This weekend I had the pleasure of not only going to Hamburg, but also meeting up with six other travel bloggers! It was so fun to be able to meet some of these women in the flesh who I knew only over the computer screen and it was so much fun to have a girls weekend just hanging out in the awesome city of Hamburg. Admittedly, a lot of what we did involved lots of food and lots of coffee, but we are in fact all travel bloggers so there was lots of touristy things done as well.
Hamburg is a beautiful city that couldn’t be more different than Berlin if it tried. If you haven’t been to Hamburg before, then these are seven reasons why you should go immediately. (And if you have extra time, read up on 20 other things you can do in Hamburg.
The Hamburg Rathaus
A rathaus is a town hall and this is where the Hamburg government is located and the building is not only impressive and beautiful, but it also has a fascinating history as well. You can take a tour for only €4 and they’re available in all different languages, including English.
Constructed in the late 1800s after the old town hall burnt in the Great Fire of 1842, everything in the building is original from the time in which it was built. Most of Hamburg was flattened during World War II, however, a bomb that fell directly in front of the rathaus was defective and did not detonate, keeping the beautiful original building intact. You can now view the pin from that bomb on display in the rathaus during the tour.
The building is ornate and a little ostentatious, but it’s really cool to see in person and is totally worth the €4 entry fee.
Technically this isn’t a lake, it’s really part of the Alster River, however, it effectively looks like a lake and certainly feels like one as well.
This beautifully picturesque area is certainly impressive, both in the size of this lake/river, but also because of the architecture that surrounds it. The best place to get a good view of all the church steeples and the rathaus (just behind the fountain) is to walk along Lombardsbrücke, which is the name of a bridge that gives you a stunning and impressive view.
It may be a low-rise city, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
The Bridges And Waterways
Amsterdam may be known as the “Venice of the North”, however, Hamburg comes closely in second place. With more bridges than Venice and many winding waterways, canals, and mini rivers flowing through the city center, it’s truly unlike anything else in German and really only rivals Amsterdam and Venice.
While Venice has under 500 bridges, Hamburg has a shocking 2,500. I must say, if you are not a fan of bridges than Hamburg is not the place for you because you pretty much have to cross several to get just about anywhere.
All of the canals, rivers and bridges make Hamburg a special place to visit because it has a completely different feel to it than Venice or Amsterdam and these alone are a great reason to visit the city of Hamburg.
Hamburg is a low-rise city, but that doesn’t mean the architecture isn’t impressive. From the beautiful rathaus to the many churches and even residential streets, everything it has to offer will impress.
The colorful buildings in the above photo are on the street Havenstraße in the quarter of St. Pauli. In the late 80s, these buildings were full of squatters, who were primarily what you might call “hooligans”. The Hamburg government essentially told the squatters they had to move out because they were planning on demolishing the buildings. This led to riots and general political unrest.
The squatters barricaded themselves in the buildings by building up a wall of furniture and concrete and anything they could find and they also boarded up all of the windows. They created a pirate radio station and rioted for more than week. Eventually, the police and the government of Hamburg said if they put everything back in order they wouldn’t be forced to move out, and today the buildings are still full of similar politically-active people and the buildings were sold to a cooperative for a small price as a symbolic gesture of peace.
Another reason to visit Hamburg is the district St. Pauli, also known as the Red Light District. Although it may not be somewhere you actually want to be spending much time, it’s a cool area with a really interesting history. If you take the St. Pauli free walking tour, you’ll learn so much about it.
St. Pauli isn’t all just about prostitutes, as it played a big role in the music industry from the 60s to the 80s. Down the street in the above photo is where the Beatles played for the very first time. The Beatles got their start in Hamburg and played many concerts in the district of St. Pauli before they went really big.
Many would-be famous musicians got their start at the Star Club, also on the above street, which unfortunately no longer exists.
While it was still open, the Star Club had concerts by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Ray Young, Ray Charles and many more. To be able to stand in the location this famous club used to be and where all these world-renowned musicians got their start is pretty darn cool.
Old Elbe Tunnel
It’s not everywhere that you can walk in a long tunnel directly under a river. The Old Elbe Tunnel was built in 1911 and is about a quarter of a mile long. It’s damp and a bit dark but really cool.
The reason the tunnel was built was to make it easier for workers on the docks and in the shipyards to get there from the city proper on the other side. Before the tunnel, it took far longer and was more expensive and more difficult for all of these workers, so this made a huge improvement for the workers in one of the busiest harbors in the world.
I couldn’t write this post and not mention the food when it was delicious, abundant and affordable. Although I was only there for a weekend, I feel as though I ate my weight in amazing food for every meal.
The first place to mention is Karlsons, a Scandanavian breakfast and lunch restaurant that has incredible food for low prices and the restaurant even doubles as a store so you can buy beautiful jewelry and adorable teapots and mugs.
For dinner, try Ti Breizh, which is Brittany cuisine, with so many crepe options it will make your head explode. The crepes are almost all under €10, with some as little as €4. They’re massive and although you might think you need more than one, you definitely will not. There are vegetarian options, dessert options, ones with meats all kinds, ones with butter, with cheese, the list is endless.
For a delicious and affordable brunch place, Die Pampi is the way to go. This Portuguese brunch place offers a breakfast for two with orange juice and coffee, giant Portuguese croissants, rolls, cheese, various meats, an egg, jam, Nutella and even more.
Even better, you get all of that for €9 per person. It’s like a dream come true. Hamburg is full of little holes in the wall restaurants that are delicious and affordable, so the food is definitely one of the top reasons to visit Hamburg.
Hamburg is a fantastic city with amazing architecture, beautiful waterways and a fascinating history (it was one of the Hanseatic cities). If these seven reasons don’t convince you to go, I don’t know what will. Have you been to Hamburg? What did you love about it?