With picture perfect backdrops that include a stunning town hall, Alster Lake, parish churches and romantic squares, Hamburg makes for a good option if you are into traditional Xmas markets. While there are plenty of craft stalls selling the usual candles, decorations, etc., there is a strong leaning towards food and drink. You’re unlikely to come away from any market nowadays with all your Xmas shopping sorted and its even less likely that you’ll find a bargain, but you can’t beat the experience and the atmosphere for putting you in a festive mood.
I’ve visited a few European markets over the years but I really liked the ambience in Hamburg. Despite miserable weather at times, people were enjoying themselves. There were more locals than tourists around (which I considered a good sign)… people meeting up with friends and family and leisurely chatting over mugs of gluhwein. The food and drink stalls did great business and it was easy to gauge the quality of the product by the length of the patient queue.
Local websites list individual markets but its enough to know that most of them are right in the city centre and pretty much run into each other. One particular exception to this is out a bit in Santa Pauli – close to the red light district – which offers an erotic Xmas market!
The main market is in front of the fabulous Rathaus (City Hall)….
….but spreads out through nearby squares and streets….
…or further afield to Santa Pauli for some late night fun…
Most people took time to wander into the Rathaus….
….or to light a candle in nearly Haupkirche St Petri.
You might cross a few gifts off your Xmas list…
You can get some edible gifts…..
…or just eat everything yourself!!
And you have to sample the beverages!!
Thinking about Hamburg?
Hamburg airport is very accessible from several European cities. We flew direct from Dublin with Aer Lingus in 1 hour 40 mins.
There is a great public transport system linking the airport to the city.
At the airport, we were able to get a 48 hour pass for 4 adults for €33.50. Great value! That covered our train into town and subway / buses for 2 days. We just needed 4 single tickets back to airport when leaving. The ticket also allows free access to ferry lines in the harbour.
The main consideration is to pick somewhere close to the U or S metro system. We stayed at the Mercure Hamburg Hotel Mitte. It was about 7/ 8 minute walk to Schlump station which was only a few metro stops from the centre. The staff were very helpful and friendly and we got a great breakfast. There is a restaurant on site but we didn’t dine in. There is a bar next door for a nightcap.
Our room looked out on Hamburg’s TV Tower…
Note – stores remain closed on Sundays as do many coffee shops etc. Bear that in mind if you want to combine shopping with the markets. The markets are open late anyway so work them around the store opening times.
If its your first visit to Hamburg and you want to shop and the markets are on, you’ll need 3 days. We had 2 days and didn’t get to see / do everything we wanted.
One Last Thing:
Security is tight at the airport which means lots of baggage checks and body searches. The queues were very long as a result so allow enough time. (We arrived 2 hours before our flight and had to go straight to the gate by the time the 4 of us were through security).