Not far from the city centre, up river along the fashionable Grosse Elbstrasse, lies a fascinating ensemble of simple industrial structures and beautiful contemporary buildings. Here visitors can enjoy views of the river and the huge container ships from the futuristic-looking Dockland, an office block shaped like the bow of a ship that juts out over the Elbe at a height of 40 metres.
Further along the Elbe in Övelgönne, historical ships from the lightship to the steam-powered icebreaker are on display in the tranquil museum harbour. The whole places has a captivating charm about it, with lovingly restored captains' houses and harbour pilots' houses as well as enchanting restaurants serving Hamburg specialities such as 'pan fish'. Also highly recommended is a visit to Strandperle, a bar and a Hamburg institution on the Elbe beach in Övelgönne.
Fringed by sandy hillsides, one of the most picturesque sections of the Elbe riverbank stretches from Teufelsbrück all the way to Blankenese, and is best explored on the popular Elbe walking trail. Teufelsbrück is home to a small marina, the Engel restaurant out on the boardwalk of the ferry dock, and neo-classical Jenisch House, which gives a glimpse into upper-middle class domestic life during the Biedermeier period. The house is surrounded by Jenisch park, a landscaped park where visitors can take a relaxing walk or call in at Ernst Barlach Haus to see works by the Hamburg Expressionist sculptor.
Further to the west, Hamburg begins to feel almost like Italy – in the idyllic hillside district of Blankenese, where steps lead down to the river Elbe, passing by pretty little fishermen's houses and grand villas. The combination of beautiful scenery, luxury villas and maritime charm makes this former fishing village an excellent destination for day trips at any time of year. The views from here of the glistening waters of the Elbe are truly breathtaking, especially from the outlook on Kanonenberg hill. The Blankenese 'Oberfeuer', a 40-metre-tall lighthouse, has been guiding incoming ships from here since 1984.
No trip to Blankenese is complete without exploring Hirschpark, where you can grab a bite to eat at the thatched restaurant Witthüs or sit back and relax under the tall lime trees. Another must is a meal at one of Blankenese's gourmet establishments. The restaurant terraces at Louis C. Jacob and Seven Seas on Süllberg hill provide unparalleled river views to accompany an exquisite meal prepared in a Michelin-starred kitchen.