Kick off your weekend with a hearty breakfast to keep you going until lunch.
10:00 Head to Café Paris (about £8 for mains) – yes, it might have a French name in a German city and be famous for serving a mean Full English, but this venue is a landmark.
Ask any local and they’ll point you in this direction, as it’s reputed to do the best breakfasts in town.
Expect it to be busy, though.
11:00 Make your way to Hamburg’s pretty port, where you can watch the huge trade ships coming and going.
This site, called HafenCity, is undergoing major development to replace the old port warehouses with hotels, shops and restaurants overlooking the waterfront.
It’s not yet complete but there’s plenty already open.
13:00 Once you’ve had a look around, try the cosy and casual Langnese Café Unileverhaus (mains from £3.50; Strandkai 1, Unilever Haus, HafenCity; tel. 00 49 40 360 90 80 1), which does tasty vegan and vegetarian sandwiches as well as a renowned selection of creamy ice creams.
14:00 Suitably refreshed, dip a toe into Hamburg’s booming arts scene and wander around the impressive Hamburger Kunsthalle.
There are two buildings – one old and one new – linked by an intriguing underground passage, so you can happily spend a few hours here exploring.
As well as some classic Renaissance works on display, there are plenty of big contemporary hitters, including pieces of Andy Warhol’s pop art.
16:00 Finish the sightseeing part of your weekend with superb views over the city from the top of St Nikolai church (entry £2.50; Ost-West-Strasse; tel. 00 49 4037 1125).
It was the world’s tallest building in the 1800s, but now houses a Second World War memorial.
More interesting is taking a ride in the glass-walled lift that goes up to the 75m viewing platform. Only for the brave.
18:00 Hamburg is famous for its seafood, so splash out on some of the city’s finest at Fischereihafen (mains from £7) where you’ll be seated in a maritime-themed dining room that overlooks the River Elbe.
Wander inside the Oyster Bar, an American-themed space housed inside a former wardrobe and public phone booth.
20:00 You’re in just the right place to explore Hamburg’s famously seedy-but-cool district, the Reeperbahn.
This is where the Beatles played in the early Sixties and the clubs they used to rock out in are still going strong.
Catch a local up-and-coming band at INDRA (Große Freiheit 64, 22767 Hamburg), which proudly proclaims it was the first venue the Liverpudlians played at in Germany.
11:00 Before heading home, check out the Beatles-Platz (crossroads of Große Freiheit and Reeperbahn).
It’s paved to look like a vinyl record and has statues of the Fab Four, plus original members Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe.
10:00 If you were out partying until the wee hours, you’ve earned yourself a lie-in.
Opt to do it at Instant Sleep Backpacker hostel (from £11 for a dorm bed), which has bright, comfortable rooms.
There are plenty of cheap cafes to grab breakfast nearby, so mop up your hangover with eggs on toast at Bedford Café (mains from £6; 72 Schulterblatt, 20357 Hamburg; tel. 00 49 40 4318 8332).
11:00 Visit Hamburg’s most famous building, the iconic Rathaus (tours £2.50; Rathausmarkt Altstadt).
This is where, in 1945, the Nazi commander-in-chief General Woltz surrendered Hamburg to the Allied Forces.
A guided tour takes 40 minutes and is well worth doing.
12:00 Hamburg has more waterways and bridges than Venice, and the best way to explore them is by boat.
So hop on board one of the Alster cruises (£16pp), which take about two hours.
14:00 You’ll be in need of refuelling, so grab lunch at the quirky Fleetschlossen (mains from £4; Brooktorkai 17; tel. 00 404930393 210), which does top-value sandwiches.
16:00 To ramp up the kitsch factor even more, drop into the Condomeries (Spielbudenplatz 18, 20359 Hamburg; tel. 00 49 403193100), a bizarrely popular shop filled with flavoured condoms and weird sex toys.
Pick up a few souvenirs or just have a gawp.
17:00 Go for a late afternoon ice-skating session at the beautiful Indoo Eisarena (£3.60; Stephansplatz, Neustadt, 20355 Hamburg; tel. 00 49 40 4102 200 919), which is open at Planten un Blomen between October and March each year.
19:00 Finish off your weekend with a warming feed at this traditional hamburger kuche (or kitchen), Sprinkenhof (Burchardstr. 8, 20095 Hamburg; tel. 00 49 4033 5185).
Fly direct from London Heathrow to Hamburg for £164 return with British Airways
Photos: Martin Brinckmann; Getty; Thinkstock