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One of the best things about Hamburg is that it has green, open spaces. Plenty of spots allow you to just enjoy the open air and see the horizon – a very charming aspect that can make for a calming city trip, no matter the season.
There is the obvious but sometimes overlooked option in the heart of the city: Planten un Blomen. This park is not huge, but it is long. It spreads from the Dammtor train station to the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli with a lot to see other than exotic and local plants and flowers (Planten & Blomen). There are waterfalls, a Japanese garden, small lakes, awesome playgrounds, an ice skating rink (turned roller skating rink in summer), a botanical garden, half a dozen ice cream vendors and 250 wooden chairs for you to relax in – this is a people’s park.
There is no recommended route as one needs to get lost here, just a little bit. Plus, there are multiple entries and exits, so you have to make your own route. From each exit, a variety of possibilities linger, too: movie theatres, train stations, the mighty television tower, the hip “Karoviertel” neighbourhood, a casino, the three main courts of the city, the stadium of FC St. Pauli, the Reeperbahn or the “Michel”. Or you may just stay “in”, feed the ducks, admire the fig trees and wait for the night to fall (it is open until late) and enjoy the illuminated fountains accompanied by classical music. It’s a park for even visitors to enjoy – make the most of it!
Another great option to enjoy the green without leaving the city is a stroll or bike ride along the Alster. Start at the smaller part of the Alster in the city centre (Jungfernstieg) and head up north, so that the Alster remains at your right. You need to cross one bigger street and pass the US Consulate and then… there is calm. No more streets, just paths. Trees, flowers, meadows, dogs and… the sporty types. But, the occasional jogger won’t deter you from inhaling clean air and thinking lofty thoughts.
Along the way, you may need a watering hole or a nice place to sit. Bodo’s Bootssteg is such a place. As a casual bar, located ideally at a small pier on the lake where you may also rent sailing boats, there is no shame in just spending hours here staring at the sun. In that case, you may take the ferry boat from the nearby landing stage – back to the city.
If you continue the path to the north, you will find meadows with dozens of nice wooden chairs to rest in. At the north end of the Alster you will split from the waterfront and cross the lake on a bridge, the majestic Krugkoppelbrücke – talk about great views. If you want to make a full circle of this trip, you may head south from here – back to the city… but the other side of the Alster is only half as nice.
You should go up further north to get a glimpse of the nice neighbourhoods of Winterhude and Eppendorf. From the Kugkoppelbrücke, enter the wonderful street Leinpfad, which will leave the Alster (now turned into a river) to your left. You will pass nice mansions and quiet streets. Once you reach the Marie-Louisen-Strasse you should make a worthwhile pit stop at the French Café Par Ici, just to you right. They have great coffee and serve the best tarte in the city. Remember this corner, because from the bridge is arguably one of the best spots to watch the Sunset.
If you got curious about this part of town, head over the bridge and rent a boat, a canoe or a stand-up-paddle-board at Café Isekai. It is something that people from around here do at least once a year. It is fantastic to roam around the many small canals and take a peek into the nice gardens. Or enter the Lake Alster and get a whole new view of this part of town.
If you want to wander on and especially if you are riding a bike, you should go further north, along the Leinpfad. You will cross two more bridges and then get to one bigger street, the Hudtwalckerstrasse. Here, you will reach your most northern point. The Alster River goes on for miles and miles, but you must head home – back to the city.
You may turn around and make your way back the same route, which is as nice as your way up here. But if you want to explore one of the more enchanting neighbourhoods, you cross the bridge (left) over the Alster and enter: Eppendorf.