With winding waterways, picturesque parks and amazing museums, Hamburg can come across as a bit of a restrained city. But behind this facade, the city has one of the liveliest alternative nightlife scenes anywhere in Europe - full of beer, clubs and wicked secret spots. Reeperbahn, the famous red light district, might be a little sleezy but it has some of the coolest bars in the city and is great for big groups looking to let their hair down. With alternative warehouse complexes, new urban developments and the stunning port of Hamburg, it’s one of the trendiest cities in Germany.
With flights taking around 1½ hours from all of the UK’s major airports, Hamburg is easy to get to. It’s also got a similar climate to the UK, though you can definitely expect a little more sun during the summer months than in Britain. This means it’s a great all year round party destination and great for big groups who don’t want to spend forever travelling.
Hamburg is an up-and-coming cultural powerhouse with swanky clubs, phenomenal restaurants and some of most fashionable bars to be found anywhere in Europe - it really shouldn’t be missed.
Explore The City
St Pauli District
Reeperbahn is a bustling area in the larger St Pauli district. Epitomised by lively bars and mad nightclubs, it’s a great area for anyone interested in the alternative side of the city. There’s also the effortlessly trendy Schmidts Tivoli and Operettenhaus which offer seductive cabaret shows and loads of musicals. Plus, there’s loads of boutique cafes, restaurants and even sightseeing boat tours.
Set in the Northern part of the city, these picturesque lakes are the perfect place to head to if it’s sunny. Soak up the rays and watch the world go by on the shore while enjoying a few beers at one of the many bars that surround the water. It’s the perfect place for big groups and is heaving with locals throughout the summer months.
‘Cornering’ is the practice of getting a group of friends around a local kiosk or in front of a bar to down a few cheap pints before heading off for the rest of your night. There’s loads of great places to get the party started, including Tabakbörse kiosk in Sternschanze - especially if it’s sunny. If a little colder, check out the warmer Toast Bar, a cracking spot that’s open until the early hours.
A renowned beer destination, Hamburg has no shortage of authentic pubs and local German beers. Experience some of the best by taking a brewery tour at one of the many microbreweries or, if you’re feeling a little more creative, cruise around on a beer bike and enjoy beer as you go. It’s definitely more fun than any bus tour around!
Stripper River Cruise
A relaxing river cruise is always a great way to see a new city. But, we thought that was a little boring. So, why not add a seductive stripper and experience the waterways in a whole new way? Duringthis activity, you’ll get to see all the sights from the luxury of your very own private boat.
For years, Berlin has been renowned as the best place to head for Brits wanting to party in Germany. However in recent years, Hamburg has become an increasingly popular destinations for big groups looking to have a good time. With the amount of clubs,bars,bar crawlsand traditional German brewhouses on offer, it’s certainly no surprise to us. Who wants to travel all the way to Berlin just to get turned away at the doors of Berghain anyway!?
This large brewery sits on the beautiful port of Hamburg. Just 20 minutes' walk from the centre of the city, the bar and restaurant offers a wide range of locally brewed beer, as well as a large outdoor seating area overlooking the port. It’s great for big groups looking to explore Hamburg’s famous beer history and even offers its ownbrewery toursand meal deals.
Schwarz Licht Viertel
Just 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre, this 18-hole mini golf course is decked out with mysterious glowing colours, spectacular lights and awesome sound effects. You’ll get to travel through the jungle and the ancient temple-themed rooms, before going through to the waterfalls and mining lanes, ending in the creepy abandoned factory.
Holsten Beer Factory
This famous brewery is the home of Holsten, which has been brewed in Hamburg since 1879. Located just 10 minutes from the centre of the city, it's a working craft brewery, complete with a bar, tasting room and gift shop.
This elegant, classy strip club is popular among both international guests and locals. The high-class club has a stylish American style interior and offers stage shows and table dances. It is located near the Reeperbahn metro station and close to many bars, clubs and restaurants.
Located just off the lively Reeperbahn street, this rowdy Irish pub has an extensive drinks menu and lively events with a diverse range of musicians and DJs on offer. It also shows all the big matches on its huge screens - making it the perfect spot to watch the game while your away. It has an indoor and outdoor seating areas, as well as offering an impressive 260 different types of whiskey.
It’s hot, sweaty and certainly not refined. Open since 1949, this bar has taken on cult status across the city. Famous for its cheap drinks, great soundtrack and no-nonsense service, it’s perfect for big groups looking to properly let loose and have a good time. Don’t expert silver service, but if you’re looking for a proper night out, this is the one for you.
Eat Like A Local
Hamburg still has the most important port in the whole of Germany. This has massively influenced the restaurants and Germany’s gateway to the world has brought in cuisine from all over. With fish markets, as well as hugely popular street food stalls near the town hall and St Michaelis Church, it has something for everyone. Though, there are definitely a few things that are definitely worth checking out while you’re here.
Available throughout the entire city, this classic snack comprises of sausage cooked in curry sauce. It’s definitely better than any chips and curry sauce you’d get in the UK and is massively popular throughout Germany. We recommend heading to the likes of Kiez Curry, in the heart of the city, or Imbiss bei Schorsch who specialise in a very hot sausage.
Often served with a fried egg on top, this is a properly authentic Northern German dish. It’s traditionally made by mixing boiled beef with beetroot, potatoes and herring before adding to lard, nutmeg and allspice. The pink dish might not be the prettiest you’ve ever seen, but good God it’s tasty!
Named after one of the districts in Hamburg that used to be a fishing village, this fish dish is a Hamburg classic. Made with plaice, bacon, shrimp from the North Sea, it’s one of the most authentic dishes available.
Reissdorf am Hahnentor
Serving up loads of the best regional delicacies with locally sourced ingredients, and a drinks menu which features some of areas best beers, this restaurant is not to be missed. It even hosts a speciality Bavarian feast meal that can satisfy all of your German food needs.
Where to stay
Like all major European cities, Hamburg has loads of accommodation options. There’s swanky hotels, posh apartments and affordable hostels. If you’re in a big group, we recommend getting a cheap hostel - that way, you can all stay together, have fun back at the hostel and save money at the same time!
Your Guide To An Exhilarating Weekend In Germany
Hamburg at a glance:
- Germany’s second largest city, built on the banks of the enormous River Elbe – complete with its own beach
- Famous for its alternative music and punk scene, but also boasts more than 40 theatres, 60 museums, 100 music venues
- Infamous for the Reeperbahn area, once one of Europe’s most notorious red light districts, and now a bustling hotspot of nightlife and alternative culture
- It’s a vibrant metropolis that combines urban grit with parks and water – two thirds of Hamburg is made up of green space and waterways
- Home to two major football clubs, Hamburger SV, one of Germany’s oldest, and FC St Pauli, perhaps the world’s most hipster team
Jungfernsteig – where the city shows off This smart district takes its name from the tradition of wealthy Hamburg merchants parading their unmarried daughters on Sunday afternoon walks by the lakes. Today it’s where you’ll find some of the city’s best shopping, chic cafés and restaurants. Inner Alster lake is a great place to hire bikes and explore a bit.
Altona – bohemian Hamburg’s playground Gently gentrified in true Hamburg style, Altona is a little bit hipster, kind of bohemian, sort of arty and pretty much just itself. Home to the city’s creative types and their cutely dressed offspring, Altona’s where you want to be for cool clothes shops, new design, smart bars and interesting cafés and restaurants.
Best bars in Hamburg:
Astra-Strube, Max Brauer Allee- A Hamburg institution for decades and still going as strong as ever. Good for regular DJ nights, live music, cheap beer, drinks offers and party atmosphere.www.astra-stube.de
Golden Pudel, St. Pauli Fischmarkt 27- Is it a bar, is it a fishing cabin, is it someone’s house? From the outside it’s hard to tell but once inside Golden Pudel all is clear – it’s a local punk legend and loved to its anarchic little heart by locals. The dancefloor’s small but the drinks choice is vast and there’s a different Golden Pudel slogan for every day.www.pudel.com
The Shamrock, Feldstraße 40- Hamburg’s oldest Irish pub has seen quite a few others fall by the wayside but sports on the telly, excellent drink prices, good beer selection and the friendly vibe seem to have guaranteed long life and happiness for this much loved classic.www.shamrockirishbar.com
**Paulaner’s Miraculum, Kirchenallee 47 Sounds like an ancient apothecary, but it’s really one of Hamburg’s great traditional German bars with the draught beer and hearty home-cooking for next to no money as standard. Friendly and unpretentious.
20 UP, Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 97 On the top floor of the Empire Riverside Hotel (hence the name) this bar has an astonishing view of the River Elbe and Hamburg, very reasonably priced drinks and a range of offers every night after 6pm.www.empire-riverside.de
Bar Hamburg, Rautenbergstraße 6 Over 90 different cocktails, a huge range of malts, beer and wines and an interesting and original menu, this is Hamburg’s smartest bar. Probably why it gets to own the city’s name.www.barhamburg.com
Bernstein Bar, Bernstorffstraße 103 Inviting and intimate bar with a good mix of locals and visitors, regular DJs and a wide range of Germany’s finest brewing traditions to choose from.www.bernsteinbar.de
Biergarten der Factory, Hasselbrookstraße 172 One of the prettiest and most popular beer gardens in Hamburg, Biergarten der Factory is in the former Hasselbrooker Station building, surrounded by trees and great on summer evenings. The food is as good as the beer and the kitchen stays open until midnight.www.factory-hasselbrook.com
Le Fonque, Juliusstraße 33 More than 20 years of funking it up in the Schanze District have made this bar a bit on an expert in the art of a great night out. The secret is fantastic resident DJs, funk and soul staples, big, big drinks at good prices and lots of giant, squashy sofas for lounging about.www.fonque.de
Tower Bar, Seewartenstraße 9 Certainly not the cheapest bar in Hamburg but the great view over the city’s port is worth extra, plus it’s a nice, relaxed place to just hang out and recharge for a bit.www.hotel-hafen-hamburg.de
Best clubs in Hamburg:
Dollhouse, Große Freiheit 11 Hamburg’s most famous erotic club carries the strapline ‘erotic show for him and her’ and doesn’t do discrimination. Super glossy and glamorous and attracts huge crowds for its legendary male and female strippers and dancers.www.dollhouse.de
Neidklub, Reeperbahn 19 Underground vibe, international DJs, mix of sounds, fantastic interior, Neidklub pulls a young, smart Hamburg crowd for big ticket music events all year round. First floor terrace has amazing aerial views of the dance floor and that’s what it’s all about at Neidklub – dance, dance, dance.www.neidklub.de
Uebel & Gefährlich, Feldstraße 66 On the fourth floor of an immense and daunting looking overground bunker, Uebel & Gefärlech are credited with turning this weird venue into one of the most exciting clubs in Europe. Huge international events and DJs are the thing here and it pulls vast crowds.
Baalsaal, Reeperbahn 19 The dancefloor at Baalsaal isn’t as big as some but the monster sound system is huge and DJs love it. House and techno dominate here and nothing much happens until after 1am, but when it kicks off Baalsaal is epic.www.baalsaal.com
Moondoo, Reeperbahn 136 Obscure music, chart hits, local legend DJs and one of the coolest places to club in the city. Crowded to capacity always and with a wild party vibe to boot.www.moondoo.de
When To Visit:
Hamburg’s summer weather is warm and sunny so a good time to visit if you want to see some of the countryside and take advantage of the city’s beer garden traditions. Christmas is wonderful, of course, as this is Germany and the land of fairytale markets, giant trees, skating rinks, mulled wine and all the other seasonal fun you can think of.
The city has excellent public transport and it all works off one ticket, so you have access to buses, trains and even ferries. Taxis are reasonably priced but most areas are easy to walk round.
Hamburg is a safe city but take the usual precautions against pickpockets in busy tourist areas. In clubs and bars don’t leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from strangers if you haven’t seen the bar staff make it. And it’s best to avoid the subway station public toilets at night.
Thank you= danke