© Timo Sommer / Lee Maas
© Timo Sommer / Lee Maas
© ThisIsJulia Photography

One day in Altstadt & Neustadt

One day in Altstadt & Neustadt

The Old Town and New Town are true jewels of Hamburg. The historic centre of the old town is characterised by many traditional buildings such as the Hamburg Town Hall and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as alleys and bridges that extend as far as HafenCity. In the Neustadt between Laeiszhalle and Jungfernstieg you will find elegant promenades with famous fashion designers and gallery owners - with a view of the Alster.

© Timo Sommer / Lee Maas

Moin, I'm Frank Engelbrecht

In the middle of the old and new town, a constantly growing number of people who not only work or shop here but also have their homes here, romp around in the new town even more than in the old town. A city centre with many contrasts, which unites many sights in a very small area. I am Frank Engelbrecht and I worked as a pastor in the parish of St. Katharinen for many years. From here I invite you to join me on a tour of the centre of Hamburg.

View from the church tower, meals in the separee

Let's start where I lived - in the rectory of the church of St. Katharinen opposite the Speicherstadt. It is one of the oldest upright buildings in Hamburg-Altstadt, much of which was destroyed during the great fire of 1842 and the Second World War. Therefore a walk through the old town is a contrasting programme. You will soon notice this as you walk towards the town hall and cross the multi-lane Willy-Brandt-Straße. If one looks around, one sees a hodgepodge of old, restored brick buildings, high-rise buildings and glass blocks from the 1970s.

© ThisIsJulia Photography
© ThisIsJulia Photography
© ThisIsJulia Photography

It goes on past numerous witnesses of past times

Walking across the Comfort Bridge, you pass the statues of Count Adolf III and St. Ansgar, who brought Christianity to the city of Hamburg. The statues represent the connection of the episcopal old town with the secular new town. From the bridge you can see the ruins of the church St. Nikolai (Willy-Brandt-Str. 60), which was also destroyed during the war and which was blown up after the war to make room for the East-West-street. Only the remains of the church walls and the 150-metre high tower have been preserved. The church is now a memorial to the destruction of the war with an impressive exhibition on the subject in the church's vaults. A visit to the church tower by elevator at 75 meters is also worthwhile, if only for the view. Only the 150-metre-high tower, which should be visited, has been preserved. Already because of the view far beyond the district.

Looking for more history?

During the historical tour through the Nikolai quarter you will learn how honourable merchants saved the Hamburg stock exchange from the flames or where the old Alster harbour was located. Discover our history route now!

Strengthening in the Hamburg way

A visit to the motherland of Cölln (Brodschrangen 1-5) is also a must-do. Here you dine in listed separees, which are decorated with beautiful hand-painted tiles. I drink a coffee before I continue my way. Via Kleine Johannisstraße I pass small shops and restaurants, the well-assorted menswear shop Anton Meyer (Kleine Johannisstraße 7) and La Tavola Calda (Kleine Johannisstraße 15) with authentic Italian cuisine.

A touch of dolce vita and lots of water

If there is such a thing as the centre that connects Hamburg-Altstadt and Hamburg-Neustadt, it is the Rathausmarkt. The shopping mile Mönckebergstraße also begins here. So it couldn't be more central. And those who stand on the spacious square are first impressed by the town hall and its magnificent facade. In daily guided tours you can learn about the history of the Hanseatic city's seat of government and the many magnificent halls. Not far away is the Bucerius Kunst Forum (Rathausmarkt 2), which with three to four exhibitions per year takes up exciting themes from antiquity to the present. Behind it, Hamburg's dolce vita already begins. The arcades and terraces along the Alster canals exude Italian flair. Here you can understand why Hamburg is called the Venice of the North.

© Timo Sommer / Lee Maas

Did you know?

The Hamburg City Hall with its 647 rooms has almost 5 times more rooms than the White House in Washington.

Whoever feels like shopping: Between Jungfernstieg, Neuer Wall and Grosse Bleichen, exquisite fashion shops line up next to traditional shops such as Ladage & Oelke (Alter Wall 22) with a timelessly elegant range of products. And if you love books, visit the Marissall bookshop on the corner of Rathausmarkt and Herrmannstrasse. A picture book place with a very good assortment, wonderful advice and a heavenly children's book corner. I borrow a city bike right next to the Chamber of Commerce (Adolphsplatz 1) and cycle a few hundred metres to Fleetinsel at the Steigenberger Hotel (Heiligengeistbrücke 4). Here you can find some nice restaurants between canals and bridges like the Marinehof (Admiralitätsstraße 77) or the Erste Liebe Bar at Michaelisbrücke 1.

Baroque old town alleys and tempting cocktails

From the Fleetinsel it is not far to the "Michel" (English plank 1), the most famous church building of Hamburg. On the platform of the 132-metre-high tower, you have a fantastic view over the Portuguese Quarter to the port of Hamburg, the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall and HafenCity with the historic Speicherstadt. I drive on into the Neustadt to the Großneumarkt, crossing the picturesque market place with its beautiful old buildings. On Wednesdays there is a market here with regional food and many food stalls that invite you to feast. I turn into Wextraße. Here you can find design, handicraft and a lot of art. For example in the Galerie Kulturreich (Wextraße 28), which exhibits works by young artists at affordable prices. Not far away is Feinkunst Krüger (Kohlhöfen 8) with a mixture of works by experimental and renowned artists.

© ThisIsJulia Photography
© Timo Sommer / Lee Maas
© ThisIsJulia Photography

From the new town, we return to the old town, to the Katharinen quarter, which is named after St. Katharinen. On the way I cross one of the most beautiful streets of Hamburg. The Deichstraße is lined with historic houses with baroque facades. Here it is well worth walking past traditional restaurants such as the Alt Hamburger Aalspeicher (Deichstraße 43), the restaurant Deichgraf (Deichstraße 23) or the Ti Breizh Haus der Bretagne with the Boutique de la Mer (Deichstraße 39), where you can find exclusive fashion from the Bretagne.

Enjoy a meal with friends at the end of the day

Whether French or Italian cuisine, fish or burgers: in the quarter opposite the Speicherstadt you can choose between your tablecloth and rustic wooden tables. In the evening I meet up with friends for dinner at the Trattoria Bella Italia (Brandstwiete 58) - small, cosy and with delicious homemade pasta. If it's too crowded there, I stroll back to the town hall to the Café Paris (Rathausstraße 4), one of my favourite places with delicious food or even just a little wine until late at night. If you still feel like having a cocktail afterwards: Right across the street at the bar Le Lion (Rathausstraße 3), real masters of their trade are at work.

© Fotolia / JFL Photography


The historic core of the Altstadt (German for Old Town) district is shaped by traditional buildings such as the Hamburg city hall and the chamber of commerce, the alleyways and bridges which stretch out all the way to the HafenCity district. In the Neustadt district district between Laeiszhalle and Jungfernstieg with elegant promenades, fashion stores and gallery owners – overlooking the Alster.

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