Hamburg - The Gateway to the World

Prices from £1,615


20 Jun 2020 - 23 Jun 2020
Duration: 3 nights
Ref: 20HAMB
With: Thomas Abbott


Prices from £1,615
Single Supplement: £195
Deposit: £200

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Fondly referred to by residents as ‘Gateway to the World’, Hamburg is Germany’s largest port and second largest city. It is defined by its proximity to the water, the Elbe river courses through its heart, dividing itself up into a network of smaller waterways and canals that meander through the urban landscape. Indeed, the water is the lifeblood of the city and the people of Hamburg have much to thank it for. A member of the powerful mediaeval Hanseatic League trading network, subsequent centuries of maritime commerce have endowed the city with lasting prosperity. This, coupled with a long history of self-governance, has meant Hamburg has always been able to invest in bold architecture befitting of its status. From the charming canal-side examples of traditional Hamburg architecture in the Deichstrasse, to an architectural flowering in the early 20th century that saw the distinctive Brick Expressionist style flourish, here is a city that cares for its appearance. This is matched by a vibrant cultural scene; fabulous museums, galleries and the recently opened Elbphilharmonie, a glittering tribute to music designed by ‘starchitects’ Herzog & de Meuron, prove that investment in the arts is very much a Hamburg concern. Join Tom Abbott on this new Art Pursuits Abroad tour, a jubilant exploration of this exciting and noble city.


“Hamburg’s successful history of maritime trade means it is home to some of the world’s most astonishing architectural treasures, most notably the Elbphilharmonie – an extraordinary icon representing the city’s ongoing architectural ambitions.”

Tom Abbott is an independent art and architectural historian. He graduated in Psychology and Art History at Carleton College, Minnesota, and studied at the Louvre School of Art History in Paris. He is a specialist in architectural history from the Baroque to the 20th. In 1987 he moved to Berlin leading tours mainly in Germany, specialising in the German capital.


Mid-morning flight from London Heathrow to Hamburg. Transfer by private coach to Jenischpark in Hamburg, the city’s oldest landscaped park. There are three wonderful small museums located in the park grounds and we will be able to spend some time in each. The first, the Neoclassical Jenisch House, functions as the Museum for Art and Culture on the Elbe and is filled with elegant art and furnishings in the Empire and Biedermeier styles. The Ernst Barlach House is dedicated to the work of the Expressionist artist and printmaker and houses an impressive collection of his works and drawings. Finally, the Bargheer Museum celebrates the life and work of Eduard Bargheer, the 20th century painter and printmaker who was also linked to the German Expressionist movement. We travel on by coach to our four star hotel and after some time to settle in, we enjoy an evening meal together.


Morning excursion to Bremen. The city’s position on the Weser River made it an important centre for maritime trade and this is reflected in the handsome buildings found in Bremen’s historic centre. A walking tour of the area will take in many of these, the ornate Gothic town hall and the unusual Böttcherstrasse – a street designed in the Expressionist style – are particularly impressive. We continue to the Kunsthalle Bremen, were we will spend some time exploring the treasures of the collection, highlights include major works by Impressionist Max Liebermann and Paula Modersohn-Becker, an important figure in the development of the Expressionist style. After lunch we travel on to Worpswede, an artists’ colony established at the end of the 19th century. Founder and Art Nouveau painter Fritz Mackensen was joined by a number of artists and architects and many of their homes and studios have been preserved as museums and galleries. Return to Hamburg for an evening at leisure.


After breakfast we set out from the hotel on foot to explore the historic architecture of Hamburg. Of particular interest will be the city’s Kontorhaus district, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was developed in the early 20th century under the direction of urban planner Fritz Schumacher. Breathtakingly statuesque buildings, such as the ship-like Chilehaus, stand as exceptional examples of Brick Expressionist architecture. Of course, Hamburg was able to invest in such development thanks to a successful history of maritime trade and we will explore this in greater detail in the city’s Maritime Museum. The afternoon reveals further architectural treasures. The Elbphilharmonie, opened in 2017, is a shining glass example of Hamburg’s continuing architectural ambitions, while St Michael’s Church is considered to be one of the finest Hanseatic baroque churches in existence. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner together.


A morning in the Kunsthalle Hamburg will be split into two sessions, delving first into collections spanning the German Mediaeval period to the 18th century, and then from the work of Caspar David Friedrich – the museum is home to his iconic Wanderer above the Sea of Fog – to the contemporary. After lunch in the museum café, a relaxing afternoon boat cruise along the Elbe River is the perfect way to round off our tour and bid farewell to the city that has hosted us. Transfer by coach to Hamburg airport for an early evening flight to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £1615 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £195
'No flights' price: £1415
Deposit: £200


  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Hamburg
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • Three nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Renaissance Hotel, Hamburg
  • Two dinners and two lunches
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters


With modern design and a central location, the Renaissance Hamburg Hotel encourages creativity and exploration in equal measure. You'll find the hotel in the historic Broscheks building in the heart of the city, just steps away from landmarks including Jungfernstieg and Hamburg Harbour. Beautifully refurbished rooms and suites boast superb design and amenities such as plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer and high-speed Internet.