My boyfriend and I spent a lovely three-night stay in Hamburg in January 2019. As we had promised one another to reduce the number of flights this year, we booked tickets through Flixbus from Copenhagen. In general, we strive to reduce our carbon emissions by taking the bus or public transport rather than flying everywhere. Especially short distance journeys that can be done on a bus or by train are favored.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and relatively close to Denmark. It shares affinities with Copenhagen in terms of the harbor and the vibe and appearance of some of the neighborhoods reminded me of Vesterbro in Copenhagen.
Where to stay
We had booked three nights at Hotel Budapester Hof in the lovely Sankt Pauli area. The hotel was situated on a busy road and not too far from the famous Reeperbahn. Despite the hotel’s proximity to Reeperbahn and a busy road, we had some good nights sleep at our hotel. The hotel was very clean, newly refurbished, and the area offered many good restaurants, shopping and public transport connections. From the hotel, you can also walk anywhere in central Hamburg.
Things to see and do
The day we arrived by bus we went straight to our hotel. Then we strolled down to the harbor to see what the fish restaurants had to offer. It was freezing cold, but it was interesting to see the ‘real Hamburg’. The harbor is a mix of new structures and old buildings and is architecturally really fascinating.
Soon, your eyes catch the famous building Elbphilharmonie popping up in the horizon. It is notorious for exceeding the construction budget by a factor 10.
In Hamburg, there are many grand malls and little boutiques for shopping. We both had the opportunity to look for some last call sale items. Some great malls that we visited include the Europa Passage (and their food court!), Karstadt and Mundsburg (East of the great Alster lake).
We had cheap lunches at the Hansebäcker, situated by the Sankt Petri Church in the city center very close to Rathaus, the City Hall of Hamburg. You can find it in many other locations as well.
The Hansebäcker is a chain of bakeries offering cheap and delicious sandwiches, cakes and coffee. It seemed very popular also among the locals. They have a nice offer on cake and coffee too! 🙂
We had booked a ticket and a time slot to see the Miniature Wunderland, which is an amazing 1,499 m2 sized exhibition of 1,040 model trains in amazing surroundings (see more cool facts here). This experience is for anyone, both children, adults, and model train enthusiasts. Admission for adults is 15 €.
Miniature Wunderland is situated in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Speicherstadt. It is a collection of old and beautiful buildings in the harbor of Hamburg.
We arrived at 4 pm and I was a bit astonished by the number of visitors. Around 5 pm people were clearing out and it was much nicer, thus I recommend going there later in the afternoon.
We easily spent two hours walking around in the Wunderland, spotting cute little details such as Superman and Lucky Luke and much more. Every ~15 minutes the whole exhibition goes dark as it turns into night, and the little shimmering lights revealed the nightlife of the miniature cities.
Book your tickets beforehand on their website and select a time slot to arrive in. Later in the day, there will be fewer children 🙂
There is a wardrobe available for your coat, shopping bag etc. for a small fee.
On our last whole day, we bought a Tageskarte (Day ticket). We bought a ‘9 am group ticket’ for the two of us, which was the cheapest option, only 11.83 €! As long as you travel outside rush hour in the morning it is a good choice (travel from 9am-6pm and between midnight-6am). Despite having paid to use public transport all day, we ended up with the highest number of steps for our entire trip!
With the HVV Tageskarte, you can take the ferry to other parts of Hamburg. You can actually get quite far with the card and explore different parts than just the city center.
Read more about the different options on their website, a Hamburg Card may also be your best choice if you plan to visit a lot of museums etc.
If you have a day with few plans, it is a good idea to have the tageskarte to travel around Hamburg. We also bought it to use the ferry, you can also buy a roundtrip with a ferry company, but that is 20 € or more per person!
I also recommend having a walk in the Botanical Garden near the station ‘Hamburg Dammtor’. They have a lovely Tropical Greenhouse, which is ideal on a cold winter day. The locals also recommend walking around Lake Alster, but to walk around the entire lake you would have to walk 7.4 km.
If you are looking for a night out, I believe that the bars and clubs on and around Reeperbahn are ideal. You can also have a stroll down one of the streets to get the picture of what is going on there.
© All photos are my own and may not be used without permission.