Hamburg is everybody’s favorite port city in Europe.
Although it is often overlooked by Berlin and Munich, anyone who has been to Hamburg will go on about how it’s one of the coolest places in Germany. This Hanseatic city in the north is low-key, diverse and uber-cultural. The flawless merging of the historic and modern makes Hamburg an ideal urban destination which you’ll regret not having visited sooner.
Speicherstadt is one of the coolest UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the largest warehouse district in the world. Speicherstadt boasts the most fashionable collection of neat red brick buildings lined up along interlocking canals. The chic, minimalist complex of warehouses built in the late 19th century is every hipster’s dream aesthetic coming to life. Walking along the canals and getting lost among the tall brick buildings is incredibly charming and it’s impossible to stop taking photos.
While Speicherstadt is Hamburg’s top historic attraction, the Elbphilharmonie, aka the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, is the city’s modern crown jewel. The concert hall was constructed as part of a revitalization project to develop the HafenCity district and officially opened in 2017. The gleaming futuristic structure modeled like waves sitting on top of an original brick warehouse has become one of Hamburg’s most iconic sites. The surrounding HafenCity development along the Elbe River is also spanking new with a variety of hip offices, boutiques, museums and restaurants.
Eat Fischbrötchen at the Fishmarkt
Can you even say that you went to Hamburg if you haven’t gone to the Fish Market for a scrumptious fischbrötchen? The Hamburg Fishmarkt has been around since 1703 and you can enjoy one of Europe’s most famous fish markets every Sunday morning. Snacking on a fischbrötchen – a delicious sandwich with pickled herring, onions, pickles and lettuce – is a top priority when visiting the market. If pickled herring isn’t your jam, there’s plenty of other yummy options, including: fish and chips and seafood salads. If you’re too lazy to wake up on Sunday morning, there are food trucks near the entrance of Speicherstadt and stalls along the docks where you can munch on a fischbrötchen any day of the week.
Have a Wild Night in Reeperbahn aka the Red Light District
Did you know that Hamburg has the biggest Red Light District in Europe? Reeperbahn is also where the Beatles played in various clubs and got their stripes prior to becoming famous in the early 60s. Despite a few brothels and a generally seedy vibe (which is totally part of its charm,) Hamburg’s notorious Red Light District is more like the city’s biggest nightlife destination. There are more than enough grungy dive bars under the neon lights where you can party with all sorts of rowdy colorful characters. If you feel like listening to bumping techno in a dark room, Pooca Bar is a personal favorite where this author had a great time.
A night cruise is a beautiful way to enjoy Hamburg from the water. At night, the lights of HafenCity and Speicherstadt come alive. The cruise picks you up from the docks then takes you through the canals of Speicherstadt and past the Elbphilharomonie. The cruise is very laidback and makes you appreciate the truly unique port city that Hamburg is.
clouds Heaven’s Bar and Kitchen
For the most scenic and swanky dining room in Hamburg, look no further than clouds Heaven’s Bar and Kitchen. At the bar, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Elbe River and the rest of the city from the 23rd floor. With the views, you can indulge in upmarket cocktails and master cuts of steak from Lower Saxony. As one of the most exclusive dining rooms in the city, clouds is where you go to treat yourself to a swish gourmand experience.
The sweeping restaurant designed by Jordan Mozer inside east Hotel Hamburg is the trendiest place to see and be seen. The dramatic space is real groovy, with sensually undulating columns reaching to high heavens and giant church-style windows. The restaurant serves trendy “east”-inspired dishes, like: Masa Yuzu Taquitos and Sake Leek, and it’s known for serving the best sushi in Hamburg. For a swanky night out on the town, east Restaurant is a no brainer.