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Visiting Hamburg

There's no mistaking the importance of Hamburg's waterfront location - the city built great wealth on its port, and today it's the second-biggest metropolis in Germany.

The water influences all, from the huge dockside warehouses to the seafood menus plus this nifty bit of trivia: Hamburg has more bridges than any other city.

Before you embrace this huge dockside city, why not take a Stopover in Iceland and enjoy all that the Land of Fire and Ice has to offer.

Architectural prowess

The Rathaus and the red-light Reeperbahn, fish market and flea market, harbor tours and HafenCity - Hamburg will keep you busy. The elaborate Rathaus (town hall) is a good starting place: it was built in the 1890s, when Hamburg was flourishing as a trade port.

Contrast this with the dazzling, ultra-modern Elbphilharmonie concert hall, a landmark seemingly topped by a giant glass wave. Visit for a stellar city view.

More architectural highlights are in the warehouse district of Speicherstadt. These enormous red-brick complexes have Unesco World Heritage recognition, and a boat tour offers a scenic way to appreciate them.

Bucking the trend that bigger is better: Miniatur Wunderland is an incredibly popular model railway exhibition, and a truly magical attraction that's rich in detail.

Early starts and picnic treats

There's no escaping the seafaring heritage of the city at Hamburg's noisy, atmospheric Fischmarkt in St Pauli, a city institution since 1703. It requires an early start (it begins at 5am).

Get a fried-fish sandwich for a real taste of the city - there are vendors all over, especially around the port. Another uber-local taste: Franzbrötchen, a flat croissant laced with cinnamon. 

Close to Speicherstadt, the cobbled Deichstrasse is good hunting ground at dinnertime; for a fresher feel, hit the uber-cool Sternschanze neighborhood (also known as Schanzenviertel or simply Schanze).

In summer sunshine it's hard to beat a picnic in the flower-filled Planten un Blomen park. For picnic fare and leisurely grazing, check out the twice-weekly Isemarkt in Eppendorf - it's one of Europe's largest farmers markets, with some 200 stalls stretching an impressive half a mile.

Flea markets and fancy boutiques

One of the best shopping stops is the Flohschanze, a Saturday flea market held along Neuer Kamp street in the Karolineviertel, just south of Sternschanze. Take a stroll around this area for fun shops and cafes with a creative, hipster vibe.

For a different feel (and catering to a different budget) is the boutique-laden, arcaded Jungfernstieg promenade, joined to the city's mainstream shopping strip, Mönkebergstrasse, by the large Europa Passage mall.

Be sure to cruise Neuer Wall to see Hamburg's prosperity first-hand - this strip is almost wall-to-wall luxury brands. For something more local, the street named Lange Reihe near the central station has a couple of stores selling cute, Hamburg-made items.