Today I’m talking about why Hamburg is currently one of the coolest places in Europe to go exploring, and why you should be too.
The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Hamburg
It’s rarely known that a district is more popular than the city for aspects of culture. We all hear ‘Hamburg’ and think of music, street art, patriotic people and delicious food. There’s a reason why people hype up this incredible place, and that’s simply because there’s so much to do and see. It holds all the tranquility of Amsterdam, the coolness of Italians with the excitement of Berlin. I’m speaking from my recent adventure after being invited over to explore Hamburg and everything it had to offer me. Let me talk you through fashion, food, football, sights and sounds to navigate.
One crucial part of the location is the overwhelming amount of Hamburg fashion. Expect boutiques brimming out of side streets, a lot of independent designers ground themselves in this city, and are extremely friendly to help you out in whatever way they can. I always discourage going to mainstream shops and to truly get stuck into the culture. Their shopping experiences are the sole reason why I want to return, everything is so intricate, personalised and unique.
We were invited down to check out Maison Suneve, a couple of Hamburg fashion designers; Katharina Czemper and artist Matthieu Voirin. Katharina talked us through her current designs using waxed textiles, and even gave us an exclusive peek into her new collection that captures themes of her teen-hood listening to Joy Division and utilising activewear.
Each designer has their own story, and it’s interesting to get talking to local designers of their work.
I had the chance to try on a gorgeous mesh evening dress, and was staggered at how reasonable the price of textiles are in Hamburg, despite paying for a unique piece it’s certainly not breaking the bank. Hamburgs availability of shops stretches miles for every type of style so there really is something for anyone.
Whilst a hot spot for men to explore is Herr von Eden, (A favourite of Pete Doherty!) Where the suavest jackets, suits and accessories can be bought. It’s worth poking your head in if you want an authentic statement jacket that comes far and few between.
ST PAULI STADIUM
A guided tour around St Pauli Stadium is a must for any football fans, they’re an anarchic team with a lot of fight and love in them. They support children in a built in kindergarden, whilst also giving them the opportunity to learn music in collaboration with Levis.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was never truly a fan of football until going to Hamburg. I was taken to my first game seeing St Pauli vs 1860 München, and vibed so much from the atmosphere. I wanted to tick seeing a football game off my bucket list. I’m so glad I agreed to seeing the match and going on the guided tour as it’s a unique experience, and you learn about the history and current status of both the football club and what they’re doing for the local community.
If I can like it, then anyone can.
It’s an opportune time to see round every aspect of the stadium from the players changing rooms, to the VIP booths that are coated in special art installations, made out of gaffa tape and make every game a grand occasion. This stadium has more that meets the eye and so many secrets that would spoil the surprises that await inside.
Whilst we were taken round we were treated to snack in Club Heim, each week they have on offer a variety of delicacies to feast upon after 2 hours of strolling around the stadium. It certainly gets you in the Hamburg foodie spirit. If there’s one thing they love to indulge in, it’s some beer and sausage.
Hamburg is renowned for its coffee. Throughout my trip I heard a few people mention how it’s the city of coffee, and you better believe I tried it all out. I highly advise this Coffee Lovers Guide to Hamburg to anyone who wants to explore the side streets and find all the hidden gems.
The best way to explore any city is to go on foot. See the sights for your own eyes, and become familiar with the streets. Hamburg has a lot to offer on the streets, and everything is relatively simple to get to. If in doubt it’ll be a couple of underground stops away.
I explored Hamburg through a variety of methods. I got the opportunity to try it via a harbour boat. You feel a bit like Rosie & Jim, but the sights on route are phenomenal.
You are guided through Hamburgs historic warehouse district, which is the height of industrialism. The guided tour lasts about an half and hour, as you return back to the Port of Hamburg, where some of the best buildings for aerial shots can be spotted throughout the HafenCity.
There are many districts to explore in Hamburg, St Pauli and Schanzenviertel being the best to explore in my opinion.
St Pauli is home to some of the star studded venues, restaurants and shops. It’s party central with a relaxed bohemian vibe. Whilst Schanzenviertel is the cultural centre of the city with freelancers popping out the woodworks, and the closest place to the Northern Quarter in Manchester as you will ever get.
It offers up a mix of international locations including a Swedish quarter – it’s a fantastic place to bump into a local artist or musician. There’s so much street art to swallow you up, and even areas that are exclusively no photo zones so they remain preserved to your eyes only.
Hamburg also has some of the best art galleries, including these hot spots to check out:
Hamburg Flea Markets are a big deal over there. Some of the randomest products are sold, whether you’re checking out vinyl like I was, exploring the vintage sales, or wanting to come home with an authentic garden patio set. You’re definitely guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy.
I was fortunate that I was taken to two flea markets in my trip over to Hamburg. The famous flea market is Flohschanze is the main celebration directly in the middle of the city. It’s a unique experience that is thriving with colour and characters. It’s also pretty easy to navigate as all the locals are extremely friendly and mostly speak English – which is a bonus for my lack of German!
Whilst I was exploring I picked myself up the Labyrinth Soundtrack, I soon discovered on closer inspection that I purchased the remixed dance edition, that wasn’t intended but the story I hold behind this vinyl will be one never ever forgotten.
Once again Hamburg has plenty of surprises up its sleeve.
Flohschanze is also conveniently around the corner from the famous Markt König, that is located in an old market hall, that has been freshly updated with culture. I was fortunate in being treated to a traditional Schnitzel whilst over there. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried before and will no doubt fail trying to make Schnitzel for my own. The food in Hamburg is very special, and there’s not a single place I found where I didn’t fall head over heels in love with their cooking.
Speaking of cooking, there’s one place in Hamburg everyone needs to try.
There’s a trendy restaurant called Bullerei, it’s famous cook has put it on the map for its exclusive and inventive meals.
I was invited to Cooking con Concert, and essentially the concept was that the band Rhonda would play a song live next to the open plan kitchen, to which the chefs would create a dish based on the sounds. Expect cream cheese ice cream, and all sorts to happen in the kitchen. Tim Mälzer is quite frankly a genius. Although this was a media only event I’m telling everyone reading this that I have never had a food experience like it before, and certainly not something that could ever be achieved half as well in the UK.
Clever right? A 5 course dinner based on a festival line up, it’s very inventive and innovative.
Music plays such an important role in the way that the city functions. It’s the living and breathing heart to a location that is bursting with genres, and celebrating music in every form.
I got to experience first hand The Beatles tour, in my exclusive trip to Hamburg. Where every location was a musical trip, giving you a more dimensional feel to what The Beatles were going through. Having them breakthrough whilst over there, and thankfully meeting Ringo they opened up the music scene as they became more established in Europe. Playing in clubs to bars, and discovering all the swinging hang outs on route, I personally explored venues like Indra Musikclub and Kaiserkeller. Various rock stars will pop in for a drink and gig, and occasionally play a set.
Hamburg does so much for its community, every story I heard was a positive improvement where they lift up the spirits of others, and support them in their life. For instance in Groove City Record Store (which I highly recommend for serious vinyl collectors) was a charity event for Roskilde Festival in which a refugee band played and have been fully supported in their musical direction.
Similarly in the St Pauli stadium, where underprivileged children who want to learn music are given instruments and music lessons to pursue their dreams. The idea of music in this enchanting place is more than just entertainment, it’s given all generations the opportunity to broaden their skills and refine potential job prospects.
ESPECIALLY, REEPERBAHN FESTIVAL
Reeperbahn Festival is hosted on the extremely popular hipster location Reeperbahn. It’s legendary placement is the hub to over 400 acts across the 4 days in a variety of venues around the district.
The wonderful part of Reeperbahn is that they always have surprises up their sleeve. Like this years lineup secretly added the Scottish sensation that is Biffy Clyro. Little whispers head around and find themselves popping up more surprises per minute. Aside from the music Reeperbahn gave me the chance to mingle with Tony Visconti, globally renowned producer of David Bowie, some bodacious memories were made at this festival. Their venues are unlike anything I’ve ever since, as they juxtaposition old with new.
Like Mojo Dojo – a club unknown by day until the pavement rises from the ground.
The lineup this year was unbelievable, I loved that I went to the festival with no real intention of seeing many bands I knew. I’ve learnt that in Hamburg the music is so varied that you can stroll into any official Reeperbahn venue, and guarantee a good lineup of bands for the night.
I’d love to hear if anyone has has any Hamburg experiences, it’s a beautiful place that I know I’ll be heading back to year after year and would love to know what you recommend so I can check it out myself.