Hamburg; A Surprising Blend of Old & New, Man & Nature

So if I was surprised by how much I loved Leipzig, I was absolutely blown away by how much I love Hamburg. After my relaxing time in the beautiful city of Leipzig, I took a train north to a city I hadn’t really heard much about. Everyone thinks about Berlin when they imagine a bustling German city but the truth is that Hamburg, at least from what I saw, is just as vibrant and interesting.

I spent 3 days in the city and was continuously blow away. You never know what you will find around every corner and it seems like there really is a little something for everyone. Between the river that’s more of a harbor, the industry that accompanies it, and the rich history of an old trading city, I like to say that old and new, man and nature mingle seamlessly in the city.

The City Knows How to Keep you Busy

The first thing I did when I got out of the train station was head down to the picturesque Elbe Philharmonic for their wrap around balcony and beautiful view of the city. After that I went and saw the Rathaus (Town Hall), St. Peter’s and St. Michael’s church, and walked by the stunning St. Nikolai Memorial. Of course I made time to just wander the harbor and look at the boats, but a really nice employee at the train station cued me into a really good tip.

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One of the amazing views of the Philharmonic from the ferry.

The day ticket for public transportation enables you to take a tour around the port using the Deutsche Bahn ferries. Of course it’s not a slow, relaxing cruise but it does let you to see some pretty fantastic sites from the water. If you’re a budget traveler like me, it was the perfect hack to getting the view without breaking the bank.

One of the absolute coolest things I did on my entire trip was the Elbe Tunnel. It’s a nearly .5 km (almost 4 football fields) long tunnel that goes under the Elbe River. It’s mostly just foot and bike traffic but cars also drive through on the single lane road.

I decided to stop by the Hamburger Dom which is actually just a ferris wheel. To get there I wandered though the carnival (not sure if I was supposed to be there when they weren’t operating but nobody stopped me). I just happened to look up from my phone in time to see an NFL Arcade booth that had WSU logos plastered all over their footballs! That was so cool because they were definitely intentional and part of the design. The question is whether there’s a Coug living in Hamburg who did it or if it was an accident?

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No that’s not a real wreck… it’s Miniature Wonderland!

As for museums, the Museum of Hamburg History is defiantly worth a stop to learn about the city’s unique history. I also went to the city’s biggest attraction, Miniature Wonderland. It was pretty cool to walk around like a giant for a few hours but very full of people which tends to bother me.

So Many Stores, so Little Time

One of the best parts about Hamburg, for me, was the shopping. They seem to have a lot of shops that are harder to find in Germany. I stumbled upon Monki which is such a cute store. I also found a Turkish clothing store called Koton which is also amazing. They only have one location in Germany and 2 in Europe and I managed to find it. Even stores such as Mango and Pimke, that you have in almost every shopping center in Germany, were somehow just better in Hamburg.

Pro tip: If you ever find a store you love when traveling, see if you can order the things you find online to ship home so you don’t have to carry it. If you are crazy about an item that you just can’t lug around your whole trip, ship it home yourself while you’re there. Of course that’s a bit extreme but sometimes you find things that just speak to you and can’t pass up.

The Nitty Gritty

I stayed at the Instant Sleep Hostel. It was really nice and reasonably priced compared to other big city hostels. It had a very communal feel but the bathrooms were pretty private and they had outlets by each bed which is honestly all I ever really care about in a hostel.

It’s close to a party district if thats what you’re into. I happen to be to broke to spend my nights paying Germany’s prices for alcohol so I just sampled the cuisine from the neighborhood. It was pretty funny to see a street with about 5 Italian restaurants literally right next to each other but they were delicious so I won’t complain. They also have a Canadian run pancake house right below them that’s to die for.

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The Hamburg Dom peaking over the trees of a tranquil park.

When I was there, the weather cooler and then turned rainy which is honestly pretty typical for German summers. I always told the backpackers I met to get an umbrella if they plan on spending much time in Germany. They didn’t believe me until the thunderstorm woke them that night.

Public transportation is really, really good in Hamburg and pretty decently priced. What captured my heart though was the city wide, free WiFi. You heard me! Every subway stop has it and if you’re in the city center, chances are that you’ve got at least two options of free WiFi to login to. So convenient.

Also, don’t tell anyone, but after 3 days of heavily using public transport, I never got carded and I only ever saw the ticketers once. Food for thought for you own decision making. I bought my own tickets but I felt a little silly doing so by day three.

So Much More to See

Overall, I really love Hamburg. It is really high up on my list of favorite places in Germany for sure. And even though I spend 3 full days there, there is still so much I didn’t see.

I didn’t get around to seeing the most famous garden in the city, Planten un Blomen or the Japanese Garden, Exhibition Nanotechnology, the Ship Museum, or Dialogue in the Dark on this trip and that’s all just right in the city center. There is so much to see out of the center that I think you could easily spend a week in the city without being bored.

I highly recommend stopping in Hamburg if you’re ever in Germany (or Denmark honestly). 3 days was not enough in that city but alas, I had to move on. If you follow me on social media, I’m sure you already know where I went next. I not, I guess you will have to wait until Wednesday to find out!

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6 thoughts on “Hamburg; A Surprising Blend of Old & New, Man & Nature

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