Happy Wednesday All!
If you’re following me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I spent most of last week in Hamburg, Germany on a work trip with the new company I started with two months ago.
I flew out last Wednesday May 22nd. The following two days were pretty much taken up with work related stuff in our Hamburg offices, but that left me with about two days and part of an evening to explore the city.
It was a quick visit, but one I’d like to do again at some point (minus the work commitments, and for a little more time). So, I thought I’d share a little travel guide here talking about where I stayed, some places to eat, and some sights to see!
If you do end up heading to Hamburg, have a great time!!
Where I Stayed
As I mentioned, my reason for going to Hamburg in the first place was because I was on a work trip. And as such, that came with some perks. My flights there and back were paid for, and a 3-night stay in the Steigenberger Hotel was covered as well. As I decided to stay on an extra night, I booked that for myself in the same place, as there was an offer on so I got it a little cheaper, and I wanted to avoid the hassle of moving to a new hotel for only one night.
The Steigenberger is a very nice hotel and is quite centrally located to most things so it’s a solid booking in that regard. And I did really like the view from my room, which looked out on the tower of St. Michael’s Cathedral:
It may be on the pricer side though if you are looking to keep costs low. The basic rooms start at around €150 a night, which goes up to €175 a night if you include the buffet breakfast. My first three nights, with breakfast, were paid for by my company, which was great. But I managed to get the last night for €130, deciding to forgo the breakfast. I would recommend staying here; I really liked the place and it’s pretty central like I said!
Where I Ate
Who doesn’t love going out to eat when abroad? I wasn’t there for long, but here are a couple of places I ate in that were worth trying if you’re ever there:
Thämers – I went here with a work colleague who was also on this work trip. He happened to have a friend in Hamburg, so we decided to meet him for a bite and some drinks. We stumbled across this place, and it was a nice find. Very cosy, and they do amazing cheeseboards, and the drinks are pretty good too!
Chilli Club – After the first day in the office in Hamburg, my company brought us all out for dinner to a delicious Asian restaurant overlooking the harbour. The food was soooo good there. We had a selection of sharing platters for starters with lots of different vegetable and chicken dishes to choose from with different dips and sauces. Mains are equally delicious, but quite filling too. We didn’t opt for dessert in the end, but I actually was about to burst, so that suited me.
Preggo – After a long day in the office on the Friday, I was keen to just wander the streets and see what I could find. Feeling a little peckish, I stopped at this really nice Italian place that is in the middle of a busy shopping area of the city. They do really nice pizza, and they have plenty of outdoor seating which is nice if you get a nice evening to sit out and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the shoppers and street performers around you, which I did.
Roxie – Roxie is kind of a weird place. It doesn’t have a defined decor, and that is reflected in the menu, which has everything from Italian to Indian to American food on it. That’s not to say though that it wasn’t good, it was. I had one of the nicest (and most filling) burgers I’ve ever had there. They have a little takeaway window in the wall too, so if you were staying nearby and wanted to grab something on the way back to your hotel of an evening, then you can.
Steigenberger Hotel – I just thought I’d give a mention to the hotel breakfast buffet too. There was always a pretty big selection of cereals, pastries, fruits, yogurts, juices, breads and cooked food on offer. Was it the best breakfast I’ve ever had? No…but it was a perfectly fine start to the day. And their dining room was really comfortable, overlooking the river to add to the chilled out vibe!
Things to See and Do
Hamburg City Hall – My mouth dropped open when I saw this 120 year old building. It’s literally stunning, both for its size and the level of detail in its construction and design. Hidden inside it then is one of the most tranquil courtyards I’ve ever seen with a massive, ornate fountain. If you love history and the architecture of old buildings, this is a must for you.
St. Michael’s Church Tower & Crypts – I had seen the tower of this church from my hotel window every morning when I opened my curtains, but hadn’t thought about visiting it. Then I was randomly walking past and noticed that you could tour the crypts beneath it and then go right up to the top of the bell tower as well, for only €7. Again, history fans will love it here. The church has fallen victim to two devastating fires over the years and there is plenty of exhibits about how they reconstructed it all over the years.
The crypts were interesting, and extremely low-ceilinged, giving them a slightly claustrophobic feel. Some of the descriptions of stuff on display weren’t in English, so you couldn’t get the full history of everything you saw, but it’s definitely worth a look to read about the history of the crypts and some of the high profile people buried there.
The tower was the better of the two because it offers amazing panoramic views of the entire city. Word of advice though, there are a LOT of steps to get to the top, and the stairs are quite narrow. There is a tiny elevator but there will always be a queue from what I could see, so you are better off walking up. I realised how unfit I’ve become so I’ll be booking that gym membership again next week, but it’s a great feeling when you get to the top and get to look out over Hamburg.
Miniatur Wunderland – A lot of people had recommended I see this while there, and it was so cool. It’s the largest model railway museum in the world, with huge intricately designed mini versions of places like Hamburg, Venice, Las Vegas and more.
The detail is amazing…tour buses drive around with tourists on board snapping pictures, with real camera flashes. Every car or truck indicates before it turns in that direction. Firetrucks race to put out fires in miniature cities. They even have a mini, functioning airport model, where planes actually take off and land.
I initially thought Miniatur Wunderland would be more hyped up than anything, but it was really cool to visit. Just imagine those Christmas villages you break out at home every year, and multiple them by 1000 times the size and detail, and that’s what you will see here. Be sure to book your ticket well in advance though, because they sell out quick each day.
Europa Passage – I wasn’t looking to do much shopping on this trip, but if you are and are wondering where to go, Europa Passage is a safe bet. It’s this huge shopping mall, with four floors, filled with every kind of store you could want, and there’s lots of food places as well, to refuel during a spree. Europa Passage also leads out onto a busy part of the city with lots of shops lining the streets.
Bars & Nightlife
For me, bars and nightlife aren’t exactly at the top of my list of things to do and see when I go abroad…if I wanted to spend all my time in bars, getting drunk, I could have stayed home, right? Having said that, I do think it’s nice to get to some when you can. Here’s a few I visited that were good:
Thämers – See above under the food section for more!
Dschungel – Super chilled, really reasonably priced, and plenty of out door seating if you fancy some relaxed day drinking in the sun.
Kostbar – Went here as part of a pub crawl. Very cosy setup, and drinks are reasonable. Especially the shots, which start as low as €2.
Thai Oase – So, I didn’t get around to visiting here (next time!!), but a friend recommended it to me, describing it as “the Coppers of Hamburg with karaoke and cocktails”. Will have to check it out the next time I’m there!
Some places I’ll be seeing when I go back
As I was there primarily for work, it meant there was less time for exploring. But I would love to go back again, and here are a few things on my list when I do:
Reeperbahn – The Reeperbahn is a street in Hamburg that is basically half nightlife spot, half red light district. I didn’t see much of this while there, and I have no intention to go buying hookers, but apparently when in Hamburg, this street is a must for the experience alone…if nothing else! Also, fun fact, it was on this street that the Beatles played many a gig before they eventually hit the big time!
Chocoversum – A huge chocolate museum. Because who doesn’t love chocolate? And here, you get to make some of your own too!
Elbphilharmonie – Hamburg’s majestic concert hall. It was controversial when it was finally completed in 2016, as it emerged that it cost almost 900 million to build. I saw this from the outside, and it looks really amazing. But apparently it’s gorgeous on the inside too, and offers great views of the city as well, from its spot overlooking the Elbe River.
Some Stuff to Know
Don’t worry if you haven’t a word of German, I don’t. The majority of places you go to visit, or eat in, or drink in, will have staff that speak English as well as German, and most of them are so used to tourists they will spot you a mile off and greet you in English anyway.
Pay attention as you are walking on the sidewalks, as they are half grey, half red in colour. The red is the cycle lane, and you will come to notice that a lot of people cycle in Hamburg, and if you wander into the cycle lane in front of them you will receive anything from some angry ringing of there bike bell, to being shouted at in German to get out of the way before they almost run you down. So, just pay attention!
Ignore any man that comes up to you and says: “You have a lucky face/I see a big change coming in your future”. They are scammers, talking bullshit about God and love and luck and how everything you desire will come to you in a month…but only if you give them money for their “blessing”. Don’t even engage, and keep walking and they will just move on to the next unfortunate soul. This actually happened to me three separate times while I was there, so I must just stand out as a foreigner, and by extension, seem like easy prey to them.
Have you ever been to Hamburg? How did you find it? Let me know below!