Hamburg’s one of the most northern cities in Germany, but it’s still a little way from the country’s coastline. Instead, you’ve got pockets of sand along the banks of the Elbe River, and daytrips to the Schleswig-Holstein region, which is fringed with some of the best sunbathing spots.
You’ll find the buzziest beach vibe in Strandpauli, which is right on the cusp of the Elbe River. This place has palm trees, patches of sand and a tropical-inspired cocktail bar, all with front-row views of the passing ships and riverboats.
To get waters that are perfect for paddling, plot a course west to the sandy shores of Rissener Ufer. This peaceful pocket of sunbathing real estate isn’t that well known, because of its peripheral setting. But it’s got clearer waters than you’ll find by the port, so those in the known love to come for a dip here.
For the most historic shopping experience in Hamburg, look no further than the Sunday morning Fischmarkt. This traditional market, by the harbour, has been running since the early 1700s. Early risers get up at 5am to see fish sold in the auction hall, before browsing the seafood and souvenir stands that create a buzz by the riverside.
You’ll find the most variety along Spitalerstrasse, which is home to classic high street brands and a few German names you might not have heard of. Zara and H&M are a couple of the best-known stores, and there are plenty of pavement cafés where you can make a pit stop.
Big brands all clamour for a spot on Hamburg’s elite shopping street – Neuer Wall. It’s almost easier to list which fashion A-listers don’t have a store here, with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Mulberry.
Nightlife is a little edgy in the Sternschanze district, which is home to music bars and theatres. It’s neighbours with Karoviertel, too, where cocktail bars and pavement cafés set the tone.
Big nights out in Hamburg are dominated by the famous Reeperbahn. This part of the city shot to fame when The Beatles performed here in the 1960s, and its roster of bars and clubs has swelled ever since. You’ll find everything from open-til-dawn nightclubs to cabarets and dive bars.
Because of Hamburg’s history as a port city, seafood plays a massive part on the restaurant scene. Down by the waterside you’ll find plenty of places serving fischbroten – these soft rolls are crammed with herring fillets, pickles, onions and herby remoulade sauce. They’re great if you want to eat something on the go.
This sausage-based snack is a favourite around Germany, and Hamburg’s no exception. The sausage – or wurst – is sliced into thick chunks, before being drenched in thick curry sauce. A side of fries is standard, and there’ll be plenty of leftover sauce to dip in.
Simple and sweet are the words to describe this refreshing dessert. Red berries are simmered with sugar and cornflour until they form a thick creamy texture. Once the mixture’s dolloped into bowls, it’s topped with fresh berries and a warm vanilla sauce.
As far as beer drinking goes in Hamburg, there’s only one way according to the locals – Astra. This beer’s brewed in the city, and you’ll recognise it by its signature heart-and-anchor logo. You’ll find it on draught in some places, but almost every bar and club stocks stubby bottles.
This tasty German take on a cinnamon roll is a speciality in Hamburg. Swirls of buttery pastry are folded into a croissant-like shape, complete with a cinnamon and sugar dusting. You’ll find them in every bakery, and some even ramp things up by adding chocolate or raisins.
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