The Essential Guide to Hamburg

Formerly known as the “Gateway to the World” for its historic harbor, coastal location, and prominent role in the Hanseatic League, Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and generally regarded as one of its finest. In addition to an alluring maritime atmosphere, it offers trendy districts like the Schanzenviertel and St. Pauli and natural highlights like the Planten un Blomen botanical gardens and sparkling Alster Lakes, plus impressive architecture, top-notch restaurants, and famously vibrant nightlife.

Große Elbstraße 5, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
A trip to Hamburg isn’t complete until you’ve visited the Sunday fish market. In operation since 1703, the Fischmarkt offers fish in abundant diversity, from fresh to smoked to pickled, as well as a wealth of flowers, fruits and vegetables, secondhand clothing, and souvenirs, all of which can be bought from a wide selection of loud-but-friendly hawkers. The neighboring Fish Auction Hall has an equally legendary status for other reasons—open from 5 a.m. in the summer (and 6 a.m. in the winter), it keeps the party going for those spilling out of the clubs on the Reeperbahn with its delicious fish sandwiches, breakfast buffet, and vibrant sound track, which ranges from rock ’n’ roll to skiffle, country, and jazz and prompts plenty of dancing from young and old alike.
Große Elbstraße 160, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
German celebrity chef Steffen Henssler has run this stylish restaurant with his father since 2004, alongside other popular local spots like Le Délice, Petit Délice, and Zeik. Here, he focuses on the intersection of California and Japanese cuisine, sourcing only the freshest ingredients from the Hamburg Fish Market next door. Lunch dishes range from beef tartare to salmon sashimi, while the dinner menu changes weekly but always includes signature items like spicy tuna tempura and crispy duck rolls. Grab a seat overlooking the open kitchen and 46-foot-long sushi bar, or dine outside on the terrace while enjoying views over the Elbe.
Fischmarkt 4 a-c, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
This traditional restaurant is one of the city’s more charming spots to enjoy classic German seafood. Decorated like a cozy inn, the space features wooden walls and beams, ocean-themed paintings, blue linens, and a special table situated in a replica of a ship’s prow (complete with a steering wheel), all of which conjures a distinctly maritime ambience. A location near the famous Hamburg Fish Market ensures fresh fish delivered daily, which the restaurant works into such dishes as pasta with shrimp, Pannfisch, and delicious lobster soup. Also available are meat-centric, Asian-inspired, and even vegetarian dishes, as well as a top-notch wine list with German, European, and international varietals.
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