Ever since I visited in January, I absolutely knew I had to return to Germany. I never really thought I would love Germany as much I do but the culture, the food, the beer, the art (and of course the Christmas markets), it’s all just so up my street. Matt and I wanted a relatively cheap weekend break this winter and where better to visit than the Authentic Christmas Markets in Hamburg, Germany!We took full advantage of the lounge at Manchester Airport with I highly recommended. It cost us £15 (it may be more without American Express), which you would be spending either way aimlessly roaming around the shops. In the lounge, you get really comfy seats and sofas, places to sleep, a complimentary bar with snacks for as long as you wish to wait. We arrived in the lounge 2-3 hours before our flight home just so we could rest, have something to eat in peace, have a few drinks and get some work done.
We stayed in the Generator Hostel, one of those cool new hostels for millennials travelling the world. This place is for the person who appreciates good WiFi, cool decor & a cracking bar, rather than a comfortable pillow or fluffy towels. For a two night stay whilst constantly being out and about, they were clean and had hot running water; we could hardly complain. We were bang in the centre Steintorplatz, with a train station right on our doorstep and markets less than a 15-minute walk towards the Rathaus (Town Hall).
Being near a train station was really helpful for us, even though we could walk to the markets, the option was there if I was in pain and the other places we visited were a little farther out, as well as the airport being roughly a 20-minute train journey. They don’t have metrolinks so keep an eye out for train stations if you plan on visiting.
There is something really hard to explain about these markets though, they are just slightly different to the markets we have here in the UK. Whilst I strongly standby Manchester as having the best markets in the UK, Germany has an authenticity that we could never rival in a month of Sundays. Each stall seemed to be built from solid wood, using faux bricks to create the appearance of little Scandinavian houses, with intricate details on the roofs of each stand, lights carefully entwined through the thousands and thousands of real Christmas trees lining the streets and don’t get me started on the smells. Gluhwein, ginger, cinnamon, bratwurst, currywurst… you name it, the smells flood the streets, along with sparkly lights on every corner you turn.
I recommend heading to the Rathaus for the main event. This is similar to Albert’s Square if you know Manchester. A tonne of little stands with everything from trinkets to drinks to food. The Town Hall is humongous and is at the centre. On Saturday Evening, we returned for another round of Amaretto Hot Chocolates as the first ones were so scrumptious. As we did, we hit a crowd of people all staring up at the town hall clock face in near silence. We were so confused! Then in perfect timing, we saw Santa fly over the markets in his sleigh, before telling what we assumed was a Christmas tale in German. Very sweet.
We did a lot of walking and saw lots of different sights whilst we were there. We attempted to go into the Hamburg Dungeons but as we had missed the only English tour at 10am that morning, we thought a bunch of scary stories in another language followed by screams and gasps of horror may not have the same effect?
Next door was the Miniatur Wunderland. We thought hey why not, we are here, let’s give it a go. We managed to spend hours in there! They had built cities from different countries with moving trains, cars and even boats, telling different stories of those cities. You could interact with them by pressing buttons and lighting things up and moving pieces but the detail which had gone into this was truly incredible. We found secret little underground setups where there were fairies and elves! And this is coming from 2 people who had zero interest in things like this.
We also visited a favourite of ours whilst we were in town too, Vapiano. I’ve eaten at Vapiano a number of times now in Manchester and it is a firm favourite, this is real fresh Italian food that never disappoints. Hamburg was the home of the first ever Vapiano, so of course, we HAD to visit. As expected 10/10 and open until 1am!
On our last day, we didn’t do a whole lot but take full advantage of the lounge in the airport. Matt was full of a cold and my body had basically reached its limit but all around, we had so much fun on our little winter jolly. Hamburg flights were cheap, we opted for a money saving option in accommodation and we got exactly the German market experience we were looking for, with money spare to splurge on food and drink, that I should say was priced very very well.
and also here’s a picture of me smiling at Christmas trees for good measure.