Hamburg had been on our radar for quite some time. I had been 20 years ago with my class at school, my husband had been a couple of times in the past few years, but we wanted to explore it a bit more. Once we decided we were going, we decided to take the train versus flying. It was a 7.5 hour ride, but we found a good deal on first class tickets and decided to splurge, which was worth it for the long ride.
Hamburg is a huge city and we had to pack that city into 3 days, or better said, we had to decide what we wanted to do. The weather helped with that decision because for the most part it rained and snowed. So we spent most of our time indoors.
Speicherstadt (Warehouse District):
A UNESCO site since 2015, these buildings built as a free zone to transfer goods without paying taxes are the quintessence of Hamburg. Where once tea, coffee and spices were traded, there now seems to be more Persian carpets going in and out, along with some coffee. Take your time to walk through this fascinating area interlaced with canals where the goods were once loaded onto boats.
Alter Elbtunnel (Old Elbe Tunnel):
When I read about this tunnel under the river, I was intrigued by such a feat of engineering. The tunnel opened in 1911 to aid the dock workers crossing the river. It is 426 m long and 24 meters below ground (at entry). Pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to pass through 24 hrs a day, while cars are restricted to the daytime Monday-Friday. Pedestrians may take an elevator or the stairs and cars drive into elevators which look like horse stalls.
City Hall: Not a place you would immediately think of visiting, I recommend having a look around the inside of the building and the courtyard. Built in the neo-renaissance style, it is one of the few completely preserved buildings of historicism in the city.
Elbphilharmonie: I’ve dedicated a separate blog post to this amazing building which you can read here.
St. Michael Church (Michel): We were in this popular church (the view from the tower is supposed to be fantastic) for 4 minutes before we were asked to leave so the noon service could begin. Had we had more time, we might have returned to climb the tower.
While walking around the city, keep your eyes open as you never know what you may encounter.
Maritime Museum: Anything you ever wanted to know about maritime history can be found here on 9 floors. It is a fascinating museum, and I highly recommend going.
Emigration Museum (Auswanderermuseum Balinstadt): This museum is housed where people emigrating the to New World came to stay before leaving Hamburg. There is plenty of information about the history of migration, including up until the present time, and a small exhibit on the history of Ballinstadt and the role it played while it was in use.
Miniatur Wunderland: You think you don’t like model trains? Think again! This place is just amazing. Not only are there trains constantly running through countries such as Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and the US, you will also see moving cars/trucks, airplanes and boats. There are thousands of miniature figures populating the place and there is always something new to discover: a funeral, a couple making out in the forest, a dog barking at the mailman, etc. And don’t leave until you’ve seen Las Vegas at night or Mt. Vesuvius erupting. I plan to return again in a few years when trains are running through Venice and Great Britain.
I admit to having a long list of restaurants I wanted to try and then leaving the reservation making until it was too late. Instead, we ended up going to places that I had never heard of before, but we lucked out and had delicious food.
Wasserschloss Speicherstadt: Maybe even better in summer when you can sit out on the canal, but certainly also a lovely place in winter. They even have their own tea shop where they sell their own blends.
Mutterland Cölln’s: The best meal we had while in Hamburg. Too bad the main dish was so plentiful or else we would have had dessert, too. The over 30000 hand painted tiles in the restaurant attest that beginning in 1760, fish and seafood were traded here. These tiles and the little rooms off to the side where the restaurant tables are, are landmarked.
Trific: Another delicious place to have dinner. “New-German” cuisine is served which means locally sourced ingredients are turned into tasteful dishes that are full of flavor and not as heavy as traditional German fare can be.
Daniel Wischer: The one place that was on my list for lunch. This fish restaurant has been catering since 1924 and they know their stuff. It’s traditional with herring and fish & chips but what they do, they do well.
Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei: The best coffee ever- and this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink coffee! You walk into this warehouse and the aroma of roasting coffee envelopes you. While my husband had to decide on which espresso beans to have in his cappuccino, I ordered a hot chocolate with enough whipped cream for three people.