Hamburg to Berlin

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We arrived in Hamburg at 9am and took the green line train to Central Station in the direction of Wedel. We had booked to stay at Generator hostel on a recommendation and after staying in the hostel chain in Dublin I didn't need convincing. We were lucky to get a 6am flight meaning we'd have the entire day to explore the city and then the next couple of days to really get to know Hamburg before heading East to Berlin.

Hamburg to Berlin, Germany

Hamburg at a glance

✓ Country: Germany

✓ Language: German - Although English is widely spoken

✓ Currency: Euro

  Eating Out: €10+ for anything other than fast food

 Fast Food€3-€7 - Kebabs, pizza and your standard fast food chains

✓ Drinking: €3-€7 - Not cheap in Hamburg - The Reeperbahn is the cheapest place to drink (stick to local beer)

✓ Accommodation: Generator Hostel - Close to Central Station

✓ Getting Around: Train ticket €11.80 for groups of 5 people

✓ Budget Friendly: Hamburg is the priciest city in Germany


All prices in Euro

Where to stay - Hamburg

Generator hostel is in a great location at at mere 100 meters from Central Station also known as Hamburg Hauptbèahnhof - Central Station works just fine for us non-German speakers. Check in is at 2.00pm but like all Generator hostels we were able to use their luggage lockers to dump our bags before heading out to explore depending on size the lockers only cost a couple of Euros for several hours. 

Our first act as tourists in Hamburg was to buy a day train pass for the train and subway for €11.80 which meant we could travel around the city at will during our time in Hamburg. The ticket allows up to 5 adults to travel together as many times as they please in one day. A worthy investment for anyone spending a few days in Hamburg, especially couples or small groups. Like any European city tram tickets are rarely checked but I'm too afraid of the fine to jump on without a ticket. €11.80 or €50 fine? The risk is yours.

Hamburg to Berlin, Germany
Central Hamburg in the sun

Getting around Hamburg

The subway is pretty simple once you get your head around the routes. Our most frequented station was Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg - a popular and infamous tourist haunt. If you like cheap booze and can ignore the highly flaunted prostitution add Resperbahn to your Hamburg checklist. If the discomfort of in-your-face prostitution is too much for you, don't worry it's confined to specific areas and as a couple or female you're more than likely to be ignored.

Hamburg to Berlin, Germany
Hamburg Central Train Station
A lot of the prostitution in Hamburg is hidden behind large metal walls with big 'No Females Allowed' signs at each entrance. So you can happily enjoy a night on the town without witnessing any propositioning at all. A few girls stand on corners or wander up to the occasional stag-do walking around looking lost. The girls are mainly dressed in very little and easy to spot if are looking to avoid it.

Hamburg to Berlin, Germany
The bright lights of the Reeperbahn, Hamburg


The Reeperbahn and St. Pauli


Hamburg to Berlin

Tourism in Hamburg is predominantly stag-do tourism. Our flight from Manchester taught us this and we can officially say we witnessed every type of stag do from Hawaiian shirts to drag and everything in between. Needless to say British stag-do tourism is infamous the world over and if you do want to avoid feeling like you are in a wetherspoons during an England match the Reeperbahn past 10:00pm should be avoided at all costs. Alternatively, If you're able to look past the darker sides of tourism in Hamburg there's a lot to be experienced.

Hamburg to Berlin
The infamous Reeperbahn, Hamburg - At a much quieter time of the day

Hamburg to Berlin
These pubs have certainly seen better days but still by nightfall are packed with stag do's


Bars and restaurants of St. Pauli, Hamburg

Aside from the cheap drinks of the Reeperbahn St. Pauli is home to many bars, restaurants and cheaper eats. A must in Germany's most expensive city. We found ourselves on the banks of the river a couple of times 'Hamburg Del Mar' is definitely a highly recommended beach bar with artificial sand. You'll pay a little more for drinks but there's a great food menu and even better tunes.

Hamburg to Berlin, Germany
Photo from Hamburg del Mar - A must visit in St. Pauli, Hamburg
Watch out and stay clear of Bei Teresa - We witnessed the rudest staff who actually shouted at us for only having a drink in their empty beer garden. Not worth a visit to be spoken to like that. Avoid at all costs. 

For the cheapest eats in Hamburg fast food places are often the best - as I've mentioned Hamburg is the priciest city in Germany. We found ourselves (and when I say we I mean Jamie) often on the look out for Lebanese restaurants for kebabs, felafel and lahmacun (Turkish Pizza). Germany is also home to widest range of sausage known to man. Curry Wursts, bratwursts and blood sausage along with schnitzel are usually always on the menu for non-veggies.


HafenCity

HafenCity is Hamburgs large scale regeneration project just a little further up the river from St. Pauli. We found ourselves here once after a painstakingly hot Subway ride. We walked the restaurants and bars on the waterfront and drank iced coffee in the sun. If you're looking to dine out and want to avoid the Reeperbahn and Central Hamburg take the subway to HafenCity for a quiet evening on the waters edge.  

Hamburg to Berlin
Hamburg's HafenCity and urban renewal project

Central Hamburg

Central Hamburg is another world compared to the seedy tourist trap of the Reeperbahn. The Inner and Outer Alster Lakes are the dominating feature of the central area of Hamburg. Take a boat trip from the Inner Alster Lake and be wowed at the views of the city from the water. Walk around the Inner and Outer Alster Lakes to enjoy the passing boats and scenery.

Hamburg to Berlin

The Inner Alster Lake is where we spent most of our time in Hamburg -The Binnenalster as its officially known is a great place to grab an ice cream and enjoy the evening as late afternoon is usually when the crowds arrive to chill by the waters edge. Stop for a Spirtz at ALEX (The restaurant with a balcony overlooking the water).

Hamburg to Berlin
View from across The Inner Alster Lake, looking towards Hamburg city centre

Hamburg to Berlin
Hamburg Rathaus - The Town Hall
Make sure you stop by the Town Hall Hamburg Rathaus and St. Michaels Church. For World War Two tourism head to St. Nicholas' Church where only the tower remains along with a memorial.

Hamburg to Berlin
Hamburgs Town Hall and the plaza outside
Hamburg is a fun city, but a city that you'd only ever want to spend 2-3 days in. The expense aside, Hamburg can be explored in a few days with all the main attractions a subway ride apart. For weekends and short city breaks and of course stag do's I can see why Hamburg has become an increasingly popular destination of choice.
Hamburg to Berlin, Germany
Enjoying The Alster Lake in the Sun

Hamburg to Berlin - Flixbus


Getting from Hamburg to Berlin with Flixbus


From Hamburg we took a bus from the central bus station which is located conveniently outside the Central Train Station. The three hour journey cost us €13 per person, we decided to leave at 6.45am to ensure a full day to explore Berlin. Flixbus operates throughout Germany and other European cities. It's a great cheap alternative to long distance trains. I would recommend.

Hamburg to Berlin
The Flixbus - Hard to miss they are always bright green

Berlin at a glance

✓ Language: German - Although English is widely spoken

✓ Currency: Euro

  Eating Out: Budget €7-€10 Mid-range €15

 Fast Food€3-€5 - Kebabs, pizza and your standard fast food chains

✓ Drinking: €3 - Notably cheaper than Hamburg

✓ Accommodation: BaxPax Downtown Hostel - €10 

✓ Getting Around: All day train ticket €7 per person

✓ Must see: The East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall


Take the train, it's worth buying a day pass for the S-Bahn and U-Bahn for €7. This will allow you to shoot around this city all day and utilise your time.

Our first stop was our hostel BaxPax Downtown Hostel a €10 hostel which I booked primarily for the rooftop terrace and bar which happened to be closed on a Sunday. I can't remember seeing this online during the booking so check first. For a city like Berlin we noticed a lot of bars and restaurants to be closed on a Sunday so perhaps time your visit for a Friday or Saturday.

Hamburg to Berlin
BaxPax Downtown Hostel, Berlin, Germany


One day in Berlin itinerary


Brandenburg Gate
Jewish War Memorial
'Fhürerbunker'
Berlin Cathedral
Alexanderplatz and Berlin Tower
The Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery

Berlin in 24 hours

After check in we left the hostel asap. It was still early 11:00am and we were only a ten minute walk from The Brandenburg Gate the number one on our to do list. Jamie has been to Berlin previously and from memory knew that we could head to Brandenburg then the Jewish War memorial then the 'fhürerbunker' car park which are all a small walking distance from each other.

If you're looking to get to this area by train head to the Brandenburger Tor station which is the closest.

Hamburg to Berlin, Germany
My through-the-fence shot of the Brandenburg Gate. As you can see it was a beautiful day to explore Berlin
We had arrived after after what appeared to be a festival or event. The whole of the Brandenburg gate area was closed off with fencing and all of the surrounding roads too as officials took down tents and marquees. The whole area surrounding the Jewish War Memorial was the same. Which didn't make for the best photos I must admit.

Hamburg to Berlin
The fencing I mentioned set up outside the Brandenburg Gate and all the way round to the War Memorial
We spent some time wandering the Jewish War Memorial, a peaceful place where I noticed all tourists being incredibly respectful and solemn despite things I've read previously about selfies and silliness at tourist attractions with dark origins. The Jewish War Memorial should top any Berlin itinerary, the piece of art exists to honour the millions of Jewish people who lost their lives during World War Two and I felt it was only appropriate to pay my respects to them.

Hamburg to Berlin

Hamburg to Berlin
Memorial of the murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany


Berlin Cathedral and The River Spree

The next on our Berlin list was to head to the cathedral, a truly stunning and icon building I had been dying to see. Berlin Cathedral is also a short walking distance from the Brandenburg gate. We were able to walk past the British Embassy where people had laid flowers and lit candles to honour those who tragically lost their lives in Manchester. It was quite touching to see and I felt very moved that tourists and locals had taken the time our of their day to visit the British Embassy to pay their respects. It got me questioning why Britain would choose to tear itself away from our European allies.

Hamburg to Berlin
The River Spree - photos taken in mid afternoon and early morning
Berlin Cathedral surpasses any expectations, especially with the blue sky day backdrop. The incredible structure is so photogenic I almost couldn't stop taking pictures of it. We spent a few minutes sitting down outside admiring the structure.

Hamburg to Berlin
Berlin Cathedral feat. The Berlin Tower and beautiful clear blue skies

Hamburg to Berlin

Hamburg to Berlin

Hamburg to Berlin
Neptune's Fountain, Berlin

Hamburg to Berlin

After all our walking around the city an ice cold drink was in order, we located the first cafe on the banks of The River Spree that runs through Berlin, the riverside easily became the perfect setting to plan the rest of our day and hide from the beating sun for a few minutes. Drinks prices in Berlin even on the riverside are much cheaper than those of Hamburg. We certainly began to realise why so many locals had told us Hamburg was the most expensive city in Germany. From the Cathedral we had walked towards the tower and Neptune's Fountain. Many other notable buildings and museums in central Berlin were undergoing renovations in the city we noticed a lot of construction and roadworks.

The Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery

With our morning in Berlin almost over it was time to plan our next move and my sole motivation for visiting the city. It was time to head to The Berlin Wall. We took a train to Berlin Nordbahnhof, the heat was at its peak at this point and we walked slowly to the wall and East Side Gallery area with plans to walk as much of the wall as possible. 

My key reason for wanting to visit Berlin and The Berlin Wall so badly is due the symbology of the wall, the wall itself is a symbol of peace and freedom and marks a great turning point in European history. I once again found myself thinking - why would the British people choose to tear themselves away from our European allies and friends? 

Hamburg to Berlin

Hamburg to Berlin
The Berlin Wall - An absolute must on any Berlin itinerary
Whilst dodging other tourists and admiring the artworks on the face of The Berlin Wall it's natural to forget why the wall still stands in Berlin, as mentioned The Berlin wall is currently an international symbol of Freedom and Peace, it important to bare that in mind during your visit to The East Side Gallery. When you're tired of walking pop down on the grass on the banks of The River Spree and grab yourself a drink.

Hamburg to Berlin
Taking a break from exploring The Berlin Wall on the banks of the river


Berlin - The German Capital

Being in Berlin only made me regret nothing spending longer in Berlin and I am already planning my next visit to the German capital. I don't believe the 24 hours we spent in the city even did it justice although we got to see some of the city's most prestigious attractions no more than 5 days would be needed to explore Berlin's full potential but if you're planning a trip to Germany make sure you set aside 3 days for Berlin.

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travelsandmore was originally just an outlet to document my travels. It turned into something more quite quickly and now its more of an obsession for me than anything else. Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to subscribe, I'll only ever send you my latest travel related blog posts right to your inbox.