14 May 2019

Florian’s Must-See Hamburg List

An Insider’s Guide for Rotary International Convention Attendees

By Florian Gerdes, Marketing Manager, Hamburg Convention Bureau

During the first week of June, Hamburg will host more than 26,000 attendees from roughly 180 countries around the world for the Rotary International Convention. We are thrilled we were selected back in 2015 for this event and have been busy planning a citywide celebration ever since.

Florian Gerdes, Marketing Manager, Hamburg Convention Bureau

The main venue is the Hamburg Messe, which is the site of the convention’s general sessions, breakout sessions, and the House of Friendship. Further events will be taking place across the Hanseatic city such as a 3-kilometer walk against polio (the main humanitarian project of Rotary clubs around the world), concerts of the German Rotary Orchestra in the Elbphilharmonie, an official Preconvention Welcome Party in Hamburg's historic Chamber of Commerce, a Night to Remember at the Museum of Hamburg History, and an Evening of Excellence at Schuppen 52 (a former historic warehouse).

But what else should be on the "must see" list for Rotary participants? Here's my list:

  • I love taking visitors to the Speicherstadt. It is the largest historic warehouse district in the world and was selected together with the Kontorhausviertel and Chilehaus in 2015 as Germany's 40th UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here delegates can feel, taste and smell the history of the city and can attend coffee seminars, chocolate making and tea tastings. This "warehouse city" was built into the Elbe River between 1883 and the late 1920's on thousands of oak poles as a free economic zone in Hamburg's port and has a unique blend of winding streets, canals and bridges. More inspiration here.
  • Of course, it goes without saying that the Elbphilharmonie is always a stop on my Hamburg tour. Although it's only been open since January 2017, it has quickly become Hamburg's new iconic landmark and one of Germany's most popular attractions. It was made to resemble a rolling water wave or sail and is located high above HafenCity, Hamburg's architectural and design hub. In addition, to taking in a concert at one of the world's largest and acoustically advanced concert halls, attendees can enjoy beer tastings at the Störtebeker, take in the panoramic views from the public plaza and order a Kaispeicher-Kaffee (coffee with many fragrant spices like cardamom) at the onsite Westin Hotel. More inspiration here.
  • Considering Hamburg holds the record for the European city with the most bridges (2,400), I love to sightsee from the water. There are so many different choices depending on your adventure level ranging from picturesque cruises on Lake Alster or river cruises on the Elbe River to stand up paddle boarding, rowing, renting wheels on a pontoon or even a leisurely bike ride around Lake Alster. My colleagues and I recently had a team bonding day, and tried out many of these fun watersport activities. They are great for attendees to do on their own or as part of an incentive program. You can check out our adventure here.
  • Did you know that the Beatles played many shows in Hamburg on Reeperbahn Street in the St.Pauli District before their rise to superstardom? In fact, John Lennon was once quoted as saying, "I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg." The Beatles played more than 300 shows at clubs in the Reeperbahn section of Germany in the early 1960's. Today music still holds an important place in this neighborhood with many live music venues and professional theatre productions, as well as, hip restaurants and swanky bars. It's still considered one of the main entertainment areas of Hamburg and not to be missed on my tour. If attendees desire to walk in the footsteps of the Beatles there's a fantastic tour for that too.

How about an even more unusual adventure? No problem I have a few of those to recommend too. How about climbing on the mast of the largest museum ship in the world or experiencing the world in complete darkness at Dialogue in the Dark. Can you guess the number one tourist attraction in Germany? I’ll give you a hint it’s located in Hamburg—It’s the Minatur Wunderland. While you may never heard of it, it is certainly a site I’d recommend as it is the largest model railway in the world and is very impressive.

Two other experiences I recommend checking out are the Airbus Tours where the wide body A380 aircraft are customized and hitting the road in a VW Bullis to discover the unknown South of Hamburg with interesting locals at Waterkant Tours

Whether attendees are visiting Hamburg with the Rotary or another time these suggestions should keep them busy before or after meetings conclude.  Actually, when visiting Hamburg and the diverse Metropolitan Region, there’s so much to do, they should consider extending their trip!