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Guide to Hamburg’s Parks

Since the sun came out for the Hamburg summer in the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time in the leafy parks across the city.

Whether I’m picnicking with friends or reading by myself, I’m constantly in a haze of wonder at the beauty and diversity across these grassy city retreats. And I’m not just talking about the whispering trees and blooming flowers; I’m talking about the humanity!

Everywhere you look there are humans engaged in the most diverse range of activities. From sports to picnics, we’ve got you covered with everything you’ll need to have a parkfect day out.

Park Day Out Checklist

  • Take a blanket or rug big enough for your group of pals (or yourself!) to sit on.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the german sun, you CAN get burnt! If it’s hot, take some sunscreen.
  • If you’re by yourself, take a book to read and find a shady tree to relax under.
  • Sports! Throughout hamburg’s parks you will find an endless array of activities going on; there’s slack lining, tennis, bowls, badminton, football, hula hoops, juggling, cycling, skateboarding and acrobatics; to name a few! So if you can, head down to the park with a football or hacky sack so you’re not overcome with jealousy of all the fun everyone else is having. If you don’t have any games to take to the park you can always chat the the lovely people with the slack lines, they are usually happy to give you a go! Or take a deck of cards to pass the time with friends.
  • Food. Take a picnic lunch with you for the cheapest alfresco meal in the city. The local supermarkets (like Edeka) sell nifty little BBQ sets, a foil tray of coals with a mini grill on top. Pick one of these up for around €3 and some bratwurst and you’ll be having a right ole German time. They are SO easy to use, and you can cook just about anything on them, right there in the park.
  • Drinks. It is legal to drink on the streets of Hamburg, and yes… this includes the parks. Pick up some cold beers or a bottle of wine to add to you picnic.

Now that you’re a fully equipped and professional German picnicker, you need to find a park to rock out in. Hamburg is a really green city, there are parks and gardens and cemeteries everywhere. Here are three of my favourites:

Planten un Blomen (Best for: Families/ Sight Seeing/ Couples)

At 47 hectares in size, Planten un Blomen is one of the largest parks smack bang in the middle of the city. This park is great for wandering around, visiting the different themed gardens and taking in the perfectly manicured landscapes. They offer free deck chairs for you to enjoy the sun on and there are amazing fountains and sculptures scattered across the grounds. There are also cafes and ice-cream shops, and even water-based games for the kids to play (for free).

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Wohlers Park (Best For: Slack-lines/ Group Picnics/ Couples)

Wohlers Park is an old cemetery, tucked away in the St Pauli district. Don’t be turned off by it’s title as a cemetery though, this park couldn’t be more full of life. Tree lined paths weave in and out of hidden glades, picnic areas and open meadows. What I love most about this park is that despite its smallish size, you can still get lost in it due to the clever planting of trees and bushes that create so many hidden little parts. On a weekend the large open areas are full of people having picnics and playing sports. The overall vibe here is amazing and it is one of my favourite places in the whole city.

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Schanzenpark (Best For: Drinking/ Sun Bathing/ Socialising)

Schanzenpark is located just behind Sternschanze U-Bahn station. The park itself is quite big, but the particular area I am talking about here is the main hill. Everyone gathers on this hill that catches the afternoon sunshine and every ray right until nightfall. Because of the angle of the hill towards the sun it’s great for sun bathing, but it’s also where people go to drink and hang out. There is usually a dude with a guitar or sound system as well sharing music across the grassy knoll. If you want to relax, perhaps try another park; if you want to party before the sun goes down; try the hill.

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Alternative Hamburg Tours

I’ve been living in Hamburg a little while now, but I recently went on the Alternative Hamburg walking tour and was blown away with how much I learnt.

The tours market themselves as an ‘alternative culture’ tour, covering everything from street art and graffiti, politics and protests, history and gentrification… and everything in between.

We spent two hours wandering around the districts of St Pauli and Sternschanze as our guide, Judy, opened our minds and eyes to little hidden pieces of street art and shared endless stories and quirky facts about the areas I have come to love.

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For a first time visitor in Hamburg, I really recommend taking this tour. As Judy was telling us at the end, a lot of tourists miss out on these special neighborhoods all together as they aren’t often mentioned on sightseeing websites and the like. But if you want to discover the real heart of Hamburg, and all it’s eclectic charms then head over to the Alternative Hamburg website to book your places.

To make these inspiring tours even better, they are run on a pay-what-you-want-basis so all budgets can afford to discover the hidden side of Hamburg’s bohemian districts. The walk takes just over two hours and starts at 1pm every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday near Sternschanze S-Bahn Station. When you book your places online, you will receive an email with directions to the meeting point.

 

www.alternativehamburg.com

info@alternativehamburg.com

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Store of the Week: Kleidermarkt

When I first arrived in Hamburg, I was struggling to find decent vintage clothes stores at affordable prices. The second hand stores in the touristy areas are a bit too expensive for my budget, and often have limited offerings.

I was in vintage-despair… until I stumbled across Kleidermarkt. As soon as I walked through the doors and the sweet musty smell of recycled clothes reached my nostrils I began laughing to myself and without realising it, I did a little dance right there in the entrance of the store. I had died and gone to some sort of retro heaven.

Kleidermarkt is HUGE. Like really, really big (1500 square meters to be exact). The big warehouse-esque space is jammed pack with the most exciting array of clothing from the past 6 decades in every colour, cut, texture and style you could ever dream of. And it won’t cost you a months pay cheque to look like a 1970s super model either.

At the back of the store is the sale section… Dresses for €5, Skirts for €3 and T-Shirts for €2. On Wednesday’s as well, from 11am – 4pm you can get 30% off all full priced items.

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You will need to travel away from the busy tourist areas to find Kleidermarkt, but if you’re after beautiful and affordable clothes, it’s definitely worth it. You can find the store at Max-Brauer-Allee 174, 22765 Hamburg.

 

Soul’s Darkside – Le Fonque

a) Are you a vampire?

b) Does the thought of a dark room with sensual red lighting turn you on?

c) Do you like to get down to Soul, Funk and Disco tunes?

d) Does the sound of vinyl stir your little stomach butterflies?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you must read on, I have found your new favourite Hamburg hangout.

Since 1995, Le Fonque has been spinning their vinyl decks to bring revelers the finest soul and funk tunes… every night of the week! The dimly lit room, soft couches and blood red lighting create an intimate ambiance while the DJs unite the bar through the love of music.

Le Fonque is open every night of the week from 9pm. Depending on what time and day you go, it will either be a sexy little retreat where you can get cosy on the plush couches, or it will be bursting at the seems as everyone gets down to the funky vibes.

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You can find Le Fonque just off the busy Shulterblatt at Juliusstraße 33, 22769.

Rainbow Fountains and Fields of Flowers

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to love Planten un Blomen already for its 47 hectares of sprawling gardens, lush grass, public sunbathing chairs and colourful array of blooming flowers, now the Summer Programme has begun too!

From public orchestra performances, guided walks, workshops, pop concerts and of course, the famous Wasserlichtspiele (water light show), you can find the entire programme here.

I went to see the water light show the other night, and I was extremely impressed. Take a little picnic dinner and some drinks, and set yourself up in front of the Great Lake at about 9.30pm. The show starts at 10pm every night, but it can get quite crowded!

The show is controlled by two artists, who sync the display to an amplified soundtrack. One controls the water jets while the other controls the extravagant lighting system. The theme of the music changes over the course of the summer as well.

It’s free, it’s romantic, it’s beautiful and awe-inspiring; a definite must see while in Hamburg.

 

Paradise in Hamburg – StrandPauli Beach Bar

One of my favourite things about Hamburg (besides it’s fiery community spirit, unique culture and diverse creativity) is it’s BEACH BARS!

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as reclining in a deck chair, sand between your toes and cold beer (or cocktail!) in hand. And luckily for you dear reader, you can find such tropical-esque escapes all over Hamburg. Over the course of Spring and Summer we will be bringing you a series of articles covering our favourite beach bars. And first on our list? …Strand Pauli!

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As soon as you walk through the entrance of Strand Pauli you begin to fall in love with the place. Incredible views of the River Elbe, couches and deck chairs scattered around so you can soak up the sun’s rays and watch the passing ships. As the sun sets, a romantic atmosphere falls across venue; If you dig your toes into the sand you can still find the hints of warmth from the day’s sunshine, and overhead strings of little lanterns light up to illuminate the paradise that is StrandPauli.

They also offer a great menu of delicious food and drinks (we recommend the quiche!), and on Sundays there is a breakfast buffet from 10am. We highly recommend you arrive early to find the perfect place to perch in the sunshine, as it can get quite busy when the weather smiles!

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Strand Pauli is open from 11am – 11pm everyday (Midnight on Friday and Saturdays).

You can find StrandPauli on the harbour front at Hafenstraße 89, 20359 Hamburg.

 

 

The Mobile Blues Club

Tucked away in a little Sternchanze parking lot sits the Mobile Blues Club. An old wooden truck wagon set back among the trees and rainbow fairy lights. A hand-made iron archway on the street declares ‘bar’, but at first one might be dubious as to what the wagon at the end of the dirt track actually contains. At first I thought it was a private campervan, the motley collection of people milling outside part of some eclectic looking private party that I desperately wanted to be a part of.

Fear not though readers, this incredible venue is open to the public, and the lovely staff at the Mobile Blues Club will welcome you with open arms. When you step inside the ‘front door’ of the wagon you are instantly embraced into the most intimate and alluring music venue I have been to in a long, long time.

The soft candlelight dances across walls the colour of red wine. Heavy velvet curtains frame the performer on stage. Everyone sits close together on chairs or on the floor as live music rattles the bones of the wagon and unifies the small crowd in a bohemian romance. The Mobile Blues Bar is a truly magical musical experience.

The venue can fit around 20 people comfortably. The music is first-class, spanning genres from Folk and Blues to Punk Country. The drinks are cheap. AND the entire production is run on donations, a felt hat is passed around for you to offer what you can for the performance.

For a special night out with a bit of an alternative twist, we definitely recommend a trip to the Mobile Blues Club. The wagon is open Weds-Sun and live music usually starts around 9.30pm. Check Mobile Blues Club for full details and listings.

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You can find the wagon in the parking lot on the corner of Schulterblatt and Max-Brauer-Allee (next to Central Park).