In the spring I attended a conference in Hamburg and had the opportunity to do some sightseeing too, just me, without the kids. A rarity! Coming to Hamburg, I had few preconceptions and had little knowledge of this city. All I knew is that Hamburg is a German city that’s also one of the biggest ports in the world. A good friend had gone to university here and told stories of how cool it was, so I was fairly curious to explore the city.
Over the long weekend, however, dipping in and out of conference sessions I discovered more and more of Hamburg and really liked what I saw. I just touched the surface but realised I definitely want to return to Hamburg for a long weekend and explore the city with the kids. Hamburg is the perfect city for a 3-2-1-Go adventure!
1) Hamburg, the busy port
The port life of Hamburg is fascinating. We took a boat trip from the inner canals to the docklands of Hamburg and I learned so much about this bustling harbour- the billions of Euros worth of goods that go through this port is mind-blowing.
Watching the large cargo ships being loaded and unloaded is mesmerising, especially as we are bobbing around on a sightseeing boat, that suddenly dwarfs to tiny in comparison to the large container ships.
As a family, when given the opportunity to take a boat ride, we never miss it and I would repeat this boat sightseeing trip from the canals to the shipping port with the kids, for sure.
2) Hamburg has a social and environmental conscious
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Hamburg, I discovered, was how this metropolitan had a social and environmental consciousness:
Firstly, there are a lot of small building projects and road repairs happening around the inner city. I found out that these are repairs from the riots when the G20 summit and protests were happening in the summer of 2017. Some of these repairs are actually being used for the good; they are implementing improvements to the urban environment, by adding tiny green spaces. Hamburg is a city of parks and waterways, anyway, but small green spaces are popping up in the most unexpected places.
Hamburg is a city of cyclists and shared car schemes. The morning rush hour in town, compared to any UK city I’ve experienced, is negligible. (Don’t attempt the ring roads and motorways around Hamburg at rush hour though… That’s a whole different story!) The cycle lanes are wide and I would have no issue exploring Hamburg by bike with the kids even though the the U-bahn and public transport system is fabulous too.
3) All the bridges of Hamburg
Did you know that Hamburg has the most bridges of any city in the world? More bridges than Amsterdam, Venice and London combined! Over 2,000 bridges speckle this city. Some of the prettiest are around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, with its beautiful red brick buildings.
4) Hamburg Architecture
In 1842 Great Fire and then 100 years later the bombings of World War II destroyed much of old Hamburg. However, there are glimpses of the city’s past wherever you look: from the grand neo-Renaissance City Hall to cute 17th-century townhouses. Hamburg is bustling with historical heritage.
On the other hand, the city has superb modern architecture, especially along the waterfront and in the newer neighbourhoods. Hamburg is another perfect city for a photo walk with the kids, like we did for our Bristol photowalk.
5) The Distinctly Different Districts
On my brief visit, I only got a glimpse into some of the very different districts of Hamburg. I loved the vibe of the edgy suburb of Altona and St Pauli. (St Pauli being a suburb I wouldn’t take the kids in the evening till they are 16 years old, at least!)
Drugs, alcohol and homelessness are visible in areas, yet I still felt safe walking around at night, arriving back to my accommodation right in the middle of town.
Some suburbs ooze class and riches, some are bustling with creativity, art and a distinct inner-city hip vibe. Hamburg feels to have a good balance.
6) Miniatur Wunderworld
One of the conference attendees popped into Germany’s top tourist attraction, the Miniatur Wunderland. He showed me pictures and I was blown away: This is the world’s largest miniature railway with nine miniature worlds running over 1,000 trains. There are more than 4,000 buildings and 260,000 figurines.
I can’t imagine the kids not wanting to spend hours exploring Miniatur Wunderworld, can you? (How I would keep track of 3 going in 3 different directions will be the challenge. I hope they have wristbands to write contact numbers on! )
7) Hamburg’s café culture
Hamburg has bakeries and cafes around every corner, it seems; certainly at every U-bahn stop. Feeding the kids and me would not be an issue in this city! A quick bratworst or curry worst or a freshly-baked cinnamon franzbrötchen would be a great motivator at the end of each sightseeing and activity segment of the weekend, keeping the kids good-natured and happy.
When I got home telling the kids about Hamburg, and showed them my friend, Joanna’s video, they immediately said, “Mummy, when can we go?”
Now… I just need to book flights. 😀
We would probably stay at the Generator Hostel again, which has private rooms. I stayed at the hostel with my friend, Joanna for my trip and was pleased with the cleanliness and accessibility of the Generator. A definite plus that the hostel is right across from the central station, super-conveniently located.
Getting to Hamburg
Hamburg is serviced by regular international flights, but within Europe getting there by train is a realistic option.
Getting around is super easy with the public transport system, hire bike pools or carpools (the bikes and cars are hired through apps.)
The Hamburg Card is good value. The cost includes public transport, some boat/ ferry trips and discounts to most of the attractions in the city.
Save, share and pin for later: