A guest post this week, this time from Julie Falconer. She recently travelled to Hamburg, Germany and details what the story is for a 2 day trip to this city in Germany’s north.
Hamburg is mostly known for business travel. In fact, most people that have explored the city have done so between meetings or after hours at a conference. But with its placid lakes, stunning historic architecture, and picturesque parks, Hamburg is well worth a visit for leisure.
Things to See and Do
The Aussenalster and Binnenalster lakes are two of Hamburg’s top attractions. During the summer months, the lakes are full of sailboats, and the many restaurants and cafes that line the perimeters are full of people. There are also footpaths around the lakes that are popular with cyclists and walkers. Another great way to see the lakes is to take a cruise.
Planten un Blomen
Hamburg’s massive city park is awash with color, greenery, ponds, and activity. The manicured rose garden is a treat to walk through, and the conservatory is home to exotic flora from all over. Waterfalls and pretty paths make the park both beautiful and enchanting.
Hamburg’s skyline is full of church spires. The city’s most famous church is the St. Michaelis Church. Its spire is a city landmark, but the restored interior is equally impressive. Another famous church in Hamburg is St. Catherine’s Church. The base of the church’s spire was built in the early 1200’s, making it one of the oldest architectural sights in the city.
The Hamburg Zoo is located a short ride from the city center on the S-Bahn, Hamburg’s metro system. There are over 70 enclosures at the zoo, which is home to everything from leopards and lions to ponies and porcupines. The gift shop sells animal food if you want to feed the animals and not just look at them.
Hamburg’s Hafencity is rife with contemporary architecture. From undulating glass facades to creative cantilevers, the Hafencity is all things modern and futuristic. And speaking of the future, the famous Elbe Philharmonic, which will be the jewel in the Hafencity’s crown, is due for completion next year.
Rathaus (City Hall)
Hamburg’s town hall is one of its most beautiful buildings. Completed in the late 19th century, the Rathaus is at the heart of the city. The square in front of the building is often home to markets and festivals, and the streets around it are full of shops, restaurants, and cultural landmarks.
Food and Drink
Hamburg has restaurants that represent flavors around the world, but it also has its share of local German food. From currywurst to haute cuisine, there is something for everyone.
One of the best choices in the city center is O-Ren Ishii, a Vietnamese restaurant on Kleine Reichenstrasse that serves up excellent rice bowls at value prices. The place gets packed at lunch, so go during off hours to get a table.
If you want traditional German food, your best bet is Gaststatte Dreyer. The restaurant is as authentic as they come, complete with great décor and good German beers.
Felix has a large, airy dining room with a casual ambiance. There is outdoor seating for summer months, and lots of space inside for when the weather is cooler. The menu has great pasta dishes and build-your-own salad options. At around 7 to 10 euros for mains, the prices are reasonable.
How to get there
Hamburg is easy to get to from London and most other cities in Europe. Because it is a business destination, most major airlines fly there, and the city is well connected by rail links. Major air carriers include Lufthansa and British Airways. Low cost airlines like easyJet also fly there. There is an S-Bahn train connection from the airport to the city that costs 2.80 euros.
A bit of orientation
Here’s a handy map laying out all the sights mentioned above to give you an idea of where things are in Hamburg.
Click on the markers to see the sight listed and zoom and pan around to see more of the map.
View 48 hours in Hamburg in a larger map
Get around in Hamburg
Walking is the best way to get around Hamburg. For longer distances, there is a great public transport system. The S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains are inexpensive and simple to use, and the bus system is extensive.
Where to stay
Motel One is a great choice in Hamburg. They have two locations in the city center, one near St. Michaelis Church, and one near the central train station. Rooms cost 69 euros per night and are clean and stylishly decorated. WiFi is free in the lobby, and you can get it in your room by paying for the 7.50 euro breakfast buffet.
Accommodation is the main expense in Hamburg. Apart from lodging, the food and beer are fairly inexpensive, and meals don’t cost more than 10 euros if you’re eating moderately priced places. Many of the city’s top attractions are free to visit as well.
Far from being a business travel destination, Hamburg is a great city to visit for anyone that loves lakeside activities, great historic and contemporary architecture, and a beautiful city with a laid-back vibe.
Have you been to Hamburg before? What did you like about it most? Did we miss something you think is worth a visit? Let us know in the comments!