When thinking of a trip to Europe for the Summer holidays, one’s mind usually would gravitate towards sun sand and the sea. Maybe a trip to Corsica or a week in the Greek Islands would spring into awareness. Don’t get me wrong, a trip to either of the aforementioned destinations would be delightful. But in the peak of European summer, you’ll find yourself fighting for space to relax on the beach, jostling with strangers in the streets to take selfies at the top trip advisor sites along with a thousand others on the standard ‘Eurotrip’, or you could try somewhere different. Say, Germany?
Now I know this, at first, may sound a little like a bit of a strange pitch, but hear me out. With cities like Leipzig, Munich and Hamburg, you’re definitely in for a treat. Oh, and let’s not forget Berlin, the capital of cool, either! So, now that I’ve got you’re attention, allow me to sell you the German dream. First up, there’s Hamburg.
When booking your flights, chances are you’ll fly directly into Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg. With its origins dating back to the Roman era, Hamburg has since become a European tourist hotspot. Boasting two world heritage sites and a unique array of architecture that managed to survive the Great Fire of 1842 bombing raids of World War II. Hamburg has become so much more than just a port of disembarkment. It is now an educational and cultural hub for creatives in Northern Germany and boasts a wide array of sights worth seeing (two of which have world heritage listings I believe). If that isn’t enough to tantalise your travel taste buds, Hamburg’s bustling party scene and blossoming café culture will. So, if you’re planning a holiday to Germany, I highly recommend popping past for a visit.
What to do
In the past few decades, Hamburg is home to much more than just the worlds best Miniature Museum. For the science fanatics, the Hamburg Planetarium is the perfect place to stare at the stars and contemplate the cosmos. If partying is more your thing, the infamous Reeperbahn may be more up your alley. We recommend getting into the thick of it at Uebel and Gerfärlich for your techno fix. Then, if you’re quite the party animal, try stumbling over to the Sunday morning fish market, or walk through the neo-gothic city of warehouses known as Speicherstat. Wherever you go, there’s no shortage of sights to see or things to do. However, when it comes to places to eat, you have to put in a little effort to find the diamonds hidden amongst the rough.
Where to eat
When it comes to food, Neni is the indisputable crowd favourite. This international sensation serves up the most exquisite Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food and is booked out nearly every night—so make sure you reserve your spot at least a week in advance. If you’re on the hunt for a good cup of coffee, try Hermetic Coffee Roasters. Otherwise, Café Glueck und Selig is the perfect little breakfast spot. Marktzeit is also a reliable option for a good feed on Saturdays too; each week usually is themed, so be sure to check out their website for the latest information.
Where to stay
When it comes to where to stay, again like we always say, it’s entirely up to you and your travel style. We were feeling five stars, so we stayed at the lovely Hotel Atlantic. Situated directly on Lake Alster, this truly typifies all that is European Elegance and flair. Hotel Atlantic is part hotel, part historic museum. The prevailing nautical themed artwork and the historical exhibits scattered throughout the building are a thoughtful touch; paying homage to the cities heritage as a naval port while sharing what shaped both Hamburg as a city, and Hotel Atlantic into what it is today. For a more in-depth low-down, check out this article.
If you’re feeling a little less luxurious, or are going for the more homely approach. Your best bet for finding an AirB&B would be anywhere in Altona, Eimsbüttel, St. Georg or Sternschanze.
Berlin is undeniably the capital city of cool in Europe. The history of Germany is literally etched into the cities eclectic mix of architecture. Whether it’s the grandiose, historic landmarks such as the Bundestag, or the modern Alexanderplatz TV tower, or the graffiti-covered remnants of the inner Berlin Wall—all are equally at home against the Berlin city skyline, and all paint an equally interesting picture about this truly unique city. Berlin shares many commonalities with the Melbourne, the most notable of which was the green parks and spaces scattered throughout the city. I like to see the city as Melbourne’s bigger, more mature, European brother—definitely a place that I will be returning to time and time again over the coming years.
What to Do
Berlin has a vibrant music and art scene, attracting many of Europe’s most talented individuals’ thanks to their incredible nightlife. Clubs, live music venues and bars are scattered throughout the city. The most notable of which are around Kreuzberg. If it’s summer, make sure you visit one of the open air clubs along the river, Yaam, Club der Visionäre or Kater Blau are our top picks. If you’re after some artwork, the Bunker in Belin Mitte is worth a visit. Located in an air raid shelter that was formerly a techno club, Christian Boros purchased the bunker for his art collection back in 2003. Another artist-favourite is Belinische Galerie. Housed in a renovated former glass warehouse, the building itself is a work of art. The cleverly designed space boasts stark white walls and floors, with a beautifully designed set of centrally situated crisscrossed staircases. Boasting an amazing collection of work by Berlin artists spanning back to 1870.
Where to Eat
Since the fall of the wall 25 years ago, Berlin’s restaurant scene has immensely improved and putting the city firmly on the map as one of the most captivating food destinations in Europe. This section alone could be its own stand-alone article, and in due time definitely will be. However, in the interim, here is a selection of our top picks:
Since its inception in 2011, Markethalle Neun has become a home to some of the best street eats that Berlin has to offer. With everything from burgers to bockwurst, this place will have you covered. Still have room for dessert? Jones should be top of your list. With creations like whisky cornflake ice cream on a bacon pecan cookie, you know you’re in for a treat. After something a little more fun? Every weekend in Summer, a host of Thai women gather in Wilmersdorf park and collectively cook a stellar selection of dishes from throughout Thailand. If you’re after something a little unorthodox vegetarian restaurant Cookies Cream is the place for you. Head chef Stephan Hentschel is known throughout Germany for his creative dishes, recently earning himself a Michelin Star. Rightfully so may we add.
Where to Stay
Berlin is riddled with cool and quirky places to stay. Whether you’re keen on a hotel or a hostel, you can rest assured, Berlin will have you covered. After hours trawling the internet for a place to stay, one of our German friends recommended Hotel Zoo in Kurfürstendammare. Built in 1891 as a private residence the building has undergone many facelifts throughout the years, but the most notable of which has to be its current rendition dreamt up by Dayna Lee. This quirky space infuses New York Flair with the homeliness of a London Townhouse. No detail was left unattended; this is especially true in the ‘living room’. With its two-tonne walnut wood doors, seven-metre-high ceiling and five-meter-long fireplace. Based on the design alone, we could see why Hotel Zoo was the winner of the International Hotel and Property awards for 2017. Sounds interesting? Check out the full article on Hotel Zoo here.
If hotels aren’t your thing, Mitte, Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain are your places to hunt for an AirB&B. They also happen to be the districts that are home to some of Berlins best graffiti art. The latter of which is home to the East Side Gallery—the last standing remnants of the Berlin wall.
Let us know if you’re travelling to Germany in the comments below!