Down by the Seaside

Hamburg, Germany’s second- largest city, is shaking off its once slightly-seedy persona as the country’s major port, and embracing an architectural renaissance heralded by the opening of the new wave-shaped Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Spend a day in this North Sea stopover to see what all the fuss is about. By Grace Brewer.

10 am

Make your way from Hamburg Airport to the Gastwerk Hotel, a boutique hideaway housed within a 120-year-old former power station that once powered the city’s iconic gas lamps during
the 19th century. The restored industrial building offers 141 rooms, lofts and suites with natural light and soothing textures that soften the rough industrial structure. The Gastwerk Spa offers a sauna, steam bath, massages and beauty treatments, while Mangold, the in-house restaurant, serves regional and international cuisine. Consider greeting the transition from day to night at L.Bar, famed for its terrace, which overlooks the serene Altona district.

11 am

Start off with a dose of culture along the Kunstmeile, the city’s Museum Mile, a strip of five renowned art institutions in the centre of Hamburg. These galleries and museums are sandwiched between two contrasting art institutions. At one end the Kunsthalle houses one of Europe’s largest art collections, and at the other, the Deichtorhallen, exhibits contemporary art and photography by the likes of Picasso, Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol.

12:30 pm

Make your way to Mutterland Delikatessen, a German café chain popular for brunch that’s a five-minute walk from the Museum Fur Kunst und Gewerbe. Using ingredients from small farms and producers in Germany, Mutterland is famous for its leisurely meals, which are best known for their organic, fruit baskets, traditional apple crumble, and their Pfannkuchen, German pancakes with apple and sugar. The café also sells ‘Delikatesse’ products made in Germany, including locally made marmalades, pasta, honey, soft drinks and spirits.

1 pm

Sate your sweet tooth at Chocoversum, a chocolate museum in the heart of Hamburg that offers 90-minute tours exploring the journey of the cocoa bean from the rainforest to the port of Hamburg. Create your own bar of chocolate with additional ingredients like honeycomb, Hundreds & Thousands, dried fruits or even gummy bears.

3 pm

The Bahrenfeld neighbourhood in the Altona district boasts an exciting boutique shopping scene. While you’re here be sure to visit Ottenser Hauptstrasse and Bahrenfelder Strasse, two of the city’s most popular fashion streets, and check out the Zeisehallen, a refurbished 19th century propeller factory that now houses a cinema, a gallery and Restaurant Eisenstein, which is well-known for its wood- fired pizza.

4:30 pm

Altona Spirits distillery is the only gin distillery in Hamburg and one which produces Gin Sul, a pretty sensational, Portuguese-inspired spirit. Visit the 100 litre copper still before crafting your own gin using a smaller scale distilling system. The distillery is also home to Gin Sul bar, which crafts cocktails and pairs gins with a variety of tonics, making this a perfect pre-dinner excursion for any gin- lover.

6:30 pm
Now you’ve worked up an appetite, head for an early dinner at Lilienstrasse’s Barefood Deli. Owned by famous German actor Til Schweiger, the restaurant provides a down-to-earth yet stylish ambience, the walls are decorated with photographs of celebrities and friends of the Schweiger family. Guests can order the homemade Tils beer, the Emma wine or a Lilli Summer Tea, all named after the family members. The menu ranges from vegetarian dishes to the catch of the day or a classic burger. For dessert try the Apfelstrudel vom Strudelhorst, an elegant rendition of a German classic.

8 pm

Time to catch a show. With a price tag of €866 million (US$1,057million), Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall has done it’s part to revolutionise the city’s industrial persona. The new landmark is worth visiting; from the ground you can see the harbour water and Hamburg sky reflect off 1,000 specially-made curved window panels. Inside, at a height of 37 metres, the public viewing area allows visitors to walk the full perimeter of the building and enjoy 360-degree views. Throughout August the concert hall is showing four silent films accompanied by live orchestral music, and in September, concerts include the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

10:30 pm

See the entangled canals of Hamburg from the 20th floor of the Empire Riverside Hotel, at cocktail bar 20UP. This skyline bar soars over 90 metres above the city and serves up views of the Elbe River, the Elbphilharmonie, and the famous harbour infrastructure. Order champagne cocktails, Caribbean creations or an after-dinner aperitif at the 20 metre-long bar, and gaze over the spectacular views.

10 am

You can’t leave Hamburg without a beer tasting at Altes Mädchen. Here you can sample all of the beers brewed on site, along with 60 different international craft brews and seasonally-composed specialties. The brewer can recommend an appropriate beer for every dish on the menu, which extends from regional classics to a range of fresh bread products from their wood-fired oven. Try the Hackpeter, a fresh steak tartar sandwich with chopped onion, pepper and mango-pineapple chutney, perfectly paired with Zwickel, a Bavarian-style lager.

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