Despite being one of Germany’s largest and most industrial cities, Hamburg is dominated by water and greenery. For outdoor recreation, check out the Alster Lakes - a harbor/riverboat cruise is another 'must-do' in Hamburg. Hamburg’s attractions are connected via the integrated underground and local train network. The city’s main art museums, the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe and the Kunsthalle, are south and north of the main train station respectively, while more family-oriented attractions such as the Hamburg Dungeons and Miniatur Wunderland are located on the harborfront, home to the ambitious Elbe Philharmonic Hall project (expected completion date 2015) and upcoming HafenCity.
Hot Tips: The Hamburg CARD offers discounted travel and free entry to the city's major museums for a one-time price.
Hamburg’s importance as a hub for media and industry professionals is reflected in its wide choice of business class hotels, many of which offer splendid lakeside views: the landmark Vier Jahreszeiten, for example, is situated overlooking the Binnenalster, an elegant hotel rich in history. In contrast, modern design hotel SIDE, just a few blocks northwest, is a trendy and original place to stay. Cheaper options meanwhile can be found in less upmarket St Georg, St Pauli, and Altona, as well as in the trendy Schanzenviertel district.
Hot Tips: The budget options close to the main train station, where what appears to be a perfectly ordinary hotel may actually be a brothel.
Eat international or German, cheaply or splurge; in Hamburg, with enough Imbiss joints for any backpacker and as many Michelin star restaurants as Berlin, you can easily take your pick. For an interesting culinary experience, it’s best leaving the downtown area and exploring outlying districts like the former Danish colony of Ottesen, with its trendy bistros (take the train to Altona Station), or checking out one of the old school, authentic fish restaurants along waterfront Grosse Elbstrasse, like Fischereihafen.
Hot Tips: Aalsuppe is a regional soup of eels, vegetables and plums; while 'aal' means eels, some places seem to understand this more as 'everything soup.'
Hamburg’s nightlife offers as much as your pocket and endurance will allow, from classical concerts at the opulent Laeiszhalle concert hall (located a little south-east of Messehallen U-bahn) to jazz venues (the city's top jazz club, Birdland, is located in the very north of the city) and grungy rock dives either side of the Reeperbahn. Aside from the notoriously sleazy pursuits, the St Pauli district also offers electro clubs, musicals and variety shows, and is clearly more lively at night than day.
Hot Tips: The monthly English language Hamburg Guide lists mainstream events and is found in most hotels and shopping malls.
Monckebergstrasse, west of the main train station and its side street Spitalerstrasse is Hamburg’s main shopping area, boasting major chains and department stores. Further west, the completely refurbished avenue Neuer Wall is now vying for the title of Hamburg's premier shopping street with stores like Budapester Schuhe and Tempel. For a more offbeat shopping experience, try checking out the secondhand clothing stores of the vibrant Karolinenviertel district or the one-of-a-kind, designer boutiques of the adjacent neighborhood, boho Schanzienviertel (take the S-train to Feldstrasse or Sternschanze).
Hot Tips: Outlet stores claiming to be vintage thrift stores; instead, hunt down the real thing around Sternschanze S-station.