One is huge and wide awake. The other is rather small and a bit sleepy: one thing is certain; both belong to the metropolitan region of Hamburg and are therefore wonderfully suited as a travel combination. What are you talking about, you ask? Of course, with the metropolis of Hamburg and Lower Saxony’s Lüneburg, the credo »Nordic by Nature« applies to both. The label, »cities by the water« can also be added. Both Hanseatic cities are in the far north and not far from each other. Two beauties, similar in many ways and yet so different. Each one is lovable in its own way and definitely worth a visit.
The metropolitan region of Hamburg does not only consist of the cosmopolitan city, filled with style, charm and heart.With more than 1,000 locations, 20 districts/cities and four federal states, it is a super exciting tourist region and a diverse one at that. We were looking for a great combination for a city break and thought Hamburg and Lüneburg fit spectacularly well. You will not regret it!
First stop: the cosmopolitan city of Hamburg. The bold, multicultural beauty. Anyone who heads for the trendy, hip districts will see it straight away: Hamburg is a melting pot of cultures. The Turkish vegetable market on the corner, the tulips from Holland, which are almost snatched from the hands of the saleswomen when unloading, and the pasteis de nata, the Portuguese custard tarts, which smell so delicious and sweet that you feel as if you were sitting in the middleof Porto or Lisbon. It not only sounds cosmopolitan, it is!
Step by step through Hamburg’s charm brigades
Starting point: Hamburg’s Schanzenviertel
Equipment: comfortable shoes and a good mood
Amount of time needed: one day, after all, let’s enjoy everything!
On a city walk through Hamburg’s Schanzenviertel, a good starting point is the Rote Flora, the once hotly contested and now autonomous center that is right in the middle of urban life. The city pulsates all around: Good food, nice cafes and shops where you can still shop individually.
First stop, taking a whiff of the atmosphere
First, enjoy a French-inspired café au lait. In the Café Unter den Linden, guests immerse themselves in the serenity and relaxation of the quarter, while sitting in the middle of it all in the sunshine and yet away from the hip hustle and bustle. Of course, you can easily get into conversation with one of the other visitors.The alleged Hamburg arrogance is yesterday’s news as the Hanseatic League thawed out long ago! A few meters further, the scene meets in the evening for fries, steak tartare and artichokes in Bistro Carmagnole. Simply savoir-vivre.
After refreshments, it’s time to shop for souvenirs. Or, would you rather give in to a craving for something sweet? One of the traditional shops is the Teehaus Stüdemann, where you can also buy the delicious Schanze truffles and where the selection of unusual chocolates is outrageously tempting.
The Schulterblatt (shoulder blade) is the main artery of the quarter. Incidentally, the shoulder blade of a whale once hung above a relevant pub here. And there it is, in proximity to the world port, which can still be felt here. Especially in autumn, when the seagulls circle the neighborhood in the breeze. If you look down, you will also find historical information on the sidewalk. For example, the boundary stones of Hamburg and Altona, because Altona, today a district of Hamburg, belonged to Denmark around 1640. A real frontier. Or, as the Hamburgers once said: All too close (this then became Altona), too close to Hamburg.
Fancy a bit of unusual shopping?
Vintage fashion awaits on Stresemannstraße. At Pick’n Weight, you can spend hours browsing through clothes from many decades. Best of all: the price is per kilo. And the look from the second-hand shop goes with Schanze like currywurst with Germany.
Which brings us to our next stop: The best currywurst in the north is already sizzling on the hot plate at Schorsch, just three steps away. This currywurst is legendary. The particularly narrow snack bar alone is a real eye-catcher. It is best to order half a portion of potato salad and a pineapple fizzy drink or alternatively, an Astra hamburger with the „spicy currywurst“. It’s all depending on the time of day.
The smell of freshly baked goods fills your nostrils, because bægeri is now baking fresh sourdough bread in what used to be the rear workshop part of the building. And there is really good coffee on top. How about a St. Pauli Loaf for the walk? Because now it’s off to the subway line 3 – and here, the probably most magnificent journey with a public means of transport awaits. The light at the end of the tunnel behind the St. Pauli station offers what is probably the most beautiful view of the Landungsbrücken.
The port is waiting
Such a port in the middle of the city is a real eye-catcher and also a comforter for the soul. Everything that makes a sailor’s heart happy swings by here. And then there is the imposing and towering Elbphilharmonie. An architectural masterpiece! A real beauty that has everything in view. If you like, you can enjoy the magnificent panorama from the plaza. And for free, of course.
It’s exactly the right starting point, by the way, to stroll along the waterline. Past the Rickmer Rickmers, the museum ship now offers activities such as escape rooms and climbing the ropes of the mast.
If you don’t want quite as much excitement and adrenaline, just keep hiking, past the Landungsbrücken to the Bridge 10, where there are simply the most delicious crab rolls.
Now we come to a real classic staple of Hamburg. The old Elbe Tunnel is a great place to dive and cool down on sunny days. So, head down into the tunnel to hike under the Elbe in a historically exciting way and come out on the other side of the Elbe. But hurry back so you can bury your feet in the sand at the Strand Pauli Beach Club. Here, you can see the container ships passing by, which like to block the view of the sun because they are as tall as skyscrapers.
Continue along the Fischmarkt, where fish and all sorts of stuff are peddled on Sundays between 5 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Every visitor to Hamburg should have experienced this spectacle at least once.
We continue along the Elbe to Dockland, which looks like a state-of-the-art motor yacht and is nevertheless an office building. It is a highlight of the city thanks to Hamburg architect, Hadi Teherani. Those who are fit to climb stairs can climb the 136 steps to the viewing platform and will also be rewarded with a dream view.
Looking in the direction of travel, you can almost see the Strandperle, the mother of all Hamburg beach clubs. Relaxation with coffee and cake awaits you there. A real pleasure!
Travel back in time to Lüneburg’s old town
Tired of the big city? Then get on the next train in the direction of Lüneburg. Only a 45-minute drive separates the metropolis from the tranquil, beautiful city.
Starting point: Lüneburg market square
Equipment: comfortable shoes and a good mood
Amount of time needed: at least half a day to take in the medieval old town and not to miss any of the pretty gables.
Lüneburg already slows down upon arrival, especially when trees and bushes are in full bloom in spring. We recommend a leisurely discovery walk. It starts in the heart of Lüneburg’s old town: on the market square. And here, the cameras can already be pulled out, because thanks to the lovely streets and beautiful houses, there are numerous beautiful postcard motifs to see. Half-timbered houses with medieval brick facades, cobblestones, cute lattice windows and small crane houses on top of the attics – a real leap in time.
Speaking of postcard motifs: the town hall complex is a real eye-catcher and also has a particularly pretty interior. So be sure to take a look at the inner courtyard as something is always blooming there. A guided tour is also worthwhile, after all, the north German beauty was created around the year 1230. A visit to the St. Nicolaikirche, a brick basilica from the year 1409, is also worthwhile.
A city trip without shopping isn’t really a city trip, is it? That’s why we are drawn to Miss Paula’s concept store. However, this can definitely be a longer stop, because the selection is great. And if you also happen to be a dog owner, you can stop by Fräulein Paulas Hund to buy great pet accessories. Or, are you in need of some nice trinkets for those who stayed at home during this trip? Then a detour to Samowar Tea & Records is worthwhile, where you can buy cute gifts for a delicious tea time. We particularly like the tiles by „ask a duck“, an artist couple from Paderborn, who print illustrations on tiles. If you are here a little longer, you can even experience live concerts in the cute tea café. Maybe with even with herbal tea instead of beer?
Speaking of herbs: Of course, they are also available in the Alte Raths-Apotheke. Why should you plan a pharmacy on your city walk? No, not because of the blister plasters. Entering is not absolutely necessary, because the highlight itself is the two-story high and colorfully painted sandstone portal on the facade. Wow!
It’s almost as colorful as the delicious cakes at Café Auszeit. And while we’re on the sweet side: a visit to the chocolate shop Schokothek at Sabine Schlenker’s, who has been dealing with the popular chocolate for about seven years, is worthwhile. It goes so far that she offers no fewer than 150 varieties in her shop. And that’s not all, she also makes locally-typical chocolates that make wonderful souvenirs if, of course, you haven’t eaten them yourself beforehand. That’s why buying a „Salzmarie“ is also tempting.
The history of the city comes into focus in the Lüneburg Museum. Some of the exhibits cover the history of the city and the Hanseatic League, but there is also room for other eras. Like the ice age, for example. The museum is worthwhile just to get an impression of how Lüneburg became so beautiful. The building is architecturally intricate and beautifully designed. And if you visit the Salt Museum, in addition to the many historical buildings, you will get a good overview.
After a visit to the museum, simply head back up the Illmenau to the old crane on the other bank. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere in Lüneburg. At the beautiful Stintmarkt, you can end the day in almost southern flair. Here, where smelt, a herring-like fish, was once traded, you can only fall in love with Lüneburg, just as you are guaranteed to discover a love for Hamburg at its port!
More information about the metropolitan region of Hamburg and its towns and culture can be found at Visit Northern Germany and of course on facebook and Instagram.