Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A Long Weekend In Hamburg

Hamburg is one of those German cities that may not be on your radar but it really should be. We spent three days there recently, seeing the sites and soaking up the atmosphere and it was a city that really surprised and delighted us. Being guests of the Come To Hamburg scheme, we didn't have any expectations when we arrived, which probably made it more enjoyable.

Day one



Our base for the stay the Heikotel Am Stadtpark

We got to Hamburg in the afternoon after a short plane journey from the UK. In little over an hour we were landing down in Hamburg airport and whizzing over to the Heikotel Am Stadtpark Hamburg, a short 20 min drive away.


The Heikotel Am Stadtpark is a three-star superior hotel near the Stadtpark area. Check in was efficient and the room was spacious, clean and modern, with a small lounge area. You can read more about my review of the hotel here





So after a quick freshen up, we were off, out into the centre of the city. Rather than catch a taxi we took a five-minute walk to the nearest U-Bahn. The U-Bahn is a rapid transit system, and although technically an underground, most of the trains are above ground. This makes it feel less claustrophobic than the London underground. It is also incredibly easy to get around.  

We used our Hamburg card from Hamburg Tourism to get around. For one price this card allows you to explore the city by train, ferry and bus as well as giving you discounts to many of the local attractions. It was worth getting for the convenience. By the way, the U-Bahn is so easy to use, no tap in and tap out like the London Underground and we never saw any guards checking tickets which we thought was odd, but with the Hamburg card which you can buy online you are all set, just print it out.

It's a green city


The beautiful Rathaus

Travelling into the city we realised how green it is, it really is quite leafy especially on the outskirts.

First stop - photo opportunity at the Rathaus. The Rathaus which is the town hall is such a beautiful building. It is where the Hamburg Parliment and Senate assemble. It was constructed between 1886 and 1897, and although damaged during WW11 it was restored to its former beauty after the war. If you are a lover of architecture like me you really have to see it.




Now when in Hamburg you have to do one thing - yes have a Hamburger! So our next stop was to the Better Burger Company. The burgers were incredibly tasty and with lots of fresh salad toppings to choose from we could almost convince ourselves the burgers were healthy.... yeah right!

Was the Hamburger invented in Hamburg? Well, what is known is that when sailing on the Hamburg-America Line, German immigrants ate a salted minced beef patty, a recipe from the Russians, and later this version took America by storm. So did they invent it... the jury is out.

After our meal, we decided to take the U-Bahn to the Reeperbahn area. The Reeperbahn is a bit like the red light area of Amsterdam interspersed with restaurants and bars. If you are walking around in the evening we felt totally safe so don't worry about that if you want to see this infamous area. I had read about a great bar here called Clouds and we decided to visit for a cocktail.

Clouds is a cool cocktail bar and restaurant, over 100 metres above the Elba river. It's worth coming here for a drink and seeing the amazing views.


The cocktail and drinks list was large and although on the pricey side the cocktails were inventive and well made. I had a mojito, one of my favourite cocktails and it was really excellent.


By this time it was getting late so we headed back to our hotel and to our beds, which were, incidentally, exceptionally comfy.


Day Two

The Heikotel must be one of the quietest hotels we have ever stayed in, so consequently, we woke up on day two rested and ready for the new day ahead. After getting showered and dressed we made it down to breakfast.



The breakfast was a continental breakfast with a wide selection of cereals, yoghurts, cooked meats, cheese, bread, pastries and fresh fruit salad as well as boiled and scrambled eggs. It had everything you needed really and it was all tasty, and well prepared.




It's always interesting to see how breakfast differs in various countries and I was surprised to see about 4 different types of potato salad. The Germans obviously like their potato salad, that's for sure!


Our plan for today was to go on a boat tour, then head over to the Minatur Wunderland in the afternoon, the huge model railway museum. So we headed down to the port area on the U-Bahn.


The port area was really interesting and before long we were boarding our boat for the classic harbour tour.  The hour tour took in the sites such as the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, and the Hafencity area. The company Barkassen Meyer gave us an English audio guide which was very useful as otherwise, the tour would have been just in German.



What stunning architecture at the Elphiliharmonie concert hall

We floated past the Elphiliharmonie, the multi-million euro concert hall recently opened. I must admit it really was breathtaking and shone proudly in the sun. I can imagine the acoustics would be amazing if you saw a concert here.



What was interesting was seeing the mix of boats, from touring boats to old fashion yachts, large cargo ships to luxury yachts. It's a real working harbour, the largest port in Germany and it shows.

After the tour we stopped for a spot of lunch on the harbour, I scoffed down the fish in batter and potato salad in no time, which seems to be one of the local dishes.

Now it was time to do something we had wanted to do for ages - go to Minatur Wunderland! Minatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world.and was started by twin brothers in 2000. Now it has over 6 miles of track including an airport with planes taking off and landing, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas as well as an extensive German area.







As you can see the attention to detail is amazing. We both thought it was a great day out for old and young alike and I would allow 2 hours to see everything.

So back to our hotel to freshen up before going out. 

That evening we ate at a restaurant we looked up on TripAdvisor called Pittarello. This modern Italian restaurant was smart, upmarket and served excellent food, highly recommended.



Tired but after a great day sightseeing we walked back to the hotel looking forward to what Hamburg had to offer on our last day tomorrow.

Day three



Today after breakfast we decided to visit the International Maritime Museum and then the Chocoversum, Hamburg's own chocolate museum.



Onto the U-Bhan again we took the nearest stop to the Warehouse District or Speicherstadt the largest warehouse area in the world. After the obligatory photo of Mr W with an anchor, we entered the International Maritime Museum. 



Who remembers the film The Fog?



Spot the dummy, no not that one

The museum houses Peter Tamm's collection of model ships, construction plans, uniforms, and maritime art, amounting to over 40,000 items and more than one million photographs. It really is a comprehensive collection and one that will delight lovers of ships and maritime memorabilia. 


We all need a good harpoon in our cupboard

I must admit Mr W did enjoy it more than me but they did have some incredibly cool items such as old submarines, a small pirate exhibition and a bunch of harpoons. We were unlucky that we didn't manage to book a guided tour but to get the most of it this is probably the way to go. Allow an hour or two to explore but if you are a real maritime junky you could probably spend all day here.

We stopped in the lovely coffee shop attached for coffee and dessert, the peach pie was outstanding, then decided to walk over to the Chocoversum.


If I could describe the Chocoversum in one word it would be choctastic! The Chocoverseum is a 90 minute guided tour through the history of chocolate. You follow the journey from the raw cocoa beans from the pods to the finished bar of chocolate ready for the shops. 



We both really enjoyed this museum, seeing the cocoa bean and trying it raw then being shown how it is made into chocolate and tasting the samples as you go around really made it memorable. My favourite part was making your own bar of chocolate and of course eating it later!

pin for later

So with tums full of chocolate, we stumbled back to the UBahn and our hotel. We could have gone to a traditional German restaurant that night but I must admit, we did the touristy thing and went to the Hard Rock Cafe, in the harbour area.

What did we think of Hamburg? In our short time here we only scratched the surface of this fabulous city but can conclude, it's a city full of history, amazing museums and stunning architecture. If it wasn't on your radar before, I hope it is now.

* We were guests of Come To Hamburg and the Heikhotel Am Stadtpark. Follow the #ComeToHamburg bloggers on social media.

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71 comments

  1. Hamburg looks amazing! I really want to go back to Germany soon and I'm definitely adding Hamburg to my wishlist. That chocolate museum...;-)

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    1. That chocolate museum was choctastic!

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  2. Sounds like you got so much into a weekend. Looks great!! I miss traveling x

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    1. It was great. Hope you can travel again soon.

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  3. Oh wow it looks like such an amazing place to visit, it sounds like you go up to some great things and that burger looks delicious.

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    1. It was a great city to visit and the burger was yummy.

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  4. I would love to visit Hamburg! It's definitely on my bucket list! Looks like you had a fabulous time! Xx

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  5. I would love to go back and visit Germany one day and you have tempted me even further with this post about Hamburg.

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    1. You don't hear a lot about Hamburg as a tourist destination but you really should.

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  6. I've never been to Hamburg, looks like you had a great time

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  7. I really like the sound of the clouds cocktail bar and I have always wanted to visit hamburg as well :) x

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  8. I love the contrast of historical buildings and modern architecture, and Minatur Wunderland looks amazing! The whole trip looks like such fun.

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    1. I thought Minatur Wunderland would appeal to just kids but there were people of all ages there and I must admit I really enjoyed it too!

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  9. I have never thought of visiting Hamburg, but your photos have made me change my mind. What an amazing city!

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  10. Sound like you really made the most of exploring this incredible city, I'd love to visit Hamburg :)

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  11. Your whole trip sounds amazing and you managed to squeeze in quite a lot during your trip x

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  12. What a wonderful city and review. My Husband was born in Germany and we plan to go back to see his relatives as soon as I get a job x

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    1. Hope you put Hamburg on your list of places to visit Jane.

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  13. What a lovely place to spend a long weekend. Sounds like u had fun exploring the city.

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  14. To be honest, this wasn't on my radar before, but it is now. The architecture is stunning.

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    1. The Rathaus is so beautiful and how gorgeous is the concert hall?

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  15. Hamburg looks incredible! I'm hoping to take a day trip there next month while visiting Berlin.

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  16. Hamburg is such a nice place. Once you visit it, feels like you want to revisit again as you fell in love with it. I had an awesome experience too and planning to visit again.

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    1. Glad to see another Hamburg fan Anosa.

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  17. You are right, Hamburg was not on my list but I have to say I want to go now - looks well worth a trip! Great pics!

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    1. I think it really is, we were pleasantly surprised.

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  18. It looks like an amazing place to visit, so much to see and do. I had never really thought about it before

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  19. Humburg looks a great place to visit. I loved the fact that it is very green city.

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  20. I've never been to Hamburg before but it looks like a fab place to go and see! x

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  21. This looks like such a fab city break I've never been to Hamburg but would love to there's so much to do!

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    1. There is a lot to do and we just touched the surface.

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  22. Oooh this is making me want to visit Hamburg, it looks like such a great city! I need to go to that chocolate museum! xo

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    1. That chocolate museums was excellent. Warm chocolate tastings too... yum!

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  23. I think the cities that aren't on your radar are usually the best ones to visit!

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    1. I agree Lucy. Sometimes your expectations are so high. I have to admit I was disappointed with Rome.

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  24. What a great experience! Hamburg's never really been on my radar before, but I'm totally popping it on the list of places I want to see now. x

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    1. Hope you get the chance one day Elodie.

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  25. oh wow that looks amazing and i love a good continental breakfast! Added a visit to my wishlist!

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  26. I've not been to Hamburg before. It looks great there and the hotel looks lovely. OMG I would love to go to the Chocoversum it sounds like fun!

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  27. Minimal expectations are my default MO. That way, most places are amazing. I have a friend in Hamburg who's been telling me to visit, now I can surprise her with some insider tips.

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    1. If you have somewhere to stay that's even better :)

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  28. I visited Düsseldorf some years ago. Loved it. Would love to visit Hamburg some day.

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    1. Now that's a place I need to visit Stella.

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  29. Minatur Wunderland looks AMAZING!! I love things like that, and you're right, there was so much attention to detail! x

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    1. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

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  30. Never heard of potato salad for breakfast, let alone 4 types! Chocolate tour looked amazing!

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    1. It must be the way they do it in Germany :)

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  31. A lovely break away, but potatoes for breakfast?!

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  32. I've been to a few cities in Germany, but never Hamburg. Sounds like there is so much to do and see. Your pictures are amazing - especially the concert hall. Sounds like you had a fantastic couple of days. Thanks for putting Hamburg on the radar!!

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    1. There is a lot to do. I would go back tomorrow, maybe see a concert in Elphiliharmonie.

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  33. Hamburg was never on my list but after reading your post I changed my mind. Looks like a great place to visit.

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  34. I've never been to hamburg but it looks like an amazing place to visit and sounds like you had a fab time!

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  35. Ahh, I really wanted to go to Miniatur Wunderland when I was in Germany a few years ago. We got as close as Oldenburg but didn't quite make it to Hamburg. We loved our visit To Germany, as people were refreshingly friendly and helpful. There's so much rich history too. It looks like you had an amazing visit to Hamburg! Love the architecture of the concert hall too! I would have been photographing everything!

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    1. I did photograph everything I think! The Miniatur Wunderland was so much fun and the Chocoversum. Hope you get the chance to go one day.

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  36. Germany is such a beautiful country, and while I've never been to Hamburg, it sounds amazing. Minatur Wunderland looks so fun! And I just love checking out the Rathaus in German towns. Great post!

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  37. Oh We love Hamburg! We lived in Germany for 5 years and love love hamburg! So true that the port is super cool, and the chocolate museum is something that we missed. We will have to go back!

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  38. Hamburg looks amazing. We were supposed to go last year for the Xmas markets but hubby couldn't get the time off work

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    1. That's a shame but hopefully you will get the chance to go one day Kara.

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  39. Hamburg has never really been on my radar, but this looks like a fun spot. Your pics and post really sell it.

    Something to look into for my European trip this fall.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed my post, thanks so much for the compliment but I think the city sells itself.

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  40. I visited Hamburg by pure chance, i was just scanning cheap flights online and Hamburg was top on the list. It was a nice little getaway,

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  41. I had heard about Come to Hamburg project and it's good to read about some travel experience on the same! The burger looks too delicious! Hamburg is a great place with a mix of many wonderful things. Would love to explore someday!

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    1. It is a fabulous place to explore, we really enjoyed our stay Reshma.

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  42. I don't know why Hamburg is not on people's list but when I was kid, it's been on mine. Maybe because I know people from Germany and I've heard how beautiful this city is! Thanks for sharing!

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