Green guide to Hamburg
In Germanys second largest city Hamburg, you’ll find lots of parks and nature walks. Weather you’re on a classic city break or looking for an active way to use the city, there’s lots of green choices in Hamburg. Read my guide to 10 green and active experiences in the capital of northern Germany.
I am – surprisingly enough – more into hiking than the big city life. But I’m also always up for new experiences, and luckily hiking can take place almost everywhere. Of course it’s different to walk around in a city than taking a hike in nature, surrounded by grand landscapes and views. Non the less it is still possible to get lots of kilometers in when taking a city break in Hamburg. There is lots of options to be active wheather on foot, bicycle or on the water.
Green and active experiences in Hamburg
Hambrug has many parks, and there are plenty of options to experience nature just outside the city. The unique thing about Hamburg is, that the rivers Elben and Alster winds through Europes eighth largest city. Here are 10 tips for green and active things to do, when visiting Hamburg.
Stadtpark near Winterhude
Stadtpark is Hamburgs green breathing space with an area of 148 hectar. The park is located in the northern part of the city just next to the cosy and authentic neighbourhood Winterhude. There are plenty of options to do long walks in the Stadtpark, where there is
also forest, lake and a rosegarden. In the summer you can enjoy a swim in Naturbad Stadtsee, and you can sunbath in the grass. The rosegarden bloom alle the way through September, and it’s lovely to walk around and enjoy the smell of roses in the crisp fall air.
In the northwestern part of the park, that borders to Winterhude you will find Planetarium Hamburg. The planetarium is spectacular in itself, but it’s also possible to get all way to the top of the building to enjoy views over the city.
If you need a rest you’ll also find plenty of cafées spread out over the park. It’s pretty unique, that the park offers so many cosy places where you can get a cup of coffee, an icecream or a meal. And of course there is also a playground and a minigolf lane for the youngest.
Altona Volkspark lies west of Hamburg and is actually even better than previously mentioned Stadtpark. In the park there is space for outdoor concerts, and just like in Stadtpark there is also a minigolf lane. In the park there is a stadium and a racetrack, but with the 205 hectar there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the park on a hike round the rosegarden and forest.
Flottbek is located just outside the city a little more southern than Altona Volkspark. Here you’ll find a park and the Loki-Schmidt-Garten which is the botanical garden. It’s a popular destination for those wanting to get out of the busy city and get a green boost. The pyramid shaped glass building is the Loki-Schmidt Museum for crops. A learningfull experience for the whole family.
You can also go on a little adventure in the the garden, where there is a Japanese Garden and a Chinese Pavillion as well. End the visit with a cup of coffee at Cafe Palme or extend the amound of kilometers with a visit to Jenisch Park a little south of Loki-Schmidt-Garten.
This botanical garden is not to be confused with the old botanical garden in the park Planten un Blomen. This garden is described further down in this post.
Boberger Niederung Nature Reserve
Not so far from Hamburg is the Boberger Niederung Nature Reserve. Here you can experience Bobergers white sanddunes and you can hike along different nature information trails. The four most important trails are marked with a symbol, and the trails takes you through the versatile nature in the nature reserve.
In the dunes and on the meadows you’ll find a rich environment of plants and animals, which makes it even more exciting to walk on the trails.
At summertime you can see the heather bloom or dive in the lake. But all year around there is plenty to see in Boberge Niederung, when the city is getting to much.
The information center at the nature reserve will give you more information on how to make the most out of your visit.
Alster and Alsterwanderweg
Are you visiting Hamburg you cannot miss a walk along the Alster River. It’s so enjoyable to see life play out along the river, where runners, dog walkers and watersport enthusiasts move around. You can actually start your walk from the city center and continue as far as you want. There are also good opportunities for a roundtrip, since there are bridges that connects the two riversides. You can also continue up to Stadtpark, taking breaks at the cosy cafés on the way.
Along Alster you’ll also find Alsterpark. A green oasis by the river. It’s also along the river, that it’s possible to follow the Alsterwanderweg. The route follows the river and goes thorugh several park areas. All the way up at Wellingsbüttel Torhaus the wild part of the river starts. From here the trail will go through forest and meadowland. If you follow the route all the way to Poppenbüttel you’ll get a 17-20 km. trip. From there you can take the S-bahn back to town.
Canoe, kayak, rowboat or paddleboard
You can also enjoy Alster river from the waterside. In the summer and early fall, it’s possible to rent canoe, kayak, rowboat or paddleboard. In that way you can sail down the river and follow life on land at the same time. It’s a nice opportunity to do something active and at the same time experience the city from the waterside. For the active type it gives you a great opportunity to go on a city break without skipping the exercise.
On this site you can find information on where to rent boats and gear for a nice day on the water.
Guided bicycle tour
Here’s an idea – also for the active type – that wants to experience some of the most popular attractions in the city. On a guided bicycle tour you get the chance to move the body and at the same time get introduced to some of the most known and touristy places. Hamburg is actually a really nice bicycle city, but you have to get used to a different system than in Denmark. A lot of places the bicycle lane is on only one side of the street and it can sometimes be hard to see where there is bicycle lane and where there is pavement.
A bicycle tour gives you the opportunity to get to know the city a lot faster than when walking. It’s a good idea to take the tour on on of the first days you’re in the city. In that way you will be better to navigate the city on the rest of your trip. Also, you’ll get a better idea of the things you want to see and look at more closely. Some things might be okay just to see on the bicycle tour, while other things demand that you come back later to get the full experience. I guess it depends on what you feel is exciting.
Hamburg City Cycles offers guided tours around the City. The bicycles are nice and easy to navigate.
Climbing in Volksdorf
In the Volksdorf Forest you better find that inner child of yours. Here you get the opportunity to climb in the treetops at KletterWeld Hamburg. There is six different tracks for different levels. I haven’t tried it myself, but I think it looks quite fun. It’s also a nice way to combine a trip out in the woods with something fun and active. The whole family can be entertained here or you can go as a group of friends or a couple.
Alter Botanischer Garten
In the park called Planten un Blomen, that lies close to Dammtor Station is the Alter Botanischer Garten. In the old botanical garden you’ll find a big greenhouse with tropical plants and cactuses. There is free entrance, and it’s super cozy to walk around watching the different species that you’ll normally only see on a trip to the south. Makes you dream about warmer places! It’s also a perfect place to go to get warm during the cold months.
The park itself is also worth exploring. There are multiple cozy corners with lots of privacy. But it’s also possible to go around exploring the different plants and flowers. In this park you’ll also find the Japanese Garden, and there are also cafées where you can grap a cup of coffee.
Blankenese and Elbewanderweg
Rent a bike and drive along the Elben river, untill you reach Blankenese. Of course you can also walk, cause actually the place is also known for it’s walking trails. For instance, the 23 kilometer Elbewanderweg goes through Blankenese. If you choose to walk or bike, you’ll also enter the beautiful area Wittenbergener Heide. On the route it’s also possible to take a ferry back to the city.
In the summertime Blankenese is the perfect place to swim and enjoy the beach and the southern atmosphere in the lavish neighbourhood. At Blankenese you’ll also find Hirsch Park, which is a good place to go walking.