The very well-heeled town of Blankenese (permanent population just over 13,400) is dubbed the “Pearl of the Elbe,” (the river on which it’s located), and is a perfect – and very close-in – spot for an elegant stroll. Half an hour by public transport from Hamburg city centre, its luxurious homes are straight out of a design magazine, a far cry from what was once a fishing village of thatched huts.
To get here, you can take either the S-Bahn (Underground train) or bus number 36, enjoying the stunning beauty of the landscape along the way. When you arrive, you will be greeted by perfect houses facing perfect water and sand, with lush greenery as a backdrop. An immaculate place if ever there was one, where everything is simply beautiful. Not surprisingly, one of the loveliest hiking trails in Germany is the one that runs along the banks of the River Elbe to Blankenese.
With a Germanic history dating back to the mid-12th century, today Blankenese stands out for many things, among them the fact that just south is the widest point of the river (2.8 km/nearly two miles wide), which makes for lots of options for watery leisure activities (as well as an impressive views of the factory an eyeful of the local Airbus factory!).
But for many visitors, a main reason to spend an afternoon in this bucolic town is the Treppenviertel (“Stair District”), thus named because its beautiful houses are connected in a rather unusual way – the stairs go down to the river between colourful homes and well-tended gardens. Another typical Blankenese feature is the Bergziegen (mountain goats), small buses capable of sliding down the steep and narrow streets that make up this picture-perfect quarter.
There are many more reasons to visit Blankenese, one of them being its centre, of small shops, coffee houses, bakeries and select restaurants. Its marketplace is a meeting point for tourists and locals alike, all the livelier because the people of Hamburg and surroundings have a well-deserved reputation for being friendly.
Other attractions beyond the center include incredible views. Lighthouse buffs are in luck, as the riverside town boasts no less than two, one of which may be visited. There’s also an ancient Roman complex with an open-air amphitheatre where performances are staged in summer; a museum of dolls, the Puppenmuseum Falkenstein; pleasant river beaches; and lots of parks and beautiful gardens. One of those green spaces is the Hirschgarten Blankenese, known as the deer park. For even more nature, half an hour’s walk from the centre of the village is the Waldpark Falkenstein, a magnificent forest reserve where everything is calm and beautiful and you can stroll serenaded by birdsong.
It seems obvious that spending a day, or at least an afternoon, enjoying this special corner of Germany – as beautiful (if not more) as Hamburg itself – is a must when visiting the area. As Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote, “Beauty is even harder to explain than happiness.” Fly to Hamburg, bask in that beauty, and leave room for Blankenese – the icing on the cake.
More info: Hamburg-Travel.com.