As a harbor city located in the far north of Germany, Hamburg has been known for centuries as the "gateway to the world." One of Hamburg's most famous sons, novelist Wolfgang Borchert, lovingly described the city as "more than a heap of stones, roofs, windows, beds, roads, bridges and street lamps. It is more than factory chimneys and traffic jams—more than the screeching of seagulls, squeaking of trams and thundering of the railway—it is more than ships' horns, whirling cranes, curses and dance music—oh, it is so much more!" Even writer Heinrich Heine, who did not always sing Hamburg's praises, returned again and again, just as many visitors do. Hamburg has an air about it: on the one hand, it is a busy and bustling metropolis; on the other, an elegant and cozy seaside idyll. Whatever your impression may be, you'll never get tired of Hamburg!
The City Center The city center, which lies between the
Altstadt The Altstadt(old town) contains many of the city's most historic buildings, including the 9th century
Kontorhaus Quarter The historic
Pöseldorf/Harvestude The upmarket Pöseldorf/Harvestude district lies on the Outer Alster's western shore. Dominated by rows of late-19th-century townhouses and ornate, neo-classical mansions, this area is a favorite of young professionals. Everything is extremely trendy, which has led to the district being christened "Schnöseldorf" ("Little Snot's Town") by locals. Harvestuder Weg, home to many foreign consulates and company headquarters, is one of the city's most sought-after addresses, while Alsteruferweg is perfect for a relaxing stroll.
Universitätsviertel The University Quarter lies to the west of Rothenbaumchausee. As you may expect, this is an exciting part of town with plenty going on. Most of the people who hang out in the bars, cafés and clubs are either students or media types.
Eppendorf Eppendorf is another popular residential area. The streets are lined with elegant turn-of-the-century townhouses, and many small rivers flow through the district. Be sure to visit the
Altona This former autonomous Danish city was annexed by the Nazis in 1937. The most heavily-populated part of Hamburg, it is a multicultural working-class neighborhood. Architecture junkies will love the "Kontorhäuser," the renovated factories, the imposing classical
Blankenese Lined with ancient trees and ornate villas, the 10km-long Elbchausee has been described as the "most beautiful street in the world" and leads the way from Altona to the exclusive district of Blankenese. Famous for its white fishing huts, historic country residences, parks, gardens, views of the River Elbe and its winding paths and narrow stairways, this is a favorite haunt for locals and visitors alike.
Schanzenviertel/Karolinenviertel You may be forgiven for thinking that time has passed by the Schanzenviertel and the Karolinenviertel. These two districts are extremely multicultural and are great for people-watching. Their numerous watering-holes, tea rooms and ethnic shops make them a perfect place to visit night or day. Yet the fact that they have been "discovered" means that their original character is struggling to survive.
St. Pauli Hamburg's notorious red-light district is the liveliest and most vibrant part of town and the 30,000 people who live here are an eclectic mix of young and old. The legendary
Whatever you choose to do in Hamburg, even if it's simply taking a walk in one of the city's many parks and gardens (Hamburg is Germany's greenest city), you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself!
Lake Alster What other city can boast a beautiful 160-hectare lake in its center? A favorite with locals and visitors alike, the Alster is surrounded by parks, promenades and cafés. It is the perfect place for an energetic jog or a lazy Sunday afternoon stroll. You can actually walk around the entire lake without having to cross a single road. Art fans can admire numerous sculptures in and around the water, while nature lovers will be impressed by the enormous variety of trees including ancient oaks, mighty poplars and conker-filled chestnuts.
Visitors can hire a wide variety of boats (rowing boats, pedal boats or dinghies), but the lake can get very busy on summer weekends, so if you can, come on a weekday. If you don't fancy working up a sweat, then why not board a steamboat and explore one of the many canals that branch off the Alster. These ships are the only motorized vessels allowed on the lake and can also be hired for parties and celebrations. Steamboat tours depart from Jungfernstieg and pass through Hamburg's "living-room," the 18-hectare Binnenalster (Inner Alster) which features a fountain in the middle. The Binnenalster is flanked by luxury shops near Jungfernstieg and Ballindamm, as well as the magnificent five-star Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.
Passing by lovely parks and splendid 19th century merchants' villas, you can return to the Außenalster (Outer Alster—known by locals as the "jewel of Hamburg") under the Lombard's and Kennedybrücke bridges. If you have the chance, then you should hop off the boat for a snack at one of the lovely lakeside cafés. If the weather is good, you will be rewarded by a glorious view of the Hamburg skyline, dominated by the steeples and spires of the city's major churches, the Rathaus (town hall) and the Heinrich-Hertz-Turm.
Another possibility is to cruise along canals like Feeneich, Isebekanal or Osterbekkanal, where you could be forgiven for forgetting that you are in the middle of a major city. Glorious villas and small boathouses peep out from behind the weeping willows. If you head in the opposite direction, you will come to the Kleine Alster (Minor Alster) which eventually leads into the "Fleete," the canals which link the Alster with the River Elbe and the harbor. Nikolaifleet is Hamburg's oldest canal, but the Herrengraben and Bleichenfleet are also worth a visit. If you continue along the canals, you will eventually reach the Speicherstadt.
Note that when locals say "Alster," they usually mean the Außenalster. However, if you hear the word "Alster" in a bar, it will normally refer to a shandy, one of the area's most popular summertime drinks.
All day excursions leave every half hour from Fähranleger Jungfernstieg (tel: +49 40 357 4240 or http://www.hadag.de). Other possibilities include round trips that last an hour each, short trips, canal trips and fleet trips (each lasting a couple of hours).
The Harbor If the Alster is Hamburg's soul, then the harbor, pulsating the lifeblood that runs through the city, is its heart. Often referred to as the "gateway to the world," the harbor has expanded a great deal since its founding prior to the 12th century. It is now one of the largest sea ports in the world. Approximately 12,000 ships dock here every year, and over 71 million tons of goods are dealt with annually, making it one of the largest industrial areas in Europe. With a circumference of over 45km, the harbor covers an area of 75 square kilometers, almost one tenth of the total area of the city. It also contains 400km of railway track and several million square meters of storage space.
The industrialization of sea transport has seen the introduction of containers (the container terminal is one of the largest complexes in the harbor), but evidence of the "old days" can still be detected in the historic buildings in the Speicherstadt area. The Landungsbrücken bridge, the Old Elbe Tunnel and one of the city's most recognizable landmarks, the Köhlbrandtbrücke bridge, are all eye-catching symbols of the old harbor. The early 1990's saw the conversion of the formerly derelict Kehrwiederspitze area into a modern residential and business district.
No visit to Hamburg would be complete without a trip around the harbor. There are a number of different tours, departing several times a day from the Landungsbrücken.
River Elbe The 1165km-long River Elbe winds its way from the sandstone hills of Saxony to Cuxhaven, where it flows into the North Sea. The Elbe was a decisive factor in attracting traders to settle in the Hamburg area. Indeed, without the Elbe there would be no Hamburg, at least not in its present-day form. The river constituted the city's major trading route for centuries, and the 62km long Elbe Canal linking the Elbe and the Trave was constructed in order to improve the supply of salt to Hamburg's fish markets.
The Elbe offers a fine perspective from which to observe Hamburg's many faces. On one side of the river lies one of the most modern and efficient ports in the world, while on the other side, major commercial and industrial plants alternate with exclusive residential villas, a physical sign of Hamburg's wealth, which the city owes in no small measure to the Elbe. The river is spanned by a number of magnificent edifices including the Alter Elbtunnel and several splendid bridges to the south.
The river bank at Blankenese is the perfect place for a romantic stroll, or for simply sitting and watching the ships go by. In the south, you can paddle in the Elbe's tributary, the Dove-Elbe, and peer towards the huge tankers sluggishly embarking on their journey. The river's one failing is that it is not suitable for bathing. The pressure group Save the Elbe and the Elbe Water Quality Monitoring Unit both report that mercury and hydrocarbon contamination have decreased in recent years, but that similarly lethal substances like lead and benzol have taken their place.
There is even a type of headgear named after the Elbe: the "Elbsegler" is a close but slightly flatter relative of the "Prince Heinrich hat," which is popular among North Germans.
There are daily cruises to Blankenese, Schulau and Lühe, as well as from Blankenese to Cranz in the Altes Land. Most of them start from the Landungsbrücken (for more information call +49 (0)40 3005 1300). You can also catch a City Jet cruise to Stade from the various jetties on the river.
Hamburg's Parks Hamburg is an exceptionally green city, with numerous parks lending themselves perfectly to leisure and recreation. The Outer Alster, for example, is blessed with the idyllic Alsterpark. The Neustadt (New Town), the Wallanlagen and Planten un Blomen park offer plenty to do, with roller blading tracks, an ice rink, a rose garden, a Japanese water garden, botanical gardens and the "Wasserspiele" (Water Show)—a brilliantly choreographed orgy of light, sound and water.
Once the private hunting grounds of a famous Hamburg banker, the Stadtpark is now a popular place with locals who come for a jog around the park, a swim in the lake, a game of football, a picnic or a visit to the Planetarium. Nearby Hayns Park is another good place to hire boats and canoes.
Hamburg's largest park, and certainly one of the most beautiful, is the Friedhof Ohlsdorf, a former cemetery dotted with sculptures and mausoleums, and which also has its own museum. In the south-eastern district of Wandsbek, the River Wandse meanders through Eichtalpark, where you can admire the water plants and marvel at the exhibition of flowers, bushes and poisonous and medicinal plants. The nearby Öjendorfer Park was opened in the early 1960s, as was the adjoining Öjendorf cemetery, which is perfect for spending a meditative moment or two. The park has a large lake with beaches, bathing and sporting facilities.
The district of Rothenburgsort in Hamburg's south is home to one of the city's oldest parks, Trauns Park, inspiration for many a manor house garden in the 19th century. Another pretty area in the south is Harburg's Schwarze Berge (Black Mountains), a hilly area with a highly recommended Wildpark Schwarze Berge (deer park).
In Altona, a long, green chain of lovely parks spreads along Elbchaussee. Jenischpark offers great views over the Elbe and is home to two museums, Jenisch-Haus and Ernst Barlach Haus. A bit further north, the Botanischer Garten (Botanical Garden) in Klein Flottbek is a feast for the eyes, while Hirschpark will astonish you with its spooky old trees and popular deer reserve. Passing by Baurs Park and Hesse Park, with its open-air swimming-pool, you will soon come across the Römischer Garten (Roman Gardens) which boast of a wonderful amphitheater with fantastic views of the river. Sven Simon Park in Falkenstein is home to the Puppet Museum. Tierpark Hagenbecks in the north-west of the city is not just a zoo, but also yet another lovely park. Further down to the west, the huge Volkspark Altona boasts spacious lawns, which are perfect for sunbathing, barbecues, sports and other leisure activities. The attractive Niendorfer Gehege offers horse riding, hiking and recreational areas for the entire family.
Other fine parks in the greater Hamburg area include Klövensteen in the north-west, where you can go riding and enjoy some first class food, and Duvenstedter Brook, a nature reserve with game watching facilities and diverse flora and fauna.
Tour of the Old Town Many companies offer guided walks through the city center. The following tour is intended to provide you with a rough idea of the main sights to see in the Altstadt (Old Town). The whole tour will take about an hour and a half.
Beginning at the Hauptbahnhof (central station) and heading in the direction of Alster you pass by the beautiful Hamburger Kunsthalle before reaching the beautiful Inner and Outer Alster lakes, which are spanned by the Lombardsbrücke bridge. If you turn left and walk down Ballindamm, you will see the gorgeous Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten on the other side of the lake. Passing Jungfernstieg and heading along Reesendamm, which faces the wonderful Alsterarkaden, you will soon reach the Town Hall and Stock Exchange. Hamburg's famous shopping street, Mönckebergstraße, takes you to St. Petri Kirche, the oldest of Hamburg's main churches. The lovely Hulbehaus is situated next door to the church, and if you walk down Kreuslerstraße, you will stumble across another church, this time St. Jacobi, which is close to the Museum of Art & Commerce and the café Destille. Walking down Klosterwall in the direction of Deichtorplatz, past the Markthalle & MarX, Kunstverein and Kunsthaus, you will eventually reach Deichtorhallen. Rearing up on your right are the mighty Sprinkenhof and Fritz Höger's architectural showpiece, Chilehaus. The warehouse complex to your left contains numerous notable buildings, such as the Zippelhaus.
After admiring the impressive statues of Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama on Kornhausbrücke bridge, walk along Zoll canal to the Speicherstadt, where you can take a look at the Deutsches Zollmuseum, the recently-opened Hamburg Dungeon, Speicherstadtmuseum and the 750-year-old St. Katharinen. It's also worth taking a small detour into the Cremon to have a look at Nikolaifleet and Hohe Brücke. Standing proudly at the end of Kajen is the Schaartorschleuse, a sluice gate which serves to protect the city against floods. Retracing your steps and strolling along Deichstraße, you can admire several historic buildings and a number of sophisticated restaurants before you get to Ost-West-Straße, which is dominated by the black, sooty steeple of what used to be St. Nikolai Church. To take a closer look at Nikolaifleet, cross Zollenbrücke bridge and return over Trostbrücke bridge to admire Laeiszhof und Globushof before heading to the Gebäude der Patriotischen Gesellschaft at the other end of the bridge. Börsenbrücken and Adolphsplatz will then take you back to the town hall, where the tour ends.
Tour of the New Town The following walk will take you past most of the major sights in the Neustadt (New Town) and will take about two hours.
Beginning at Gänsemarkt and heading down Dammtorstraße, you will pass the State Opera House, Museum für Kommunikation and Planten un Blomen botanical gardens. Continuing along Dammtorwall, past the CinemaxX Hamburg-Dammtor cinema and Dammtorbahnhof, you can climb the steps to get a good view of the Esplanade. Walk through the Colonnaden, where you can do a bit of window-shopping, to Jungfernstieg and turn right into Große Bleichen, past the old post office, and follow Gerhofstraße back to Johannes-Brahms-Platz, where you can admire the Musikhalle - Laeiszhalle, Justizforum and DAG-Haus, home to the Kellertheater. Doubling back down Bäckerbreitergang, you will pass numerous historical buildings, the Hummelbrunnen fountain, Hokkai Japanese restaurant and end up at Großneumarkt. With the Cotton Club just around the corner and Schwender's Weinlokal on the square, this is a good spot to return to later, especially for the wine and/or jazz lovers among you.
Continue down Steinweg and Neanderstraße to Peterstraße, an old street which is home to the Johannes-Brahms-Museum and which culminates at Holstenwall. Turn left to see the Wallanlagen and the Museum of Local History, or pop into Cafe Fees if you fancy a drink or a bit to eat. Passing Neues Theater am Holstenwall, turn left into Ludwig-Erhardt-Straße and walk towards St. Michaelis Church. From the church square you can already see the ship-shaped headquarters of Gruner & Jahr publishers. Walk towards it and take Neuer Neustädter Weg from Schaarsteinmarkt to get down to Vorsetzen. Climb the steps in front of you to get a grand view of the Kehrwiederspitze and the Sporthafen harbour with the Feuerschiff, Elbreederei Abicht and Museumsschiff Cap San Diego. You can either walk or take the metro from Baumwall station to the Landungsbrücken. There is a lot to see and do here, such as visiting Rickmer Rickmers (a maritime museum), going on a cruise, a guided tour of the city, or even exploring the Old Elbtunnel. Right above the metro stop there is a steep flight of steps which leads up to Jugendherberge auf dem Stintfang. This little bit of exercise is a must because the view over the harbor from the top is absolutely priceless! Continue on to Seewartenstraße, past the Bismarck Memorial, and round off the walk with a fish sandwich at Landungsbrücken.
There is no firm evidence of settlement in Hamburg before the fourth century A.D. Most city histories use 810 as their starting point, when Charlemagne built a fortress called the Hammaburg at the point where the River Elbe flows into Lake Alster. The Christian settlement survived numerous attacks by the Vikings, but fell to the Slavs in 832. Hamburg flourished under the rule of the Schauenburg Counts (who reigned until the 13th century) when the city began to expand south of the Elbe.
May 7th, 1189 is a very important date in the city's history. Legend has it that on this date, Emperor Barbarossa declared that merchants in Hamburg could trade freely with one another. Although "Barbarossa's Charter" was only formally drawn up a century later, the declaration led to the founding of many merchants' guilds and trading houses. This event is still remembered in the annual festival that takes place on the Landungsbrücken, which celebrates the building of the Harbor.
In 1190, the citizens of Hamburg attempted to free themselves from their aristocratic rulers, but all the rights they gained were lost 11 years later when the Danes conquered the city. The Danes were eventually pushed out in 1227, and during the following years Hamburg developed into an important commercial and trading center. The Alster was dammed, which probably changed the face of the city more than any other event in its history. When Hamburg joined the League of Hanseatic Cities in 1300, the city's fortunes took another turn for the better. More extensive trade relations and the annexation of nearby villages meant that by the end of the 14th century, Hamburg's population had grown to over 7,500 people.
In the 15th century, piracy on the North Sea was the greatest threat to the city. Hamburg founded its own navy, which proved successful in countering the threat posed by the pirates, but could not prevent a second occupation by the Danes. Despite this, the Hanseatic city was able to maintain its privileges and trade freely with other cities in Germany and abroad. In 1510, Emperor Maximillian I declared Hamburg an Imperial City. This meant that the city was directly subordinate to the Emperor and represented an important step in gaining emancipation from the Danes. During the holy wars of the 16th century, many Protestants and Jews sought refuge in Hamburg, thus adding a new dimension to the city. The resulting increase in population provided a further economic and cultural stimulus.
The discovery of the New World and the expansion of trade in the 15th-17th centuries provided a wealth of new opportunities for the city. In the span of just a few years, the Harbor became one of the most important in the world, and the city grew into one of Europe's largest trading centers. The Wallanlagen fortifications, erected in 1616, provide an indicator of Hamburg's increasing significance and wealth. The only major city-wide problems during this period were internal political disputes between the citizens and the City Council, but these were brought to an end in 1712 after intervention by the Kaiser.
During the 18th century, Hamburg's economy continued to blossom and by the turn of the 19th century the population had increased to 130,000. The downfall of the First Reich led to Hamburg becoming a fully autonomous free city. In 1810, Napoleon invaded Hamburg, which led to a significant downturn in fortune until the French were repelled in 1814. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 once again guaranteed the freedom of the city, and Hamburg subsequently joined the German Federation. A devastating fire in 1842 reduced nearly a third of the city center to ashes, but the building of railway lines to Kiel and Berlin and the development of steam-powered ships led to an economic upswing which financed the systematic rebuilding of the city.
Hamburg joined the North German League in 1867 and the German Customs Union in 1888, both of which proved to be crucial to the city's development. Hamburg came to be known as Germany's "gateway to the world" and by 1912 the Harbor was the third busiest port in the world after London and New York. The Börse was opened in the mid-19th century, and a few years later two of the city's most popular attractions were built: the Speicherstadt and the neo-Renaissance Town Hall. The latter's extravagant style reflects the city's perception of itself, and is still seen as a symbol of freedom and confidence.
Forty-thousand Hamburg citizens died in the First World War (1914-18). The city had been isolated by an economic blockade during the war, but made a relatively quick recovery in the post-war period. Many shipping companies and other businesses began to move to the Speicherstadt and into the "Kontorhäuser," home of enormous red-brick buildings such as Chilehaus and Sprinkenhof. The Universitäts-Hauptgebäude was founded in 1919.
During the Nazi era, the Council of Citizens was dissolved and Hamburg's free city status abolished. The Allied bombing campaigns of World War II changed the face of the city: approximately 50% of its residential area, 40% of its industry and 80% of its harbor were laid to ruin. Fifty-five thousand people lost their lives in the air raids, while 70,000 were killed in battle. Another 70,000 were murdered in the nearby KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme concentration camp. At the end of the War, Nikolaikirche, blackened with soot, was virtually all that remained standing in the city center. On April 3, 1945, Hamburg surrendered and was occupied by British troops. A year later, a new City Council was elected, and in 1952 a new constitution (which is still in place today) was drawn up.
On the night of February 16, 1962, a storm caused flooding which ruined much of the old town and killed over 300 people. Rebuilt once again, Hamburg flourished during the years of the "German Economic Miracle." Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany, the city has begun to re-cultivate its trade relations with Eastern Europe.
Nowadays, Hamburg is one of Germany's most important commercial centers. Many companies have chosen to build their headquarters here, particularly those in the media and publishing industries. Architecturally speaking, Hamburg has a fairly futuristic face: one need only think of the various ultra-modern shopping centers and the Gruner & Jahr-Pressehaus. With a population of 1.7 million, Hamburg is a city-state within the Federal Republic of Germany. Home to 94 consulates, Hamburg's twin cities include Shanghai, Chicago, Osaka, Prague, St. Petersburg and Marseille.
Visitors to Hamburg can't complain about lack of accommodation. The city contains practically every kind of lodging, from exclusive hotels with every imaginable luxury to budget-sensitive youth hostels. Over 250 hotels and boarding houses offer a total of 30,000 beds, all of which are badly needed, as over four million tourists, trade fair visitors and business people stay in Hamburg every year.
Many hotels are strategically situated near airports, railway stations and main roads. The Airport Hotel Hamburg, for example, offers banqueting facilities, an art gallery and a fine restaurant, but at 130 EUR (at the cheapest) for a single room, it is firmly fixed in the upper price bracket. Kock's Hotel Garni and the Mercure Hotel Hamburg Airport Nord are also located close to the airport, while Best Western Premier Alsterkrug Hotel is just a few minutes drive along the road into town. Hotel Rex and Hotel Helgoland are good bets if you are travelling along the A7 motorway in the North, as too are Hotel Restaurant Engel and Hotel Restaurant Ausspann. In the South, establishments like Quality Hotel Ambassador or the Forum Hotel Hamburg, Hamburg's second largest hotel, offer a comfortable night's rest. If you are heading east, then Hotel Berlin or Hotel Eggers near the A24 motorway are good choices.
The Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is, as you would expect, surrounded by hotels. Examples include the Hotel Europäischer Hof, Hotel Terminus Garni, Maritim Hotel Reichshof Hamburg, Hotel Fürst Bismarck and Steen's Hotel. Minotel Metro Merkur is a good and inexpensive alternative. Many other establishments are located within walking distance of the station, such as Hotel Alte Wache, an old town house with a classic atmosphere.
Many visitors prefer to stay in the picturesque hotels and guest houses near Lake Alster. The luxurious Kempinski Hotel Atlantic is one of the finest examples and has been a fixture in Hamburg's hotel scene for over 90 years. Other excellent places in this part of town include the tiny Aussen Alster Hotel, the modern Wedina Hotel, the charming Relexa Hotel Bellevue Hamburg and the traditional Prem with its lovely garden and first class restaurant. The comfortable Crowne Plaza Hotel is also nearby.
The district of Rotherbaum on the western bank of Lake Alster contains the exclusive Hotel Inter-Continental Hamburg, which is home to the Spielbank Hamburg casino and offers wonderful views of the lake. Upmarket Eppendorf is home to the Abtei, a fantastic villa with beautiful gardens. Other recommended places in the area are Hotel-Pension Am Nonnenstieg, the Japanese-style Nippon Hotel Hamburg, and the apartments on Klosterallee or Oberstrasse. The Grand Elysée Hamburg, Hotel Amsterdam-Garni and Hotel Vorbach are located slightly further south, near the university and exhibition centre.
Many trade fair visitors choose to stay at the Radisson SAS Hotel Hamburg, which is home to "Hamburg's highest nightclub" ("Top of the Town Bar and Lounge," located on their 27th floor), and which offers direct access to the Congress Centrum CCH and the Planten un Blomen park. Other decent alternatives are Hotel Baseler Hof on the Esplanade, Hotel Oper and NH Hamburg Norge.
Big names in the city centre include the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten and Park Hotel Hyatt. The latter boasts its own nightclub ("The Shark Club"), a large health and fitness centre and two restaurants. Other quality lodgings include the Renaissance Hotel Hamburg and the Steigenberger, located on an island in the Neustadt which hosts the Fleetinsel Festival every summer.
Hotel Hafen Hamburg towers high above the Landungsbrücken, close to the River Elbe and Reeperbahn. The nearby district of Altona is home to Hotel St. Annen and Best Western Raphael Hotel Altona. Hotel Imperial (also home to the "Imperial Theater") faces the Operettenhaus and is an ideal starting point for night-owls. The same is true of Hotel Ibis Hamburg Altona near the Altona railway station. Entertainment is also guaranteed at Hotel am Holstenwall. Situated near the city centre, the hotel has two excellent restaurants and its own theatre, the "Neues Theater am Holstenwall." Across the street, you can go for a walk around the historic city fortifications, the Wallanlagen, or visit the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte.
The picturesque district of Blankenese is known for its beautiful villas, leafy parks and exclusive hotels and restaurants. Places like Hotel Louis C. Jacob and Hotel Blankenese are also popular.
Several international hotel chains have branches in Hamburg: Ibis, for example, has hotels in Altona (Hotel Ibis Hamburg Alster) and Hotel Ibis Hamburg Wandsbek. You'll also find the 3-star Novotels Novotel Hamburg Airport, Mercure Hotel Hamburg City and Novotel Hamburg Arena. There are also several motels in town. The wacky sixties Motel 21 in Horn has provided the backdrop for many a German TV show, while Motel Hamburg on Hoheluftchaussee caters to an international clientele.
Among the city's youth hostels, mention should be made of Jugendherberge auf dem Stintfang. Located on a hill near Landungsbrücken, the hostel offers lovely views of the river and is extremely close to the city centre. The Jugendherberge Hamburg - Horner Rennbahn has an open fireplace (great on Hamburg's cold winter evenings!) and is ideally located for horse-lovers and punters with the race-track next door. The independently-run Hamburger Jugendpark Langenhorn e.V. offers great sports facilities, while many backpackers head for Instant Sleep Backpacker Hostel in Schanzenviertel, which has its own laundrette and internet café.
Whichever place you choose, it is always advisable to inquire beforehand about reduced weekend rates or special offers, which include tickets for the theatre, or access to trade fairs. You should also bear in mind that many hotels boost their rates at peak times, such as during the holidays and major trade fairs.