Germany's second largest city, Hamburg, has a population of 1.75 million. It is perfect for long weekends involving the arts, good food, vibrant nightlife and shopping.
Go on a walking tour
To experience the city's popular culture, I decided to join another of Hamburg's walking tours, "Reeperbahn by Night" (â¬12 or Rs 708, Fridays at 8 pm (see www.stattreisen-hamburg.de for more). The guides are knowledgeable and offer good introductions to aspects and districts of the city.
Tomas, the guide, led us through St Pauli -- known locally as the Kiez -- for two hours. The (in)famous Reeperbahn, the 930 metre-long street where rope was once made, is the biggest name in the Kiez.
Eat and drink in style
Hamburg's ever evolving bar and club scene really impressed me. With over 500 venues, it has something for all tastes.
In recent years, Hamburg has quietly acquired a "gastro-city", with restaurants such as Wandrahm (www.wandrahm.de), on the Kaiserkai, and Nil, at the Neue Pferde Markt.
Hamburg's buildings and ongoing construction projects also make it an interesting place for anyone interested in architecture. The waterside Hafen City project covers an expanse of 155 hectares and will change the face of the port. It will host offices and housing for 20,000 people. One of the most ambitious projects in the Hafen City is the Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall). When completed, the Elbphilharmonie will be the port's new landmark.
Go on a harbour cruise
One of the best ways to enjoy Hamburg is by going on a harbour cruise around the quarter known as the Speicherstadt, which is sometimes described as "the world's largest integrated complex of warehouses." Sailing between the red brick warehouses puts the scale of Hamburg's global trade into context.
The city also has some impressive brick architecture, such as the 1920's Chilehaus, one of the Expressionist Kontorhaueser (or counting houses for the city's import-export companies) built from distinctive chocolate-coloured bricks. From one angle it is reminiscent of an ocean liner.
Shoppers can also spend time in the avant garde shops of the Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel, which are good for vintage clothes, independent designer boutiques, hip hop wear, and shoe stores.
Make the most of your time
The Michaeliskirche is a well-known landmark and a symbol of the country. The 82 metre-high tower, with a copper clock face, is the biggest in Germany. Ride a double-decker bus on one of the city tours, which city depart from St Pauli's Landungsbruecken.Go up the the tower of the St. Nikolai Kirche (www.mahnmal-st-nikolai.de). The lift runs from 10 am to 6.30 pm. Take a look at the Bismarck Monument, the city's tallest monument (34.2 m). n Hamburg Museum (www.hamburgmuseum.de) costs â¬7.50 (Rs 440) normally but costs â¬4 (Rs 240) on Fridays. Miniatur Wunderland (www.miniatur-wunderland.de) is the biggest scale model railway exhibition in the world. Over 5,00,000 hours of labour have been invested in creating landscapes with stunning attention to detail.Visit art galleries such as the Deichtorhallen Hamburg (www.deichtorhallen.de) and Hamburg Kunsthalle (www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de).Visit the Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum of Arts and Crafts) (www.mkg-hamburg.de).Tour the Neo-Renaissance Rathaus (town hall). English language tours are held hourly (â¬3 or Rs 177, â¬2 or Rs 118 with Hamburg Card). The Rathaus has 647 rooms, "six more than in Buckingham Palace," according to the city map. Shop at the Sunday Fish Market, which begins at 5 am between March and November, and at 7 am after.
25 Hours Hotel
Tel: +49 (0) 40 855 070
Rooms from â¬105.00 (Rs 6,210). 25 per cent discount for those under 25.