As the largest port in Germany Hamburg has always held an important place in history of the nation, the maritime heritage is apparent in the architecture and in the network of canals and rivers that flow throughout the city.

The lit up night time skyline dominated by old church spires demonstrating the importance of this city throughout Germany’s history.

Hamburg may be a major business destination but scratch beneath the serious surface and you quickly find a vibrant lively city with an exciting music scene. Once the sun sets, Hamburg springs to life with an eclectic mix of the old and the new; bright lights dominating the landscape and enticing you into the hedonistic lifestyle.

As a centre of commerce and conventions Hamburg’s hotels tend to keep their prices high, but booking to stay over the weekend can bring the cost down. The cities older hotels have fabulous views often overlooking the water but to compensate for their frequently inferior locations the modern hotels are generally incredibly luxurious.

A hotel that offers both charm and location is the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski, set by the Aussenalster lake this hotel offers old world luxury by design. The timeless elegance of this hotel is clear from the moment that you step through the doors and with a location just moments away from the city centre offers the perfect base for your city break.

If you are in Hamburg for the nightlife your hotel needs to be as close to the St. Pauli district as possible and the Hotel Imperial fits the bill perfectly. Right at the heart of the action this budget hotel has a bright vibrant almost retro feel, the rooms although quite basic are more than adequate and make for a comfortable base for your break.

German food is hearty; with their love of meat, sausages and root vegetables you certainly won’t go hungry. The maritime nature of Hamburg means that fish is popular and several local specialities include eel – although this may be more due to tourist expectations than good taste! Expect herrings and pan fried fish to be on the menu, generally served with fried potatoes. Alt Hamburger Aalspeicher restaurant is located in a 400 year old building with a waterside location,having an intimate cosy feel this small restaurant specialises in eel. Their smoked eel (smoked on the premises) is rumoured to be the best in the city, if you are going to eat eel then this is probably the place to do it.

For a different take on the seafood theme the Aquario restaurant is fitted out to feel like an underwater cave, creating the atmosphere for some excellent fish dishes. Appealing to both the young and the young at heart this fish restaurant is always a popular choice.

The must see attraction in Hamburg is the Miniatur Wunderland – the largest model railway in the world, with some of the best miniature scenes ever created. The scale model of Hamburg airport may seem impressive at first view but just wait until a miniaturised plane comes in to land – unbelievable. Even the most cynical of tourists are mesmerised by this exhibit.

Hamburg has a whole plethora of museums but there are some absolute stand out ones; if you get chance to visit only one then make it the International Maritime museum based in an old shipping warehouse and covering over 3000 years of seafaring history. Other good museums include the Museum Fur Kunst und Gewerbe with its cornucopia of exhibits, as diverse as jewellery and posters to sculpture and fashion or visit the Kunsthalle art museum with its excellent exhibition celebrating modern up and coming artists.

If the waterways interest you then a trip to the port is essential, with thousands of cargo ships passing through over the course of a year this is still very much a working port. Look out for the St. Pauli Elbtunnel an amazing 1400ft passageway under the river.

With it’s ocean climate Hamburg can be a cold damp city and even the height of summer rarely brings temperatures above 70F, snow is unusual though, even during the winter months when the temperature is often below freezing.

Perfect for a city break any time of year with its profusion of festivals, Hamburg is lively all year round. It does particularly stand out amongst the European cities during the months leading up to Christmas, when the festive lights and Christmas markets give an extra special feel.

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