Hamburg: Europe's Cycling Gem

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HOCH ZWEI/Henning Angerer

This port city in Germany is also a sport city. Read more about all the things you can do on two wheels in this modern town.

by Carola Felchner

Throughout the year, popular sporting events take place all over the town on the Elbe river. There is Haspa Hamburg Marathon in April, the ITU World Triathlon in July and—an absolute highlight for cycling enthusiasts—the EuroEyes CYCLASSICS in August. The latter event combines Germany's only pro race (of the highest UCI World Tour category) and Europe's biggest amateur cycling event, with more than 20,000 participants flooding the streets in and around Hamburg.

In 2014 alone, the city invested 11.4 million Euros in cycling infrastructure, and by the beginning of the 2020, bicycles are to account for 25 percent of overall traffic in Hamburg. Sport is most definitely in the genes of this town. For cyclists, Hamburg offers plenty of opportunities for ambitious racers and relaxed commuters alike; Hamburg truly has a heart for any kind of rider. It's very easy to build a cycling holiday around your CYCLASSICS start. 

Hamburg on the bike

Go for a "sightcycle": Cycling paths are built and re-built everywhere so you can pedal in a relaxed manner from sight to sight without having to squeeze yourself into a crammed subway or wait in a traffic jam. There are a few guided tours around the city, like the tour around Alster, or on the trails of classical Hanseatic Hamburg, and through the red light district of Reeperbahn.

Explore the city's surroundings: Beyond the city borders, the best is yet to come. Outside Hamburg there are several signposted cycling tours: Some of which can be ridden in one day, others are intended to be "conquered" in stages. You can ride to the so-called Alte Land, a fruit growing area south of Elbe, to the Alster source in Henstedt-Rhen, or pedal along some of the stages of Elberadweg—a cycling path leading form Sudeten Mountains in Czech Republic to Cuxhaven that covers 1,220 kilometers.

Ride the course: If you are registered for the EuroEyes CYCLASSICS (and even if you aren't), go for a ride on one of many routes that cover parts of the official courses of the CYCLASSICS and Hamburg ITU World Triathlon. You'll find several suggestions on the event's website. Athletes can train on the official race courses as well, each offering a rewarding ride. They will not only stir up anticipation for the event (if you're registered), but—given their start in the middle of Hamburg and routes that follow every compass direction—their scenic beauty and diversity will delight you.

CYCLASSICS 60 (60 km)

The CYCLASSICS 60 leads you west of Hamburg. You'll start between Hamburg's famous lakes, the inner and the outer Alster, and then traverse beyond the city's borders and into the federal country Schleswig-Holstein. On the way back, the Kösterberg hill awaits and you'll also ride past the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's famous night-life-street. Make sure you fully enjoy the route from here on, as countless highlights are waiting on your way to the finish line.

CYCLASSICS 120 (120 km)

The CYCLASSICS 120 leads you southward. After starting directly next to Hamburg's world heritage site, Speicherstadt, you will be crossing another one of Hamburg's famous landmarks—the Köhlbrandbrücke—with its breathtaking view over the harbor of Hamburg. After riding through Hamburg's vicinity, the course takes you back to the heart of the city and the finish straight on the Mönckebergstraße.


The 180 km course combines the CYCLASSICS 60 and CYCLASSICS 120, and leads you past the aforementioned sights. 

Hamburg off the bike

Speaking of sights, Hamburg has loads to offer visitors. Here are some suggestions for how to spend your time out of the saddle.

Budget traveler

Stay: You can book an inexpensive stay at the many hostels in town. A special one is Superbude. There are two of them, but we recommend the St. Pauli one, as long as you don't mind company or travel with a large group of friends try to get Rockstar suite. It features all a (cycling) star needs: a giant fridge, guitar, flat screen TV, HiFi surround system and a bed that rather is a wall-long stage.

Eat: On a budget and want to eat well? Grab a Fischbrötchen (fish bun) at Landungsbrücken! If you are into something more meaty try the customizable burgers of Better Burger Company downtown near Mönckebergstrasse. They are cheap, delicious, and you don't have to wait for ages to get your calorie intake. Vegans get comparatively cheap food at Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant chain that offers a very competitive lunch menu for only 7.90 Euros.

See and do: Planten un Blomen (plants and flowers) park with its Japanese and botanic garden is free and worth a visit. During summer months there are cost-free "water plays" on offer. When the night falls, beautifully illuminated fountains dance to (classic) music.

Throughout Hamburg there are free concerts regularly, for example, in pubs, clubs or in the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (music and drama academy). Check out their website for a list of current events.

Every day at 11 a.m. you can take part in a two-hour tour through historic old town. Watch out for the guide with the yellow umbrella in front of City Hall's main entrance and take advantage of the free history tour.

Purist tourist

Stay: If you want an authentic experience in Hamburg, rent an apartment. There are several websites you can choose from, so surf the internet for a nice flat in Schanzenviertel or St. Pauli if you are into the nightlife scene. Hohenfelde, Uhlenhorst, or Winterhude are great for the quieter athlete, or look for something in the outskirts (Rothenburgsort, Wilhelmsburg) if your main concern is to be out of town with access to cycling paths.

Eat: A typical dish is Labskaus: potatoes, cured beef, beetroot, and fried egg. You can find an excellent one at Restaurant Opitz in Hamburg-Uhlenhorst, only a few steps away from Alster. They focus on traditional Hamburg food, so you'll get some good fish dishes, too. Also be sure to try a Franzbrötchen, a pastry made of brioche or yeast dough and filled with sugar and cinnamon.

See and do: It's not a successful trip without a boat trip through Hamburg port. There are several routes of different lengths, and even some boats that belong to public transport. Just buy a day ticket and cruise Elbe for a good price. Have a look a some beautiful historic ships and boats in Museumshafen Övelgönne, only a short travel from the famous Fischmarkt (fish market). The latter takes place every Sunday and is open from 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. from March to November and 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. from November to March. It's quite crammed and touristy, but a fun mix of people. There's live music (and beer) in the Fischauktionshalle as well.

High-end rider

Stay: When you think of luxury lodging in Hamburg, Atlantic Hotel springs to mind. It is located directly at Außenalster (the bigger part of Alster) and near Hauptbahnhof. The former Grand Hotel is home to German rock veteran Udo Lindenberg and served as a set for films like James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies. It has lost some of its glitter over the years, so most celebrities choose to stay at Vier Jahreszeiten at Binnenalster (smaller part of Alster) directly in the city center. If you want something fancy, book a room at design hotels Side (downtown) or East near Reeperbahn, or enjoy the view over the whole city of Hamburg from noble 20 Up rooftop bar at Empire Riverside hotel tower in St. Pauli.

Eat: If you are into dining with celebrity chefs you can choose from several: delicious sushi by Steffen Henssler in the port area at Henssler & Henssler's. Great meat by Tim Mälzer at Bullerei in Schanzenviertel. Tasty Italian food is served by Cornelia Poletto—there are also 10 Michelin-starred restaurants in Hamburg: The Table in Hafencity or French-Mediterranean Se7en Oceans at Binnenalster are a few of them.

Do: If you want to spend your money on something other than bicycle-related items, go shopping on Große Bleichen (downtown) and Alsterhaus (Binnenalster) where you'll find many luxury brands. If luxurious architecture is more your style visit Blankenese, a town quarter in the West of Hamburg, where you can wander on small paths through noble villas, all with a view of the Elbe.

So what are you waiting for? Register for the CYCLASSICS on August 20, or just grab your bike and feel welcome in a region that breathes sports and lives cycling. We promise you'll feel it with every pedal stroke.

Visit the EuroEyes CYCLASSICS event page for more information.


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