The Green City
Amongst the blaring foghorns and crying seagulls is the lively northern city of Hamburg. For many centuries, this harbour city was known for its bustling port, thanks to its accessibility and close proximity to the North Sea. Over the years Hamburg's shipping industries flourished, so much so that it is now known for being not only the busiest port in Germany
, but also the largest.
Why should I choose Hamburg for my year abroad?
You don't have to be a water baby to enjoy Hamburg. And you won't find many hamburgers either, so don't hold your breath. What you will enjoy is the chilled-out vibe this city emanates. 60,000 students seem to agree and, what with it being the second largest city in Germany
, there's plenty to do all year round. With 11 universities within the city, you're bound to bump into like-minded people.
Museums are popular in Hamburg, with the Deichtorhallen being one of the most famous galleries in Germany
. Housed in a converted market hall, here you'll be privy to international exhibitions of contemporary art and photography, so make sure you pencil in a visit. The Hamburg-Kunsthalle will dazzle you as both columns are linked by an underground passage, with the main building displays works ranging from medieval portraits through to 20th century classics, by Klee and Munch. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe has wide-ranging exhibitions covering sculpture, memorabilia, photography amongst many more, regularly changing its collections for its discerning public.
If you're up for a scouting out of neighbourhoods, take a hike to Karolinenviertel for some vintage goodies, with so many shops and cool ickle cafes on display. Sankt Georg is the most liberal of all Hamburg's districts, famed for the local gay scene. It has many a kooky bar and you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to walk along Lange Reihe Street for quirky and original artists' galleries. Schanzenviertel is the student, artist and immigrant playground, giving the area a youthful and lively atmosphere.
Although home to the red light district in Hamburg, Sankt Pauli still offers many an activity for the year abroader in terms of cinema, theatre and annual fairs. The fish market should be visited at least once, for its sheer size, colours and fresh produce. Around Kunstmeile you can get your culture fix thanks to all the museums on offer, offering a constant new stream of photography and contemporary art exhibitions.
When hunger strikes, you'll be looking forward to digging into some Bohnen und Speck
(green runner beans cooked with pears and bacon) or fresh Pannfisch
(erm, pan-fried fish, surprisingly). Quite a few eateries offer decent local food, but if you fancy something a little more upmarket, try your luck at one of the many French or Italian restaurants that have colonized the city at Vapiano or La Mirabelle. Beer is served here with some lemonade, quite close to a shandy back home! Just ask for an Alsterwasser and you'll be whisked back momentarily to your local old man's pub. BP1 is a good bar to get the party started, as it regularly has DJs coming in to spin the decks, with some good beers on offer.
If you fancy raving in a converted WWII bunker, then join the cool kids at Uebel und Gefaehrlich for some choons to set your heart racing. The quirky magazine Prinz
is fit for one who likes to party, listing all the events going down in this portal city, it's worth a read or flick through to check out what's on. All in all, with so many students and a good social scene, setting up camp in happening Hamburg can't be too bad at all really; with the added bonus of ordering in your (soon-to-be) pitch perfect German 'a hamburg-er' (perhaps only in the local Maccy D's!).