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Hamburg: What to see and visit

Hamburg is different from the other German cities: cosmopolitan, charming, and modern. A maritime city, built at the Elbe’s mouth, whose history and progress owe a lot to its geographical position. A metropolis built on water, it is crossed by countless canals and bridges. You may not know it but Hamburg has 2496 bridges, more than Venice and Amsterdam.

Thanks to its vibrant atmosphere, history, and modern Hafencity district, Hamburg is one of the German cities you must visit.

Our trip was realized in collaboration with Hamburg Tourism board.

Getting around in Hamburg

Public transport works perfectly. To get around the city I used the Hamburg CARD, which entitles you to travel on the entire public transport network including ferries. 

What to do and see in Hamburg

Hafencity

Hafencity is the part that I liked the most of Hamburg . In this area, the old and the new blend together, creating the coolest and most innovative district, as well as one of the most modern neighborhoods in all of Europe. Still under construction, the new glass buildings coexist in perfect harmony with the old warehouses of Speicherstadt.

It is a very interesting area to explore, picturesque and fascinating thanks to the various canals that cross it.

Speicherstadt

The iconic city of warehouses, declared an Unesco world heritage site, is a remarkable place. Walk through its canals and cross the countless romantic bridges to discover this area. Get lost among the 17 red brick warehouses, the undisputed symbol of the city. With its 260,000 m2 the district represents the largest warehouse complex in the world.

Inside them, at the end of the 19th century, precious goods such as coffee, cocoa and spices were stored.It was a duty free area. Its construction became necessary when in 1871 the city of Hamburg became part of the German Empire. In 1881 Hamburg had to adapt to a new customs policy.

Until then, Hamburg’s merchants had enjoyed a particular status: imported goods could be stored in the port and exported to any city without being subject to tax.From 1888 only in the area now known as Speicherstadt, merchants could have done business with the rest of the world without having to pay customs duties.Today these buildings have been converted into cafes, restaurants and museums.

Visit the Miniatur Wunderland

Inside one of the Speicherstadt warehouses, there is the world in miniature, one of the main attractions in the city, where you can admire the largest H0 scale model in the world. In the museum, cities from all over the world are reproduced in miniature.

The details are insane! Look and admire everything up close, it is a really incredible place. There is also a reproduction of Hamburg airport with planes taking off and landing and the largest miniature railway in the world. I was skeptical before my visit, but Matthias wanted to visit it. At the end of the tour I had to change my mind, if you pass through Hamburg it is a MUST visit attraction. 

Elbphilharmonie

In the HafenCity district, the building was inaugurated in 2017, after 10 years of construction work and a cost of € 789 million.The Elbphilharmonie has become a symbol of the city within a few years. The glass structure built on an old warehouse has been designed by two world-famous Swiss architects, Herzog & de Meuron.  As a tribute to Hamburg maritime tradition, the architecture of the façade evokes a sailing ship and reaches a height of 110m.

Inside the Elbphilharmonie, there are 2 concert halls, 44 luxury apartments, the Westin hotel and on the eighth floor, between the brick and glass structure, the Plaza, a platform where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the harbor.

Harbor cruise

The port of Hamburg has played and still plays a fundamental role in the city life.Thanks to its direct access to the sea, in the past Hamburg was part of the famous Hanseatic League, an alliance between several port cities in northern Europe. In a short time, it became one of the largest and most important commercial maritime cities.Today, Hamburg’s Harbor is Germany’s biggest seaport and the second largest port in Europe, where about 13,000 ships arrive each year.

A harbor cruise with Rainer Abicht is really interesting. You will find yourself just a few meters away from the huge merchant ships arriving in the city, the largest of which are able to transport more than 24,000 containers.

Rathaus

The City Hall is an imposing building in neoclassical style, built at the end of the nineteenth century. Its construction has been necessary after a fire destroyed the previous Rathaus in 1842.

By building this city hall, the Hamburgers wanted to show their wealth and power. he Rathaus has 646 rooms, more than Buckingham Palace, the main facade is 111 meters wide, while the central tower reaches 112 meters.

It is possible to take part in tours in English and German to visit the interior.

Eat the typical Fischbrötchen

A must try in Hamburg when it comes to food is the famous sandwich with herring.Along the riverbank ,there are several places where you can try it, but I suggest you go to Brücke 10, which is also frequented by locals and it has competitive prices and fresh fish.

Visit to the fish market

Unfortunately, due to the measures taken to limit the spread of covid-19, it is currently suspended, but it is a place worth visiting. It closes at 9:30 in the morning, so you need to wake up early to visit it.

Eating a Franzbrötchen

Franzbrötchen is a typical Hamburg dessert made with butter and cinnamon, with an intense and exotic flavor. It is more or less the German version of the Scandinavian cinnamon roll. Perfect for breakfast, especially when accompanied by a cappuccino.

Where to sleep in Hamburg

We had the opportunity to stay at the best hotels in town The Fontenay and The Westin.

The Fontenay Hamburg is a daydream, there is no better hotel in town. It is a prestigious and luxurious hotel, equipped with every comfort. Overlooking the shores of Lake Alster, it has 130 spacious and elegantly furnished rooms and suites.

The Westin Hamburg has a unique location, it is inside the Elbphilharmonie. The rooms are beautiful, decorated in shades of white, with  breathtaking views of the city and the harbor.

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