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Hamburg Guide: Where To Go, Eat, Drink And Stay

Frequently described as the gateway to the world by its proud citizens, Hamburg has welcomed merchants, traders and travellers for centuries. Tucked away in northern Germany, the country’s second metropolis has a personality all of its own.

Disclosure: I was hosted by the Hamburg Tourist Board, however, all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a copyright of the Curious Pixie. This post also contains affiliate links whereby I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. Thanks as always for your support! See my disclosure policy here.

Germany’s main port has infused the city of Hamburg with its maritime spirit. Today, the Hanseatic City is best known for its nightlife and eclectic architecture as well as being one of Germany’s most diverse cities.

If you ever overlooked Hamburg for its cousins Munich and Berlin, think again. Here’s an area guide to help make the most of your trip to one of the coolest cities on earth.

WHAT TO DO IN HAMBURG

Wandering the streets of Hamburg is the best way to see the contrasting and distinctly different neighbourhoods.

St pauli

St Pauli quarter is famously known around the world for its football. It’s also been Hamburg’s entertainment hub since the 17th century. The 930 metre long Reeperbahn is home to the infamous Red Light District, bars, nightclubs, strip clubs and cabarets alongside top notch restaurants and live music venues.

An eclectic mix, you’re guaranteed a fun night out. Well if it’s good enough for the Beatles, right? It’s where the Fab Five (including Stuart Sutcliffe who left the band after Hamburg) kick-started their career in the early 1960s. Fans should visit the Indra Club and not miss Beatles Platz commemorating their Hamburg history at the street corner of Reeperbahn and Große Freiheit.

WHERE TO GO

Fischmarkt

Every Sunday in the small hours of the morning around 70,000 locasl and visitors congregate at the famous Fischmarkt in St Pauli. It is of course much more than just a mere fish market with exotic fruits, spices, flowers on sale and live music for entertainment. Open 5a.m. to 9:30 a.m it’s certainly a fun and boisterous way to spend a Sunday.

Sankt Pauli Fischmarkt | Große Elbstraße 9 | Hamburg

WHERE To EAT

breakfast – Pauline

Hunt down this cosy French style cafe and bistro tucked away on a residential street. Popular with locals, it’s said to be one of the best places for breakfast in Hamburg.

Expect homemade croissants, jams and waffles and quiches, salads and pastas for lunch. Sunday brunch is a big hit as is their offerings of delicious vegetarian and vegan fare.

Pauline | Neuer Pferdemarkt 3 | 20359 Hamburg | Website

Vegan food – Happenpappen

This popular little vegan restaurant is located almost opposite the U-Bahn Feldstraße. Happenpappen offer a changing lunch menu including salads, sandwiches, curries, cakes and desserts. In the evenings there are also delicious burgers which can also be served in buddha style bowls. Even veggies can enjoy a hamburger in Hamburg!

Happenpappen | Feldstraße 36 | 20357 Hamburg | Website

APeritivo – das standard

Traverse the Reeperbahn to visit Hamburg’s first aperitivo bar. Jasmine Baltres brings a small piece of Italy to the colourful streets of St Pauli. Settle into the intimate low lit, shabby chic venue with peeling walls, wooden chairs and communal dining tables for an unusual concept in dining.

A selection of Stuzzichini (Milanese inspired aperitifs) is served not to order but at regular intervals with every drink purchased. The menu is mostly vegan and changes daily depending on the seasonal produce purchased by Jasmine on the day.

The delicious alcoholic (and non) cocktails also embody the seasonal vibe. The Signature Spritz with Prosecco came with rosemary, cucumber, lavender or pear and thyme. On our visit we experienced delicious plates of toasted sourdough bread accompanied with moreish vegan lemon butter and honey cherry tomatoes; warming cauliflower, white bean and oriental herb soup topped with pomegranate and praline, cantucci biscuit, chai spice and dry persimmon sweet treats to name a few.

Das Standard | Große Freiheit 90 | 22767 Hamburg | Website

food hall – rindermarkthalle

In the meat district of St Pauli a former livestock market has been transformed into a vibrant market featuring a range of artisanal food shops, a grocery store and a mouthwatering food court. This is the place to hit if you fancy sampling Hamburg’s local delicacies such as franzbrötchen pastry and currywurst or some of its tasty multicultural offerings like Cig Köfte Turkish vegan wrap.

You can even experience live cooking demonstrations as we did by Michelin star chef Thomas Imbusch. Despite building his restaurant around nose-to-tail dining, he created a vegetarian menu for his Hamburg restaurant 100/200 Kitchen. We devoured a sublime pumpkin and brussel sprout dish. Anyone who gets me raving about brussel sprouts deserves a medal.

Rindermarkthalle | Neuer Kamp 31 | 20359 Hamburg | Website

where to drink

rooftop – clouds

The famous Dancing Towers at the start of the Reeperbahn is home to the elegant bar and restaurant Clouds on the 23rd floor.

Head to the top for incredible panoramic rooftop views. In the summer the roof terrace comes to life where you can lounge on the day beds and enjoy the Moët Ice Champagne Bar.

Clouds | Reeperbahn 1 | 20359 Hamburg | Website

Hamburg – Altstadt and neustadt

The city centre of Hamburg is formed of two areas Altstadt (Old Town) and Neustadt (New Town). Enjoy traditional buildings to elegant shopping arcades with cafes and galleries and views of Alster Lake.

WHERE TO GO

St Michaelis Church at Night

St Michaelis’ with its cooper roof is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in northern Germany. Heading up a 132 metres to the top of the historic spire is beautiful by day but even more spectacular at night.

A lift takes you to the top for panoramic views of the Hanseatic city. If you’re brave enough you can climb even higher up to the the bells.

Marvel at Rathaus

The neo-Renaissance Rathaus (Town hall) is one of the most interesting city halls in Germany and has more than 647 rooms. It is the seat of the local government of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and located in the Altstadt quarter of the city centre.

WHERE To EAT

traditional – krameramtsstuben

A stone’s throw from St Michaelis church is the historic quarter of Krameramtsstuben which vividly shows how Hamburg lived in the 17th century. Down a small lane are former homes for widows of members of the Grocers’ Institute. Built between 1620 and 1700, they are among the oldest surviving residential buildings in central Hamburg, now occupied by small shops, galleries, a museum and restaurant.

Entering the traditional cosy Krameramtsstuben restaurant is like a step back in time – Full of character complete with vintage decor and low ceilings. Authentic German and Hamburg cuisine from schnitzel to labskaus and a dessert called the Hamburger Rote Grüze – a delightful red berry compote served with vanilla custard, cream and sprinkled with almonds.

Krameramtsstuben | Krayenkamp 10 | 20459 Hamburg | Website

Speicherstadt and Hafencity

The seven storey red brick warehouses on the Speicherstadt waterfront are an iconic Hamburg symbol. It’s the world’s largest complex of warehouses built into the Elbe river between 1883 and the late 1920s and also gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2015.

What to do

ADMIRE THE Elbphilharmonie

Hamburg’s newest landmark, the grand Elbphilharmonie – you’re practically in architecture paradise. The bold design for the concert hall by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron of London’s Tate Modern fame, places a futuristic tower of glass on the shell of a brick industrial warehouse.

Even if you don’t manage to get your hands on a concert ticket, visit the Plaza and enjoy spectacular views of the city and harbour.

take to the water

Hamburg is a city defined by its connection to the water. The Elbe River brings in the cargo ships from the North Sea and the Alster Lake sits at its heart.

The port is one of the city’s main attractions. Head to the floating docks at Landungsbrücken and hop on a harbour tour or how about a cruise through the canals of historic Speicherstadt and the beautiful Alster Lake dotted with yachts and fringed by leafy banks.

WHERE TO EAT

farm to table concept – hobenkÖÖk

Hobenköök literally translates as Harbour Kitchen , the former freight yard has been converted into a 600 square metre dinner hall and food market. The industrial space is split in two bringing a unique concept in dining. It houses an open kitchen where the chefs recreate Northern German classics, giving them a modern and fresh twist using sustainable, seasonal slow-food.

The market sells everything from craft gin and coffee, to artisan meats, cheeses and pickles from more than 200 regional producers.

Hobenköök | Stockmeyerstraße 43 | 20457 Hamburg | Website

Hamburg Original – Oberhafen kantine

This crooked little building next to Hobenköök is a real Hamburg original and the last remaining canteen. Part of the old Hamburg harbour traditions, it’s where affordable meals for workers were served through small windows. Some say that it was in these canteens where the hamburger was created – as a simple on-the-go meal of meat in bread.

Built in the 1920s the restaurant has survived several storm floods which led to its slightly tilted nature and just adds to the charm. The menu is more traditional with labskaus, rote grütze and of course hamburgers!

Oberhafen Kantine | Stockmeyerstraße 39 | 20457 Hamburg | Website

Schanzenviertel

Fondly called Schanze by locals, the former working-class district has nurtured the city’s alternative culture. The last decades have brought about a wave of gentrification, but there is still a laidback shabby feel to the area. The young locals come here for the hip Hamburg scene – cheap eats, lively bars, boutiques, trendy cafes and independent record shops.

WHERE TO EAT

sweet treat – Herr max

A former fish shop founded in 1905 is now the finest patisserie in Schanzenviertel. Herr Max is the place to visit for extraordinary cake creations and the most scrumptious afternoon teas.

There are always vegan and gluten free options and I’m told the raspberry tarts and cheesecakes are swoonworthy.

Herr Max | Schulterblatt 12 | 20357 Hamburg | Website

WHERE TO DRINK

elbgold schanze

The streets of Hamburg are now seeing a third wave coffee movement. Elbgold is the largest and well known coffee house incorporating the whole bean-to-cup approach with onsite roasteries. The flagship store is hidden in a former meat-packing house, just off the buzzing main streets of hip Sternschanze.

There is an in-house bakery too with baguettes, bagels and cakes on offer alongside the freshly brewed coffee.

Elbgold Schanze | Lagerstraße 34c | 20357 Hamburg | Website

St Georg

East of Hamburg’s Central Station is the neighbourhood of St Georg rich in diversity. The bustling and colourful main thoroughfare Lange Reihe is filled with galleries, shops, restaurants and bars, much of which comes from the city’s vibrant LGBT community.

Along the Steindamm shopping street and Hansaplatz square, many shops and eateries are run by members of Hamburg’s Turkish, Indian, Irani and Afghan communities.

WHERE TO EAT

CAFE GNOSA

Café Gnosa draws an easygoing gay and straight crowd in St Georg. The stylish art deco style cafe has been serving sumptuous cakes since the 1950s. Try the pear-cream gateau, Lübecker nut cake or rhubarb strudel.

Café Gnosa | Lange Reihe 93 | 20099 Hamburg | Website

where to stay in hamburg

GINN Hotel Hamburg Elbspeicher 

Located right on the harbour in the district of Altona, the hotel location isn’t exactly central but nonetheless has its advantages. Only 550 yards from the historic fish market, the huge tourist attraction is a hive of activity on Sunday mornings.

The environmentally conscious hotel offers 130 rooms on the third, fourth and seventh floors, whilst the main reception, restaurant and bar reside on the top floor. Dimly lit corridors lead to dark seductive rooms decorated in greys and blacks with custom-made wood-and-steel furnishings.

A wraparound balcony provides great views of the harbour. Perfect when you’re musing over the great breakfast buffet choices and fantastic vegetarian options.

Ginn Hotel | Große Elbstraße 39 | 22767 Hamburg | Website

How to Get to Hamburg

Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel is the city’s international airport, located 9km north-west of the city centre is served by British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair.

Don’t forget your Hamburg Card

Purchase a Hamburg Card to save time and money when visiting Hamburg. You can enjoy exclusive discounts during your stay with free access to public transport, discounts on Hamburg sights, museums, restaurants and more.

For more information on Hamburg head to Hamburg Tourismus website

TRAVEL TOOLKIT TO HELP PLAN YOUR TRIP

Have you ever been to Hamburg? Where are your favourite places? Let me know in the comments box below.

sima

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50 Comments

  • Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi 3rd December 2019 at 3:27 pm

    I love, love, love this guide! * sticks in metaphorical back pocket *

    • Sima Sthanakiya 3rd December 2019 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks love… it’s a very cool city.

  • Afshan Nasim 4th December 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Hamburg looks absolutely amazing! I haven’t been, so would really like to go now. I love that there are many vegan restaurants and the food looks so yummy!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:43 pm

      Yeah I as really surprised. We went to some great restaurants.

  • Samantha Donnelly 4th December 2019 at 3:20 pm

    What a great guide I have not visited Hamburg yet but would love to one day, even more so after reading this guide

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks Samantha. Hope you get to go soon! x

  • Erica Hughes 4th December 2019 at 3:57 pm

    I’m very envious as I’ve been wanting to visit Hamburg ever since I read about it in my school German textbook. You’ve introduced me to some aspects of the city that weren’t covered at school though and I’m keen to arrange a visit before too long.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Hope you get to go soon Erica, it’s a fabulous city.

  • Jenni 4th December 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Wow what an incredible looking city. I have only been once and we flew there and left on our way to Denmark, which is where my husband is from. After seeing your post I feel like we need to plan to go back!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Yes! Immediately Jenni. Get that flight booked.

  • Eileen M Loya 4th December 2019 at 8:55 pm

    Germany is high up on my travel bucket list and your guide to visiting Hamburg just filled me with more wanderlust for the place. The dancing towers is an architectural masterpiece. I would love to see that it person. And of course, eat the equivalent of my weight in all those lovely restaurants and bars.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:40 pm

      Oh Eileen you have to go! It’s such an easy and quick trip to do.

  • Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) 4th December 2019 at 8:56 pm

    I always thought of Hamburg as a rather prosaic place, but it looks so elegant and swish! I love those dancing towers. Definitely on my list now!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:40 pm

      I loved it Nell. It had a real edge to it.

  • Suzanne Jones 4th December 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Fabulous guide Sima – I need to add Hamburg to my European wish list!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:38 pm

      Thank you Suzanne. You do need to add it to your list.

  • Mellissa Williams 5th December 2019 at 7:46 am

    Hamburg is great. I’ve been a couple of times. The indoor food market was cool. Did you go to minatur wonderland? I like the harbour area and the street art

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:37 pm

      We didn’t! A regret of mine. Loved all the street art.

  • Sarah 5th December 2019 at 8:16 am

    I love Hamburg!!! Your post took me back to my last trip there and given me ideas for my next one!
    Thanks so much!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 5th December 2019 at 12:36 pm

      Ohh lovely Sarah. When are you planning on going?

  • Melanie williams 5th December 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Oh wow I am loving all your piccys. Looks like you had an amazing trip away for sure xx

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:10 pm

      It was great Melanie. Definitely somewhere I’ll visit again.

  • Rhian Westbury 5th December 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Hamburg has always been on my wish list as I think there are a lot of amazing sounding places in Germany to visit x

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:10 pm

      I love Germany so many fascinating places. Hamburg reminded me a lot of Manchester – Loved the city.

  • Joanna 5th December 2019 at 5:57 pm

    I have been to Hamburg twice this year and I plan to return next year. It is such a wonderful city with so many things to do! The food is amazing as well!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:09 pm

      Oh wow! Where is your favourite place Joanna?

  • Elizabeth Williams 5th December 2019 at 10:57 pm

    Hamburg looks like a great place to visit. Love that there is a variety of different places and experiences to see and do.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:08 pm

      So much to do Elizabeth. I loved my trip.

  • Rachael 6th December 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Oh wow I love this guide, it looks like such a cool city. The fish market sounds mad, live music? How cool!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:08 pm

      I know! It’s such a fun city with so much to do.

  • Katie 7th December 2019 at 9:27 am

    I’ve never been to Hamburg but I’d love to go, my husband was on a stag weekend there last year and he said it was somewhere he’d like to visit again with me.

    Those cakes are enough to make me plan a trip!!

    Katie xoxo

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:07 pm

      He has to take you now Katie!

  • Faith Coates 7th December 2019 at 10:18 am

    Okay you got me Hamburg is now on my list to visit – the food, coffee, sights everything looks fabulous.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th December 2019 at 10:07 pm

      Yes Faith! You won’t regret it.

  • Angela 8th December 2019 at 10:00 am

    Looks like a cool place to visit. I liked the look of the Clouds rooftop bar and the little harbour canteen. Very quaint.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 3:43 pm

      Clouds was amazing! Definitely recommend you go if you visit.

  • Stuart Forster 8th December 2019 at 11:14 am

    Hamburg is a great city to spend time in. One of my favourite activities is cycling along the River Elbe.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 3:42 pm

      Oh I would love to do that Stuart, perhaps in the warmer months. It was very very cold and raining a lot on my visit.

  • Fashion and Frappes 8th December 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I haven’t been to Hamburg but honestly think after reading about its history and the options for things to do in your post its such an underrated city!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 3:41 pm

      It has to be on your 2020 list now!

  • Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays 8th December 2019 at 9:39 pm

    My uni boyfriend spent a year just outside Hamburg so it was a place I knew well back in 80s, time to revisit!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 9:16 am

      It would have been some place in the 80s. It would have changed so much now.

  • Jo | My Anxious Life 9th December 2019 at 10:30 am

    I desperately want to visit Hamburg. It’s the top of my list for if my husband and I can get away sans kids for a long weekend. Great information here for me to remember!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 3:41 pm

      Fingers crossed it happens soon Jo x

  • Rebecca Smith 9th December 2019 at 10:34 am

    Hamburg looks like such an amazing place to visit! I’d love the opportunity to go there one day and would definitely check out your recommendations.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 3:40 pm

      It’s a great city with so much to do and brilliant for a quick escape.

  • jenna farmer 9th December 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for such a comprehensive guide! I went to Hamburg ages ago- it looks so different now and I’d really love to revisit.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 9th December 2019 at 3:40 pm

      I hope you get to visit soon Jenna. It’s an incredible city and has changed so much.

  • Angie Silver 10th December 2019 at 2:47 pm

    I would love to visit Hamburg one day!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 11th December 2019 at 8:25 pm

      On that ever growing list of destinations.

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    I'm Sima, join me as I explore, experience and eat my way around the globe. Inspiring you to escape the everyday through my adventures... Read More

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