If you like to try traditional food and you’re feeling very brave, you’ll want to try labskaus. Originally created to provide sailors with all the nutrition they needed, the dish doesn’t look particularly appealing. Once you get over how it looks (or just close your eyes), this mix of corned beef, onions, potatoes, beets, and eggs is actually quite enjoyable. My favorite place for labskaus served with fried eggs and rollmop herring is Oberhafen-Kantine in the new district of HafenCity.
Built in 1925 to accommodate port and shipyard workers – Hamburg has one of the largest ports in the world – the canteen has been battered by storms and floods over the years. In 2000, shortly after its closure, the building was declared a historical monument. It has since been refurbished and reopened – but retains its wonky charm.
It goes without saying that the Elbphilharmonie, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this year, is one of our city’s greatest modern successes. Despite all the controversy surrounding the building’s much-delayed completion and skyrocketing costs (it went well over budget), we couldn’t be more proud of it, and every time I play there, I savor the pleasure of playing in what is now one of the finest concert halls in the world.
If you can’t get tickets to a show – they sell out fast – head to the public viewing platform, or “Plaza”, which offers spectacular views of the harbor and city.
The Schanze is one of Hamburg’s liveliest neighborhoods: cool, central, colorful and crazy. Start your afternoon at one of its cozy cafes, soak up the neighborhood vibe and explore its small fashion boutiques – try Edited for women’s fashion, Kauf dich
Glücklich for a mix of Scandinavian fashion and design, and Scarpovino for an offbeat shoe and wine combo. There is also an incredible amount of street art to admire.
In the evening, soak up the atmosphere of cozy bars such as 10 and Counting and Mutter, and trendy restaurants like Bullerei, founded by celebrity local chef Tim Mälzer in a former slaughterhouse.
Burgers – I admit I had trouble with that term for city dwellers when I lived in London – love water. On Sundays or public holidays we will enjoy a walk along the Elbe. The city center gets very touristy and crowded, so I recommend taking the ferry from Landungsbrücken to Teufelsbrück and starting your walk from there to the quaint western suburb of Blankenese. If you buy a day pass for public transport (around €6), the ferry ride is included.
For those who like to jog, the outer Alster lake in the heart of Hamburg is surrounded by an eight kilometer path – the perfect length for running, and it’s also beautiful.
I like to take visiting friends to Skyline Bar 20up, a rooftop bar near the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s nightclub and red light district. It is an ideal place to have a drink while enjoying a panoramic view from 90 meters high.
If you’re not a fan of heights, try Le Lion, probably my favorite bar in town. Centrally located near City Hall, it doesn’t look much like a bar from the outside, which reminds me of the hidden bars I enjoyed during my years in London. You should definitely try the Gin Basil Smash, which was invented here.
Oh what if someone ever says “Hummel, Hummel!“over to you while you are in Hamburg, just answer”Die, die!”. Do not ask why – you will certainly make yourself popular.
The intimate Henri Hotel has a great central location with 65 stylish rooms and a rooftop spa (doubles from €118).
Alexander Krichel moved back to his hometown of Hamburg a few years ago and lives close to the city’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall.