Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and the country's biggest port. Between the fish dishes on almost every menu and the seagulls flying overhead, it's hard to forget you're near the water when you're in Hamburg. The city has been a major player since it joined the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages, though more recent history focuses more on the Beatles. Hamburg is unlike any other city in Germany, and there are many ways to enjoy what this maritime hub has to offer in just 48 hours.
Day 1: If you're in Hamburg on a Sunday, wake up early and visit the famous 300-year-old fish market, where you can find fish straight off the boat. It's open at 5am on Sundays most of the year, but from mid-November to mid-March the market opens at 7am. Afterwards visit the harbor that has shaped the city and played such an important role in its history. Take a walk along the piers (Landungsbrücken) to see the variety of ships that make use of Hamburg's port. It's Europe's second largest port, so there's always a lot going on. For a closer look, hop on one of the harbor tour boats and see the port from the water. To see the city from a different angle, go to St. Michaelis Kirche and enjoy the views of Hamburg from the top of the bell tower.
Later in the day, head over to Reeperbahn in Hamburg's red light district. Nearby on Große Freiheit you can soak up a little Beatles history with some club hopping at the different venues where the Beatles performed early in their career, such as Kaiserkeller and Indra Club. Also check out the new Beatles Square at the corner of Reeperbahn and Große Freiheit, and the nearby Beatlemania Museum. If the slight seediness of the red light district isn't your thing, explore this area for its Beatles history during the day instead.
Day 2: Start your day in Speicherstadt, Hamburg's historic warehouse district. Cobblestone streets and various waterways lead you through 100 year old warehouses, some of which now contain museums. Spend some time in Miniatur Wunderland, one of the most popular attractions in Hamburg. It houses the largest model railway in the world, along with several model villages, cities, and even an elaborate model airport. Other museums in the warehouse district include a spice museum and the Hamburg Dungeon.
Next make your way to Kunsthalle near the main train station where you will find more than 700 years of European art history on display. In the center of the city, admire the Hamburg Rathaus (city hall) from the market square. The ornate building was built in the late 1800s several decades after the one before it burned to the ground in a fire. If you're here in December, you will find a Christmas market in the square. You can shop until your wallet is empty in the nearby Alster Arkaden shopping district. At the end of the day, find dinner or hang out at a bar in the Schanzenviertel section of town where you will find plenty of restaurants and pubs. As an alternative have dinner at Dialog in the Dark in Speicherstadt where you will get a glimpse of what it's like to be blind.