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Hamburg is a great place to visit when traveling with your children. It's rather small, seldom overcrowded, traffic is moderate, and it is, simply put, beautiful – necessary aspects to host its youngest visitors. There are also exciting attractions such as the two Alster lakes in the city centre, the harbour and a new district, HafenCity, full of activities to enjoy. Here are a few spots that will make you and your kids fall in love with Hamburg.
The International Maritime Museum is spectacular in many ways. It is in a heritage-listed, monumental old brick building, the Kaispeicher B. Its bigger brother the Kaispeicher A building is the foundation for what is now known to the world as the Elbphilharmonie. The museum showcases three thousand years’ worth of maritime history on display, displayed throughout no less than nine floors. There are millions of model ships, pirate swords, ancient golden compasses, shiny uniforms and select items recovered from famous sunken ships like the titanic. Just take the elevator to the highest floor and wander down the halls and old stairs. Enjoy the marvellous view from the countless windows and let the discovery tour unfold. Here, your kids will find their favourite items: Be it a video presentation of deep sea diving, paintings of sea battles or a 6-meter LEGO model of the titanic. There are guided tours, audio tours and quizzes for kids. And if you are craving a nice sea food platter after all this, then the Bistro Catch of the day on the ground floor is a nice, kid-friendly option to round off your trip to the sea.
A small stroll away, there is every kid’s favourite place: Miniatur Wunderland. It is the largest model railway installation in the world. It is insane how big this place is and how much attention to detail has been put into this exhibition. They have more than 1,000 trains with 10,000 wagons running through 9 different “world sections” complete with over 400,000 lights, 4,000 buildings and 10,000 cars. You and your kids can spend hours just finding adorable details in “Scandinavia” world, the “USA”, “Hamburg” or “Italy”. It may sound a bit corny, but it is also breath-taking and funny at the same time. It is a place with the right spirit and a lot of heart – the sort of experience that will stay with your kids for a while. But keep in mind that the Miniatur Wunderland is also a very popular tourist attraction. You should plan your trip wisely to avoid the big crowds. Book your tickets well in advance via their website and breeze by the long lines outside. And try the mornings or the evenings, rather than the afternoon.
A visit to Hamburg would not be complete without a Boat trip of some sort. The different Harbour Boat Trips and the Alster Boat Trips are a tourist favourite and well worth the crowded wait. There is always something exciting to see, which is why even most locals take those trips on a regular basis. If you are interested in going off the beaten track for a special Boat Tour in which you are the captain, you should visit the neighbourhoods just north of the Alster: Eppendorf and Winterhude. Canals flow, leading into the Alster Lake from these beautiful and up-market districts. You may take the metro (U3) from the inner-city or the Harbour. Most of the tracks are over ground and you will get a good glimpse into Hamburg homes and neighbourhood streets. Get off the train at the Eppendorfer Baum station and wander through the nice shopping area and make your way to Café Isekai, where you can rent rowing boats, pedal boats and even stand-up-paddle equipment. They will provide you with vests, a map and some food and drinks (if you like) and off you go. The canals are calm and easy to navigate. You will enjoy beautiful views into hidden gardens and float beneath tall trees with the branches dangling down in the water. Try out the unique drive-by-café for boats, the Café Canale. They have a vending window at water level and will sell you coffee-to-go and superb cake while you are sitting in the boat. Three hours will fly by very quickly and your family will have transformed into one happy ship’s crew.
Close to the Boat Rental and right beside the U3 station Kellinghusenstrasse, there is the Hamburg Classic for kid’s Entertainment: The Holthusenbad, one of most beautiful swimming baths in Germany. Built in 1914 and recently renovated, it is one of the oldest in operation. The interior is simply breath-taking and resemble the baths of Budapest. There are two large indoor pool areas: One with a great wave machine (the only one in Hamburg) and a bath for toddlers. And another one with warm water for relaxation. Outside there is a 25-meter heated pool, where you can swim laps. You can also find some chairs, benches and a ping-pong table outside. In addition, there is also a very nice and all-nude sauna area (costs extra). Plus, a small food court to help you gain back those lost calories. It is a nice place to entertain the kids and relax some at the same time. Special tip: Ask for the Upstairs changing rooms, which are private and just cost a little bit extra. Once you leave this place – you will feel like a new-born.