Are you as lazy as me when it comes to sightseeing? I get distracted quickly and quite often end up having drinks in the middle of the day instead of looking at all the exciting things I had planned.
Fortunately Hamburg is a great place for people wanting to see a city without moving:
It has two rivers and hundreds of canals running through it, which means you can see most of the city by boat.
There are plenty of boat tours through the harbour but you can also take boats as public transport, which is much cheaper and you can skip the annoying announcements.
I carried out a scientific experiment bringing a full picnic including mimosas to the boat, had a couple of great afternoons driving back and forth and never got into trouble for it.
Try to get one of the seats with a table on the right-hand side on the top deck, you will get the best view and can also have a place to put your drinks.
My favourite route is the ferry connecting Landungsbrücken and Finkenwerder.
Usually, I only get off at Övelgönne to go to the beach, but you can obviously take a break from the boat tour on every pier.
1. stop: Landungsbrücken (Landing stages)
Your ferry will leave at a 700m long dock, built completely from pontoons.
They move with the tide which means that the connecting bridges kind of work like hinges.
The dock was built in 1839 and is still used for all public ferries, as well as luxury cruisers.
Right next to Landungsbrücken you'll see a round building with massive windows towards the river. That's the entrance to the “alter Elbtunnel”, a tunnel under the river connecting the harbour with the city, which is definitely worth a visit too.
Shortly after leaving the dock, you will see Strand Pauli on your right-hand side.
This is a cute hippie style beach club built from lots of driftwood, vintage furniture and straw umbrellas, a style that reminds me of the South African design. Their entire area is covered with sand to give you the full beach experience.
If you like what you see from the boat, you can walk to Strand Pauli from Landungsbrücken when you come back.
2. stop: Altona Fischmarkt (Fish Market)
The building right behind the dock is the Fischauktionshalle (Fish auctioning hall), where – as the name says – a fish marked is taking place.
Today the market is less about buying produce and more about people coming from the close party area in St. Pauli, continuing their party on the market or eating Fischbrötchen against their hangover.
But still many restaurant owners come here every Sunday morning to get the freshest produce for their stores.
The building itself was erected between 1885 and 1912 and was restored by Günter Talkenberg.
It's design resembles a traditional basilica with two crossing structures and a dome on the top. The steel framework was infilled with red bricks on the outside and is visible from the inside.
Most nights the hall is rented out as an event space, which means that they are setting up before.
And this means the doors will probably be open during the day and you could walk right in. But I didn't tell you that.
Driving on, you will see a massive brick building with a four-story glass addition.
The Stadtlagerhaus Fischmarkt was restored by Jan Störmer Architekten between 1998 and 2001 and it's use was changed from a warehouse to offices and apartments.
The difference between new and old is emphasized by the use of completely different materials (brick and glass), keeping the original character and adding a contemporary element to it.
After the Stadtlagerhaus, you will see several new office buildings projecting over a massive concrete base, getting the residents closer to the water.
The bases are needed for flood protection and come to use several times a year.
These buildings were erected aiming for a picture of a “string of pearls”, connecting Neumühlen and the City.
3. stop: Dockland
The building in the shape of a parallelogram right next to the pier was built by BRT Architekten between 2002 and 2005.
The silhouette of the building resembles the shape of a yacht and the glass facade reflects the water and the surrounding harbour.
The west facade floats freely over the water projecting up to 40m. The concrete east facade leads up to a viewing platform open for public.
You could get off the boat here and get a great view over the river Elbe and the harbour.
4. stop: Museumshafen Övelgönne
There are always several ancient boats in this small harbour, some of them are even open for public.
I really like the tiny house on the pier, which can be rented for parties (a friend of mine even had her baby christened there).
On that same pier, you can also buy the best Fischbrötchen in town (you can't miss it, it's the only one).
I've mentioned Fischbrötchen twice now in this article: it's a sandwich with different kinds of fish in it, which tastes much better than it sounds
From here you can walk to the Elbstrand, Hamburg's very own beach.
Although it's benefit on your health is questionable, you can even swim in the river here watching massive cruise ships go by (I've been in this water hundreds of times and am still fine).
5. stop: Finkenwerder
This is where the boat is turning, going back to Landungsbrücken.
You will now have the harbour on your right-hand side the entire time. It's the largest harbour in Germany covering an area of 74km2!
6. stop: Bubendey Ufer
To be honest, I have no idea what this is. Looks like you'll end up lost in the harbour there. This might be worth a trip, though!
Getting closer to Landungsbrücken, you will have the Elbphilharmonie in front of you.
The impressive crystalline glass addition to the existing quay warehouse reflects Hamburg's ever changing weather and the surrounding harbour, creating an important new monument for Hamburg.
Back at Landungsbrücken you'll now have seen a massive part of the city.
The impressive harbour, the old part at the Elbtunnel, the very new part at my favourite building Elbphilharmonie and several spots to spend your days.
I hope you've fallen in love with it as much as I have!
Landungsbrücken, Brücke 3
How to get there:
Take the U3 to Landungsbrücken, then the 62 ferry from bridge 3
3,10€ or included in a 6,00€ day pass for all busses / subways
Check out my other ideas for Hamburg if you feel like walking around a little now!
Do you have any advice for lazy ass travellers? Let us know in the comments!