Without a doubt I can say that Hamburg is Europe’s party capital and the Reeperbahn is the place to be when the night comes. There are so many bars, clubs, cabarets, burlesque shows, and party places on and around the Reeperbahn that it is impossible not to find something on your taste. Reeperbahn is not only the place with the best nightlife in Hamburg where the locals come to have a good time but also a fascinating place to visit for tourists.
Reeperbahn is also Hamburg’s red-light district, with plenty of specialised shops, strip bars and other types of establishments that attract a particular type of clientele. No wonder that the Reeperbahn is offend referred to the mile of sin. You should know that in Germany the sex industry is legalised and regulated by the government.
Recently I visited city for the Reeperbahn festival, and I had four days to discover wat makes Hamburg the best party destination in Europe. St Pauli is the party hub of Hamburg, a neighbourhood that doesn’t seem to sleep, with events going on by day and by night. The parties go on until the early hours of the mornings and, on Sundays, often finish at the fish market which opens at 5AM.
With so many entertainment venues spread around St Pauli, as a first-time visitor to Hamburg it might be hard to identify which are the best clubs on the Reeperbahn. But no worries, I have put this list together for you after I have personally tested some fantastic nightclubs around the Reeperbahn.
Mojo Club is probably one of Hamburg’s best nightclubs that has quite the history behind it. First opened in 1989, Mojo became fast one of Hamburg’s leading clubs for the best nightlife in the city. Focusing on soul, dancefloor jazz and electronic music, the club became quickly the place to be seen at.
The club closed down in 2003 to make space for a new building. With this occasion Mojo Club was completely rebuilt in the underground, with a futuristic design and a unique architecture focused on the public enjoying the music without distractions. The building is centred around the dance floor, where both the public and the musicians share the same space.
Mojo is famous for the amazing parties and innovative ideas it puts on, such as the toilet DJ. Yes, you’ve read that right, sometimes there is a DJ mixing in the toilets, so you don’t have to step away from the music when you take a break to go to the loo.
Molotow is a proper music institution in Hamburg, with cheap drinks and great concerts. After it moved a few times, you can find Molotow at the west end of the Reeperbahn, spread on three floors, with different gigs on each one.
Molotow is a cheap club that organises fantastic parties and concerts, encouraging newcomer bands to play on their premises. Mumford & Sons and the Killers played here before they became famous.
Molotow is one of the best clubs in Hamburg where you should go if you love alternative music, indie, punk and post-rock. They also organise slam poetry, pub quizzes and reading events.
During the Reeperbahn Festival I have seen quite a few bands here and the concert atmosphere was incendiary on every single one of them. The backyard is particularly special because you can enjoy the vibe of an open-air concert which is actually inside a club.
Moondoo’s slogan is “Strictly no rules. Just all the great tunes”. The chic club which spreads on two floors has been designed to resemble a 70’s New York nightclub, with purple velvet sofas, large mirrors, round tables and golden columns. In the ‘60s, when Moondoo was known as the Top Ten Club, a venue where the Beatles used to play at.
Moondoo only opens from Thursday to Saturday, each having a theme: Thursday is the Student Night, Friday is dedicated to alternative music and guest DJs, whilst Saturdays are reserved for the Wild parties.
I went to Moondoo on a Friday and stumbled upon an R&B and rap concert by Skinnyblackboy, who got the entire crowd moving.
Indra is the first club that Beatles played at when they first came to Hamburg, in 1960. Back then the club was more of an adult entertainment establishment, with oriental dancers, and striptease shows going on.
Today the club has a nice collection of photographs that remember the concerts The Beatles had here. The Indra club focuses on Funk, Soul, Blues and Rock and Roll music, often hosting live concerts.
Grosse Freiheit 36
Grosse Freiheit 36 is one of the largest clubs in Hamburg, considered one of the best concert venues in the city. Many big names such as the Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams or Coldplay came here to perform.
Grosse Freiheit 36 also organises some of the best parties in town and I had the chance to take part in one, which was pretty epic. Each night there is something else happening, from medieval parties to bachata evenings, from cheap nights where drinks are half price to 80’s parties. Check out the schedule, as some events have free entrance until a certain hour. Some events that require dressing up will be cheaper if you show up wearing a costume.
Grosse Freiheit 36 doesn’t have a specific focus when it comes to music, so you will find here something for every taste.
Kaiserkeller is actually part of Grosse Freiheit 36, located just next door, in the underground. This space is dedicated mostly for smaller bands and focuses more on metal, hard rock and Gothic music.
Kaiserkeller is actually one of the clubs The Beatles also played at, but back then it used to be very different, with a nautical themed décor and a stage made out of wood, balanced on beer crates. This is the club in which The Beatles have met Ringo Starr, who was already playing with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, a very successful Liverpool band at that time.
Nested in between Indra and Kaiserkeller, The Gruenspan is another fantastic music venue homed by a former theatre. The club was founded in 1968 and it has a capacity of 800 people. It is a great place to go and watch live concerts and party on progressive rock.
The club is famous for its concerts, and among the big names that played here I can mention Linking Park, Alice in Chains and REM.
I have seen two concerts at the Gruenspan, one from in front of the stage (Hatari) and another one from the balcony (Chef’s Special).
Have you been to Hamburg yet? Have you experienced the nightlife of the Reeperbahn? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Please note that I attended the Reeperbahn Festival as a guest of the Hamburg Tourism Board. However, all the opinions in this article are my own and I would not recommend anything that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself doing or think it was a great place to visit.
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