In the past 6 years, I’ve visited the city of Hamburg in Germany three times, but every time I visited, it was only for a short period, as I was busy attending a conference or only there for one day. I’ve compiled all the fun activities and restaurants that I gathered in those years into one blog post, so you can plan the perfect weekend break to this city yourself!
Hamburg is actually quite large and it can take a while to travel everywhere on public transport, but I love how the city is divided into clear neighbourhoods and buses and trains are really quite reliable here, so it is still a breeze to travel around.
- WHAT TO DO IN HAMBURG FOR A WEEKEND – COMPLETE ITINERARY
- MORNING IN HAMBURG
- AFTERNOON IN HAMBURG
- EVENING IN HAMBURG
- PRACTICAL TIPS FOR HAMBURG
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WHAT TO DO IN HAMBURG FOR A WEEKEND – COMPLETE ITINERARY
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With the Hamburg Card, you get unlimited travel for 3 days and also get free/discounted access to many activities, so I can highly recommend it for your visit.
MORNING IN HAMBURG
Breakfast in Hamburg
On my most recent visit, I stayed at the lovely Superbude hotel / hostel in St. Pauli, which I can highly recommend! It’s a bit pricey (most hotels in Hamburg are), but the staff is friendly, the rooms comfortable and the breakfast… AMAZING!
From cereal to fresh bread, all types of toppings, cheeses, ham, juices and even waffles, this is one of the better breakfasts that I’ve had in hotels for a while. It’s all pretty casual here as well, so you can enjoy the breakfast and check-out until 12PM. My kind of place!
In 2016, I stayed at another great hotel: The East Hotel!
After breakfast, it’s time to explore! Here are some of the most popular districts of Hamburg, with some suggestions of things to see and places to go shopping along the way:
Discover the Schanzenviertel District
My hotel was located in the St. Pauli / Schanzenviertel area of Hamburg. ‘Schanzen’ means ‘Hill’ and this district is a trendy, charming neighbourhood with many small boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Once there was a fort on this spot, but in the 19th century, the city walls were demolished and houses built. I can recommend walking around this are and definitely explore the many side streets to discover many great little places for a bite to eat or to shop.
SHOP TIP: KAUF DICH GLÜCKLICH
The store’s name (“shop yourself happy”) is already quite inviting, but once you’re inside you might feel you don’t want to leave! Of course happiness can’t be bought, but even when you just look at the vintage clothing, beautiful art books and the rest of the retro decor, I’m sure you will leave just as content as I did. There are several shops around the city. WEBSITE
SHOP TIP: LOKAL DESIGN
This is the go-to-place for designer furniture and interior decor products, with a strong focus on local production. They work with young designers and bridge the gap between them, the customers and other design lovers. WEBSITE
SHOP TIP: ALL MY FRIENDS
ALL MY FRIENDS is a cool concept store with handmade, fairtrade and upcycling fashion, accessories and jewelry. WEBSITE
GREAT TOUR IN THIS AREA: Guided Schanzen District Walking Tour
Discover the Karoviertel District
The Karo district has plenty of fashion shops and quaint little cafes and has a bit more of a multicultural feel to it than the Schanzenviertel. Talking to one of the shop owners, the Karoviertel is the real old skool place to be. “The people in the Schanzenviertel are just wannabees”, as he put it. Haha!
With 60% social housing and poor building conditions, the Karoviertel was long considered impoverished. But also in this area, a wave of urban renewal went past. It is now a popular residential area.
COFFEE TIP: HERMETIC COFFEE ROASTERS (FORMERLY: LESS POLITICAL)
Handmade Fair Trade cotton bags and T-shirts, tasty cakes, hand roasted coffee and even free WiFi. You can find it all in the cute little shop of Less Political, which has since I visited a while ago, rebranded to ‘Hermetic Coffee Roasters’, but can still be found in the same location. A great spot to relax! WEBSITE
SHOP TIP: LOCKENGELÖT
All the items in this funky store are handmade, from eggcups made out of LPs, cupboards made out of oil drums to wall lights consisting of upcycled hood hairdryers. Definitely unique! WEBSITE
SHOP TIP: HOT DOGS
This vintage second hand shop is owned by Noah, and he sells sneakers, boots, tracksuits, denim, bags, jackets and sunglasses. His vintage Adidas shoes are from the ’70s and ’80s and have never been worn. They are true collector items. WEBSITE
SHOP TIP: HANSEPLATTE
This music shop exclusively stocks music and merchandise by Hamburg-based musicians. Looking for German Hip Hop? (and why NOT?) This is the place to be! WEBSITE
SHOP TIP: PICKNWEIGHT – VINTAGE KILO STORE
PICKNWEIGHT is based on the idea of selling unique vintage clothes by the kilo. They offer a wide selection of high-quality vintage goods that are unique. WEBSITE
ART TIP: GALERIE DER SCHLUMPER
The Schlumper Gallery is a studio, exhibition space, auditorium, and neighborhood cafe all in one. It was just by chance that in 1984 a group of mentally handicapped people who felt the urge to paint began to meet with painter Rolf Laute in the basement of the institution known as Townhouse Schlump near the Schlump subway station in Hamburg. The “Schlumpers” consists of about 30 men and women between the ages of 20 and 80 today. They were given their own gallery and studio space in a renovated meat-packing plant in 1998. WEBSITE
ECO TIP: KEIM ZELLE
Social Gardening for everyone, says the banner above this communal garden in the Karoviertel. To escape the tourist masses and to do something to get the community together, this vegetable garden was started by a group of nature lovers. When we pass by, a guy is just picking a pumpkin of the ground. “We’re making soup”, he tells us in a shy matter, before quickly disappearing behind some plants. We decide not to disturb them any longer and continue exploring the Karoviertel. WEBSITE
GREAT TOUR IN THIS AREA: Schanzenviertel & Karolinenviertel 2-Hour Tour
Discover the Neustadt District
Neustadt is Hamburg’s central district with exciting history. It is lively, multicultural and sometimes quite expensive. You can find three of the most important sights here: the Binnenalster lake, the Jungfernstieg (the area that forms the connection between the lake and the shops & restaurants) and the Michel church.
Make sure to pop inside the Rathaus (Town Hall) for some great architecture (don’t miss the fountain in the courtyard) and the city’s historical seal. The lake in Hamburg is really quite impressive and of course in Spring and Summer really nice to hang around. Close to here, you can also find the Kunsthalle, one of the largest art museums of Germany.
AFTERNOON IN HAMBURG
Lunch in Hamburg
There are many good places to eat in Hamburg and I’ve been testing quite a few restaurants over the years! Here are some of my best suggestions for you:
THE BURGER LAB
Just before I headed to the airport on my most recent visit, a group of us had lunch over at The Burger Lab, which is a New York-style burger place in the Schanzen-area of Hamburg. There was almost nobody there on lunchtime (so perfect if you’re with a group) and the lady serving us was super nice. And the burgers? SUPER GOOD! Can highly recommend the Brie burger!! Yes – a Hamburger in Hamburg, of course! WEBSITE
We stumbled on this Austrian-style restaurant by accident, but were so happy we popped inside! This restaurant embraces the Apres Ski-atmosphere with typical Austrian dishes such as Käsespätzle and Kaiserschmarrn. But the best thing? You can sit inside a Ski Lift for your meal! How cool is that?! WEBSITE
RINDERMARKTHALLE – BOBBY & FRITZ
Inside this indoor market, there are many great places to grab a bite, but when in Germany, of course you don’t want to skip trying the Curry Wurst! A great casual place is Bobby & Fritz, where they have several types of sausages that you can order with either bread or fries. Yumz! WEBSITE
Discover the Hafencity District
This young district of Hamburg has been established in 2008. The main part of the area is formed by the immense (280.000 m2 brick!) historical warehouse complex from the 18th and 19th century. (This area is called “Speicherstadt”) With the development of container shipping, the importance of the warehouse district decreased progressively. Today, the historic buildings are home to recreational activities, such as the Miniatur Wunderland and the spooky Hamburg Dungeon. In addition there are several apartments and work spaces created. Iconic is the building of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in the harbour.
GREAT TOUR IN THIS AREA: Elbphilharmonie, Speicherstadt & HafenCity Tour
Boat Tour over the River Elbe
One of the best ways to see Hamburg, especially if you have nice weather, is to take a boat ride and enjoy the views from the river Elbe. There are many companies you can go with, for example, we went with Captain Black Harbor Cruises.
Here are some other great boat tours you can do:
EVENING IN HAMBURG
Drinks & Dinner in Hamburg
One of our conference evening events was held at the casual brew pub and micro brewery Überquell, which is right on the water in the St. Pauli neighbourhood. Besides different types of beer, they also have Hamburg cider and we had some delicious pizza here as well! Mind their door though, two of us (one including me, of course) walked right in it! Probably the reason I took like ZERO photos here. Sorry about that! WEBSITE
ALTES MÄDCHEN BRAUGASTHAUS
My very first time in Hamburg, I had dinner at the “Altes Mädchen Braugasthaus”. Located in a former slaughterhouse, this gastropub is not an ordinary place to have a drink and a meal! They serve sandwiches, snacks and dinner meals, all fresh and really tasty. All their ingredients are locally produced, carefully processed and environmentally friendly. But what they’re really famous for, is their beers.
Now, Hamburg and Beer is a tradition to start with. As early as the 12th century, Hamburg was known as the “Brewery of the Hanseatic League.” Especially in the Schanzenhöfe, in the heart of the city, the craft of brewing is still at the forefront.
Unfortunately, of the 400 breweries that once existed in Hamburg, no more than 10 exist today. Carlsberg is one of the big names, but the craft breweries, all independent and traditional, are the one really on the rise. It is said that a craft brewer would never sell beer he wouldn’t drink himself.
Ratsherrn is one of those crafted beers local to Hambur. Whenever possible, Ratsherrn uses local ingredients so they not only know where these ingredients come from, but who is behind them. In addition to their Ratsherrn beers, the Altes Mädchen have around 60 different craft beers from all over the world.
If you order a “Probierset”, you get to taste some of the best beers of the house. I’m not a huge beer fan, but I like the one that had caramel in it!
On my first visit to Hamburg, we visited the lovely restaurant “NIL” in Hamburg. In this small and cosy restaurant, you can order a range of great European dishes with great taste! Make sure to sit in the garden when the weather is nice, like we did. The restaurant is part of the Slow Food Movement, so they use regional produce sourced from organic farms from in and around Hamburg. Recommend it! WEBSITE
On my most recent visit, I came across “Ricebrothers”, which is a restaurant with as they put it, “crazy Asian taste”. I enjoyed a delicious Bao burger with sweet potato fries and my blogger friends dove into the massive bowls of Pho. The atmosphere in the restaurant was also great so I can highly recommend a visit. WEBSITE
Discover the St. Pauli District
When the day turns into night, St. Pauli gets buzzing. The Reeperbahn is probably the most important entertainment street in Hamburg. Besides the many stripclubs, there are loads of bars and restaurant where you can enjoy yourself all night. St. Pauli gained fame when The Beatles performed their very first concerts in different clubs like “Großen Freiheit”, the “Kaiserkeller” and “Star Club”.
GREAT TOUR IN THIS AREA: 2.5-Hour Neighborhood Tour of St. Pauli
Hempel’s Beatles Tour
When they told me there was a lady with an ukulele coming to meet us in St. Pauli to give us a Beatles tour, I honestly expected a hippie-woman with a long dress talking about how Lennon changed her life. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Stefanie Hempel is a young, enthusiastic singer-songwriter with the friendliest face on the earth. She has been studying the history of the Beatles for quite some years now and shares with us some amazing stories and behind-the-scenes information.
We go around some of the bars where The Beatles first played during their 93-consecutive-night (!) performance in Germany, where she shows us photos and sings us a few songs. It definitely is one of the best walking tours I’ve ever been on! Make sure to check this tour out!
If you have more time to spend in Hamburg, one of the things you might want to check out if you’re here in September, is the popular “Reeperbahn Festival”.
This is Germany’s biggest club festival with more than 400 music performances, gatherings of media professionals on social media, games, IT, mobile and design and art displays such as fine & digital art, film and literature, shown at 70 different locations.
Have you ever been to Hamburg? What was your favourite neighbourhood and the best hotspot you found?
Did I get you excited to visit Hamburg yet? To make it even easier to find the best hotspots in Hamburg, make sure to pick up a couple of these cool booklets with the funkiest city walks (passing all the hotspots) in town, you can find them in most tourist offices or shops:
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR HAMBURG
Getting to Hamburg
From London, I flew to Hamburg Airport with Ryanair from Stansted Airport, but there were also quite a few people flying with EasyJet from Gatwick Airport. The airport in Hamburg is (compared to the airports in for example Berlin) really quite nice, with lots of facilities. There are two terminals, so pay attention that Ryanair and EasyJet depart from different terminals!
Getting around in Hamburg
Hamburg Airport is located about 45-50 minutes from the city center (depending on where you need to be) and easily accessible with the S-Bahn (S1 to Central Station). You can buy tickets from the machines in the station, they also have English on the screens and you can pay cash and card, so super easy.
With the Hamburg Card, you get unlimited travel for 3 days and also get free/discounted access to many activities, so I can highly recommend it for your visit.
Accommodation in Hamburg
- www.hamburg-travel.com (Hamburg Tourism website)
- www.standorthamburg.eu (in Dutch – great website of our blogging friend Fem!)
Tours in Hamburg
- Hamburg: Guided Tour Elbphilharmonie excluding Concert Halls
- Sex and Crime in St. Pauli – tour for ages 18+
- Hamburg: Evening Illumination Cruise through Harbor
- 2-Hour Hamburg Port Tour: Maritime Flair
- Elbphilharmonie, Speicherstadt & HafenCity Tour
- Hamburg: Reeperbahn 2.5-Hour Guided Tour (Adults Only)
- Hamburg: Line A Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour
- Hamburg: 3-Hour Culinary Tour of the Schanzenviertel
- Hamburg: 1-Hour Harbor Cruise
- Hamburg: Speicherstadt and HafenCity 2-Hour Tour
- Hamburg Pub Crawl: 5 Bars, 1 Shot per Bar
- Hamburg 3.5-Hour Bike Tour
- Instagram Food Tour of Hamburg with Elphi Plaza Visit
Other articles about Germany
- One Day in Stuttgart
- One Day in Gengenbach
- One Day in Freiburg
- One Day in Berlin
- One Day in Bremen
- One Day in Magdeburg
- Transromanica Road Trip
See our video about Hamburg on YouTube:
Map of Hamburg
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Disclaimer: This article is a combination of different trips that I’ve taken in the past few years. Some of the activities and accommodations were sponsored as part of blogging conferences and/or campaigns. Most of the content from this article comes from my most recent visit, as part of the #KeyFrame19 conference hosted by Traverse Events. The content I created for this (blog and video) is also part of a competition organised by the people over at Three UK!