Hamburg is one of those cities that has never been one of my travel priorities. I had never considered visiting it except when I was living in Copenhagen (check out the Denmark posts here), from where, it is possible get it driving for five hours. I recalled the stories of a dear friend of mine who had spent some time in Saint Pauli many years ago. He had told me about this place as a location as charming as dangerous. Was it still like that? Was it worth a visit? My friend’s stories had intrigued me, I would have had a weekend in Hamburg based in Saint Pauli!
What is the origin of Saint Pauli bad reputation?
The district, from a historical point of view, has always represented a kind of “outside the walls area”. It was dedicated to receiving everything that, those who lived in the city of Hamburg, did not want to see. During the 16th century, Hamburg’s hill named “Hamburger Berg” was used for military exercises and a few years later the area hosted all those noisy and polluting industrial activities. Also, in 1604 the district was seat of the Lazzaretto where the plague patients were brought. Only later the urban conformation become the current one that fully preserves its vocation : an out-of-the-ordinary area. After the war the entertainment industry grew, the Beatles performed in St. Pauli and the German punk movement found its headquarters in the district.
What about Saint Pauli today?
Strolling through the streets of Saint Pauli today is not walking in the Hamburg downtown. Neighborhoods have always their own life and identity that they can’t ignore from the past. The history of this neighborhood is breathed in the air during the day – with its bizarre architecture and the dull signs of the nightclubs – and especially during the night when a river of young people come out of the city walls in search of an alternative night, boisterous at times transgressive.
Is the district safe?
During my 3 days in Hamburg based in Saint Pauli there was no time when I didn’t feel safe. I visited the neighborhood, the clubs it hosts, I had lunch and dinner in this area and I was around at any time both on foot and by public transport. I think it is enough to take the right precautions that a tourist takes in a place that does not know just for the fact of being a tourist.
How to get St. Pauli
When you arrive at Hamburg Airport you can go to the info point which is really useful, and the operators are very nice. In any case every 10 minutes the combination train S1 and Metro U3 will take you to the metro station of st. Pauli. I preferred a direct route so I continued by train to Landungsbrocken station and then walked 600m to the Reeperbahn.
The Arcotel Onix Hamburg hotel is located right at the beginning of the Reeperbahn just a short walk from the yellow U3 metro line. The hotel is really nice with spacious rooms with a small drink corner. The strange thing is that the shower is in a different room from the toilet. A really brand new structure that I would recommend.
The downtown of Hamburg
The website Hamburg.com include all the information needed to visit the downtown, where to go and what to see:
- Foodies and fish lovers cannot miss the fish market at Kreuzfahrtterminal;
- Shopping lover will find in Hamburg something to make their day worthwhile: along the Mönckebergstrasse there are mall-like establishments such as Europa Passage as well as department stores like Karstadt;
- The impressive Rathaus (City Hall) is Hamburg’s seat of government;
- Landungsbrücken Piers with its spectacular views;
Dining and clubbing in St. Pauli
St. Pauli is really full of any kind of bar and restaurant. I have been to East Restaurant a fantastic place that I must suggest. The location is really cool with a cocktail bar from where you will get in the dinner area downstairs. Prices are a little high, but quality of the food follows along nicely!
My weekend in Hamburg based in St. Pauli
Hamburg is a such beautiful city and I was lucky to visit it. The center is neat and clean with many things to see and beautiful places to visit. Saint Pauli is particular but with a very strong identity and I am sure it worth a visit. I believe that if you are thinking about few days in this fantastic city you are doing the right thing, you will be pleasantly impressed!