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Family Weekend Trip to Hamburg

By Julia Brucher

One of the best things about living in London is that we are literally just a 1 - 2 hours flight away from so many amazing destinations. Weekend trips with children, especially toddlers can be a bit daunting but they can also be so much fun!

I am originally from Hamburg and this city has so much to offer for children. It's really a fantastic weekend trip and with dozens of flights each day, there is nothing that should stop you from taking your little ones.

In Hamburg there are more bridges than in Venice, London and Amsterdam combined. The total number of bridges in Hamburg is more than 2,300. So expect lots of cafes by the water, little canals and you can even take a canoe around the the Alster, the big lake in the city centre (it's actually a river that widens, but hey ... looks like a lake but don't say this to anybody in Hamburg).

If you have 2 - 3 days, then I would recommend the following family friendly itinerary:

Hotel / Apartments: key is to book a good base to explore the city from. Von Deska Townhouses offer lovely apartments that come with a kitchen and other useful things for families. They are in a lovely residential area and not far from the city centre:

Kids Cafe Elippa & Wochenmarkt

Kids Cafe Ellippa is close to the city centre in Harvestehude / Eppendorf. Apparently this neighbourhood has the highest density of families in the whole of Germany and when you walk through the streets you will get a feeling that there are only pregnant women or families with kids around. Take a walk through the tree lined streets, don't miss the famous Isemarkt, a market in Isestrasse that is open every Tuesday and Friday 7am - 2pm. It's fabulous to shop for fruit, veggies and culinary specialties as well as some kids accessories like hats. Just a 5 minute walk away from the market there is Cafe Ellippa: a kids cafe that offers art, dance and movement classes (you can book online or pay as you go) and best of all there is a beautiful cafe with an arts corner for little ones with direct access to the canal, where you can sit outside by the water (all fenced off, no risk of little toddlers taking a plunge). Morning coffee with guaranteed kids entertainment = bliss!

Harbour Tour

My daughters (2.5 years) asked me to go on a ship and I said .... well that is a pretty good idea. Hamburg Harbour is huge (it's the 2nd largest after Rotterdam) and offers lots of different Harbour Cruises. No need to pre-book, so you can just walk up to the pier and book your tickets on the spot. Smaller boats go into the old "Speicherstadt" while the bigger boats focus on the harbour itself. You can see how container ships are loaded and if you are lucky pass by a huge cruise ship on the way. Especially with smaller children I would recommend a bigger boat as the kids can run around freely (while on the smaller boats you are stuck in your seats for an hour).

Miniatur Wunderland

Miniatur Wunderland is going to be one of the most amazing things you will see. From Woody Allen to Adele all the stars have been here. It's the largest model railway in the world, and one of the most successful permanent exhibitions in Germany. You can see miniature versions of American cities, Scandinavia, the mountains, airports and much more! Adults and kids alike are amazed by it and I am pretty sure it will be a highlight of your trip.

Our top tip is to buy tickets for a "60 minutes behind the scenes tour". The huge advantage is that you and your kids will be guided behind the set ups , which has the added bonus that you can jump up and scare the other kids / tourists ;-)

You can book your slot online here and will jump right to the front of the line:

Hamburg Fish Market

The Fish Market in Altona takes place every Sunday from 7am to 9.30am in the morning. The fish market was founded in 1703. Especially if your children are young and very early risers this could be the perfect spot to hang out in the early hours. Here you can buy almost everything (so not only fish) but the "Fish-Broetchen" are pretty famous. Not really my taste for breakfast but rumour has it that they are an incredibly good hangover cure. More info:

City Beach: Elbstrand

Just a 15 minutes taxi ride from the city centre is the Elbchaussee by the river Elbe, which offers a nice stretch of beach as well as the famous Strandperle, a great beach cafe & restaurant where you can hang out on a sunny day:

Dentist anybody?

Last but not least - and you might find this a slightly odd suggestion, but you might want to consider booking a kids dental appointment. Germany together with Scandinavia has the best dental care in the world and at the fraction of the cost of London.

Most dentists offer kids dental appointments for around EUR 20 (what a bargain thinking about what London private practices charge) and will really take the time to make sure your kids are happy and get used to the "dentist set up". One practice in particular comes highly recommended by local mums: Kids Pediatric Dentist Eppendorf. A dentist that specialises in children, has a play room, a TV in the ceilung to watch kids cartoons while your child sits in the chair and much more! Going to the dentist has become a real event in itself!

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