Hamburg is the ideal place for a city break – compact yet with multiple attractions worth exploring. I’m sharing my tips for how to make the most of your time with 48 hours in Hamburg.
Day 1 – 48 Hours in Hamburg
Hamburg is easily accessible from the airport by taxi or underground train in under 30 minutes. The Hamburg card, available online or from hotels and Tourist Information offices, gives free travel on the underground, buses and harbour ferries as well as discounts in more than 130 tourist attractions, so may be worth investing in. Check into your hotel, freshen up and get ready to explore! Start your tour at the Town Hall or Rathaus, located in the Altstadt area. The interior courtyard has an elaborate Hygieia fountain. Hygieia is the Greek goddess of health and the fountain remembers the victimes of the cholera epidemic of 1892.
You might even see a bachelor performing the strange ritual of shovelling coins in fancy dress. Their ‘friends’ have arranged this as a penance for still being single! Still, this guy took it in good nature.
From here, wander around the town centre, admiring the luxury shops such as Montblanc which has its headquarters in Hamburg. The city is known for its stylish covered malls in the Passagen district, as the weather can be changeable.
There are 3 Mutterland stores in Hamburg, specializing in beautifully packaged local produce, great for gifts. Two of them have cafes and make a great lunch option.
Alternatively, the Park Hyatt’s Apples restaurant is a relaxing place to lunch and if the sun is shining, you can eat in the stylish courtyard. Head chef Julia Eckerstorfer is really talented and I’m still savouring the exquisite dishes that we tasted.
After lunch, head towards the UNESCO World Heritage Kontorhausdistrict, to see some really interesting architecture. Dating from the 1920s to 1940s, these Modernist office buildings are very striking, particularly the Chilehaus.
On weekdays, you are free to look inside and admire the perfect geometry of the stairwells.
From here, it’s a short walk to the Warehouse district, Speicherstadt.
It’s actually the largest warehouse complex in the world and is certainly atmospheric. The Wasserschloss is the most photographed landmark in this district.
In the evening, it’s worth taking in a performance at the Hamburg State Opera House.
Hamburg is particularly renowned for its ballet school headed by John Neumeier. He focuses on expression as much as technique and the dancers are encouraged to bring their own ideas to the choreography. It’s worth booking tickets for ballet or opera well in advance as it’s very popular. You can also reserve a selection of nibbles and drinks as we did before enjoying the ballet, Tatjana. Based on Eugen Onegin, the novel by Puschkin, it’s an engrossing tale of love and betrayal. If you fancy a cocktail or dinner after the show, Die Bank is a good option. Located in a former bank with high ceilings and a vault storing wine, it has a trendy vibe although service can be haphazard.
Day 2 – 48 Hours in Hamburg
Start your day with a visit to the Kunsthalle Hamburg which has been recently renovated. It’s part of “A Mile of Art”, a collection of world-class museums in close proximity. At the moment there’s a great Manet exhibition but the permanent art collection is equally interesting and the building itself is beautiful. We had fun with the Eyecatcher machine which takes a photo of your eyes that you can then display on the wall as part of an exhibit. Have a light lunch at the museum’s restaurant, THE CUBE, with its large terrace overlooking the lake. You’ll need to save your appetite for dinner 😉
It’s close to Hamburg’s lake, the Außenalster, with its iconic water spout.
During your 48 hours in Hamburg, you might want to take a sailing lesson, as we did at Segelschule Käpt’n Prüsse, or simply to relax at one of the riverside cafes instead.
From here, take a cab or catch the clean and uncrowded S-Bahn train to Blankenese. If there’s a group of you, consider booking the private boat of luxurious Hotel Jacob as we did. You get great views of the harbour and the soon to be opened Elbphilharmonie Hamburg concert hall, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The port is actually the second largest in Europe.
Enjoy a chilled glass of champagne…
Then get a surprise as the hotel staff all wave a greeting as you sail by!
It’s a pleasant walk along Blankeneser Hauptstraße, the main shopping street into the heart of Blankenese. With only a couple of roads accessible to cars, it’s an unspoilt area bedecked with flowers.
There’s a panoramic view from the top of Süllberg towards the river Elbe. In fact, Blankense is known as the Stairs District as there are 5,000 steps in the area!
For dinner, Hotel Jacob is five minutes by cab. It has a two Michelin starred restaurant with a beautiful view overlooking the river. It was booked for a private event when we visited so we dined at their wine bar opposite, Weinwirtschaft Kleines Jacob.
You might think that the cuisine would be fairly simple with it being a wine bar, but the food is fantastic and there’s a great wine cellar.
Take a cab back into town and head to the lively St Pauli area.
The Beatles played in clubs here several times in the 1960s. There’s a fun rooftop bar, Clouds – Heaven’s Nest on Reeperbahn, with 360 degree views of Hamburg. It can get pretty crowded at night but’s a great place to toast your final night in Hamburg! I loved this place for its fascinating architecture, friendly locals and great cuisine. Well worth a trip!
Stay – 48 Hours in Hamburg
We stayed at Park Hyatt Hamburg, a five star hotel conveniently located right in the centre in the historic Levantehaus, with impressive decor.
Some of the rooms have large balconies overlooking the main shopping street but all the bedrooms are a good size.
This suite even has its own piano.
The swimming pool and gym are good if you want to keep fit and are complimentary for all hotel guests. All in all, it’s the perfect base from which to spend 48 hours in Hamburg. Have you ever visited Germany and Hamburg?