Hamburg is my favourite city in Germany and I've been there 7 times already! Needless to say that at this point, I've seen all the main sights and museums, so when I visited the city last time, I made it my goal to explore what Hamburg has to offer off the beaten path!*
Here are thus, 5 hidden gems in and around Hamburg that should totally be on your itinerary, if you visit the city and would like to roam where the locals are!
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*Snow in Tromso was kindly hosted by Hamburg Marketing on this trip. All opinions, however, remain my own.
Gängeviertel is a hip but to tourists mainly unknown neighbourhood, just a stone's throw from the Scandic Hamburg Emporio where I had the pleasure to stay at in 2015. Back then, I had no idea that Gängeviertel even existed so I was quite surprised when our local guide Tomas introduced us to the area.
The Gängeviertel is an old building block which was once used to house the working class of Hamburg, but which later on was supposed to be demolished.
Luckily, it was saved by the Gängeviertel e. V. - an initiative with the aim to revitalize the neighbourhood and make it a centre for culture and arts. This was back in 2009 and as far as I could see, their plans were more than fruitful!
You can now find all sorts of cultural organizations in the buildings of the Gängeviertel. There's, for instance, Die Fabrique - a space for culture, art and politics, which houses a photography studio, a stage for musicians and dancers to rehearse, an atelier for artists, and even the production facility of an independent radio station.
Then there's a bicycle workshop in one of the other buildings, and even a "free store" where people can get things they need without having to pay for anything and, likewise, deliver things they don't need anymore for others to have.
Last but not least, you can even still find some of the original buildings of Gängeviertel from 1780 there, so I highly recommend you to stroll along the area if you're interested in historic buildings and street art - which, at Gängeviertel, can be found side by side to modern glass facade buildings, combining the new with the old.
How to get there: U2 to Gänsemarkt and 5min walk from there
You might have heard about Hamburg's leftist-autonomous scene in connection with the G20 summit in 2017. Well, the former theatre Rote Flora, situated in Hamburg's Sternschanze district, has been the meeting ground of the left scene since the 1980s - and is where the riots during G20 took place.
The theatre was squatted in 1987 in response to plans of the city to turn the theatre into a musical stage for Phantom of the Opera, as locals were afraid that this would lead to an increased cost of living in the district.
Since then, the space has functioned as a political and socio-cultural centre in the Sternschanze district, and the adjacent Flora-Park invites the young and old to skateboard or climb.
And no, the area isn't dangerous just because the G20 riots took place there. Hamburg has calmed down after that and I didn't feel unsafe roaming the area in the slightest!
There's an old bunker in the park which is full of colourful street art and worth a visit on its own. The bunker also serves as a climbing wall and is known as Kilimanschanzo - the Kilimanjaro of the Sternschanze!
How to get there: S1, S3, S11 or S21 to Sternschanze and 10min walk from there
The Karolinenviertel is, after Sternschanze and Gängeviertel, another alternative district of Hamburg. It's adjacent to the fun fair at Hamburg Dom, the St. Pauli football stadium and the park Planten un Blomen with its huge ice arena in winter.
The Karoviertel as the area is known by locals, however, has lots to explore in its own vicinity!
There are loads of good cafes, second-hand boutiques and record labels - one of them, Groove City, has been named by CNN as one of the top 10 in the world!
I wasn't in the area to hunt for any vinyl but instead discovered one of the cosiest and quaintest cafes in the area: Harbor Cake, which offered an immensely good selection of yummy cakes!
The owner is actually from Austria and thus, Harbor Cakes offers a selection of typically Austrian dishes like dumplings and egg noodles as well. Definitely head here if you'd like to eat away from the crowds!
How to get there: U3 to Feldstrasse and you're there
Blankenese is a small town to the west of Hamburg, about half an hour by train from the city. It's known as the town that has the "neighbourhood with most stairs in the world", so if you'd like to do something for your fitness, that's where you should go for a run.
Nah, just joking. You should totally visit Blankenese for the views, but you really don't have to exercise much.
The staircases of Treppenviertel (= the staircase quarter) will eventually lead you down to the beach at the Elbe river and the old lighthouse, which makes for an amazing area to go for a walk at the waterfront.
Granted, you should maybe try to visit on a sunny day and not on the day after a huge storm like we did, but still, I absolutely enjoyed visiting Blankenese and will be back for sure!
How to get there: S1 or S11 to Blankenese and Bus 48 to Strandtreppe
The former flats of the trader's guild, Krameramtsstuben, might have a name that even I as a German have difficulties spelling and pronouncing, but are actually a lovely hidden gem right in the city centre of Hamburg!
The old buildings from the 17th-century form an enclosed courtyard - the last one to be found in Hamburg, actually - and are also the oldest still remaining residential houses in the city.
They can be visited as one of the former flats is part of Hamburg Museum, and otherwise, there are tea shops/cafes/restaurants for you spend time at. I absolutely loved the little courtyard, but in order to enjoy the area to your fullest, ignore the souvenir stores and visit early in the morning/later in the evening.
The place is much more charming then - trust me!
How to get there: U3 to Rödingsmarkt and 10min walk from there
Where to stay in Hamburg:
Our guide Tomas had a few suggestions about cool places to stay at in Hamburg, which I'd love to share with you!
By the way, it was absolute bliss to have a private tour guide and learn so much insider information about the city! You can book your own private walking tour of Hamburg here!
Superbude is a boutique hotel/hostel in the district of St. Pauli (though there's one in St. Georg as well). It's designed in a very local way with St. Pauli (the local soccer club) logos on their bedsheets and Astra (the local beer brand) boxes as decor.
I don't think there's a better place to stay at in Hamburg if you'd really like to get to know the local culture and I wish I'd stayed there myself!
The Mövenpick Hotel in Hamburg is situated in an old water reservoir tower which makes for such a special location! It can be found in the Sternschanze district of the city, right across from the tram station.
As it's a Swiss hotel, you can be sure to enjoy delicious food in their restaurant, and they even have a spa to top it off!
Scandic Hamburg Emporio
This isn't actually one of Tomas' recs but mine, as I stayed at the Scandic a couple of years ago and had an amazing time! Their rooms are super cosy and their breakfast buffet is to die for!
Last but not least, if you'd really like to stay off the beaten path and like a local, check out Airbnb, which gives you the option to rent a room or apartment from a real Hamburger!
Have you been to Hamburg and know of other hidden gems?
Spill your secrets in a comment below!
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