Last weekend I was lucky enough to take a short break to one of my increasingly favourite countries, Germany. This time I went to visit Hamburg, a large port city in the North of the country.

It’s great for exploring by foot, with most of the areas being pedestrianised. There are also designated cycle routes all around the city, which I took advantage of by cycling around the Alster on a red city bike (free for the first half an hour, it’s a great incentive to get people to ditch their cars). I love a city that has water everywhere, and Hamburg didn’t disappoint. From the docklands, to the canals and the river running through the middle, it’s a beautiful place to spend a long weekend.

Hamburg is known as a green city, especially after being named ‘Green City of Europe’ in 2011. This was most likely due to the development of Hafencity, an entire district built from scratch on the site of the old free port. The work began on this space during 1990’s and is now home to super smart office blocks, apartments and cafes. Only last month the Elbphilharmonie opened it’s doors, a huge new building home to two concert halls and a hotel. But what’s most important about this new district is that place making and the incorporation of green space has certainly not been overlooked. With quirky street furniture and grassy areas, it’s a space I’d love to return to in the warmer months for a day of drinking coffee and people watching.

Sadly, being only the start of February, the weather was pretty bleak. However, I was still able to appreciate how many trees populated the streets and could imagine the contrast during the Summer. Roadside verges have been greened at every opportunity, improving the aesthetics of the vistas and helping towards increasing the biodiversity in the city and reaching their co2 emission reduction targets.

Overall, I think Hamburg has done a fantastic job at creating a city where you always want to be outside and use the space. Cafes and bars have outside heaters and blankets for customers, and the locals are not afraid to make the most of their parks for exercising, no matter how chilly! It sets a great example for utilising space and place making for regeneration in cities across the world