I have spent the last 4 days in Hamburg, Germany. This is going to sound cruel but I left the kids behind! I know what Germany is like on New Years Eve and I know they would of hated it!
I did, however, come with a view to looking to see if it was worth bringing them at another time as flights to Germany from the UK are very reasonable if booked at the right time.
My views on Hamburg are mixed. It reminded me at times of Vegas and at times of Venice but at the same time was entirely German. In my head I comparing it to other German places I have visited. It seems surprisingly more upmarket than Berlin for instance, and less (long term) affected by the war and communism. There are shopping districts with shops that are so expensive the doors are locked behind you and every big name brand or designer you can think of. Passing some, I treated the extravagant window displays more as museums and knew not to try to walk in the door!
The city itself is clean, it’s obviously German in its architecture and places like the town hall are impressive to see.
I was reminded a little of Venice by the waterways, the difference being they seem more hidden away between looming warehouses.
My hotel, Michaelis Hof Hotel, was centrally located and I could walk to most areas, although there is a vast array of public transport connecting everywhere you need to go. In each direction from the hotel were very different areas. The harbour, where the majority of people congregated on New Years Eve, was a bustling area with a walkway lined by eateries and street food.
About ten minutes from there, I found the bustling and over busy red light district area of Reeperbahn. This place amused me as Casino’s were plentiful yet hidden away behind blacked out windows and almost unnoticeable amongst in your face sex shops, brothels and strip clubs. Dotted between these were less seedy bars and fast food eateries. You could turn down side streets to really nice restaurants or pick other side streets with prostitutes lining the streets. There are bars here where the Beatles first played and bars where females aren’t allowed! There was even a gun shop, full of want to be gangsters deciding which handgun to buy for their €100. The notorious Herbertstraße is located in this area too. Apparently it is a little like Amsterdam’s red light district but it is, rather oddly considering its surroundings, screened off and only open to men over 18. Whilst the rest of Hamburg felt really safe, even though I am told this area only has petty crime, as a female I felt, maybe not completely unsafe but certainly uncomfortable.
I was surprised by the lack of touristy things to do in Hamburg. It seemed bigger on the shopping. You could however occupy children for a few days with Miniatur wunderland, a giant model railway, Hamburg Zoo, The Maritime museum, a couple of boats and submarines to look round or tour the harbour on and a chocolate museum. None seemed particularly cheap apart from the free boat I boarded for a quick look. There were parks that would be nice in the summer and many churches to visit with spires to climb.
Out of the two, I would choose to take my children to Berlin for things to do and prices but for a few days or a weekend Hamburg would be ok to visit.
As for New Years Eve, I did see some children, though I wouldn’t take mine. The main area for fireworks is near the harbour. There didn’t seem to be a main display so much as the public letting off fireworks for literally hours in every nook and cranny of the city! An experience certainly, and walking back to the hotel felt a little like a war zone, ducking behind cars and into doorways to dodge rockets. I will let the video speak for itself!
Hamburg with an autistic child?
I would avoid going at New Year to be honest. It is loud, crowded and most shops and attractions are closed.
There is a lot of water around. Places like the harbour are fun but there are no barriers to protect you from the water.
The more upmarket shopping districts are less crowded if you fancied braving very expensive shops!
Miniature wonderland may appeal to children that like trains.
The zoo would be good for those that like animals.
There are many parks to escape to.
There are a lot of trains and underground trains for children that like transport.
The most crowded area was by far Reeperbahn, however this is also an area you probably wouldn’t be taking children generally. I would try to stay in a hotel away from this area.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you would like to read more then feel free to follow my blog or like my Facebook page which I keep up to date with new posts as they are written. You can also find me on Twitter @KidsOnTour1 and now on Youtube – subscribe to my channel for upcoming videos!