Water dominates Hamburg's landscape, from the industrial shores of the Elbe River to two lakes, the Binnenalster and the Aussenalster, created by the damming of the river. Numerous tributaries and canals run through the city, which has more than 2,400 bridges (more than London, Amsterdam, and Venice combined). The best way to take it all in?Walk along the Elbe from Museumshafen to Teufelsbrück, scoping out busy ports and huge container vessels. The Strandperle (Am Schulberg; 49-40/880-1112) is a classic spot for a cocktail or a pint of Alsterwasser, a local brew that blends beer and lemon soda.
Hamburg designers are flourishing in up-and-coming neighborhoods. Cheeky couturiers have moved into Eppendorf, while edgy ready-to-wear designers gather in the Schanzen and Karolinen quarter, a former punk enclave gone high (or at least higher) style. Many get their start within the old city limits at Kleidermacher (1-3 Michaelisbrücke; 49-40/3751-8787), a collective in Neustadt that currently nourishes 12 artists who create funky super-graphics and outrageous feathered concoctions.
In Eppendorf: Najla Razai (21 Neuer-ABC-Strasse; 49-40/4607-0697) designs gowns and wedding dresses in the same ornate fabrics—metallics and laser-cut chiffon—as those favored by John Galliano, but at a fraction of the price. Look for Birke Breckwoldt's hats (think Ascot with attitude) in the same shop.
In the Schanzen and Karolinen quarter: The paint's barely dry on the walls of Garment (25 Marktstrasse; 49-40/410-8403), the new store from Kleidermacher alums Kathrin Müller and Ullinca Schröder. Their 40's-cut dresses are made from modern photo-print fabrics. Tobias Jopp and Stefan Harm of FKK (114 Schulterblatt; 49-40/430-3116) look to the eighties for inspiration, fashioning men's suits and women's dresses in bold neon and graffiti patterns.
ON THE TOWN
Hamburg lacked an after-hours scene worthy of its stylish inhabitants until Bar Hamburg (6—8 Rautenbergstrasse ; 49-40/2805-4880) sparked a power lounge revolution with chocolate leather sofas and wenge wood details. But its star was recently dimmed by Bereuther (100 Klosterallee; 49-40/4140-6789), a restaurant-bar packed with models, artists, media moguls, and designers.
The buzzing throng at Die Welt ist Schön (4 Neuer Pferdemarkt; 49-40/4018-7888), literally translated as "The World Is Nice," often spills out of the Eames-style lounge into the David Hockney-inspired garden.
The place to dance all night is in the Kiez, especially Gum Club (13 Hamburger Berg; no phone), a hot spot where the only thing more fashionable than the surroundings is the people.