Hamburg might not seem like the most obvious choice to take a toddler away to on a city break, but I’m a firm believer that all big cities have something to offer when it comes to family fun. Plus, Hamburg is second only to Berlin in terms of its size within Germany, so when I spotted a bargain airfare deal, I just went for it. You all know I’m a sucker for a flight sale!
(This post will take you through our short break in Hamburg, including spends – if you want to skip to the money matters scroll down to the bit at the end!)
Now, Mister Holiday Addict is a massive Beatles fan, and there’s obvious history of the fab four in Hamburg, but with just two days, we decided to swerve it – mostly because we knew much of the story was centred around the (in)famous Reeperbahn, and it wouldn’t be up our family friendly street at all. We know we can always come back on our own to do a proper Beatles history tour, especially now we’ve decided that a yearly break from baby is actually a good thing for us all following last year’s trip to Florence.
Anyway, we decided to base ourselves in the Neustadt area, in an apartment hotel with supermarkets nearby and easy access to both the u-bahn subway and s-bahn regional train direct to the airport. We arrived late in the afternoon, and by the time we’d checked in and bought a few bits from the shops so we could sort out snacks and breakfast (and a few cheeky beers once Holiday Baby had gone to bed), we went for dinner in the hotel restaurant and called it an early night.
Day One in Hamburg
In the morning, we were naturally up at the crack of dawn (such is mum life) so we had a quick bite and headed down to the hotel pool for a swim – I think picking accommodation with a swimming pool is a brilliant idea when you’re travelling with kids, as it’s a default activity you can rely on. And it’s great for tiring excitable toddlers out so you might (just might) get ten minutes extra sleep.
By 9.30 am we were off out walking to explore the city. We headed through town to the Maritime Museum. We spent a good couple of hours in there, with plenty of bits and bobs to entertain the wee man, including a kids area with lots of books, drawing materials and Lego – all with a view of a massive Lego model of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Holiday Baby loved it!
The museum is home to a vast amount of exhibits and is really interesting – we could have spent much longer in there, but alas, when tetchy toddler syndrome strikes you have to go with it…off for lunch we went.
We decided to hop on the u-bahn to the harbour area of Landungsbrucken to see what we could find. We sat right on the waterfront in Fischpfanne which was the type of place that probably floods with tourists in summer, but was pretty empty in February! We were bundled up so we sat outside and enjoyed fish and chips and currywurst – it was nothing special, but it did the job. Plus, Holiday Baby loved watching the boats and we did, too. So our next mission was to board one and take to the water on a harbour tour.
There are lots of tours running at this time of year, but few if any, provide commentary in English until April time when the season starts properly. It wasn’t a problem for us, because we spend so much time with our attention on our son that we’d have missed most of it anyway! We did enjoy it, however. The sheer scale of the port and the ships in dock is really something to see.
With the little guy now telling us he fancied going on a slide, we decided to jump back on the u-bahn to Planten un Blomen. It’s one of Hamburg’s large city parks and was an easy walk from our accommodation. Of course, as soon as we got to the station, he passed out. So we just walked through the park back to our apartment where we sipped a beer and napped next to him on the couch!
Needless to say, when we all woke up it was almost dinner time again, so we freshened up and headed back down to the restaurant before enjoying an evening battle that involved us all in the bed in a bid to get him to sleep. After several rounds of parental torment, he gave in, but we were too tired to care much about doing anything else other than joining him by then!
Day Two in Hamburg
Another early start saw us back down at the pool for a longer stint this time, since Holiday Baby randomly decided he could swim (with his little fiat vest on) and plodded off on his own. Cue much applause and obligatory filming of key developmental milestone moment! By the time we’d rinsed out swimming and got ourselves ready, we had to be off to meet my friend Julika who, along with her other half, Steffen, had headed up to meet us for a day out! First stop – Hamburg’s famous attraction, Miniatur Wunderland!
Honestly, this place really surprised me, because although you’ll probably read about it being all about a miniature railway – it’s so much more. I couldn’t get over the scale and detail of the exhibits – my favourites were the airport (complete with live departure board and planes that actually take off!), and the mini version of Pompeii. There’s tons to see, though, And tons of hidden gems to find. Look close enough and you’ll see miniature scenes that will make you laugh, cringe and blush for sure! You’ll easily spend a couple of hours here – it’s brilliant fun!
After we’d explored all Miniatur Wunderland had to offer, it was time for a refuel. We lunched on amazing burgers and craft beer ordered via in table top tablet computers at Burgerlich. And Holiday Baby napped through it! Bonus! An almost grown up dining experience for a change!
Afterwards we strolled towards the town hall, via the Alster River so we could see the ducks and boats (at the now awake little man’s request), before jumping on the u-bahn to Sternschanze. The neighbourhood here is a multicultural, hipster feast, and we had our sights set on the Altes Madchen brewhouse and restaurant – their shop alone is amazing!
The mister and I enjoyed sampling a few of the local brews, while the wee man feasted on schnitzel from the kids menu (he didn’t exactly go without considering he slept through lunch!). We chatted some more and enjoyed the atmosphere, before wrapping up and heading back for bedtime after our busy day. Our flight home meant an early start so an early night was on the cards!
All, in all, I found Hamburg to be a great short break destination – I loved the vibe of this port city and can only imagine it is even more inviting in summer when I’d love to return. We had a great family trip and I am more convinced than ever that city breaks are still not only doable, but totally enjoyable when you’ve got kids.
Flights with Ryanair cost us £85 return (3 x tickets) in the Cyber Monday sale just before Christmas
Accommodation in the Adina Aparthotel booked though Booking.com cost us €427 for three nights (Mon-Thurs)
A Hamburg Card cost us €44.50 for three days and included discounts for entry at both the Maritime Museum and Miniatur Wunderland. It also covered all public transport including the trip in from the airport. As it was valid for up to 5 people, we were also able to use it when our friends met up with us to save a further few euros.
Dinner in our hotel restaurant (main courses and beer/wine) for two adults and a child came in at €40-45
Fancy burgers with sides and 2 craft beers each cost approx €25 per person at Burgerlich Hamburg.
Entry to the Maritime Museum was €13 per person (we paid €9 each with the Hamburg Card)
Entry to Miniatur Wunderland was €13 per person (€12 with the Hamburg Card)
A harbour boat trip was €20 (I think we paid €17 with our Hamburg Card but they kept the ticket and I can’t remember!). Visit one of the tourist information offices for details of the different companies and tours on offer.
Lunch on the waterfront (one course with a medium size beer each) came in at around €25
A tasting tray of all 5 Ratsherrn draught beers at Altes Madchen costs €6.40
Travel by s-bahn from Hamburg Airport to the city centre costs €3.20 for a single journey and single journey tickets for local travel on u-bahn/s-bahn cost generally between €1.60 – €2.20. All this is covered with a Hamburg Card valid for the duration of your trip.
What do you think? Would Hamburg feature on your city break wish list?