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Do you have limited time to spend in this beautiful city? Here are your must-see and must-do experiences... 3, 2, 1 GO!
Cafés abound in Hamburg, but none are as interesting as the Café Paris. Set in a former slaughterhouse (built in 1882) which boasts a beautifully tiled ceiling, the café’s atmosphere is nothing short of spectacular. The somewhat snobby service also adds an authentic French touch. Indulge in the breakfast menu, and try one of their great coffees or tees. Relax for a while as you contemplate your next move.
After your coffee break, head to the City Hall, a spectacular building near the Alster waterfront and stroll along the Jungfernstieg promenade. Everything here cries “Shopping!”. Nearby, the Alsterhaus is one of the oldest and most traditional department stores in Germany and has recently been renovated and revamped – go and take a peek. Visit the Mutterland store for souvenirs and local specialities.
After that retail therapy, it’s time to head to the water – the other water – the Elbe river. If you’ve worked up an appetite while shopping, take a taxi to the Fischereihafen Restaurant for lunch in this traditional and extraordinarily good seafood Restaurant with a view. Be sure to reserve well in advance though. Sample their signature dishes and enjoy a glass of white wine as you take in the views of huge container vessels on the Elbe river. End your meal with a glass of local caraway-flavoured liquor, known as Kümmel or Helbing.
Outside the Fischereihafen Restaurant you will notice the salty air carried in by the sea breeze, as you stand in Europe’s second biggest harbour. Head over to the yacht-like Dockland building nearby and board a ferry. This public transportation boat is cheap and yet still feels like a tour boat. Head eastbound into the city towards the new iconic building: The Elbphilharmonie. You can disembark just a few feet from the building. Reserve in advance to visit the Plaza to avoid long queues. One of the world’s longest escalators will take you up to a viewing platform, where you truly get a sense of Hamburg, and all the city’s attraction and famous sights. The Bar of the Westin Hotel (entrance via the Plaza) is a decent spot if you are in the mood for a coffee or a drink (a Sundowner) and a snack.
Back outside, stroll through the marvellous old Speicherstadt warehouse complexes by the water. The way the light shines through the canals makes for great photo opportunities. On warm summer day, this is the ideal area to cool off for a while. Across the way, standing in stark contrast, is the new and modern-design HafenCity area offering great views of the open water. It is the modern-day vision of a harbour quarter. The old and the new sit side-by-side in these two neighbouring areas – you decide which you prefer.
Perhaps you’ve made evening plans to see a play, a musical or even a concert in the Elbphilharmonie. The tickets to the latter are always sold out but there is a decent supply of tickets on the online-auction platforms. The experience of the Elbphilharmonie is definitely worth the high prices.
If you are in the mood for a late dinner, check out Hamburg’s best late dining venue, the Heldenplatz in the Hafen-City. The restaurant serves from 6pm until 2am and is the perfect place for meal after taking in a concert at the Elbphilharmonie or if you are just jetlagged. The calm atmosphere, the terrific décor, the excellent staff, the fantastic wine list and tremendous menu make this place the pinnacle of fine dining. No wonder that a number of top-notch chefs from around the city gather here for late get-togethers after work. Here, you’ll find the most Michelin stars in one room!
Take a night time stroll to the Bar Le Lion for a great nightcap. It is one of the best bars in the world and is listed in almost every relevant publication. You need to press the doorbell to be granted admission into this fine establishment. If you are lucky, you will be greeted by the owner and world-class bartender, Jörg Meyer. He is the inventor of the Gin Basil Smash – a must! Let him be your drink guide for the evening. Back outside, you will notice that this is where your day started with the Café Paris is just across the street. You are in the city centre, near City Hall, but the shops are all closed and you can enjoy the streets to yourself and indulge in some window shopping.