A Beginner’s Guide To Going Out in Hamburg

A picture of the sign at the Reeperbahn S-bahn Hamburg

The Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s trashiest place for nightlife

If you’re new to Hamburg this is the place to get an insight into how the locals party.

Overview

If it’s Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and it’s your first night in Hamburg, you want an echt hamburgisch experience, then my recommendation would be such:

9.30 pm Get off at Feldstraße U-Bahn, take a photo of you and your funny friends in the photoautomat across the street, proceed by foot to Meine Kleinraumdisco and talk over a bottle of Tannenzäpfle.

11 pm Head over to the kiosk on the Wohlwillstraße, buy a small vodka and mixer of your choice and drink it down on the street with the huge group of people standing outside the kiosk.

12 pm Walk down the Wohlwillstraße in the direction of the Reeperbahn and maybe stop at another place for a beer if you have time.

12.45 am Take in the sheer madness and tackiness of the Reeperbahn for a bit, walk down the Große Freiheit and if it looks like something for you stay there for the night but if it doesn’t proceed to the next step.

1.45 am Go and check out the Hamburger Berg, Barbrabar, Roschinsky’s, Exsparr, Headcrash, Rosi’s, Nachtlager. Stay there for as long as you can have a good time.

4 am You’ve now had enough of the Hamburger Berg and would like to try somewhere a little more cultured and refined, proceed by foot to the Goldene Pudel Club.

8 am They’ve turned the lights on at Pudel and you’re on the street with some attractive people, walk over to Fischmarkt, buy a fruit basket, eat the fruit, go home. Welcome to Hamburg!

Reeperbahn

Let’s get this out of the way first. The Reeperbahn is a street in St. Pauli which serves as one of the biggest red light districts in the world. Punks languish outside sex shops with their dogs begging for change in a cheery manner, every night after 6pm prostitutes stand in rows around the Hans Albers Platz following men like pigeons to breadcrumbs (not in any way to denigrate the potential plight of these women), gun shops sell their wares, churches have neon signs declaring that JESUS LEBT and apparently gangs simmer under it all waiting for violent fights to break out.

And this is also the area where Hamburg goes to party.

Many Hamburgers would not be caught dead partying on the Reeperbahn, it’s far too mainstream and unarguably tacky. But if you are looking for overcrowded (an understatement) bars where the same playlist gets slaughtered by the DJ every night and lascivious behaviour is the order of the day, this is the place for you to come. It’s worth mentioning that young German people who like to party generally are not as interested in drunken violence as in say, Britain or, from whence I came, Australia. Germans will bicker until the cows come zuhause but this rarely escalates to actual physical violence, they are too smart for that. So if you’re an idiot, don’t come to Germany, STAY AT HOME.

The Reeperbahn can be thought of as 3 areas interspersed with a few random clubs. Grosse Freiheit being the tackiest, Hans Albers Platz a close second and the Hamburger Berg probably the most acceptable place to party on the Reeperbahn. I don’t have much experience of the former two but am quite the expert on the Berg.

This place is up and running every night except Sunday but only really comes alive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (Wednesday used to be good, it’s still workable, but a bit quiet). It is a small street with about 15 bars and a kiosk. Although there are 15 bars, if it’s warm the street will be completely full of people drinking cheaper beer out of plastic cups bought from the kiosk, which makes a killing this way.

There also isn’t much of a border between the bars because there are no lines, the bouncer doesn’t bother counting how many people go into any of the bars because people stop going in when they simply can’t fit in the bar anymore. At the height of a Friday night (about 2.30 am) ‘dancing’ becomes a physical impossibility in the Barbrabar as everyone tries their best and complains that it’s too crowded and ‘I swear it never used to be like this’ (it did).

When the sun rises and the clubs start to thin out, you can go to the fish market (Saturday and Sunday) and buy a cheap basket of fruit and scowl at the carnists selling dead fish as a source of ‘food’.

And that my friends, is the Reeperbahn, come here for a ridiculous, though fun night out.

If you want a visually compelling yet grammatically incorrect virtual tour of the Reeperbahn, click here.

Electro Clubs

Germans love ‘electro’, particularly deep house music. What this translates to is minimal, thumping 4/4 bass at about 110 BPM (quite slow) with surging undertones that DJs spin together for hours upon hours. And the Germans tanz to it, they tanz to it in a very casual fashion whilst sipping their club mate and vodka. Not that I’m complaining, it creates for a pretty friendly vibe, with everyone dancing with such nonchalance people are often very approachable and friendly on the dance floor, German’s don’t have an issue with socialising with strangers.

The place to go to find this any night of the week is The Goldene Pudel Club. Don’t come here if you’re drunk or obnoxious though, then you should stay at the Reeperbahn. This place is across from the Harbour, covered in graffiti, open late, always.

Other electroclubs include Fundbureau, Nachtasyl, Villa Nova and Waagenbau.

Sternschanze

The Schülterblatt (a street) and the surrounding area is full of bars that vary in quality (see vortrinken) are good to go to earlier in the night to get liquored up. There’s not much to say about this place except that it’s all good except the Schülterblatt itself, which is home to many out of touch people who think that they’re in the coolest place in Hamburg. I say, let them think that. You can come to this area every evening and find a bar.

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