Hamburg is often referred to as Germany’s sporting capital, and for good reason. As the second largest city in the country and the eighth largest in the European Union, Hamburg packs more than its fair share of successful sports clubs and organisations into its city limits. From football to rowing and handball to hockey, there is something for every sports fan here – as well as a tasty traditional dish to match. We’ve paired some of Hamburg’s best sporting experiences with their ideal culinary counterparts, so you can make sure your stomach is lined and ready for the big game.
Hamburg is home to two well-known football clubs: Hamburger SV and the FC Pauli. The former is a name that needs no introduction for football fans. HSV is one of the top teams in the Bundesliga, which holds the accolade of being the top football league in the world in terms of attendance. An average of 45,000 fans turned out to each game in the 2011-12 season, cheering their team on as they continued to solidify their place as one of the most successful teams in Germany.
So you’re in Hamburg, watching Hamburger SV…what are you going to eat? You guessed it. There’s no better time or place to sample an authentic hamburger. And if you want to really fit in with the locals, hold the bun – unlike their American namesakes, these ground meat patties are traditionally enjoyed with potatoes and vegetables rather than bread and fries.
Once you’re fed, watered and hoarse from cheering on your team, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a comfortable place to rest up afterwards. If you’re lucky enough to hold a match ticket to a game at the 57,000-capacity Imtech Arena (also known as Volksparkstadion, or simply the Hamburg Arena), jump on the nearby train for the fast half-hour ride to the Radisson Blu Hotel, Hamburg. Conveniently located within easy reach of both the airport and the city, this well-equipped hotel has everything you need to relax and revitalise after a day supporting one of Europe’s leading teams.
You may not instantly associate Germany with ice hockey. However, the German Ice Hockey League, or ‘DEL’, boasts the highest number of players from the USA and Canada outside North America. So where better to catch a glimpse of this unlikely new German pastime than in the country’s sporting capital?
Originally known as the Munich Barons, the team now reborn as the Hamburg Freezers relocated to their new home city in 2002. Since then, the average attendance at each game has tripled and the team is a regular feature in the DEL playoffs. The Freezers are yet to win a league title, making the competition – particularly with arch rivals Eisbaren Berlin – all the more fierce.
Now the important part – how are you going to fuel that competitive fire when supporting the Freezers? For a start, keep yourself from freezing on the sidelines by filling your stomach with some hearty local soup or stew. Traditional ‘Aalsuppe’ is often mistakenly translated as ‘eel soup’, but in fact the name refers to the word ‘all’, meaning this tasty offering can contain anything and everything. Or for something a bit more solid, try the local Labskaus, a warming mixture of corned beef, mashed potatoes and beetroot.
Anyone for tennis? The people of Hamburg certainly are, with the city being home to Germany’s largest court. Centre Court at Am Rothenbaum holds 13,300 spectators, and plays host to the Hamburg Masters tournament, also known as the German Open Tennis Championships. If you missed the boat on the Wimbledon ticket ballot then this one’s for you, being held in July just after the famous British tournament. Roger Federer currently holds the record for the most singles titles in the Hamburg Open – but will one of his younger challengers take the title this year?
A trip to the tennis is also the perfect excuse to line your stomach with some of the region’s best-known tasty treats. Sweet-toothed travellers should save the strawberries and cream for Wimbledon, however – Hamburg has its own array of deliciously tempting deserts. For a local slice of summer, try the Rote Grütze, a pudding made mostly from berries and served with cream. Or sample the regional dessert pastry known as Franzbrötchen, comparable to a type of croissant with a cinnamon and sugar filling.
Has this left you feeling hungry for a visit to Hamburg? Head to Germany and experience it all for yourself!