Reece Chaplin travels with FlyBMI to the German city where The Beatles became The Beatles and the peaceful green spaces are in contrast with the energetic nightlife.

The combination of tranquil parks and waterways running through the city with the metropolitan hustle and bustle makes Hamburg a one of a kind place.

When you visit Germany’s second biggest city, people talk about the place being shaped by contrast - expect the best of both worlds where nature and urban life combine for the perfect match.

This is probably why so many creative minds over the centuries have been attracted to Hamburg - while offering a vibrant city life, the atmosphere is extremely relaxed and offers a platform to perform.

Even one of the most famous bands in music history lived here for a year - The Beatles. Fans will tell you that it was in Hamburg that The Beatles really became a band, and a tour run by fanatic Stephanie Hempel takes devotees to the locations associated with the Fab Four, each stop accompanied by a tune on her ukulele. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a ticket when I visited because it was fully booked. If you are thinking of going yourself, book your ticket in advance.

I did, however, manage to get a guided tour of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, which sits on the River Elbe in the heart of the city. This is an architectural vision to behold. Seen as a cultural landmark, it is the third largest theatre in the world, with three concert halls, a large music education area, a restaurant and a hotel. There is also a public viewing platform that offers a panoramic view of the city.

Acts from all over the world play here but tickets usually sell out within a day - at pocket money prices, the music is world class.

Hamburg is steeped in history and has two world heritage sites, Speicherstadt and Chilehaus.

The historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, with its beautiful canals, red-brick facades, winding bridges and picturesque views, is the world’s largest warehouse complex and has a number of museums and exhibitions mixed in.

Hamburg’s urban, maritime warehouse complex and the office district from the early 20th century survived being bombed in the war and has an office building built to resemble a ship.

If you like to indulge and enjoy a beverage or two, you will not be out of place here. There are plenty of places across the city to enjoy a pint of Astra.

One place which really stood out was the beach club Strand Pauli. Quirky and unique in its design, from the outside it looks like a shanty town house, but as you enter you’ll see a car cut in half being used as a fridge, tyres being used as decorations and antique lamps hung everywhere. The interior is a mix between a Middle Eastern design and a pirate ship.

Hamburg’s nightlife comes alive when the sun sets and the neon lights of Reeperbahn flicker into action. Naturally, people are attracted by the racy reputation of the district - it is the German red-light district and the night-time economy thrives thanks to the influx of stag dos and tourists.

We are among them, having flown in on Flybmi’s excellent service from Bristol Airport – an easy train commute at under an hour from Swindon.

If you are feeling a bit worse for wear after a night in the Reeperbahn, you will have no problem recuperating as this is Europe’s number one place for coffee imports. There are so many to choose from it’s bewildering - mine was a double espresso from The Coffee Shop, which also had scenic views from the windows overlooking the canal.

Feeling refreshed and ready to attack the day, I visited Germany’s number one tourist attraction, the Miniature Wunderland.

As a born and bred Swindonian, this was one attraction I had to see because of the connection to the railways. If you haven’t already guessed it is a miniature model railway attraction and the largest of its kind in the world.

After all that excitement I needed some fresh air, so I took a stroll through the shopping district, full of its designer brands, and on to discover a hidden gem and one of my personal highlights of the trip. The Planten Un Blomen is like an Aladdin’s cave of a park. Truly beautiful, it gave me the vibe of what Central Park is to New York.

The park is made up of multiple gardens and has large playgrounds, but the peace and serenity of the place is breath-taking. There are water light concerts at night but what makes it all the more wonderful is that everything is free.

For any sports fan I highly recommend visiting the Volksparkstadion, the home of Hamburg FC, to watch a match. Even if you do not like football you will be in awe of the atmosphere in the stadium - the noise from the fans can be deafening at times. A guy on a megaphone was enticing fellow fans to get behind the team, and I like I was back in the 1980s. It was a fantastic experience… although I would recommend going when they are not in the middle of a relegation battle.


  • Get there: FlyBMI - bmi offers flights

from Bristol to Hamburg from £97 one way,

complimentary in-flight drinks and snacks

and speedy 30 minute check-ins.

  • Get around: The Hamburg Card offers

unlimited travel by bus, train and harbour

ferry, plus discounts at over 150 tourist

attractions. From EUR 10.50 per day. See

  • Stay: Adina Apartment Hotels, Hamburg


  • A stay at the Adina Hamburg

Speicherstadt starts from EUR135 per night,

based on two sharing a studio king or twin

on a room only basis.

  • For more information or to book, visit

or call +49403346080

Watch Reece’s video of the Miniature

Wunderland at