On a Sunday morning in Hamburg, there’s only one place to be. That’s at the Fischmarkt – which translates (quite clearly) in English to fish market. Yes, I’m dedicating an entire blog post to a market that sells fish. Stick with me here…
Because despite its name, the Hamburg Fischmarkt has a lot more to offer than just spoils from the sea. Sure, there are plenty of stallholders selling their fishy wares – but you can also find produce, clothing, homeware, gifts and souvenirs to pick up. As well as the opportunity to drink beer at 8am while dancing to a live rock band in the stunning auction hall space. Pretty awesome, really.
The market takes place every Sunday, from 5am-9.30am in summer at 7am-9.30am in winter. One you need to be up bright and early for, basically. The previous night had been a quiet one, just taking in a night time city tour, so I felt pretty alright when I rolled out of my bed at the Generator hostel at 6.30am. I crept around my sleeping dorm mates, dressing myself and pulling on my coat, and took a short ride on the S-Bahn to Landungsbrücken station. Reeperbahn is actually slightly closer, but I wanted to take a morning stroll along the harbour before leaving, as I’d had limited chance to see it in daylight.
Arriving around 8am, the market was already pretty crowded. It attracts a wide range of visitors, from old ladies grabbing bargains (they know exactly when to buy), young Hamburg professionals stocking up on cheap fruit and veg, and tourists who’ve heard all about the market and want to check it out for themselves.
The market has been running in some format since 1703, and the auction hall itself is more than 100 years old. Even though it now only runs on a Sunday, its popularity hasn’t waned.
At stalls all along the harbour, traders should loudly about their wares, as they add in yet more product to their €10 value bags. It’s riotous and chaotic, but even not being able to understand a word, I revelled in watching the excitement, as vendors out-shouted each other. Seriously, the atmosphere is electric here. Although I didn’t actually make a purchase, I DID nearly buy a €10 bag packed with Milka chocolate, but I’d probably have ended up eating the entire thing on my train to Berlin the next day.
As well as the locals picking up their goodies and tourists taking in the atmosphere, another crowd that flock to the Fischmarkt are the all-night partiers from the night before. Rolling up to the harbour with just enough energy left, they’ll be found at the very front of the indoor market hall, moshing away to the old-man rock band that were playing classic covers on the day of my visit.
Meanwhile, older visitors perch on tables along balconies, watching the morning excitement below them. I snaked my way to the bar and picked up a beer – just a half pint, with it being 8am and all – and spent some time just experiencing the fun of the room. Many of the partiers and visitors will grab themselves a ‘Fischbrötchen’ (fish sandwich). Unfortunately, my British sensibilities just couldn’t stretch to eating actual, proper fish for breakfast (smoked salmon doesn’t count). Maybe next time, eh?
If you’re in Hamburg on a Sunday morning, the Fischmarkt is definitely worth your time. It’s a local institution, a really fun experience and the chance to drink beer before you’ve even had brekkie. What’s not to like?!
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