Hamburg for Kindergardeners

Travel guide. Maritime heritage sites. When I go on research trips or attend conferences in interesting places, I usually take along my family. A couple of days ago, we went to Hamburg. Our three-year-old son had two and a half days to explore the city and here is what we did.

First of all, in a maritime city like Hamburg you have to get on a ship or a boat as soon as you’re there. We chose a simple, touristy harbour tour starting from the famous St Pauli Landungsbrücken which introduced us to the fascinating world and workings of modern sea-borne container shipping. We came close to some pretty big ocean giants and our son happily played the captain.

To deepen the maritime experience, we visited the International Maritime Museum. This gigantic museum, located in the listed Kaispeicher B, invites its visitors on a journey through the history of seafaring in all its facets. On an overall of 9 “decks”, you are introduced to themes such as Navigation and Discovery, the Age of Sail, Shipbuildig, Historic Costumes and Weapons, World Shipping or Marine Exploration. Under non-Corona conditions, the museum would have offered hands-on activities for kids such as dressing up as pirates. In autumn 2021, this was still not possible. Nevertheless, there were features on every deck inspiring the playful spirit of a three-year old, e.g. the life-size puppets representing the prisoners-of-war who built the famous bone ship models of the Napoleonic Wars…

It didn’t take much to become an actual pirate, though. Just a few hundred metres away from the IMM, also located in the Hafencity, you can find the wonderful Grasbrook Park Playground which, among many other attractions, features a large wooden pirate ship and a wooden treasure island for climbers. Babies, toddlers, kindergardeners or school kids – everyone will find what their heart desires. Particularly hip: In summer, the ship is surrounded by an actual water pool!

Another playground worth while visiting is Planten un Blomen in the city centre featuring, for example, a giant volcano with several slides.

Finally, our animal-loving son enjoyed exploring one of the world’s oldest and most (in)famous* zoos, Hagenbeck’s Tierpark. Some of the spectacular highlights of the Tierpark are the fantastic Ice Sea, featuring walruses and polar bears; the Sumatra Orang-Utang rain forest (I think that all great apes should live in some kind of forest!) ; and, of course, the entire Tropical Aquarium inviting you into a world of its own with freely-roaming lemurs, a big shark atoll and a see of crocodiles.

That’s all that we could manage in the short amount of time that we had. What we’ll have to come back for:

  • A visit of the famous opera house Elbphilharmonie featuring the world’s largest escalator and a stunning view of the city.
  • The Kids Museum Kl!ck featuring a children’s building site and hands-on exhibitions about the Stone Age, granny’s everyday world or our body.

Further information

For further things to do in Hamburg visit:

*Hagenbeck is infamous for its turn-of-the-century “Völkerschauen” (“people exhibitions”).

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