Having visited Hamburg last May we were excited to get the chance to return this December to experience the Hamburg Christmas markets. What could be more Christmasy than a mug of Glühwein or two and a nice big German Brätwurst?
Having a flight time of around 90 minutes from the UK, Hamburg is a perfect destination for a Christmas city break or any other time of the year. Read more about our previous trip 48 hours in Hamburg.
With 15 Christmas markets, by simply strolling around the city you will soon bump into one. Alternatively, just follow the smell of cinnamon which permeates Hamburg’s festively decorated streets this time of year.
The styles of markets slightly vary around the city, from the classic Rathausmarkt in front of the impressive town hall to the more ‘adult’ themed Santa Pauli market on the Reeperbahn. However, there is one thing they all have in common, Glühwein and Brätwurst.
We had a great room at the Hotel Baseler Hof near the Binnenalster lake. Within 10-minutes walk of the hotel, we could get to 5 markets.
Just a quick note that getting around Hamburg is really easy and the public transport system is one of the best we’ve experienced, cheap, quick and clean. Also, many of the hotels give you free public transport tickets which you can use for the duration of your stay.
The closest to our hotel and the first market we visited was the Jungfernstieg market which lies on the promenade alongside the Binnenalster. The trees were decorated with sparkling white lights and a children’s Ferris wheel whirled away, it also clanked quite a lot but nothing fell off. All the markets we visited were free to enter.
So it was straight onto the first mug of warm Glühwein. This is one of those strange Christmas things which people love but only ever have at Christmas. You pay €3 for the Glühwein plus a €3 deposit for the mug which you get back when you return the mug in one piece.
Unlike many Christmas markets in the UK which seem to stocked with cheap plastic unbranded toys, the quality of the Hamburg Christmas market stalls were very good. There were lots of unique decorations, local foods and handmade gifts.
Just across the road from the Jungfernstieg market is the Neuer Wall luxury shopping street. The street and shop fronts were beautifully decorated although Mrs W wasn’t carried away enough with Glühwein and Christmas spirit to buy the Patek Philippe watch I was pointing out in the window.
Next, it was onto the historic Rathausmarkt with its giant Christmas tree in the square in front of the impressive spired city hall building. The smell of Brätwurst was summoning us towards one of the many sausage stalls. For €3.50 you could get a fresh tasty Brätwurst which is put in a comparably small bread roll. The bread seems to act simply as an edible sausage handle, (sausage handle, is that a thing?)
The opening times of the markets vary, around the city centre they tend to close around 9 pm although many stay open later on Friday and Saturday.
On our last night, we visited the St. Pauli area and the Reeperbahn, famous for it red-light district and where the Beatles honed their craft in the early sixties. Like the rest of Hamburg, St. Pauli has its own Christmas market but aimed at a slightly more ‘adult’ audience. They also have live bands and a festive ‘Striptease Tent’, for the sake of the performers we hoped they had a decent heating system in there!
It actually wasn’t that ‘adult’ and on Sundays, they do have a children’s programme.
We really enjoyed our couple of days in Hamburg. Germany and we both felt Hamburg certainly know how to create that festive Christmas spirit.
Anyway, it was back home for us, to enjoy a wet winter in Wales and if Mrs W is lucky, I’ll let put another piece of coal on the fire for warm Christmas! Bah Humbug!