After a jam-packed weekend full of Christmas markets, sightseeing, local delicacies, countless cups of Glühwein and what could be Germany’s best tea served by a tea-master (!), I (Sheida) must say that Hamburg has it all! From November 21st, Hamburg turns into a beautiful winter wonderland with numerous Christmas markets that will get you in the right Christmas spirit.
Follow us as we explore Hamburg and learn more about Germany’s second largest city (that can brag with both having more canals than Venice and being the starting point for Beatles’ career). Here’s We are Nodes’ detailed guide for an unforgettable Christmas weekend in Hamburg.
13:00 Check in at Reichshof Hotel Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton
Our home for the weekend was Reichshof Hotel, the former Grand Hotel which was ideally located just a stones throw away from the central station and only twenty minutes with metro from the airport. Reichshof re-opened in 2015 after an extensive renovation and became the first European hotel to be a part of the Hilton Curio Collection, a selection of unique hotels. It’s the perfect hotel for business- and weekend travellers since it’s located in the middle of the buzzing city and has all the facilities and comfort needed for a person on the go!
My company for the weekend. From left; travel bloggers Bettina, Marie, Anette, Evelina, me (Sheida) and Jessica from Hamburg Tourism.
Although there is a new fresh feel to hotel since the renovation, the Reichshof Hotel has kept a lot of the original details from when the hotel first opened in 1910. Marble pillars, the elevator signs and parts of the chandeliers keep the hotel’s history alive and becomes a nice contrast to the newly added elements.
Tel: +49 40 3702590
Adress: Kirchenallee 34-36, 200 99 Hamburg
15:00 Harbour boat trip
If the weather is on your side, starting your weekend in Hamburg with a harbour boat trip is a nice way to experience the city’s port – the second busiest port in Europe, also known as the Gateway to the World. Try the popular Fischbrötchen (fish sandwhich) for lunch before you hop on the boat (I promise, they taste better than they look like!). When you’re starting to get cold it is time to order your first (of many!) cups of warm Glühwein!
In Germany they have both red and white Glühwein – my favorite was the white one!
Adress: Bei den St. Pauli- Landungsbrücken 2, 20359 Hamburg
17:00 Santa Pauli Christmas Market
Santa Pauli, located in Reeperbahn (Hamburg’s red light district) is an excellent stop for Glühwein #2. With a big flashing disco bowl, DJ’s playing music and booths full of local delicacies mixed with “adults only” souvenirs, this probably is the craziest Christmas Market you will ever visit! Hang out in front of the open fire, soak in the great atmosphere and eat one of my favorite things in the whole wide world: crêpes!
Tip: Make sure to take out money before you visit the Christmas Markets, since most of the stalls only accept cash!
Adress: Spielbudenplatz 22, 20359 Hamburg
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 17-23, Friday 17-01 pm, Saturday-Sunday 13-01 pm.
Metro: Santa Pauli
19:00 Dinner at Altes Mädchen
Finish your evening with a long dinner at brewhouse and restaurant Altes Mädschen on Lagerstraße. Try one of their 60 crafted beers from around the world, and order in the restaurant’s own takes on regional classics, such as schnitzels and sandwhiches baked in their own wooden oven!
What’s really going on during a “bloggers dinner” – a representative from Hamburg Tourism giving us photo light so we can take pictures of the food.
Adress: Lagerstraße 28b, 20357 Hamburg
Phone: +49 40 800077750
08:15 Breakfast at Slowman Restaurant, Reichshof Hotel
During our guided tour of the hotel, I found out that the founder of the Reichshof Hotel, Anton-Emil Langer, used to be a kitchen director on a ocean liner. The Slowman Restaurant (where the breakfast and dinner is served) is therefore built in the style of a dining room of a luxury ocean liner. The Reichshof Hamburg has together with Yelp even held Titanic-themed dinners here with 6-course menus, offering samples from the original menu served on Titanic! How cool is that, I want to try it!
11:00 Walking tour in Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District (UNESCO World Heritage)
Taking a walking tour with an experienced guide turned out to be a great Saturday activity! Discovering a city by foot makes you get to know the city in a totally different way and with a guide, you’ll get to know interesting facts about the buildings you pass that you otherwise would miss. I didn’t think a walking tour would be on the top of my Hamburg-list, but our guide Tomas Kaiser made 3 hours fly by as he guided us through the Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District (which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list) while sharing fun trivia about the city.
Book Hamburg-expert Tomas Kaiser as your own personal guide: +49 (0) 170 2327749
12:00 360° view over Hamburg at Elbhilharmonie
Another one of the stops on our walking tour was Hamburg’s new concert hall Elbhilharmonie (one of the top 10 most expensive buildings in the world). The impressive building houses not only an magnificent concert hall, but also The Westin Hotel and exclusive apartments. The concert hall is not opening until 11 & 12 January 2017, but for a couple of euros you can already enter some of the open indoor spaces and get nice 360° view over Hamburg.
Adress: Platz der Deutschen Einheit 1
14:00 Rathausmarkt Christmas Market
Although Santa Pauli was my favorite Christmas Market out of the four I visited, the famous Rauthausmarkt Christmas Market, located in front of the Town Hall, is also a must! For the best experience, I would recommend a visit in the evening when the Christmas lights are turned on.
If you’re in the mood for shopping, you have come to the right area – just around the corner you’ll have all the best shopping streets; Neuer Wall with all the designer brands, the Europa Passage mall and all the regular brands and stores.
Adress: Rathausmarkt 1, 20095 Hamburg
Opening Hours: November 21st till December 23rd: Daily 11 am – 09 pm
Friday & Saturday until 10 pm
Metro: S1/S3 station “Jungfernstieg” (exit: “Rathausmarkt”)
18:00 Dinner at Empire Riverside Hotel
After spending so many hours outside, it’s nice to sink back in a comfortable sofa and get something to eat. David’s lounge bar at the Empire Riverside hotel, close to the port, has the perfect hotel lounge vibe and great sushi and drinks. If you are in the mood to continue the evening, you don’t need to go far. Just take the elevator to the 20th floor and you’ll come straight into one of Hamburg’s hotspots, the popular skybar 20 Up’s bar.
Adress: Bernhard-Nocht-Straße 97
Phone: +49 (40) 31119 – 0
19:00 Dinner #2 at Santa Pauli
With Santa Pauli only one metro stop away from the Empire Riverside Hotel, I just had to make a pit stop to the market to eat dinner number 2; some more crêpes before I made my way back to the hotel.
20:00 Spa-time at Reichshof Hotel
In the evening I weighed between two options – to go for a drink at the hotel bar 1910, or trying out the hotel’s spa facilities. Since I had both a fever and a cold earlier the same week, the sauna and “quiet room” together with German blogger Jule felt a little bit more tempting. We spent a good hour or two doing nothing – just like you are supposed to while on vacation.
13:30 Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Hotel
With a couple of hours until my flight back to Stockholm, I decided to go for a walk along the Aussenalster Lake, strolling through the Weisser Zauber Christmas market and having a cup of coffee at Starbucks, before going for a Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Hotel on Neuer Jungfernstieg 9-14. I was inspired to go for a tea- tasting or doing some sort of activity involving tea, after hearing so much about the tea- and coffee export during the walking tour the previous day.
If you’ve been to a Fairmont Hotel before, you already know that it is breathtaking – but during Christmas time, it’s purely magical! If you’re not in a proper Christmas mood after visiting all the Christmas markets on our list, you most definitely will be after spending a couple of hours in the Wohnhalle, the hall where their Afternoon Tea is served. The Wohnhalle has been awarded twice with the “Golden Teacup”, for best regional tea culture – and I was told by the tea-master that their pastries are created by Christoph Rüffers, head of Haerlin Restaurant (one of Germany’s leading gourmet restaurants and bearer of 2 Michelin stars).
During my visit I also got a short private tour of the hotel. The photo above was taken while the staff was preparing for the Children’s Christmas Afternoon Tea. More about tea-masters, private tours and Afternoon Tea in the next blog post!
Adress: Neuer Jungfernstieg 9-14, 20354 Hamburg
Open Hours: Afternoon Tea is served in the Wohnhalle from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Reservations: +49 (0)40 34 94 33 17
How to get around:
The Discovery-ticket allows unlimited travel on public transport, the cost is 25 euros for a 3-day adult ticket. Buy the card online and print it in advance so that you can jump straight on the metro without queueing at the ticket machines at the airport.
Do you have any questions or have you visited Hamburg and have any recommendations on what to do the next time we visit this lovely city? Drop us a comment!