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Germany : Hamburg - May 2010

Country Code: Dial ++49 for Germany

Hamburg celebrates the 821st birthday of its harbour from 7-9 May. Billed as the world’s largest port festival, the Hafengeburtstag Hamburg remembers Emperor Frederick Barbarossa’s letter of 1189, which permitted duty-free trading for the city’s ships. What’s more, the UEFA Europa League Final will be contested at the Volkspark on 12 May. Stuart Forster sets sail on a voyage of discovery

Getting around

Hamburg Airport is 9km north-west of the city.

Bus: Coaches to the centre depart every 15 minutes from 6am to 7pm, then at 20-minute intervals until 11pm. Single tickets cost €5
Train: The airport doesn’t have a direct rail connection to the city centre. The nearest station is at Ohlsdorf, served by the S1 and S11 trains and U1 underground line. A single ticket is €2,60 and the journey takes 20 minutes.
Taxi: The journey to the city centre takes 20 minutes and costs about €16.
Tourist information: The main office is at Sankt Pauli Landungsbrücken, between bridges 4 and 5 (tel. (0)40 3005 1300, hamburgtourism. de).


The waterfront districts of the city saw an estimated 1.2m visitors during last year’s Hafengeburtstag. People come to watch 300 sailing ships and enjoy the live music, dragon boat racing and parachuting exhibitions.

Culture vultures – Visit the museum ship Rickmer Rickmers (moored near the Landungsbrücken) to get a feel for life on a three-mast barque. The ship was the 1958 winner of the Tall Ships’ Race.

Must eat – A well-situated bistro by the water, Rive (1 Van-der-Smissen-Strasse, tel. (0)40 380 5919) is known for its oysters and specialises in fish dishes. The ‘Hanseatenteller Rive’ offers a taste of regional favourites, including eel, herring and prawns.


Traditionally the district in which Hamburg’s dock-workers lived and sailors partied, the Kiez – as this area is known locally – will be even livelier than usual during the Hafengeburtstag celebrations.

Sleep soundly – At the East Hamburg Hotel (31 Simon-von-Utrecht-Strasse, tel. (0)40 309930,, rooms from €155), the designer look will appeal to modernists.

Must eat – Kiez Curry (2 Querstrasse, tel. (0)40 6367 3829) is the place to try a simple but tasty currywurst (a spicy sausage) – Germany’s most popular dish – in the heart of St Pauli.

Must drink – The sizable and ever lively Grosse Freiheit 36 (36 Grosse Freiheit), often hosts quality gigs and is an address renowned for its historic association with The Beatles.

Dance the night away – Head to the iconic Golden Pudel Club (27 Fischmarkt), which also hosts the Elb Jazz Festival from 3pm on 29 May.


Centrally located and within walking distance of the waterfront, this district oozes affluent charm and hosts attractions such as the towering Bismarck monument and the informative Hamburg Museum, ideal for anyone wishing to learn about the city’s history.

Sleep soundly – The Seemansheim Hamburg (5 Krayenkamp tel. (0)40 370960,, doubles from €72) was established as a place for seamen and offers travellers on a budget a good, central alternative to the usual hotels and hostels.

Culture vultures – Visit the city’s landmark St Michaelis Church (1 Englische Planke) to attend the ecumenical service on 7 May that traditionally begins the celebrations of the Hafengeburtstag. The views from the 82m-high viewing platform are worth the €3,50 price tag.

Must eat – The cosy Old Commercial Room (10 Englische Planke, tel. (0)40 366319) is a restaurant with international appeal that serves Hanseatic dishes – such as the popular Labskaus stew – and hearty steaks.

Shop til you drop – Hit upmarket department store the Alsterhaus (16-20 Jungfernstieg), which has been a part of the area for close to a century and has seven floors to visit.


Situated just a few kilometres downriver from central Hamburg, the picturesque village of Blankenese is a popular destination with day-trippers on spring weekends.

Sleep soundly – Treat yourself to a stay at the plush Süllberg Hotel (12 Süllbergsterrasse, tel. (0)40 866 2520,, whose river-facing suite is priced at €310 per night. The terrace, which has fine views over the Elbe river, is a lovely spot to dine or drink in fine weather.

Culture vultures – Enjoy the early 20th-century residential architecture along the serpentines on the narrow and surprisingly rustic Mühlenberger Weg.

Must eat – Beachfront Strand Perle (60 Oevelgoenne, tel. (0)40 880 1112) is often busy with walkers pausing for liquid refreshment. Its herring in cream sauce (matjes hausfrauenart) is an archetypal regional snack.

Compiled by Stuart Forster

Previous issues for Hamburg
Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy,
please confirm event/venue details in advance.


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