Two days in vibrant Hamburg
Your destination shouldn’t always be Berlin when you travel to Germany. Palladium Boots invited Why Not Monday to explore Hamburg to write our own City Explorers guide and I didn’t have to think twice. Kristina, one of our contributors, lives there and this city has been on my list for over a year. Bas followed us while we walked through the streets of Hamburg, so have a look at his video. I’ve collected all the tips in this post. You can find other addresses selected by Kristina on our Hamburg page.
A Good night’s rest
When you plan to walk all day, you need a good bed. That’s for sure. Since my last stay at the 25 hours hotel in Berlin was so pleasant, I didn’t hesitate to choose their hotel in Hamburg as our home for the weekend.
25 hours Hafencity‘s interior is inspired by the harbour, which results in a great use of texture throughout the entire hotel. What I like a lot are the bunk bed rooms, perfect for when you are travelling with your best friend. You both get a bed with a width of 120cm and more privacy than a regular hotel room with two separate beds. The breakfast buffet was delicious, just like the one I had in Berlin. Perfect to start your day with!
Across from the hotel you can find several busstops and a U-bahn stop, which is even worth visiting because it is quite impressive if you like architecture. This U-bahn takes you to the city centre in no time.
Every city has a traditional centre. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on your list. The buildings are tall and impressive and there, in the middle of the city, you can find the tributary river to the Elbe which looks like a lake. This view is perfect for a short break after walking, they’ve even installed wooden benches which are comfy and good for a nap in the sun.
Coffee in Sternschanze
Leaving the centre you can go to Sternschanze, this area used to be known for occupied buildings but has grown into a popular part of town with (expensive) flea markets and several coffee bars.
Less Political used to sell t-shirts and now they brew coffee. This interior full of cacti and high white ceilings is perfect for a relaxing coffee break. If you are into coffee gear, you can also buy several items. My favourite at the moment are those stainless steel drips. After recharging with a nice flat white you can continue your walk to St. Pauli.
The rough side of Hamburg
This part of Hamburg is a bit more edgy and rough. The street’s of St. Pauli are decorated with flags of their local soccer team and on every corner you will find people drinking beer. Even though it’s also the area where the prostitutes are located, it’s still up-and-coming. With a large collection of cozy restaurants and bars this really is a must visit.
After exploring the streets of St. Pauli you can head over to Y for a light lunch. Located in the former base of fashion label Ethel Vaughn, the café radiates a cold, simplistic charm. Light yellow tiles meet a black floor and green plants hang from the ceiling. It’s a space that carries the signature of its founders. Sophie Täuber as well as Louise & Florian Kunth, local figures who are known for pushing urban principles in various temporary and not so temporary formats. Fresh ingredients, charcuterie and some delicious bread, what more do you need?
Leaving St. Pauli, you can easily walk towards the Elbe. This is the river that devides the city of Hamburg in two.
With a nice view over the industrial harbour you can walk back to the centre or even beter: you can take the ferry.
Jumping on the HVV ferry is included in your day ticket for the public transport, which is absolutely great if you ask me. You can even take a tour of the harbour. Wind in your hair, sea birds flying around the ship. Perfect for a photo but also a great way to relax after a day of walking.
Although cocktails are one of our favourite drinks, we had to go to a biergarten. Germany has a big beer culture with their famous biergarten as a result, pubs with a focus on different kinds of beers are regular over there. Therefore Kristina took us to a recently opened craft beer café.
Schankwirtschaft is located in St. Pauli, where all the cool kids go. There on the corner of a street you’ll have to walk down a couple of stairs to enter the cozy interior of this beer garden. A long counter welcomes you to try one of their 12 draft beers and when the keg is empty the beer disappears from their menu. I love this concept! The owner invites you to sample some options if you have a hard time choosing. Of course you can’t have a good beer without a burger. Their mouth-watering meat dishes make this place the perfect spot for a night out with friends.
Fresh roasts and a cute dog
After a night in Hamburg you will be in desperate need of a good cup of coffee. Close to the university you can find Playground coffee, founded by a photographer who dreamt of roasting coffee and ended up with his own coffee bar.
Playground Coffee shares a space together with one of the venues of Otto’s burgers. There Veljko Tatalovic has a small counter where he makes you a delicious cup of coffee. It’s not only his funny jokes that make you feel right at home, he also has a cute dog that wants to play and cuddle. (have a look at our video if you don’t believe me) Coffee lovers, I would recommend buying some of their beans. Besides having fascinating illustrations and a funny name, they are also very delicious. (Or order it online!) After you’ve had your caffeine kick, you can continue your walk to the botanic garden for a beautiful stroll.
Blomen un Planten
I absolutely love green cities, and Hamburg sure is quite green. They have several parks and their botanic garden is beautiful. Before I forget, you don’t have to pay to enter!
When you enter the park, coming from Playground Coffee, you will immediately notice their beautiful ponds. It’s absolutely breathtaking, also very Instagrammable. They’ve placed comfortable beach chairs next to the water for you to relax or maybe read a book. If you prefer to wander around, this park also has a Japanese garden and a rose garden. Perfect for a lazy Sunday if you ask me.
Brunch or lunch
Germans sure love to brunch. A plate with charcuterie and a selection of jams, what more do you need on a Sunday? We already had breakfast so we ended up having lunch at this lovely place close to the park.
Not only the name is super cute, but also it’s interior. Soft colours and textures give Hej Papa a relaxing atmosphere. They even have window seats with pillows for a cozy tête-à-tête. Their menu consist of 3 types of breakfast options and eggs. Besides their beloved Frühstück they also offer a daily lunch menu with seasonal ingredients.
Besides great food spots and beautiful parks Hamburg’s architecture also surprised me. Did you know that Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice? It’s century-old Speicherstadt is located between the Deichtorhallen and Baumwall and is the world’s oldest warehouse complex. These red brick buildings, typical of northern Germany, have gabled roofs and small towers.
I recommend you wander around this part of town and enjoy the view. We spent over an hour there and were surprised with the structure of this area in Hamburg. I just can’t imagine it being so old, yet having such a contemporary look. It’s interesting how architects have designed new buildings to match the old warehouses without it clashing too much.
One last tip, go back to this area when night falls. The buildings are beautifully lit, perfect for a romantic walk after dinner.
Our verdict? Hamburg was a lovely surprise. Although I will always love Berlin, this city is easy to fall in love with. It has the edgy side of Berlin, without it being too much because Berlin can be quite overwhelming. Hamburg is not too big either, so perfect for a city trip. One thing is for sure, it’s an inspiring city where young people want to start their own business and create things even though rent doesn’t always welcome them. It surely is a city to watch, so keep an eye on Kristina’s posts to stay updated or to help plan your trip.