Though Blankenese is the next Elbvororte (Elbe suburb) west of Övelgönne, it feels more coastal village than city suburb. The sea captains of old have long made way for captains of industry – probably the only people who can afford some of the most expensive real estate in Germany. For the tourist, there’s little to tick off, which is a relief after the high culture of Hamburg, and Blankenese demands little more than exploring a nest of paths and ambling along the riverside.
It’ll take strong legs, though. Blankenese is a suburb of stairways – 58 in total – which spill off Blankenese Hauptstrasse then trickle like tributaries down to the Elbe, threading through the half-timbered cottages, nineteenth-century villas and modern glass-and-wood statements shoehorned onto the hillside. A surprisingly fine beach fronts the river. Go west along Strandweg, past a varied selection of restaurants and cafés, and the sand becomes purer, the beaches more isolated, and you find the bizarre summer scene of beach balls and bikinis as the container ships chug past.