48 Hours in Hamburg: What We Did, Saw and Ate

Last year for Christmas, my boyfriend got me a Ryanair voucher that we decided to save until after our trip to New York. As we were browsing the Ryanair website at the beginning of October, looking for a great destination to visit next, our eyes landed on Hamburg.

A giant ball decorating the main railway station in Hamburg

I saw the city a couple of times in passing when I was on my way to visit my aunt and uncle who live in Northern Germany, and I’ve been wanting to explore it properly one day. With the Christmas season coming up, it felt like the perfect opportunity to tick visiting a German Christmas market off my bucket list.

So, we decided to book our flights and I began practising my rusty German ready for a weekend filled with festive spirit!

Bottles of gin on display in Hamburg
Christmas lights on the streets of Hamburg

Accommodation

Considering the fact that each year, an estimated 2 million people visit the City Hall Christmas Market alone, it shouldn’t be surprising that finding accommodation for our dates was no easy feat. We wanted to stay somewhere central that wouldn’t break the bank. Finally, we chose @friends by CitySurfer, a hostel within walking distance from the central railway station that was also really affordable. We paid €108 for 2 nights in a double room with shared bathroom.

As a person who values comfort and privacy, I usually stay away from hostels, but I was willing to give this one a try. Having a shared bathroom was a bit of a nuisance, especially considering that it was absolutely tiny. Our room was also rather cold, but other than that, I can’t fault it. It was clean and quiet throughout the whole stay. There was also a large kitchen and dining room area (with the Netflix fireplace flickering in the background for some cosy vibes) where you could prepare and eat your meals or simply chill with friends.

Terrace outside @friends by CitySurfer in Hamburg

We could tell the place comes alive in the summer – outside, there is a private beach area with a pool and sun loungers. There is also a vintage car that has a barbecue under its hood – you can buy sausages, burgers, and cold drinks at the Beach Kiosk if you wish to have a party. If you want to save some pennies or meet new people, you might want to take staying here into consideration!

A pool outside @friends by CitySurfer in Hamburg

Where we ate

Better Burger Company

After we landed in Hamburg and dropped off our bags, we were starving. A quick look at TripAdvisor pulled up Better Burger Company and as we’re both burger enthusiasts, it didn’t take much convincing. My boyfriend chose their classic BBC burger, while I went for the special with beef, Roquefort, and pears. Once your burger is ready, you can pick and mix sauces and toppings at the counter.

A burger with fries at Better Burger Company

Our burgers were served with a hearty portion of thick, salty fries with homemade mayonnaise – there were also plenty of delicious sauces to choose from on the tables. The place is small and there is an open kitchen, meaning that you can be sure everything is freshly prepared. We paid €26 for two burger menus including beers – if you’re searching for an inexpensive place serving great food, look no further.

Milch

I added this café to our list upon finding out they serve a Canarian specialty – cortado leche y leche, which is essentially coffee with milk and a layer of condensed milk on the bottom. Located in a former milk factory, with the original blue tiles still intact, Milch gives off some serious retro vibes and made for a perfect coffee break stop.

At first, the atmosphere inside this café may seem a little cold due to its minimalistic design, but the barista was very friendly. I also absolutely loved my coffee – the only downside is that I don’t know of any local café that serves cortado leche y leche so I could go and get my fix. If you’re ever in the area, I couldn’t recommend Milch enough.

Nur Hier

When I was younger, there were summers when I spent days, or even weeks, at my aunt and uncle’s place in Germany. During that time, I got to try many German specialties, one of them being Mettbrötchen – a type of sandwich consisting of a fresh bread roll and raw pork mince seasoned with salt and pepper and garnished with sliced raw onions, which quickly became my favourite.

We initially found a different place to go for breakfast, but when we were 50 metres away, my eyes landed on a typical German bakery like the ones I used to frequent with my aunt and uncle. We decided to go inside and, lo and behold, I spotted some Mettbrötchen among dozens of other sandwiches and knew we had to stay.

We paid less than 5 euros each for 2 sandwiches and a large cup of coffee, which was an absolute steal. We also got some dessert afterwards – I chose traditional German Butterkuchen (butter cake), which was exactly like the one my uncle would often bring home after work.

Butter cake, cheesecake and two cups of coffee

On our second morning, we decided to go for one of their breakfast sets with a basket of fresh rolls, different types of toppings and spreads, scrambled eggs, and coffee. It was twice as expensive, but it was worth the price – we were so full we didn’t feel like having lunch that day. Nur Hier is a citywide chain of bakeries and you should definitely go to get an authentic German breakfast experience.

Fresh rolls with different toppings and spreads inside Nur Hier in Hamburg

Christmas Markets

It was the main reason behind our trip to Hamburg and we got to visit four different Christmas markets around the city, including the world’s first erotic Christmas market.

I wrote a separate blog post describing our experience, but here’s a little spoiler – I’m already thinking about what German city we should visit next year at Christmas time!

Rathaus – City Hall

Once you’re in the area, it’d be a shame not to go inside the impressive City Hall building. It is open to the public and you can choose to go on a guided tour, visit the exhibitions that are displayed inside, or simply have a walk around which is what we did.

Upon entering the building, the first thing we saw was a magnificent ceiling-high Christmas tree with gorgeous decorations. With a beautiful fountain located right in the centre, stepping into its inner courtyard felt a little like being transported to Italy, which can only ever be a good thing.

A Christmas tree inside the City Hall building in Hamburg
A girl in a black coat standing inside the City Hall building in Hamburg

Miniatur Wunderland

Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest model railway exhibition located in an old warehouse building. When I saw it was rated as the top Hamburg attraction on TripAdvisor, I have to admit I was a little sceptical. I was worried it would be better suited for children and we would get bored easily. After a friend from work assured me it is absolutely not the case and it is a must-see while in the city, we decided to add it to our list… oh boy, am I glad we listened!

A model of the Volksparkstadion inside Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg

The museum is divided into various sections where you can see some of the world’s most famous landmarks. With an astonishing track length of 15.4 km, you can easily spend hours walking around looking for hidden gems. In the case of Miniatur Wunderland, the saying ‘devil’s in the details’ couldn’t be more true – for instance, my boyfriend spotted a certain ghost-fighting trio in the Rome section…

As we walked around the museum, the lights changed from day to night in regular intervals, showing the incredible light installations in full glory. There are also some buttons you can push to activate additional lights or actions.

The Las Vegas section of Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg

I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I will just say my favourite section was the fictional Knuffingen Airport where you can observe around 250 planes take off each day. You will have to see the rest for yourself, but it exceeded any expectations we previously had and I will now encourage anyone planning to visit Hamburg to add this place to their list.

The airport section inside Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg

Understandably, the museum gets very busy, so pre-booking tickets on their website is an option worth considering – and you can even get a small discount for certain time slots! We didn’t pre-book, as we weren’t sure what time we would be able to visit, but we were lucky enough to get the last two tickets for our desired time slot. An interesting touch is also a board where you can check how many people from each country have visited the museum to date!

Figurines inside Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg
Figurines inside Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg

Speicherstadt and HafenCity

Speicherstadt is the world’s largest warehouse complex which spans over an area of 260,000 square meters. After finding out this location was chosen by Karl Lagerfeld for a Vogue photoshoot, I knew we had to see this legendary designer’s source of inspiration with our own eyes.

Hamburg's warehouse district of Speicherstadt
A girl in a black coat standing in Speicherstadt in Hamburg

We took a stroll along the canals winding around beautiful red-brick warehouse buildings – did you know Hamburg has more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined? We also admired the modern architecture of HafenCity – a newly regenerated area surrounding the port which is in stark contrast to Speicherstadt, but is worth seeing nonetheless.

Buildings and boats lining the harbour in Hamburg
A boat with a crane in the harbour in Hamburg, Germany
A bridge in Hamburg, Germany with a sad face on top

Elbphilharmonie Plaza

In the lead-up to our stay, the hostel staff sent us a couple of e-mails containing various recommendations and fun facts about Hamburg. One in particular caught my attention – the construction of Elbphilharmonie was planned with an initial estimated cost of €77 million, which later rose to a whopping €866 million. For reference – the world’s only seven-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, cost ‘only’ €134 million more.

The outside of Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany

While you’re there, it is worth visiting Elbphilharmonie Plaza located 37 meters above ground which offers 360° views of Hamburg. Although Plaza tickets are free of charge, they are subject to availability. If you want to pre-book on their website to secure a spot, you can do so at a €2 booking fee.

Teekontor – Wasserschloss

As soon as I saw this tea shop in another blogger’s travel guide, I thought to myself – how good does a shop have to be in order to be mentioned alongside some Hamburg landmarks? Well, I’ve got my answer!

I’m not much of a tea drinker myself, but we wanted to pick up some Christmas presents for family members and it sounded like the perfect place.

From the moment we stepped foot inside, I was obsessed – they have so many tea blends to choose from that it took me a good 20 minutes to pick just one for my mum, AND they have coffee too! If you enjoy a good cuppa, you can’t miss this place!

St. Pauli and Reeperbahn

The St. Pauli district of Hamburg is renowned for three things: its football club, the harbour with the famous Fischmarkt, and Reeperbahn – one of Europe’s biggest red-light districts. While we didn’t wake up early enough to go to the fish market, we headed to St. Pauli one afternoon to attend their very own Christmas market and go for a walk along the Reeperbahn. Not far from Reeperbahn, there’s a gated street called Herbertstraße, commonly called the city’s most sinful street. You have to be male and over 18 years old to enter – any women caught trying to go behind the gates will have some strange liquid thrown at them. It’s a rather peculiar area of Hamburg and we didn’t spend much time there, but it makes for an interesting tourist attraction.

People at the St. Pauli Christmas market

So, that’s the end of my mini travel guide – if you’re planning a trip to Hamburg, I hope it gave you some ideas! And if you’ve already been, what were your favourite places? Would you visit the city again?

A train arriving at the Jungfernstieg station in Hamburg
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14 Comments

  1. January 3, 2020 / 3:58 am

    Wow, Hamburg looks amazing! You managed to get so much done in a pretty short period of time too, I’m impressed. I’ve only been to Bonn and Munich in Germany but I’d love to go back, and this guide has definitely put Hamburg top of the list. I love the look of the Miniatur Wunderland, it’s the kind of thing I’d be completely obsessed with. And how beautiful and festive does the Rathaus look!? Even your hostel is super stylish and cool! I definitely need to visit Hamburg soon. Absolutely stunning photos! x
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

    • Dominika
      Author
      January 4, 2020 / 2:56 pm

      Thank you so much, I’m thrilled to hear my mini guide inspired you to visit Hamburg! It’s such a lovely place for a city break and I would happily come back one day to see more of what it has to offer. I’m also determined to explore other German cities in the future – I would love to go to Bonn and Munich, so I’m glad to know someone I can ask for recommendations! x

  2. Kayleigh Zara
    January 2, 2020 / 1:13 am

    The better burger company looks absolutely amazing! The burgers look so delicious. Id love to be able to visit Germany in December x

    • Dominika
      Author
      January 2, 2020 / 1:52 pm

      I really hope you get to go – Germany is the place to be at Christmas time!

  3. December 30, 2019 / 12:19 am

    OK, I wanna go back now. I spent 2 nights here a few years back and was surprised how big the city is! it’s so beautiful too

    • Dominika
      Author
      December 30, 2019 / 11:42 pm

      You should definitely go back – the city is so lovely this time of the year!

  4. katy gilroy
    December 22, 2019 / 11:15 am

    well Hamburg is definitely on my list now!!! your photos are gorgeous x

    • Dominika
      Author
      December 22, 2019 / 3:06 pm

      Thanks, Hamburg is so beautiful at Christmas time!

  5. Alice Anne Spake
    December 17, 2019 / 2:30 pm

    The outside area of the hostel looks so fab! It would be amazing in the summer months. My friend loves Germany and visits different cities quite a lot so I’ll have to mention this one to her xx

    • Dominika
      Author
      December 19, 2019 / 12:09 pm

      That hostel was significantly cheaper than any other place, so I didn’t expect much and I was pleasantly surprised with it!

  6. Erin
    December 17, 2019 / 11:45 am

    Oh wow what stunning photos – I love the look of it! I would love to go!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

  7. December 17, 2019 / 11:08 am

    A German Christmas market is high up on my bucket list of things to do! Your photos are gorgeous – that miniatur wonderland is incredible. The time that must have taken! x

    • Dominika
      Author
      December 19, 2019 / 12:04 pm

      Thank you so much! I agree, the attention to detail was absolutely amazing!

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