos that don’t particularly fit under any other heading. I’m embracing the diversity of the city! Each district has a totally different feel so you feel like you’ve been further afield in a short time.
Random bizarre things everywhere – creepy dummy guards, all manner of arty objects fastened to walls, giant sculptures – all very unusual and most definitely a ‘hipster’ city. The kind of environment that does creative minds a world of good.
On my list for next time? Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Reeperbahn red light district (so long as I’m not on my own, it sounds fun!) and nosying in more of the local shops. Feel free to add to my list!
And that’s a wrap. Hopefully I’ve succeeded in convincing you that Hamburg is the place to be this winter! 2 day trip – go go go 😀
Enormous thank you to Hamburg Tourism for hosting this trip!
lily kate x
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