As one of Europe’s great ports, Hamburg is known for its rich maritime history and the cultural identity that has developed over the years as a result. From composers who have created a legacy here in the past to the construction of the revolutionary concert hall Elbphilharmonie, music is one of the city’s greatest attributes, but with distinct local cuisine, a diversity of neighborhoods and an abundance of parkland, Hamburg is a city worth getting to know. These are the best things to do in Hamburg.
A Legacy in Music
As soon as it opened, the Elbphilharmonie became a landmark, in part for the impression it immediately makes with its contemporary glass structure reflecting the water it lies alongside, but also for the revolutionary interior of the concert hall, which is said to be one of the most acoustically advanced in the world. Before settling into the auditorium for a concert, take a stroll around the outdoor terrace for views of the city and harbor, 37 meters up.
It was all the way back in 1678 that Hamburg opened Europe’s first public opera house. Since then the city has been at the heart of many musical movements and music scenes. This music history can be uncovered by seeking out sites such as the Neo-Baroque Laeiszhalle concert hall or neighborhood haunts of the Beatles who famously made their mark here.
Delve into Hamburg’s maritime history by exploring the city’s thriving port. Start by taking a boat trip around the harbor for an introduction to the waterside sites and a view of the new concert hall, before setting foot back on land to get to know this area more. Perhaps most notable is the area encompassing Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus with Chilehaus, having been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Speicherstadt is considered to be the center of Hamburg’s maritime identity, with red-brick warehouses that have been renovated into venues such as designers’ showrooms and coffee houses. Another of the port’s great waterside sites is then the legendary fish market, which first opened in 1703. Each Sunday morning, locals and visitors flock to this spot on the banks of the Elbe River for fish rolls and live music in an iconic setting.
Where to Stay
Park Hyatt Hamburg
This five-star hotel in Hamburg’s city center provides a convenient base, as well as elegant surroundings of the historic Levantehaus building the hotel is in. Tuck into regional cuisine in the restaurant Apples, savor afternoon tea in the lounge and bar, and relax in the luxurious Club Olympus Spa. The Presidential Suite here spans 231 square meters of space and is home to features such as a piano.
From October 2017, visitors to Hamburg will have a new luxury hotel to seek out. Situated on the shores of Lake Alster amid the trees of this area’s parkland, the hotel stands out for its harmoniously designed structure encompassing graceful curves, an inner atrium and landscaped areas. Making the most of its waterfront setting, the new hotel has a panoramic rooftop restaurant and bar.
Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten
Taking pride in its status as a grand hotel, the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten combines modern amenities with grandeur and a celebration of the building’s heritage. Four restaurants and bars offer a range of international cuisines, while the spa offers a number of treatments for body and soul.
Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg
Dating back to 1909, the Hotel Atlantic is another of Hamburg’s grande dames. In its position overlooking Lake Alster, and with a building that reflects its history through the design of its impressive façade, the hotel has become one of the city’s most celebrated places to stay but perhaps its greatest claim to fame is the fact it was featured in the 1997 Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies.
For inspiration on where to eat, take a look at our pick of the five best restaurants in Hamburg.