Never in my life have I set an alarm for 6.30am to attend a market. Nor have I ever set an alarm for 6.30am to attend a live music gig. Incredibly, on a Sunday of all days, this is a common theme across Hamburg.
The Fischmarkt is a huge deal. A big market held by the docks closest to Landungsbrücken U-bahn station featuring coffee, meat, honey, clothing, fruit and veg and of course – fish.
With it being January in Hamburg, the chill whipping in off the river Elbe was biting. We braved the icy stroll in the dark with a handful of other people wondering what on earth we were letting ourselves in for.
As we approached the market, we could see a large row of stalls. Many stalls offer hot drinks such as coffee and hot chocolate for a very decent price, some as low as €1. Fish, as expected, was prominent throughout the market both fresh and in the famous sandwiches known as Fischbroetchen.
We stopped at an unnamed stall displaying different types of fish combinations in sandwiches. Of the fillings available you could have shrimp, herring, backfish and calamari amongst others. Even fish and chips were available in portions.
I chose a Fischfrikadellen, a fishcake that seemed to be very popular with customers gathered around the stall eating at the standing tables. The sandwich was taken from the display and the fishcake was transferred to a fryer to cook through and be served hot and fresh.
The sandwich then is topped with cucumber, tomato and lettuce with a choice of garlic or herb sauce. The vendors all spoke really good English which is a relief when it’s early morning, freezing cold and you have forgotten how to speak German momentarily.
My fish sandwich looked majestic, warm and inviting on such a cold day. A huge blob of garlic mayonnaise completed the look. These sandwiches are very tasty and justifiably famous in Hamburg. A crunchy, flavourful fishcake and fresh garnishes were the perfect match. The breakfast of champions.
It’s worth coming to this market just to watch the vendors try to sell their products. Many opt for humorous displays of bag-filling by stuffing a bag full of fruit and veg and shouting at people to buy it. This style of pitching always draws a crowd.
Going past most stalls you will hear “LECKER,LECKER,LECKER!” which means “delicious,delicious,delicious!” simple but effective. There are no vendors pressuring a sale and everyone is relaxed and happy. It’s a pleasure to walk around the market.
Inside the old Fischmarkt Halle, the old market hall, there is an impromptu knees-up happening. Yes, there really is beer and rock music to be enjoyed. It’s an incredible idea and everyone in the building was up for having a great time.
We got a half of Pilsner each (€3.50 plus €1 deposit for each glass) and sat at one of the large communal benches while eating some doughnuts that we had bought outside. The band called ‘Klar’ sang their way through classic hits such as ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and ‘Wonderwall’, very good they were too.
Up above the stage is a balcony area featuring a restaurant area. You do need to be eating in order to stand on the balcony. Downstairs there is plenty of food to be enjoyed with your beer or even gluhwein. Waffles were incredibly popular as were bratwursts in a bun. All at a reasonable price.
With the darkness outside, you can easily confuse this for an actual night gig. It really does play with your mind. We loved the band and watching people dancing the morning away to their songs. This is one of the most unique events we have ever done abroad. You can’t miss this.
It’s a strange moment when you exit the building and your watch reads 10am but it’s so worth the early rise. The Fischmarkt is one of Hamburg’s best attractions by far. Yes it’s hard getting up at such a time but once you’re here, you’ll be glad that you did.
Opening Times: 1st April-31st October 0500-0930 (Sundays only)
1st November-31st March 0700-0930 (Sundays only)Fischmarkt
Nearest U-bahn Station: Landungsbrücken