Located in the heart of Hamburg, Eimsbüttel is one of the most densely populated areas of the city – with good reason. It offers plenty of green spaces, great cafés and restaurants, and independent shops that present striking alternatives to high-street fashion. It’s little wonder that the district is a haven for creative types.
Hit the shops
One of Eimsbüttel’s most impressive independent stores is Mili, owned by Sara Bjarnadóttir and her mother Frida. Stocking Scandinavian designers such as Maria Black Jewellery, Wood Wood and Ganni, the boutique offers a carefully curated collection of wardrobe classics. Think silk blouses cut just so, mannish oversized jackets and tissue-thin T-shirts. That the proprietors hail from Iceland is no surprise. The minimalist influence of Nordic culture can be seen in every detail, from the white walls to the plain tables displaying merchandise in a picture-perfect flat lay. If you’re visiting in the summer, take the U-Bahn to Hoheluftbrücke and walk along the Isebek canal to Mili on Klosterallee. It’s a short stroll and you can explore picturesque Mansteinpark on the way back.
Enjoy the scenery
On the subject of outdoor spaces, the Aussenalster, or Outer Alster lake, is a wonderful spot for a picnic or a boat trip. Every May, the Japanese community of Hamburg gathers here for a fantastic display of fireworks in celebration of the cherry blossom festival. It’s a spectacular sight that can be appreciated by everyone, as almost all banks of the Aussenalster are open to the public. With its panoramic views of the Alster river, the large Alsterpark is also a popular spot for joggers and cyclists.
Having worked up an appetite, why not head to one of the many superb restaurants and cafés in the neighbourhood? Hamburg’s proximity to the sea means that the local cuisine is largely fish-based, with crab, herring and eel among the favourites. Visitors looking for some of the finest fresh fish should head to Jellyfish restaurant. Opened in September 2010, it is situated on the edge of the Schanzenviertel beside the Reeperbahn, one of Hamburg’s most popular nightlife zones. The menu here is a tightly edited selection of fish and seafood, with vegetarian and meat dishes available on request.
Jellyfish co-founder Hauke Neubecker, who has lived in the area for the last 25 years, longed for a top seafood restaurant in the neighbourhood for some time. Since no such establishment opened, he decided launch a restaurant himself. He and his business partner Jens Paulsen have created a place with all the quality of a fine-dining establishment but none of the intimidating formality. ‘The last seven years have seen a lot of upmarket restaurants opening in the vicinity,’ says Paulsen. There are still, he adds, plenty of simple eateries and pubs, ‘but in between are some restaurants such as Jellyfish’.
Sit back and relax
Witwenball wine bar and restaurant, which opened two years ago, is another epicurean outlet. Serving a wide range of fine wines and seasonal food made with local produce, it has fast become a favourite with foodies. Co-owner Julia Bode explains that the team chose to open a restaurant in Eimsbüttel, and especially the Weidenallee, ‘because it is in a very central area with a good mix of residential and office buildings’. However, it wasn’t just convenience that persuaded her that this was the place to be. The vibe of Eimsbüttel was a big draw. Eimsbüttel is lively, she explains, ‘and the people here are open-minded and creative, which fits our concept. We love the neighbourhood and we’re blessed with good restaurants such as Juwelier and Jellyfish, and with shops such as Purple Pink, Weide, My Supper, Postel, Morgenthau and Beyond Beer.’
Bode is far from being partisan when she talks of the amazing stores in the area. Purple Pink, for example, is an ode to all things stylish and covetable. Every season, owner Dachar Sontoung sources wares from Copenhagen and styles them into inspiring window displays. Over at Lys Vintage on Eppendorfer Weg, homeware aficionados can browse the latest collections from House Doctor, Skandinavisk and Foxy Potato. The vibe is Pinterest-worthy, with plenty of copper, marble and concrete accents. If Scandi-chic isn’t your style, however, be sure to check out Oak on Osterstrasse for cool streetwear labels. Founded in 2009, it stocks an eclectic range of brands such as Onitsuka Tiger, New Balance and Carhartt.
With such an abundance of retail and restaurant options, the only problem is finding the time to visit them all. Make like a local and hire a Hamburg city bike so that you can cycle along the bike-friendly roads, ticking off each destination at your leisure.