Now if there’s one thing I’m good at doing it’s saving money. Well, when I want to save that is. And with my summer holiday just around the corner you better believe I was trying to keep my time in Hamburg cost effective. But that doesn’t mean I scrounged on fun! Because thankfully there is plenty that can be done in Hamburg for a minimal cost…
The Fischmarkt completely took me surprise. It was like nothing I had ever expected. I was told it was a popular Sunday morning activity amongst the locals, so you better believe I was gonna check it out. Naturally, I was expecting a standard fish market. Instead, as I entered the street I heard something unexpected. I followed the sound of rock music and loud cheering until I reached a large warehouse. As I entered at 8am I was greeted by the sight of a rock band up on a stage while a drunken mob, still carrying on from the night before, rocked out to “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” That was right before they all sat themselves down in lines as they pretended to all row a boat together. It was hilarious! Of course the remainder of the market is great also, especially if you love fresh fruit and fish buns!
Cost: Free for the entertainment and window shopping!
Fancy getting on the water and exploring the famous docks of Hamburg, but don’t want to spend 20-40 euro for the expensive tours in German? Then just jump on the 62 Ferry, which leaves from Landungsbruken docks. It’s a one hour round trip and if you’re lucky like me, the driver may just invite you to ride upfront! But be careful – slippery when wet! Thanks to the young male for literally catching me as I made a graceful sliding entrance down the ramp.
Cost: 3 euros
Planten un Blomen
Ok here’s a favourite. I loved this place so much I visited four times! Each time with a different purpose. Each time with a new story. If you hadn’t guessed from the name, Planten un Blomen is the local botanical gardens. And it has a little something for everyone.
I loved exploring the rose beds and the oriental gardens. I would often find myself plonking down on a bench and over looking the lake covered in lilly pads. Just be careful to not fall asleep right before a work shift as I did.
Take the kids (or the big kids in my case) and have fun playing with the water games. We had fun shooting water guns towards inflatable balls and trying to score them in the goals. If you’re lucky you might even bump into a free jazz performance as we did, with a swing dancing performance and everything!
And finally and literally the grand finale, is the free nightly water and light show that is demonstrated every night in summer at 10pm. A huge fountain and light show timed to beautiful classical or tango music. Every night. For free! And conveniently located next to a small tiki bar where you can set yourself up with a glass of wine or beer on a warm summers night and take in the beauty.
It helped that my hotel was located close by, but I would find myself by the lake at least four times a week. Whether going for long strolls, runs by the water, bathing in the sun light or sitting and watching the ducks. I loved being able to escape to this sanctuary! This lake is a wonderful place to relax with a book, have a picnic with friends or stroll along with homemade ice cream. And if you want to treat yourself by using all your recently saved money then I have just the activity for you – stand up paddle boarding!
For just 15 euros you can hire a board and spend an hour out on the lake. It’s a great way to enjoy the sunshine, see the sail boats up close and get a workout in. Especially if you get trapped by the wind as we did and spent a good 40 minutes attempting to paddle back to land. It was an absolute laugh as we frantically paddled forward to only find ourselves drifting backwards. But to cool off from our hard work we all decided to jump off our boards into the refreshing water. I can guarantee you’ll have an absolute ball!
Cost: Free to admire the beauty of the lake, 15 euro for a one hour hire of the SUP boards
Ok so the best way for me to describe Sternschanze is to compare it to Shoreditch for my London crowd and Brunswick for any Melbourne followers. In other words, it’s the “hip” district of Hamburg. The streets are covered in tasteful graffiti and street art and there’s cute boutiques and cafés galore! My favourite store was the Pick ‘n’ Weight, where you’ll be overwhelmed by the incredible options of retro clothes on offer that you pay for by the kilo. You can spend all day getting lost on the streets of Sternschanze. If you do, you may just find yourself a sweet little surprise….
A residential gate stood slightly ajar between two brick walls. The gate was covered in black garbage bags so you couldn’t see through. And taped to the plastic was a sign, which drew us beyond its walls:
“No photography. No videos.”
Naturally this drew us inside as our minds questioned what on earth could be forbidden? It took everything I had to not reach inside and draw out my camera. As the gate creaked open we peered inside. I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous, but as we walked further in I realised it was nothing but a residential area. But this was like one I had never seen before, for the walls were covered in vines and amongst the leaves were incredible pieces of street art and political statements. Old pieces of furniture had been transformed into street side art work. We were the only ones exploring inside. Aside from the woman smoking a fag from her window above. It was her peering eyes that reminded me to stick to the rules. How badly I wanted to take a photo! You’ll just have to discover it yourself to see it…
So you see. Whether you’re saving cash or just want a cheap European getaway, Hamburg is the place for you. Cos there’s plenty you can do for a sweet little fee.