Disclaimer: the best things to do in Hamburg does not include dining on a hamburger. What it does include? Shopping, breathing in the fresh air, and chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate. The following Hamburg itinerary gives some suggestions for things to do in Hamburg the next time you get the urge to visit a famous port city on the Elbe River.
Like with nearly every trip to a new city, museums are the best place to start! In addition to being the perfect escape on a rainy day, they are always surrounded by delicious cafes, meaning you can bookend your museum visits with a double dose of coffee and cake.
Morning: Get lost in the Kunsthalle Museum
Kunsthalle is one of the largest museums in Germany. Guess it kind of has to be if it is going to fit 7 centuries worth of European art inside. Give yourself ample time to explore (or get lost in) the grand exhibits, which feature pieces ranging from the Medieval Ages to contemporary time. In true Hamburg fashion, curators mix the young and the old, so don’t be surprised if the Da Vinci exhibit flows into the modern art hall.
Lunch: Snack near the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
The Kunsthalle Museum is located across the street from the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (central train station), meaning that there are dozens of diverse, cheap eats in the area. One of the most popular options is Quán Ðỏ, a Vietnamese street food kitchen that knows how to serve up a mean vermicelli. Diners will leave feeling jubilant and content, which is exactly what the owners intended for the comforting Vietnamese kitchen experience.
Afternoon: Gorge yourself on chocolate at the Chocoversum by Hachez
The Chocoversum is hands-down the best experience that Hamburg has to offer, where chocoholics can bond over 90 minutes of pure joy. You’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop as you dash between exhibits, learning about the history and ethics of chocolate making. The most important tip: come hungry. Visitors get to sample milk and dark chocolate at every stage of the chocolate-making process, from the cacao bean, to the little nibs, to the finished product. And the best part, even better than gorging yourself on chocolate waterfalls? Souvenirs are included! You’ll make a giant customizable chocolate bar at the chocolate factory, filled with all the goodies your heart could ever desire. What are the odds that it even makes it out the door?
Evening: Brave the Reeperbahn
Ah, the infamous Reeperbahn. Rivaled only by the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Luckily, it doesn’t get dark until about 10:30pm during the summers in Hamburg, so you’ll feel secure if you start the night young. Gather a group (maybe fellow chocoholics that you met at the Chocoversum?!) and walk the strip, then find a bar to enjoy a drink and take in the sights.
The city center is scattered with landmarks, shops, and parks, making it the perfect place to spend a leisurely second day.
Morning: Take a paddleboat out on Alster Lakes
The Alster Lakes are a man-made two-lake system, with the inner lake bordering Neustadt, a high-end shopping district in central Hamburg. On a sunny summer day, the water is flooded with sailors, paddlers, and rowers, while the surrounding parks are overrun with joggers, cyclists, and sunbathers. Dozens of stark white sails stand out against the dazzling blue water, as much a normal part of the Hamburg landscape as the city’s old church clock towers or the Hamburg Rathaus’s intimidating spires. In the winter, the lake freezes over to create a large, natural ice-skating rink for thousands of locals and visitors.
Lunch: Treat yourself to a Godiva chocolate shake
After meandering through the park or paddling around Alster Lakes, treat yourself to a delectable chocolate treat from the Godiva Café on the nearby Alsterfleet Canal. For the young-at-heart, try a refreshing chocoholica shake. You can also never go wrong with a classic hot chocolate or chocolate coffee. Travelers looking for a more filling meal can find a spot at any of the dozens of outdoor cafes in the area.
Afternoon: Window shop in the Neustadt district
The Neustadt neighborhood is a charming area located in the heart of the city. With fashion empires like BVLGARI, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel around every corner, perhaps it’s better off to go with a “look, but don’t touch” mentality. On a nice day, the plazas will be crowded with dozens of other (window) shoppers, so feel free to join in the fun, then stop to rest your weary feet for a drink at any of the lovely cafes along the way.
Evening: Relax with a cocktail in St. Georg
The lively neighborhood is located about a 20-minute walk from the Neustadt district. European café culture is very prominent in the area, making the bars and restaurants popular with locals. A bit more residential than other bar scenes in Hamburg, St. Georg is a wonderful option for anybody looking to maintain a leisurely pace after spending a day taking in the sights. So the next time you’re in Hamburg, check this Hamburg itinerary out to find out the best way to spend 48 hours in the city.