- Where the Locals Go
After a decade of “intercontinental hopping,” German national Ute Kreitz returned to the “fatherland” in 2007, settling on Hamburg as her new home base. Having heard many people over the years call Hamburg Germany’s most beautiful city, she was skeptical, but when she moved there she agreed immediately. Now she’s such an enthusiast, she spends her spare time blogging about the best things the port city has to offer for Spotted By Locals. Here are a few of Ute’s favorite things about the city she describes as having “a small town feel and a cosmopolitan touch.”
Hamburg is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is the Old Elbe Tunnel to experience a part of Hamburg’s history and then to enjoy the panoramic view of Landungsbrücken and the surrounding cityscape from the other side of the river. To get there, take a scenic ride on the U3, a mostly above ground transit line.
My city’s best museum is the Deichtorhallen, one of Europe’s largest art centers with two beautiful historical buildings that hold stunning international exhibitions and installations of photography and contemporary art.
Burg’s Kaffeerösterei and Schokovida are the best places to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
You can see my city best from the Church of St. Nicholas.
Locals know to skip the Reeperbahn (the city’s red light district) and check out the little shops and studios of local artists and designers in Karolinenviertel instead.
In the past, notable people like The Beatles, Karl Lagerfeld, and Heinz Erhardt have called my city home.
Hamburg is always lovely, but the best time to visit is in the spring when everything is in bloom and people are eager to take advantage of the warmer weather. You can also enjoy the city’s spectacular parks and open-air events–but without the crowds.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is along the Alster, one of the two main rivers (due to its shape, many people think that it’s a lake!) in Hamburg. Take a long walk, go sailing or kayaking, or simply enjoy the view.
My city really knows how to celebrate the holiday season with its numerous events all around town, including artisan and ecological markets and, above all, the famous historic Christmas market in front of the city hall.
You can tell if someone is from my city if you call out, “Hummel, Hummel,” and the immediate answer is “Mors, Mors.”
For a fancy night out, I recommend the East Hotel located on a street parallel to the Reeperbahn. The restaurant there offers fine cuisine and, afterwards, you can enjoy a drink and dance in one of the different lounges and bars.
Just outside my city, you can visit a region called Altes Land (Old Land), one of the largest fruit-producing areas in Central Europe. In the spring you can admire long stretches of fields with beautifully blooming trees and celebrate them on the first weekend in May. Later, in the fall, you can harvest juicy apples and many other delicious fruits.
My city is known for being a bit cold and stiff, but it’s really rather vibrant and friendly.
The best outdoor market in my city is Isemarkt, a large farmers market that offers everything your palate could possibly desire.
Café Absurd in St. Pauli is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Azeitona, a Persian restaurant, is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Hamburg Magazin or check out the English-language events calendar on the official Hamburg website.
My city’s biggest sports event is the Hamburg Triathlon, with participants from all corners of the planet competing.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I climb the stairs to the viewing platform of the Planetarium and enjoy the city panorama. Afterwards, I go for a walk in the city park.
To escape the crowds, I visit Friedhof Ohlsdorf to soak in the soothing natural environment. Covering an area of more than 391 hectares it is one of the largest park cemeteries in Europe, offering stunning landscape architecture, statues, chapels, and museums.
The dish that represents my city best is Labskaus (corned beef with potatoes and onions), and Mexikaner (spicy liquor) is my city’s signature drink.
The city hall is my favorite building in town because it resembles a castle with its spectacular exterior and interior design. Built in a very prosperous period, it is one of the few completely preserved buildings in Hamburg, having survived the bombings in World War II.
The most random thing about my city is that our trams (which are above ground in most places) mainly run underground and that the metro (which run below ground in most places) mainly runs above ground.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Knust, a long-standing club, is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the parties and concerts at Uebel & Gefährlich.
In the spring you should explore the city–and especially its parks–by bike.
In the summer you should go hiking along the Alsterwanderweg and enjoy the natural landscape along the way.
In the fall you should walk around the city and enjoy the colorful foliage. Try to cross as many bridges as you can: Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined.
In the winter you should visit the Hamburg Conservatory and, afterwards, go ice skating at Planten un Blomen.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Miniatur Wunderland. This model railway attraction started out with models of Hamburg and has expanded to feature miniatures of other countries and continents.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s the Stadtrad system, an affordable and centralized rental system with more than 70 stations around town that are accessible online or via smartphone.
The best book about my city is actually not a book, but a magazine called Der Hamburger. Published and sold in select shops around the city, but also available in other German cities, it offers incredible photos and stories about places and people in Hamburg.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it is always evolving and wears many different faces. People here may be a bit rough on the outside, but they are very soft on the inside.