Why Hamburg is Germany’s Best City
Actually, people are going as far to call Hamburg the most beautiful city of the world. That’s the slightly understating sounding self-image that Hamburgers (don’t think about food!) have of their city.
I was living 4 years in Hamburg so far. I come from a tiny village at the North Sea, 3 hours west. Over the years I also lived in Berlin and in Frankfurt, in Sweden and in New Zealand, and have visited numerous cities around the globe. But every time, apart from my hometown, Hamburg’s been the only place I felt like coming home to. Nordisch by nature. No point denying that.
But when thinking about that I wonder … what actually makes a city so stunning, people would unhesitatingly throw in such bumptious overmodest titles as Germany’s best city? Let alone the world’s?
… too busy to read it all? Oh no worries you lazybones, got right whatcha need: 33 proofs that Hamburg is Germany’s most beautiful city.
Hamburg – recipe for the best city in the world
a lot of
|water (the Elbe, the Alster, and… ↓)|
being close to
|the sea (actually, two seas! The North and the Baltic Sea)|
a fair amount of
|parks and green spaces|
|old romantic squiggly colorful buildings|
more than 30 % of
|public transport being on time|
a dash of
|cute little cafés and boutiques|
|authentic open-minded diverse people|
a bit of
|history and mystery|
at most half an hour
|equally to get to university, parties, museums, shopping, nature reserves|
special bonus for invention of
|Franzbrötchen (this is German but tells you where to get the best of those sweet flat croissant like bits of heaven – there’s nothing as good as being on the way home at 5 am and scoring the first heavenly warm Franzbrötchen in the next bakery)|
fritz-kola (the less sweet, more sustainable cool alternative to coca cola)
Ratsherrn (German beer. Do I have to say more?)
Alright, everybody is gonna have different preferences for a place to be perfect. Probably. In most of the cases.
But Hamburg, on the other hand…
Absolutely everyone I’m telling that I’m from Hamburg, just replies “Aaaaaw, that’s awesome!” – Julia, 22, professional Hamburg expert with 22 years of experience and not at all biased
How can you resist?!
Hamburg is a place like no other
The Hamburgers also tend to see (don’t dare picturing burgers with eyes) anything that happens south of Elbe river rather skeptically. I mean. This vibrant center full of the most diverse cultures and colors and languages and nationalities, so exquisite in art and fasion and design and music, and yet so authentic with simple, loyal people. If you’re taking the train coming from the south and get a first glance at the impressive harbor, you’ll understand that skepticism. It’s like crossing borders… basically from North Italy.
The harbor – that’s a chapter in itself. Even on closer inspection it has much going for itself. Just take a seat in the U3 along Rödingsmarkt and Landungsbrücken, stroll towards the fishmarket, take a detour to Speicherstadt, finish off with one of the greatest musicals right at the waterfront.
Or how about a relaxed stroll through the city park or enjoying light shows and classical music at a mild summer’s night in Planten un Blomen.
Take a walk around the Alster, our huge lake dotted with sailboats that shapes the cityscape so distinctively. It’s a very peculiar feeling when you’re on the water and in the middle of a 1,5 million city, and yet surrounded by the fewest people.
Check out the impressive townhall, go shopping at Mönckebergstraße.
Watch the big cruise and container ships from Elbstrand (the beach at Elbe river), best chosen for sunset with a BBQ, a six-pack, a bunch of friends and an acoustic guitar.
Sports. Too many to actually name them all. Soccer, icehockey, basketball, triathlon or marathon, skiing or lindy hop. Name it, we have it.
Rummage diverse flea markets or take a look at our countless fascinating museums – the Miniatur Wunderland (all about trains, and basically the world rebuilt in miniature) will make your inner child’s eyes glow!
Rock at numerous concerts and the famous festival on the ship MS Dockville.
Roam bars and clubs at Reeperbahn (that btw in the 90s was ruled by mafia) and Sternschanze. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s colorful – and you can easily be out till 8am. No freaking curfew or anything. And don’t forget the must-try Fischbrötchen before leaving.
Take a break – just 20, 30 minutes by public transport, and you can start adventurous hikes through nature reserves.
The city just has it all. It’s big and yet so comfy and laid-back. The cultural life and the closeness to the seas. Big ships, small people, tea and spices, HSV and St Pauli, and the great freedom. Hamburg is awesome. Always. Even at times when it’s less awesome.
And alright now, here ya go: The actual hamburger (most likely) has its origin in … Hamburg.
Even scientifically, Hamburg is Germany’s and one of the world’s best cities!
Every year, The Economist publishes its ranking of the Most liveable city – and Hamburg made the jump into the top 10. Over the last years, the Hanseatic City regularly was among the top 20, and recently left behind cities like New York, London, Berlin and even Sydney regarding the more than 30 factors taken into account.
In the total of 140 cities worldwide, the other German cities didn’t rank too bad either at 20 (Frankfurt), 23 (Berlin), 25 (Munich) and 32 (Düsseldorf). While the world’s most liveable city, according to the study, is the Australian Melbourne, followed by Vienna and Vancouver.
… and Hamburg’s darn Great Freedom
“Große Freiheit” – part of the Hamburger Kiez, the red light district, the party – club – bars area, a cross street from Reeperbahn. It got its name in 17th century already, when there residing folk enjoyed freedom of religion and trade, until it even officially became a special economical zone. Today, the street hosts a couple of famous night clubs like Große Freiheit 36 or Grünspan. Including the one in number 64, where once The Beatles had their first gigs before getting more famous.
The people with their own stories and unique experiences give the city a special personality. My favorite places around town that I take in at my own personal way. A megacity and yet a village. The lively hustle & bustle and the calm quarters with their almost rural character. An explorer’s paradise.
We’re international. And still, we’re as local as you can imagine. In Finkenwerder, people actually still grow up with North Germany’s loveable dialect Plattdeutsch, sounding a little like Dutch, but is less and less spoken across the area. “Moin Moin” – a way of greeting each other and just anyone – … okay I have no words for it. Cause I’m already dreaming away. Longingly. Sitting somewhere – from a Hamburg perspective – in the deepest South….
Alright. Well this is not Hamburg. But this is Plattdeutsch. This is how I grew up 😀
How can you not fall in love with that?!
Last but not least – Hamburg has the coolest people
For example, we decided against the olympic games 2024 in a referendum. Why? Because we fight for sustainability, because it would have been one giant waste of money we have way better use for, because we didn’t let them take our freedom away, because we don’t want that artificial boost of gentrification.
We’re good, socially responisble, decent people. We have a great support system. In 2015, we took over 22.000 refugees in – not saying, the city could deal with it just fine (problems with housing and overcrowded government offices for example). But I don’t know a single person among my friends who hasn’t helped at least once by donating, helping to sort donations, teaching German, “adopting” a family to support them in everyday life. Even subletting a free room in a shared apartment. Or just hanging out going for coffee together. That is Hamburg.
We’re fine with any weather. With the first ray of sunlight, an outcry goes through the crowd and snow-white legs are getting in touch with their first lumen in weeks. With the first raindrop, everybody does business as usual, “alright, we’re back to normal”
And last but not least: We’re smart! Of course this fact doesn’t need proof, but there is.
Well, admittedly, as a psychologist, I have to turn two blind eyes to the statistics. But love is blind, isn’t it?
According to the results of an online IQ test, Hamburgers have an average IQ of 113, the best of all Germany. Followed by Kiel and Hannover, two more north German metropolises (no further questions). Based on 4.000.000 participants from March to October 2015. The company responsible also offers tests like “Which Disney princess are you most similar to?“. However, they’re not telling us Hamburg’s result in this case. Neither which Pokémon we are. Too bad.
Travel Blogger at birdwinks
Christina is a passionate solo traveler and digital nomad committed to spreading positive stories from off the beaten path at birdwinks.net. But while wandering the whole world, her heart will always belong to Hamburg – and here she’s going to share her insights in authentic, nordic and most of all happy Hamburg experiences with you!