As city lovers and urban development advocates, we enjoy city trips. Our own interests and passions usually entwine with the must-sees of the area forming a unique mix of touristy and undiscovered attractions and activities that we end up seeing and doing during our trips.
This time we present you with the custom Europolitan Shortlist of distinctive sites not to be missed in Hamburg. Read on to discover the best bits that Hamburg has to offer.
Alster lakes are the pounding heart of Hamburg. A buzzing area worth visiting during a day, as well as during a warm evening. Have a stroll around the inner lake (Binnenalster) and admire the posh architecture surrounding it. During long summer days, locals and tourists alike love unwinding there. If you have more time, we highly recommend having a jog along the bigger, outer Alster Lake.
Rathaus & Rathausmarkt
Located just hundreds of steps away from the inner Alster Lake, Town Hall (Rathaus) and the main square (Rathausmarkt) have breathtaking architecture. If you are interested in the latest fashion trends venture into the side streets and discover the wonderful world of shops surrounding the Rathausmarkt.
Warehouse District (Speicherstadt) is another must-see spot for anyone visiting Hamburg. It gives Hamburg its distinctive flare. The area is picturesque and provides a large stage for shooting unique photos. While great photos could be made during daytime – tip: begin by the Hanseatic Trade Center and visit parallel bridges and ‘streets’ – we strongly recommend visiting this area during the evening once the sun sets. For the best views, head to the direction of ‘Der Spiegel’ magazine headquarters. Amazingly, there are no crowds and you could peacefully enjoy this beautiful, romantic spot.
HafenCity is Hamburg’s ambitious port project – one of the largest urban re-development projects that is currently happening in Europe (covering an area of approximately 2 km2). It is what we like to call a ‘massive undertaking’. It aims to transform old free port of Hamburg into modern neighborhood with offices, hotels, shops, official buildings, and residential areas. When completed (maybe 2030?), this district will be a home to more than 10,000 residents, and a workplace for more than 40,000 people. It is mot to be missed if you’re interested in urban rejuvenation, urban planning and the future of cities. Take the newly constructed metro line, the U4.
Elbphilharmonie and Landungsbrücken
After visiting the HafenCity district, continue straight onto an amazing concert hall building, dubbed Elbphilharmonie. Note the branding! The building is an example of linkage between modern and old architecture, as it is built on top of an old warehouse. When completed, the concert hall will provide a seating capacity for more than 2,000 guests and be the tallest inhabited building in Hamburg. Our local source told us that the building also features a number of apartments, which have been sold out at a price of a ‘mare’ 30,000 EUR per square meter. If this is true, Elbphilharmonie competes with the most exclusive addresses in Monaco, London or Vienna. This marvelous structure is still under construction, with the official opening planned for January 2017. The final costs are estimated at around 789 million EUR. Landungsbrücken – nice site for relaxation, overlooking the small ships port – is nearby.
Dockland, Cruise Ship Terminal & Altona
Take a scenic walk along the Elbe river, from Landungsbrücken, over the St Pauli Hafenstraße and the Fischmarkt, in order to arrive to a new terminal for cruise ships. Near the terminal there is a 25 meters high office building, known as Dockland. The building resembles a cruise ship with the large staircase of 140 steps, and cost around 30 million EUR. Climbing to the top of this cruise ship replica is well worth the effort – you will have amazing views of Hamburg, Elbe river and Altona. If you feel like walking back, climb up the hills behind the cruise ship terminal to Altona Rathaus. From there walk along Königstraße to the famous Reeperbahn, the ‘center’ of previously mentioned St. Pauli. Along this path you will also see the Jewish graveyard of Altona (Jüdischer Friedhof Altona), one of the most significant Jewish grounds worldwide with beautiful gravestones amid breathtaking nature. On the other hand, if you prefer the ride, take the S-Bahn Altona and head to S-Bahn Reeperbahn to explore St Pauli.
Everybody knows that St Pauli is the place where party happens. Even if you are not into excessive bohemian nightlife, or visits to red light district and peep shows with naked pole dancers, you should still go and experience this out-of-order location. Don’t be put off by all the graffiti, alternative art and lifestyles, dark bars and weird areas, it’s really a safe place (especially during the day) to explore and get a glimpse of a city beyond city – another layer of Hamburg. This place is also a home for famous FC St. Pauli and their interesting official fan shop. Expect to see a lot of political, leftist and anti-fascism logos and stickers on walls and street signs – it’s all part of the unique atmosphere of St. Pauli.
Social and alternative Hamburg
Apart from traditional social stronghold, St. Pauli, we discovered an oasis for alternatives and squatters in the heart of the city. Located conveniently just across the Norwegian Consulate on Speckstrasse, this little and well hidden compound has astonishing features at every single angle. This tiny street also showcases creative and artistic projects of its dwellers. Note that a project for rebuilding an old factory (Fabrik in Gängeviertel) with the aim to serve as a space for showcasing art, culture and different social projects is co-financed by the European Union Cohesion Policy through its European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Although it is a sharp contrast from the ‘alternative’ Hamburg areas that we recommended earlier, we highly encourage you to visit Blankenese. The oasis of green city spaces with breathtaking villas nestled on the hilly landscape. Almost all of them are overlooking the Elbe river. Take a moment to note the numerous flags and symbols in front of the mansions. Hamburgers have a thing or two for showcasing flags on the poles in front of their houses. Actually, you can find large flags on top of most major buildings in the city center – especially flags of the Hanseatic city of Hamburg – which gives a special flavor to this international port city.
If you love cafe culture, this is the area for you. It has nice bars with open terraces, as well as unique boutiques. Thus, the area is great during the long summer days to enjoy a drink or two while people-watching.
You want to see more? We strongly recommend visiting the Chilehaus, not far away from the Hauptbanhof. Architecturally, it is an example of the Brick Expressionism from the 1920s and it has nautically inspired design. Make a tour around complex A and B and do not miss the courtyard. Also, peek into the lobby of this stunning building to admire the old-fashioned interior. Past the prow of the Chilehaus and across the road, there is the Sprinkenhof building – totally worth seeing. We hope that we have inspired you to explore this exciting city on your own. If you need more inspiration look at our photos on Instagram, use the hashtag #EuropolitansHH to find them quicker.