I visited Hamburg at the end of October, when the city was showing off its autumn colours. Here’s my take on how to spend a day in Hamburg.
Start off your day in Hamburg with a jog (or stroll) around the Alster Lake with the old city adding a charming backdrop. Alternatively, you can row across or take one of the steam boats to another quay. Reward yourself with a breakfast of German sweet breads or a pretzel or two.
Make your way to the Rathaus (town hall), in the centre of the old town. The impressive building was rebuilt in the 1880’s. The streets radiating from it are filled with the latest and everyday fashion, and the large electronics store, Saturn, which can keep you occupied on a rainy day. If it’s a Sunday, the shops are closed, so head to the large fish market instead, to see what catch has been brought in.
Continue your walk through the city to Landungsbrücken, the floating dock on the River Elbe from where many cruises depart. Hop on aboard one of the large boats that offer English commentary and take a tour of the harbour. The Port of Hamburg is the second largest in Europe (after Rotterdam) and is a buzz of activity. Humungous container ships from around the world line the docks, and are loaded with cargo by crane operators working at dizzying heights. Have lunch at the docks – perhaps a seafood meal at Nordsee or one of the fancier restaurants in the area. After lunch, stroll through Speicherstadt and HafenCity with its mix of modern architecture and old warehouse buildings. The former is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take an afternoon stroll through the Planten un Blomen park, where there’s a botanic garden with a view of Hamburg’s Television Tower. There are a few landscaped gardens including a peaceful Japanese one. Later, head to St Pauli and Reeperbahn where there are often food trucks offering a variety of options, including for vegetarians. The sweet potato fries are a sure way to warm up when it gets chilly.
A very popular destination in Hamburg is the Miniatur Wunderland, which is a treasure trove of recreated towns and cities that come to life with moving trains, cars and ships. The miniature Hamburg is impressive, as expected, but there are also models of other areas in Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and the US. The highlight was a fully operational mini airport with aircraft take-offs and landings, followed by taxi ways. It’s appealing to adults as much as it is to kids.
Hamburg’s appeal is beyond its maritime charm.