The waterfront beneath Altonaer Baalkon is a throwback to a bygone era of neat gardens and gas lanterns. This is the introduction to Övelgönne, one of the most prestigious addresses in Hamburg. Twenty or so restored craft nod at their moorings as an open-air harbour museum beside the city’s finest beach, where passing container ships provide waves and locals linger over lattes at the Strandperle café.
Return towards the centre along the river and you’re on the Elbemeile, a former fishing docks that is rapidly morphing into an epicentre of gourmet Hamburg. Part of this redevelopment is the cutting-edge Dockland office building on the Fischereihafen; from the top of its glass-and-steel wedge (steps up on the outside) – intended to suggest the superstructure of cruise liners – you get great views downriver.