Hamburg is considered as the second busiest port in Europe. An amazing city located on the Elbe river and the city center around the Binnenalster and Außenalster (artificial lakes created damming the Alster river). One of the most important cities in the northern Germany.
Being such a big city, Hamburg is divided into seven boroughs, each of them governed by a Borough council and managed by a municipal administrator. Basically in the last one is where you have to register if you live in one of these boroughs (I was living in Eimsbuttel, for example). Find the information about how to register and what to do in Hamburg here.
It has a varied architecture. For example, St Nicholas church was for a short period the tallest building in Europe. The city has much more bridges than London, Amsterdam, and Venice together! The town hall (Rathaus in the picture above) was finished in 1897 and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in Europe. Hamburg has a lot of parks, making the city very verdant. You definitely have to visit Planten und Blumen and the Stadtpark.
The Elbphilharmonie is considered now one of the icons of the city. It was just opened to the public in January 2017. Some people consider it a “pink elephant”, because of the cost of its construction and the delay in finishing it as well. In 2007, the construction was scheduled to be finished by 2010 with an estimated cost of €241 million. Construction work officially ended on 31 October 2016 at a cost of €789 million.
Life in Hamburg
I really enjoyed my time in Hamburg. This city showed me the best of Germany and I’m very happy to say I lived there. Of course the bureaucratic procedures you will find, as everywhere in Germany, but in the end, it is worth everything. It is a multicultural city, you will find so many things to do there, that you will not have time to get bored.
Accommodation and transport system
It is quite hard to find a place to live in Germany in general. The best you can do is follow my tips in this post and remember that via the internet there might always be someone who wants to cheat you. If you are already in Germany, you can stay at a hostel and start looking around for renting places. Remember it is very important to have a basic knowledge of German, although almost everybody speaks English in Hamburg.
The transport system is very nice in Hamburg. There is the metro line (U and S-Bahn) that can basically take you everywhere. And buses are also available from anywhere. The nicest thing is that with the same ticket you can take any type of transport for 1 hour (or depending on the ticket you buy). There are also boats! You can take a ferry to go to another part of the port as well.
The best is to use the day ticket, which costs about 7 euro and lasts until next day at 6 am. There is also a group ticket very useful when you are with some friends. 5 people pay around 12 euros also until next day at 6 am. There is a monthly card, but I never used it because I was actually going everywhere with my bike. Have in your mind that there are a lot of controllers in the metro lines all the time, then it is very risky to try to travel “black” (without ticket). The fine is about 70 euros for the first time, and even more if it is your second or third time.
The history of my bike
Remember that I told you I do some mtb from time to time? Well my actual bike I got it in Hamburg. The very first bike I bought in Europe was one from Decathlon Liege. It was stolen in Nantes, you can’t imagine my sadness when that happened. But I will tell this story in another post maybe. Then I bought a very shitty one (new, but foldable, and those are so shitty). I went to Hamburg with it, we traveled all the way from Nantes to Hamburg in a rented car and our bikes. After just a few weeks I decided to sell the foldable one and buy a second hand mtb. That’s how I found my “blacky”. And I’m so happy with it that it has come with me to Spain and now is here in Liege.
I bought it using an online website for second hands very well known in all Germany. It was practically new, the owner had barely used it. Although it was a little too big for me, now I’m very comfortable riding it. But anyway, the story is that when I got it, I was very sick. I went for lunch with my Indian friend, who cooks delicious, but spicy. I love spicy tho. But that day, after the food, I had a cheese cake, maybe it was that what made me sick (after all the spices).
So I took the train (my friend was living a little bit far) and went to the meeting place. I started to feel so bad, that when changed to S-bahn I felt that I was going to pass out. Just when arrived at the meeting station, I couldn’t help it: I threw up everything since I was a kid, I can assure you that! It was so painful, plus it was in the station! Omg, I was very embarrased. Then this nice girl came to me and helped me to find a place to sit and drink some water. Then dissapeared. After this, the guy arrived with my bike and I bought it without a doubt.
What to do in Hamburg
Hamburg is just a city that you need to walk. Get lost in the little streets around the city center. It is so beautiful that you will never feel tired. Last time I visited with a friend and we walked for about 10 km, and that’s only to see the port side and city center. Walk it, ride a bike, get in a boat. See a lot of things:
- Padel boat in the Alster lake
- Walk through the Elbe tunnel
- Visit the newly opened Elbphilharmonie
- Walk through the Hafencity and drink a beer there
- Eat at one of the Schweinske
- Visit the churches
- Have a picnic at the Planten und Blumen park
- Or run at Stadtpark
- Visit the Maritime Museum
- Stay the whole day looking for funny scennes at Miniatur Wunderland
- Enjoy an Ice cream walking around the Alster lake
- Visit the Rathaus
- If you love climbing as I do, there are a few very nice gyms there. I love Nordwandhalle
- Do some little mtb at the Harburger berge
- Visit the so well known Reeperbahn (with its red light district – no women allowed)
- Watch a match of FC St. Pauli
- Do a beer testing tour, like this one
- Flight a glider with Akaflieg club
- If it is summer go to the beach along the Elbe river
Enjoy the most beautiful city of Germany!