A stroll around the Alster
Can you think of any other city in the world that treats itself to a 165-hectare artificial lake at a premium location in the city centre? Granted, back in 1235, when the Inner and Outer Alster Lakes were dammed, property prices in Hamburg were more modest. But today, the areas around the Alster are among the priciest and most sought-after residential locations. Thanks to the thoroughly democratic mindset of Hamburg’s citizens, these lakeside locations have long since ceased to be privately owned, offering the opportunity to circumnavigate the Outer Alster as part of a picturesque 7.4-kilometre-long route. On a Saturday morning, this route is a popular place to see and be seen for runners and cyclists. For a more laid-back experience, however, we would recommend that you embark on an anticlockwise walk with many (culinary) breaks – perfect views of the silhouette of Hamburg‘s city centre included.
Your outing starts at the central station right in the city centre. From here, it is only a five-minute walk to the elegant Hotel Atlantic on the Alster. Before you leave, you might want to pop over to Lange Reihe with its small shops to stock up on picnic food. Arguably the best cake can be found in the Café Gnosa under a rainbow flag. Those who start early in the morning will have a rich, inspiring breakfast a little further down in the Literaturhauscafé on Schwanenwik. If you have less time on your hands, you can grab a cappuccino and a croissant at the Alsterperle just opposite, both with a fantastic view of the city. Further north you will pass Hamburg’s time-honoured rowing clubs, the Hamburg Senate’s guest house, where e.g. Queen Elizabeth II and the Dalai Lama have stayed, and the Feenteich, a pond that is lined with some of Hamburg’s priciest villas. You will then walk past the Blue Mosque, a fine piece of oriental architecture featuring minarets, Arabic calligraphies on tile mosaics and a sky-blue dome.
After a short detour to Winterhude – you are welcome to walk all the way to Mühlenkamp and immerse yourself in the urban life of Hamburg‘s “Notting Hill” quarter – you will reach the northern end of the lake, offering a wonderful view of the city from the bridge. If you are in the mood for some healthy exercise, you can rent a canoe at “Bobby Reich” and explore the Alster and its many branches from the water – which is also an ideal way of peeking into the back gardens of the elegant villas along the way. Passing the Egyptian Consulate, the tour continues south again. Perhaps have a coffee or Alsterwasser (that‘s what Hamburg’s locals call their shandy) on the jetty of the AlsterCliff or a little nap on one of the coveted white chairs. The final leg of your journey will take you to past the villa of Jil Sander, the Hamburg School of Music and Theater, And once you are past Hamburg’s “White House”, the former Consulate General of the United States, you will find yourself back in the old town. This tour can be done comfortably over the course of one morning or one afternoon. However, if this seems like too much work, we recommend that you take one of the nostalgic ATG Alster steamers. Boat trips depart from Jungfernstieg and allow you to hop on and hop off at many of the spots mentioned. For even more distance and solitude, you may want to explore the Alster using a rented sailboat. Please note, though, that this option is for experienced sailors only: wind conditions can be very challenging especially in the city centre, and the wind tends to change constantly. The first port of call for sailboat rentals is “Käpt‘n Prüsse” just outside the Hotel Atlantic.
The counterpart to the Strandperle on the Elbe is the popular Alsterperle. This is the perfect place to end the day with a beer and a view of the city and the water.
www.alsterperle.com - Eduard-Rhein-Ufer 1, 22087 Hamburg (Uhlenhorst)
Rowboats, canoes and „outside-only-pot“ flair with a romantic view over the Alster is offered by Bobby Reich.
www.bobbyreich.de - Fernsicht 2, 22301 Hamburg (Winterhude)
„See and be seen“ indoors, outdoors and on the boardwalk. The prominent AlsterCliff offers international bistro fare and cocktails.
www.alster-cliff.de - Fährdamm 13, 20148 Hamburg (Harvestehude)
Restaurant Lakeside des Fontenay Hotels
High above the Alster, on the 7th floor of the Fontenay Hotel lies the gourmet restaurant Lakeside. In addition to a first-class cuisine, there is a spectacular panoramic view here included.
www.thefontenay.com/restaurants-bar/lakeside-restaurant/ - Fontenay 10, 20354 Hamburg (Harvestehude)
Anyone who has dined or experienced a reading in the magnificent villa on Schwanenwik will be happy to return.
www.literaturhauscafe.de - Schwanenwik 38, 22087 Hamburg (Uhlenhorst)