48 Hours in.... Hamburg... stripped
We head to the famous German port city of Hamburg…. and not for the neon lights
Known as the "Tor zur Welt" (gateway to the world), Hamburg has a history that is intertwined with free-thinking and alternative thought-leaders wanting to try something new.
Germany’s second city, Hamburg can often be overlooked as a short-stay destination for the historically rich Berlin. But the open nature and ‘anything goes’ attitude that is rife throughout this glorious city means it will always be a stunning alternative option. We have all heard the stories of the infamous Reeperbahn and The Beatles’ quest to find themselves amongst its bawdy clubs, but there is more to see beyond the beguiling neon lights and people of the night.
Where to stay
East Hamburg Hotel, Simon-von-Utrecht-Straße 31
A four-star design hotel, The East Hotel is right in the centre of Hamburg's bohemian St.Pauli district just a short walk from all the must-see sights including the shopping and culinarily-packed HafenCity, the iconic Elbphilharmonie concert hall and of course the Reeperbahn. Its modern rooms and stylish reception make it a popular but medium-priced hotel in the city, while its array of affiliate restaurants range from the Clouds Heaven sky bar and eatery through to the waterfront Coast By East and Coast Enoteca Italian.
Generator, Steintorplatz 3
Generator Hamburg is located in the heart of the city, opposite Hauptbahnhof station. While John, Paul, George and Ringo once recorded there before they hit the big time and it became a hostel, their Helter Skelter track was the inspiration behind the trendy bar, which brings together creative design, curated drinks, street-food inspired dishes and local craft beers. Work by local artist Till Keifer and design touches such as exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows is on show, while buses and trains are just a minute walk from with direct connections to the old town and Hamburg Airport.
Where to eat
Jill’s Pizza, Bartelsstraße 12
Described on more than one occasion as “the best pizza I have ever had”, Jill’s has something of a reputation for delivering high quality Neapolitan-style pizza. Homemade doughs with banging breakfasts, inventive starters and spectacular desserts are just the beginning and end. The meat in the middle is an array of traditional italian ingredients placed on bread and served with stylish cocktails and shorts. It’s that simple. It’s that good.
Erika’s Eck, Sternstraße 98
Ericka’s is something of an iconic restaurant to both locals and tourists, with monstrous schnitzel, huge portions and cold drinks. Doesn’t sound that great? Well it’s open from 5pm to 2pm the following day, meaning it pulls in the post-party revellers for a spot of German eats at sunrise.
It is famous for its very, very tired decor and it’s ruthlessly efficient service at ridiculous o’clock. But don’t expect a desgustation tasting menu, it’s more about choosing a schnitzel and what toppings you want to shove on it - fried egg, pepper sauce, pineapple and cheese, mushrooms, chillis - but at 2am it rocks.
Where to drink
Clockers, Paul-Roosen-Straße 27
It’s not easy to find, because its hidden behind a nondescript doorway, but Clockers is a hidden gem. Down in the basement which is decorated like a forest, complete with tree branches, gin is the order of the day, with the Clockers in-house tipple available. Take a little time to explore and find the tiny library complete with bookshelves and old English-style Chesterfields.
StrandPauli, Hafenstraße 89
Hamburg has a beach, but with Northern German weather the way it is, it’s probably better to soak up beach vibes with sand, wooden decks and chilled tunes at StrandPauli. Obviously it’s a draw in the summer but it remains open all year round, offering stunning winter sunsets alongside cocktails, chilled beers and international small plates.
For culture vultures..
Underpressure Hip Hop Store, Schanzenstraße 10
From the best sneakers, hats and streetwear, through to vintage and new vinyl, the Underpressure Hip Hop Store is a must visit for those that way inclined.
Syncing with the vibrant graffiti and street art scene in Hamburg, there is an emphasis on spray style, from tagged clothing through to the paint cans themselves. The bleats are plenty and your wallet will be empty.
For sports fans…
FC St Pauli, Millerntor-Stadion
Of course a football team in St Pauli will have a unique identity.
You will no doubt have seen the skull and crossbones around the city, and while that may seem an intimidating emblem, FC St Pauli operates according to rules that anchor it to its location, imprinting a philosophy of tolerance and social responsibility into its makeup.
The match-day experience is arguably one of the best in Europe with rock music providing a soundtrack to the match and there’s visible support for the city’s gay community and ethnic minorities.