Top 10 Things to See and Do in Western Hamburg
Hamburg at night | © Pixabay
Hamburg is a large and diverse city whose various corners always showcase their own distinct character. The city’s west is defined by the River Elbe and offers everything from beautiful nature spots to bustling shopping and nightlife opportunities. These are our best tips for making the most of Hamburg’s western boroughs.
Start your exploration of Hamburg’s western neighbourhoods with a full tummy and good spirits. On the shore of the River Elbe, close to Hamburg’s biggest seafood marketplace, there is an abundance of restaurants that serve exceptional cuisine. The simple but cosy Fischmarkt Bistro sells the best baked fish sandwiches that Hamburg has to offer. A scrumptious French take on fish dishes can be found at the scenic Restaurant Marseille, and the family-run Fischereihafen Restaurant offers traditional seafood with a gorgeous view across the harbour.
Take a walk around the picturesque sights
As the Germans say, ‘Nach dem Essen sollst du ruh’n oder 1000 Schritte tun‘ – after a meal you shall rest or walk a 1000 steps. Choose the latter and take a stroll along the pedestrian pathway adjacent to the River Elbe. Walking away from the city centre you’ll be treated to beautiful views across the river and the passing ships, historic fishermen’s houses on the hilly riverside, and inviting sandy beaches. A 20 minute walk will take you to the Oevelgönne museum harbour and its inviting outdoor cafés. Stop here or continue walking to leave the crowds behind and enjoy nature in the middle of the city.
Museumshafen Oevelgönne, Neumühlen, 22763 Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 4191 2761
Explore the ‘district of stairs’
Further along the Elbe lies one of Hamburg’s most beautiful neighbourhoods – the old fishermen’s village of Blankenese. The historic old houses and chic modern villas that are perched on the hillsides of the Süllberg hill are connected with over 5,000 steps, hence the name: the district of stairs. Below awaits a sandy shore whose lively yet laid-back atmosphere is reminiscent of the French riviera. Uphill you’ll find a pretty shopping street filled with fancy boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
Stop by the Willkomm Höft
Another eight kilometres (five miles) downriver lies the Schulauer Fährhaus ferry building and its welcome point for ships. Since 1952 here every passing ship that’s larger than 1,000 GT receives a special welcome to Hamburg or is bid farewell and bon voyage. The captains of the welcome point have a collection of national anthems of over 150 countries as well as recorded greetings in their respective languages. In turn, they inform the visitors about the ship, its origin, destination, cargo, and interesting trivia. The ferry house restaurant is a great place for a coffee and cake with a special maritime touch.
Schiffsbegrüßungsanlage Willkomm-Höft, 22880 Wedel, Germany, +49 4103 9200 0
Although the North Sea is a good 80 km (50 miles) downriver from Hamburg, that doesn’t mean that the city lacks beautiful beaches. The sandy shores of River Elbe – particularly Elbstrand and Falkensteiner Ufer – are perfect for relaxing in the sun even if swimming is generally not recommended. Instead, visit a beach bar and enjoy that special summer in the city vibe with a cocktail in your hand. Local favourites include Ahoi Strandkiosk and the Strandperle next door, as well as the 28 Grad Strandbad across from the Willkomm Höft.
Relaxing at a beach bar | © Photocapy / Flickr
Hamburg’s west is known not only for beach bars but also for its great nightlife. Technically speaking, the city’s most popular nightlife areas of St. Pauli and Strenschanze. Less known but no less exciting are the adjacent Altona and Ottensen districts. Savour the industrial movie theatre flair of the Filmhauskneipe, the quirky Laundrette that’s a cafe, bar, and laundromat in one, or enjoy live music at the Fabrik, an old factory turned event venue. The small streets of these districts hide many unique gems.
During the daylight hours, Altona and Ottensen are also among Hamburg’s best shopping areas. You won’t find large malls here, instead the streets and squares are lined with diverse smaller shops of both international and local brands. It’s just a few minutes walk from Altona’s Neue Große Bergstraße shopping street to Ottensen’s Ottensener Hauptstraße and Bahrenfelder Straße. Enjoy shopping European-style and discover one-of-a-kind fashion, ecological and fair-trade items, quirky home decorations, and handmade treats of all kinds.
On the streets of Ottensen | © daspunkt / Flickr
Visit the Tierpark Hagenbeck
Whether you’re travelling with kids or not, going to the zoo is always a good idea. Especially if said zoo has one of the biggest elephant herds in Europe that can be fed apples from the palm of your hand. Founded in 1907, the Tierpark Hagenbeck was the first ever cage-free zoo, and started a world trend of open enclosures. A century later, its grounds are home to over 1,850 animals. The zoo also boasts a unique polar sea world and a separate tropical aquarium.
Tierpark Hagenbeck, Lokstedter Grenzstraße 2, 22527 Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 5300 330
The Elbe hillsides of western Hamburg are home to numerous gorgeous parks that clearly showcase why this city is considered to be one of the greenest in Europe. The historic, English-garden-styled Jenischpark offers panoramic views across the river. The Loki-Schmidt-Garten is a beautiful botanical garden, offering visitors the opportunity to learn about the diverse ecosystems found within. In turn, the vast Altonaer Volkspark is the city’s biggest public park with various nature trails, as well as a famous dahlia garden and rose garden, mini-golf grounds, a horse race course, a football stadium and a concert arena.
The Jenischpark | © daspunkt / Flickr
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to completely leave behind the hustle and the bustle of the city. A half-hour metro ride from the city centre takes you to peaceful woodlands on the city’s western edge. From the Rissen metro station it’s a short walk to the 580 hectare (1433 acre) Klövensteen forest. The spectacular area offers walking, cycling, and horse-riding paths, as well as a game reserve with deer, roe, wild boars and pheasants.