So last year I went on a big fat summer holiday and unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to upload my travel diary, but it’s never too late, so here it is.
The beautiful city of Hamburg was first on my list. You must be wondering why Hamburg? Well, I planned my trip around Tomorrowland (the music festival in Belgium) and chose cities that were close by. It was one fun holiday where my husband and I explored so many cities and small towns: Hamburg-Amsterdam-Tomorrowland(Antwerp)- Bruges- Ghent- Baden Baden (Black Forest Germany)- Colmar France( read review here)
Coming back to Hamburg, I have to admit that I absolutely loved the vibe of this city. With the coolest harbours, a zillion canals, amazing eateries, vibrant neighbourhoods and the craziest red light district, Germany’s second largest city is surely worth a visit!
Choosing Hotel Locations:
You could choose your hotel location depending on the kind of activities you’re interested in and also your budget. The best areas in Hamburg to stay are:
Neustadt (New town)- This area is packed with famous landmarks, churches and the Opera house along with some cultural heritages, parks, townhall. Some hotels here are located on the famous Aster lake. You could choose between Scandic Hamburg Emporia, Rennaissance, Hamburg Marriott Hotel, The Steigenberger Hotel Hamburg or Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.
St Pauli– This area is a great mix of entertainment and culture. The North side is much better to stay as the south is more nightlife centric and has the famous Reeperbahn, the Red Light District of Hamburg. Arcotel Onyx, Radisson Blu (where I stayed), Intercity Hotel, Holiday Inn Express, Empire Riverside Hotel, Hotel Hafen Hamburg are a few options.
St Georg– A vibrant neighbourhood known for its bars and most of the hotels are Overlooking the Außenalster Lake, very close to the museums and shopping. It’s also famous for its gay bars! Hotel Atlantic Kempinski, Le Meridien Hamburg, Novotel Suites, Hotel Europaïscher Hof are great in this area.
Altstadt (Old Town)- A great choice for travellers interested in shopping, food and city walks. It’s just around the Hamburg Main Station. Some good hotels here are the Park Hyatt Hamburg, Sofitel Hamburg, Henri Hotel, Barceló Hamburg etc.
Details of my hotel:
I was put up at the Radisson Blu Hamburg, a swish tall structure with stunning views of the harbour and the Botanical Garden. Located right in front of the metro station and a seven-minute drive from Reeperbahn, this hotel was just perfect. The rooms were new, clean and had an amazing view of the harbour. The service was fabulous ( I got a sorry dessert platter just because they got my coffee a little late) Check in and check out was a breeze. The best part about the hotel was that they had bikes for rent. Taxis were easily available, wifi was included and the airport was 20 minutes away. Overall a great choice!
Explore/ Things to do
The best way to explore this city is on foot or on a cycle. There are many places to hire one, we got ours from our hotel. Here are a few things you could do:
-Boat Trips or Harbour tours: Experience Hamburg from a whole new angle
-Planten un Blomen Park: Offering 47 hectares of fountains and floral display, a lake, Japanese tea house, a tropical greenhouse and much more, this is a must visit!
-City Centre: Hang around, shop or just relax in a café along the canal.
-Reeperbahn: Hamburg’s famous Red Light District. Visit this place after 8pm, its so buzzing then.
– St Pauli Fischmarkt
-Warehouse district (Speicherstadt): The world’s largest warehouse district. I suggest you could cycle around to check out the place
-St Michael’s Church: A landmark site. You wont miss this one. Climb the bell tower for a panoramic view of the city.
-Stadthausbrucke: A Canal area good for coffee
– Hamburg Townhall: Rathaus square and Rathausmarkt
– Hafen City: Just take a map and once you locate this area you could just cycle around, its beautiful.
-The Old Elbtunnel: You will find the entrance right at the Landungsbrucken. Don’t forget to check out this masterpiece
– Walk around the Alster River
Warehouse district (Speicherstadt)
With tons of universities and an active nightlife, the vibe is so amazing here. Visit St. Pauli and Reeperbahn(red light district) for clubs, pubs and much more.There’s also a famous skybar, 20up, in the Empire Riverside Hotel. Didn’t get a chance to visit this but heard its amazing. I spent my nights hopping pubs in Reeperbahn. Don’t forget to take a quick walk in the Dollhouse lane!
You have got to try the Hamburgers in Hamburg! I tried the Brooklyn Burger Bar, it was good but not the best. ( I’m a Shake Shack fan). From what I’ve heard, the Otto’s burger, The Burger Lab, Better Burger Company are great too! For a midnight snack try the sausages with bbq sauce at Lucullus on Reeperbahn. Also there is a truck next to that for nutella crepes.
Brooklyn Burger Bar
The midnight eating joint in Reeperbahn
Sausages with hot bread- The midnight eating joint in Reeperbahn
Paella for lunch
What to pack
I travelled in the month of July but the temperature strangely wasn’t very high. In the day it was around 22 degrees and the night was cooler around 14degrees. For the day time I carried shorts with tops and matching sets. For the night you would require a jacket and pants. If I planned to be out all day then I would carry my leather jacket along. Do make sure to carry comfortable walking shoes and a cross bag or a back pack so its easy to cycle.
Weather/ When to go
Ideally the main time to visit Hamburg is between May to October, when its summer in Europe and the city is buzzing. A lot of people love to visit it during the Oktoberfest too. Winters get really cold with temperatures dropping to a freezing point. I loved the weather in July and highly recommend you travel that time of the year. Since the weather is great in July all around Europe, you can combine this trip with some other city too.
The city centre is full of shopping malls and local boutiques. The main shopping area is located around the Alster river. Streets like Hanseviertal, Spitalerstrasse, Mönckebergstraße, Gansemarkt, Jungfernstieg, Schanzenviertel are a shopping mecca for people like me. Jungfernstieg and Neuer Wall boast the most expensive stores. Europassage with its 5 floors and 10 different shops is Hamburg’s largest shopping mall.
Don’t leave without
-A visit to Reeperbahn (the Dollhouse lane)
-Trying a burger in Hamburg
– Shopping (It’s very cheap as compared to Dubai)
-Trying their local food
Fly: You can fly Emirates- a direct flight from Dubai to Hamburg (6hrs 45minutes)
Day 1- Landed in Hamburg at 5pm + Checked in Radisson Blu + Spent the evening walking around the Botanical Garden+ Cafes + Reeperbahn for drinks and dinner.
Day 2- Breakfast in the hotel+ Hired cycles + went to the shopping streets + ate lunch at a local café + Sightseeing+ Ate a burger at Brooklyn Burger Bar + Cycled around the Warehouse district + Drinks and dinner at Reeperbahn.
Day 3- Breakfast in the hotel + Took a flight to Amsterdam
Click the gallery below for more pictures!