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Schanzenviertel: Hamburg’s Hipster Quarter

Hamburg, Germany’s richest city, is not particularly known as being a very alternative place. Indeed, most of the city could be considered very (stereo)typically German: clean, orderly, and with everything in its right place. But, there is one neighbourhood that stands out as a little different: Schanzenviertel. So-called (it means sconce district) because of the historical star-shaped sconce, a kind of fortification, that surrounded the area in the 17th century.

Nowadays, it’s where the queers, hipsters, artists, and yuppies of Hamburg hang out. Full of pleasant, tree-lined streets, cute independent cafés, artsy boutiques, and more, it’s a great place to take in some street art, score some vegan food, and relax in an achingly cool bar while doing some people-watching.

Along Schulterblatt and adjoining streets, there are plenty of opportunities for window shopping for records (Selekta Reggae Shop) secondhand books (Buchhandlung im Schanzenviertel), and cool apparel (Mono Concept).

Time for ice cream? Head straight to Eisbande, and grab a seat or get a cone to take away and enjoy in the sunshine. With a great selection of creative flavours (Snicker’s, liquorice, or matcha lemon, for example), many of which are also vegan, this place definitely hits the spot to satisfy those ice cream cravings.


While you’re wandering around, keep your eyes out for all the street art that you won’t see in other parts of the city. There are some pieces by famous artists such as El Boho; but also plenty of works by smaller names, many of them small, anonymous pieces among the ubiquitous tagging.

After dark, check out Oma’s Apotheke for a unique bar experience. Set inside a former pharmacy, this place is actually a full restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner of typical German fare; but it’s best known as one of Hamburg’s quirkiest bars. Be sure to start the night off with a typical Hamburg drink of Alsterwasser – local beer mixed with lemonade – named after the water of the city’s lake.

Once the evening is in full swing, head to Rote Flora, Hamburg’s most alternative club, located in a dilapidated, graffiti-covered former theatre, to dance your face off. Music varies from ’70s power ballads, dance remixes of modern songs, swing, ska, or rock across the three floors.

And that’s a wrap! Have you ever been to Hamburg? If so, what did you think? If not, would you like to visit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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