Latest update: 19 May 2023
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and a port city. There is plenty to do, but what if you are short on time? Do you only have one day to explore? Then this is a great schedule for 24 hours in Hamburg.
7 pm – Dine at NENI
Let’s start with dinner at NENI. NENI serves food inspired by Israeli and Arabic cuisine mixed with a touch of German fare. It reminds me of restaurants in Tel Aviv. Most dishes are for sharing, if you want because everything is too tasty to share. The decor is playful, and there is an open kitchen, but you can’t see it from every table. The restaurant is in the 25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt, but it is definitely not a typical hotel restaurant. It attracts non-hotel guests too. So reservations are for sure a must. And it’s pretty affordable, I think.
9.30 pm – Cocktails at The Boilerman Bar
In the same building, you’ll find The Boilerman Bar, a bar with a luxurious look. The interior is dark, the chairs are heavy, and there is a beautiful mural of a tough sailor. It feels like James Bond wouldn’t look out of place here, yet it is very accessible. The subtitle of the bar is ‘Highballs & Music’. I had to look up the first one, which turns out to be a mixed drink. Usually with whiskey, but here at The Boilerman Bar, the focus is more on rum. I go for an unusual mix with gin and basil, which is a good choice. Cheers!
11 pm – Sleeping in a 25hours Hotel
Since I still want to explore the city tomorrow, I leave the highballs for what they are, and it is bedtime. The 25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt and the 25hours Hotel Hafencity are a perfect choice and are a stone’s throw from each other. The rooms at Altes Hafenamt are just a bit more luxurious, while in Hafencity, you have beautiful common areas. Difficult to choose! And so I don’t: I stay in Hamburg for a little longer than 25 hours and sleep in both hotels!
25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt
The 25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt is a beautiful stone building. It used to be the office of the harbor master of Hamburg. In total, there are 49 luxurious rooms. The look is cool and contemporary, and there are lovely details everywhere.
Book directly at the hotel or via Booking (Altes Hafenamt).
25hours Hotel HafenCity
The 25hours Hotel HafenCity is a bit bigger: no fewer than 170 rooms. You’ll find small references to shipping throughout the hotel, even in the bathroom. The room is also a bit reminiscent of a cabin.
Book at the hotel directly, or via Booking (HafenCity).
07:00 – Running around the Alster Lake
I get up early on my one day in Hamburg to start with a run around the Alster Lake. It’s not next to the 25hours hotels, so I rent a bike to get there. Bicycles can be rented at the hotel reception, and the Altes Hafenamt Hotel even has some running goodies ready: a sweatband, a bottle of water, and an apple. The large Alster Lake is good for a 7.4-kilometer run. I mainly run along the water and some parts on the street. Many others do the round as well, so I follow them when in doubt about which path to take.
09:00 – Breakfast with champagne
Start the morning with a glass of champagne? Count me in. The breakfast buffets of the 25hour Hotels are lavish. At the 25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt, breakfast is served in the NENI restaurant. There is a huge choice of hot and cold food, good coffee, and fancy tea. And here’s a small addition of Israeli options, such as hummus and shakshuka. At the 25hours Hotel HafenCity, I find some more German additions such as the rollmops and semolina porridge. The latter may not sound good to everyone, but it’s fantastic. It reminds me of my grandfather and grandmother.
10.30 am – Tour in the dark or in the silence
The DialogHaus is a ten-minute walk from the hotels. I think this is an amazing concept. It’s not so much a tourist attraction but more of a social experience. Join a tour guided by a blind or deaf person. Entirely in the dark, completely by touch and following the guide’s voice, I experience for a moment what it is like to be blind. Or maybe you see everything but hear nothing at all. That makes communicating really difficult. Make a reservation in advance!
Tip! Want to know more about the tours with blind and deaf people and why I loved it? Then check this blog article.
12.30 pm – Lunch and wander in alternative St. Pauli
The St. Pauli football club stadium is in the St. Pauli district. In addition, it is a very alternative part of Hamburg. It’s raw and edgy: lots of graffiti, a skate park, and lots of bums. But it is also hipster at the same time: organic coffee bars, record stores, and local shops. So take the bike or a bus to this neighborhood for lunch. Public transport in Hamburg is well organized. With the Hamburg Card, you can travel freely, so see if that works out for you.
2.30pm – Alter Elbtunnel
The Alter Elbtunnel was created over 100 years ago to transfer traffic from one side of the Elbe to the other. This was especially useful for dockworkers at the time. Pedestrians and cyclists are now allowed through the 450-meter-long tunnel 24 hours a day. Cars are only allowed through during the day on weekdays and only if they meet the conditions. There are separate car elevators; if a car happens to use it, definitely have a look and see how it works. I can hardly imagine that they save time by choosing this route.
3 pm – Harbor tour
A harbor tour should not be missed in the port city of Hamburg – definitely include it in your one-day visit. Most cruises sail through HafenCity and Speicherstadt, past the Elbphilharmonie building and the harbor full of containers and cargo ships. Actually, all boat trips are more or less comparable, and you can just go to the mooring point and buy a ticket. Of course, you can also book online: check your options at GetYourGuide and Viator. And: dress warmly on cold days!
5.30 pm – Relax time at the hotel
After a busy day, I want to recover and relax in the hotel. The 25hours Hotel HafenCity understands exactly what I need. On the first floor, there is a vinyl room where I can play records loudly, and on the sixth floor, there is a sauna with a view. 25 hours is clearly not enough time; I’ll stay 25 days, ok?
7 pm – Dinner at Heimat
I started my 25 hours in Hamburg with food, and that’s how I end it. This time I choose the Heimat restaurant in the HafenCity hotel. Heimat focuses on local cuisine. Hearty German, Austrian and Swiss fare with a twist. It is slightly more pricey than NENI. I choose the delicious onion tart with goat cheese and the risotto. The food comes a little too quickly because I have 0.0 room for dessert. I’m about to explode, but it’s worth it. A perfect ending to a 24-hour stay in Hamburg.
Want more Germany inspiration?
Useful links for your Germany trip
- Travel guides. I love the practical guide books from Lonely Planet. You can buy them at Bol.com and Amazon.
- Flights. Compare all your options! Transavia often has good deals, but definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Train and Bus Travel with NS International or FlixBus to Germany. And reserve bus seats with Busbud, 12Go or Omio. More local trains via Save a Train.
- Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Natuurhuisje. Or try Campspace. Would you rather stay in a hostel? Check Hostelworld.
- Money. Your bank cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. ‘Free’ walking tours are available at Freetour.com and GuruWalk, and try Baja Bikes for bike tours.
- Attractions and museum. Interested in a 5% discount on museums and other attractions? Use this discount code at Tiqets: KIMOPREIS22
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? The Dutch among us can try: ANWB vakanties or Sawadee, or maybe Tui, D-Reizen, Sunweb, and Vakantie Discounter?
Or, try a yoga retreat.
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, I might receive a small commission.
Note: I received a bloggers discount on my stay at 25hours Hotels. They had no say in what I wrote about the experience.
First published: March 2019. The article has been updated since.