Shopping in Hamburg

Hamburg- the vibrant metropolis right on your doorstep

By Bente D. Knudsen

Do you find the Danish cities too small, and do you miss the buzz of the big city? If so, you don’t have to travel far. Hamburg in Northern Germany is located within easy driving distance from any part of Denmark and it’s certainly well worth visiting.

You feel it as soon as your car hits the German autobahn. It’s that special sensation of being in a major country; somehow everything just seems bigger. The motorway has three lanes, there are more and bigger cars (as well as loads of trucks), and your adrenalin level goes up.

When to go?

Hamburg is wonderful all year round, and the close proximity to Denmark makes it a perfect target just for a short weekend. There is so much to do, you could easily spend several days.

From Jutland and Funen, it’s an easy drive. The motorway leads directly to Hamburg. From Zealand, you can choose to take the bridge (Storebæltbroen) across to Funen, which prolongs the trip by about 100 kilometres, or you can take the ferry from Rødby on Lolland to Puttgarden in Germany.

Ferries and cars with trailers

If you haven’t tried taking a car ferry before, you will find that is an experience in itself. Once on the ferry you will meet a great deal of Danes with trailers attached to their car.  A lot of them grab the chance to shop at the border.

In Puttgarden, the “Border Shop” is even located right next to the ferry pier. It’s the lower German VAT on food, (only 7 percent compared to the Danish 25 percent), which attracts the Danes.

In particular, the higher Danish taxes on sugar and fat make chocolate and sweets a shopping target, in addition to the classic‘s Tuborg and Carlsberg canned beer.

It’s as though Hamburg lies by the ocean

If you have the time, don’t miss going to the old warehouse city – Speicherstadt. Hamburg was badly damaged during World War II, and a lot of the inner city is made up of a mixture of pre-war buildings that have been saved and new modern ones.

However, in the Speicherstadt many of the old warehouses and canals stand as they did (after careful renovation). Today they house a lot of creative agencies, showrooms, apartments, offices and cosy restaurants and cafés as well as museums.

If you are travelling with children, the Hamburg Dungeons are a must. An elevator takes you deep down under the Speicherstadt and the story of the medieval city unfolds for the next 90 minutes.

Also, don’t miss the old warehouse from 1888 next to the Hamburg Dungeons. It houses the Kaffeerosterei, the coffee roasting house. It contains old coffee-roasters still being used, and a cosy café with large delicious German cakes. Although a bit crowded, it is definitely worth popping in. It’s a real gem – the working machines intrigue even children.

If you’re an early bird, you can start your day with breakfast here, and continue your tour walking to the Harbour docks and landing stages. Because in addition to being a great shopping city, don’t forget that Hamburg is also a major port.

It’s actually one of the largest in the world- even while being 120 kilometres from the ocean!

The first time you stand on the pier, Hamburg Landungsbrûcken, you can hardly believe that you are looking at a river- the Elbe – and not the ocean. The port area is enormous; it just seems never-ending as it extends in front of you.

There are ample opportunities to take a river cruise- and if you’re lucky, a huge car transporter or container-ship may pass just as you head off.

They make you feel quite small, as you look up the ship-side’s monstrous meters of steel, and being up to 350 meters long, they seem to take an endless time before they pass your “tiny” cruiser.

Selection is larger than in any Danish city

Of course, you can find the same brands in Hamburg, as in many of the major Danish cities. Somehow the selection here seems wider, and with almost four million citizens in the metropolitan area, there are of course just more shoppers.

For instance, if you need shoes, the shoe shop Görtz on the main shopping street, Mönckebergstrasse, offers them in all shapes and sizes for both adults and children –spread out over all four storeys of the building.

A number of shopping malls are also available – both in modern buildings and in older ones. Don’t miss the Europa Passage or the Alsterhaus.

Food to keep you going

You can go for the quick fish fix in the fast-food chain Nordsee, or try the buffet restaurant at the top of the Karstadt department store. Even though the eating area itself is a bit canteen like, the selection and variety of dishes in the self-service restaurant is amazing.

A chef will for instance prepare, while you wait and watch, your choice of vegetables, meat, and sauce with fried noodles- at just under seven euro.

For something more German- maybe when you have finished your shopping and sightseeing, try out the Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht. Here you can have a homebrewed beer and Schweinehaxe, grilled pork shank, or go for the German Flammkuchen, a flatbread pizza style starter- ideal for sharing.

Mahlzeit – enjoy, as the Germans would say.

In our spring/summer issue we give you great tips for travels to the Danish Islands of Læsø and Anholt and why it is worth it to take a mini-cruise to OSLO. 

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