One of the best aspects of my job is that I get plenty of opportunities to travel. A downside to that is that, most of the time, I get no more than a day to explore a new place. With such a constricted time frame, I always have a plan of action in place so that I don’t waste time later trying to figure out what to do (check out more about this in my post here).
Moving on, I was in Hamburg for work in 2015, 2016 and again this year and, over these three trips, I was able to get a total of 1 day to explore the city and check out some of the attractions.
This is my guide on getting there, where to stay and what to do, see and eat in 1 day.
If you are flying into the city, you will be landing at Flughafen Hamburg, which is easily connected to the rest of the city by train and you can reach the City Centre within 30 minutes.
If you are coming in from any of the neighbouring countries, then the best option is taking a train to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Hamburg Central Station).
Where to stay
There are plenty of good hotels in Hamburg, but if you are going to be there for just a day, I suggest looking for a place as close to the Hauptbahnhof as possible. You will save a lot of time in transit, trust me!
During my last visit, I stayed at Hotel Fürst Bismarck which is right opposite the Hauptbahnhof. The staff is courteous and helpful, and the rooms are small but clean (a trademark of European budget hotels, so no complaints!) and I got a great shot of the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof at sunset from my window. However, there are plenty of other options and you can always choose what suits your budget and sensibilities.
What to see & do
With only a day to spend in a city, I always make it a point to do a bus tour of the city.
On my first visit to Hamburg, I started with the Hop-on Hop-off City bus tour. It is a 90-minute guided audio tour which starts from the St. Pauli landing piers (the nearest S- station is Landungsbrücken). It took us around the city, allowed us to disembark at prominent landmarks like the St Michael Church and gave a good overview of what the city has to offer.
The St. Pauli landing piers are also the starting point for the Harbour cruise – which was what I did next – a 60-minute cruise along the Hamburg harbour where we soaked- in the picturesque harbour-side views with a cup of hot chocolate for company. Important note: The Hamburg Harbour cruise runs only from April to October, so plan accordingly.
For this trip, I was recommended the Miniatur Wunderland – the largest model railway attraction in the world. The nearest S- station is Baumwall which is only 1 stop away from Landungsbrücken so I decided to check it out after the harbour cruise. I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. The pictures don’t do the place complete justice.
On my latest visit to Hamburg, I planned to go for the Alster lake cruise. Unfortunately, the last cruise for the day leaves at 6 pm and I missed it just by a few minutes. However, I was content to sit on the banks of the lake, soaking in the sun and people- watching, with an ice cream cone for company.
To reach the lake you can either take a train till Jungfernstieg or, like me, you can walk from Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (North side exit) down Mönckebergstraße – a street lined on either side by chic shops and boutiques as well as luxury stores – for a very pleasant 20 minutes till you reach the lake.
Along the way I saw the city’s town hall – Rathaus – a beautiful building featuring neo-renaissance architecture and I was quite content to spend some time there sitting on the benches provided and taking photos.
After spending some time by the lake, I took a longer route back to my hotel – looking into shops, buying chocolates and souvenirs, and stopping to get coffee and dinner.
Where to eat
As with most of the major cities, Hamburg caters to the palates of almost everybody. That is to say, you will not go hungry here! When I am travelling by myself I tend to prefer quick meals which I can eat on-the-go. I stop at bakeries and pick up sandwiches or pastries or choose a pre-packaged salad or some fruits from a supermarket which I then have while walking around or seated at a comfortable spot where I can watch the people go by.
In Hamburg, I found some great places right inside the Hauptbahnhof.
Mr. CLOU – Salads, Fruit cups, Yoghurts – this I chose for breakfast to compensate for all the pastries I would consume in the rest of the day!
Coffee & More – I really enjoyed the iced latte – a great start to the day!
Hopfen-Lounge – For delicious (and filling) sandwiches and pastries. I bought some in the evening for dinner.
Manju – My rule during travel is to always try the food which I do not easily get back at home. So, I didn’t go here, but I saw that they were frying hot samosas and made a note of the place for those who just cannot do without their daily samosa fix!
For those who want a leisurely lunch, taking in the harbour views, you can try the StrandPauli located on the bank of river Elbe, close to the St. Pauli landing piers.
Warneke Eis – this is where I bought an ice cream cone to eat by the Alster lake.
If you want something more substantial, you can also step into Alex Hamburg which is right next to Warneke Eis.
And that’s it! Considering it was only 1 day in Hamburg, I felt that I was able to see a lot of what the city had to offer without feeling too rushed – it was a great day!
I hope this would help anyone planning a visit, though, my advice still remains that check out all the available options and customise the best fit for YOU!
Hi I’m Sonal. I love to travel, eat and read. My dream is to combine all three passions, pack my life into a suitcase and haversack and explore the world!