Girls’ weekend: discover Hamburg with the girls

(Sven Schwarze)

Maritime flair at the port, Hanseatic elegance on the Alster Lake, exciting St Pauli nights, and the vibrating off-scene of the Schanzenviertel – combined with short distances, plenty of green and lots of water: these are the ingredients for an unforgettable Hamburg weekend with your BFFs.

Watching giant container ships, elegant cruise liners and port ferries passing by while enjoying a glass of Prosecco in the beach club and dreaming of the wide world; catching up on the latest streetwear fashion in the Schanzenviertel and on Marktstrasse, or browsing through designer handbags in the Alsterhaus – in Hamburg, all of this is but a stone’s throw away. With its port and the Speicherstadt warehouse district, the legendary red-light district around the Reeperbahn and the St Pauli off-scene, the city in Germany’s north has always been a destination of desire for free spirits and night owls. And yet the old Hanseatic City of Hamburg also has a glamorous side to it, and the villas around the Alster Lake, the sailing clubs and the traditional department stores are all telling tales of Hamburg’s grandeur.

Discover maritime Hamburg

In spite of its almost 1.8 million residents, Hamburg rarely exudes the hectic pace of city life. Instead, Hamburg offers a relaxed atmosphere in a compact city. The distances between Hamburg’s off-scene quarters and the city centre are short enough to be covered on foot or by bike, and there is much to be discovered along the way: the magnificent façades of the shopping arcades on Neuer Wall, street art on the houses of Susannenstrasse, quaint cafés, rough pubs and posh clubs, star-studded restaurants and fish bun stands.

(Anleger Jungfernstieg / Christian Spahrbier)

While Hamburg is nearly 100 kilometres away from the open sea, the maritime atmosphere can be felt everywhere – thanks to the port, the Elbe beach, the Alster Lake and the numerous canals that criss-cross the entire city.

A stroll around the Speicherstadt takes you past historic red-brick buildings and various bridges – in fact Hamburg has more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam put together. In fine weather, the jetties along the Alster Lake turn into hot spots on the water. Equipped with sunglasses, you can sit back and watch the sailing boats and stand-up paddlers pass you by. Likewise, the Elbe River offers various places to relax: for instance, from the St Pauli Landungsbrücken the local port ferry takes you all the way to Oevelgönne. Romantic minds will instantly fall in love with the wonky cottages along the Elbe beach. What would it be like to live here and to wake to the sound of tooting container ships?

Let the night begin

Like no other place in Germany, the Reeperbahn entertainment district combines mainstream and underground, kitsch and art, a shabby image and a hipster appeal. Alongside musical theatres, comedy stages and live music venues you will find pubs, burlesque bars and night clubs. Amidst elegant restaurants and fast food chains, striptease clubs are competing for attention.

Whether you end up singing a karaoke duet with a total stranger, boozing in a local pub in the company of quirky characters, exchanging views about the latest toys in the high-end sex shop “Boutique Bizarre” or admiring the glittering city lights from the rooftop of a skyline bar: almost anything is possible during a night in St Pauli – not least because there are no closing times in this quarter of town.

In Hamburg you don’t need a taxi to go party hopping: the distance between the Reeperbahn and the neighbouring Schanzenviertel is easily manageable even in high heels. In the summer, the wide footpaths in front of the pubs on Schulterblatt are primarily packed with students, and at cooler temperatures they jostle in pubs such as Katze or Saal II. Renowned international DJs such as Solomun are spinning the tracks in clubs such as Uebel & Gefährlich in the bunker on Feldstrasse or the new Fitzgerald. All those who make it to the early morning hours will be rewarded at the St Pauli Fischmarkt – with a sunrise on the Elbe and arguably the best soused herring buns in town.

(Mellin-Passage / Sven Schwarze)

Whether it is high-end or highstreet fashion, vintage or handmade garments: Hamburg offers an amazing range of shopping opportunities. As the shopping streets between the city centre and Hamburg’s off-scene quarters are fairly compact, you can enjoy the full retail therapy in just one day.

Shopping and culture

In the city centre, fashionistas will find eminent department stores such as the Alsterhaus, the established concept store UZwei as well as numerous highstreet chains. The elegant streets of Neuer Wall and Grosse Bleichen are ideal for daydreaming and window shopping. In stark contrast to this, the Schanzenviertel and the Karolinenviertel are the meeting place for hipsters, alternative minds and young families who browse the local flea market or the small boutiques. This special flair is best experienced on Marktstrasse with its local designer shops, vintage shops and quaint cafés.

In close proximity to the busy city centre with its shopping streets you will find the Kunstmeile – a string of renowned museums and art galleries. So why not experience the Old Masters in the Kunsthalle, immerse yourself in the world of international photography in the Deichtorhallen or experience the history of design in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe.

Take a break

Maybe it is the calming effect of water, or maybe it is the parks and lush greenery: in spite of its significant size and the hustle and bustle of the Reeperbahn entertainment district, Hamburg offers ample opportunities to relax.

There are various places to unwind and relax, ranging from the extensive Stadtpark in Winterhude to Planten un Blomen with its immense lawns and its tropical greenhouse in the heart of the city. When it comes to indoor relaxation, the Holthusenbad spa in the district of Eppendorf is the right place to go. Behind the walls of the classical red-brick façade with its large transom windows you will find a thermal bath, a spa area and a sauna. Fifteen minutes in one of the lukewarm bubble loungers will suffice to recharge your batteries at the end of your city break in Hamburg and give you new vigour to return to your daily life full of new impressions.

Top ten: things to do during your girls’ weekend in Hamburg

  • Get enchanted by the twinkling lights of the Reeperbahn from a skyline bar

  • Stroll along Jungfernstieg, Neuer Wall and Grosse Bleichen

  • Get inspired by the creative ideas of Hamburg’s fashion designers on Marktstrasse

  • Fall in love with the quaint cottages on Oevelgönne beach

  • Visit a show at the “Queen Calavera” burlesque bar

  • Count the white sails of the boats on the Alster Lake

  • Become an expert in craft beer at the Schanzenhöfe brewery

  • Indulge in culinary specialities at the “Marktzeit” food market in Ottensen

  • Discover contemporary arts in the Deichtorhallen

  • Relax in the Holthusenbad in Eppendorf.