Hamburg is famous for its rivers, such as the Alster, that flows through the inner city, and the Elbe, which connects the city to the North Sea. It is also home to one of Europe’s largest ports, with cargo and cruise ships arriving from all over the world.
Hafencity (harbor city) is one of Hamburg’s newest districts, which is best-known for its Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall). Be sure to check out its 360° observation deck, for a view over the city and harbor free of charge! The historical Speicherstadt can be found nearby, and is home to the world’s largest warehouse district, with red-brick buildings, canals, and ornate bridges.
|Hamburg's Speicherstadt is home to the world's largest warehouse district.
A trip to Hamburg wouldn’t be complete without a boat ride! Pass through the canals on a small motor boat, or take a tour around the harbor, starting at the Landungsbrücken (Landing Bridges). If you prefer dry land, the 426.5-meter-long tunnel, Alter Elbtunnel, built in 1911, is a great way to get from one river bank to the other.
Hamburg’s inner city is just a short walk from the harbor. Here you’ll find the Old Town Hall — with its ornate façade and 112-meter-high tower — along with five other sky-high churches. One of them is Sankt Nikolai, whose burned ruins serve as a memorial to the victims of the Second World War and Nazi Germany.
Whether you’re looking for small boutiques or big shopping malls, you’ll find it all on Hamburg’s most prominent shopping street, Jungfernstieg, which runs alongside the river Alster. Additional shopping areas include Spitalerstraße and Mönckebergstraße, whilst the less-crowded Neuer Wall is great for international boutiques and luxury brands.
|The Jungfernstieg runs along the river Alster.|
Hamburg’s party and red-light district St. Pauli is a must-see, but be sure to arrive after midnight, when the district really comes alive. Its main road, the Reeperbahn, is known as Hamburg’s — some say the world’s — most sinful mile. Here, you’ll find affordable student bars, pubs, and clubs, alongside more promiscuous striptease bars and sex shops. Herbertstraße — the only street outside of Amsterdam’s Red-Light District, where you’ll find prostitutes selling their services in windows — is located just around the corner, but only open to men over the age of eighteen.
With fewer tourists and a calmer vibe, the Sternschanze is only a short subway ride from St. Pauli. You’ll also find plenty of other, more-hidden, party areas dotted around the city. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the summer months, you might even catch Hamburg’s festival season!
Whether you’re still awake from the night before, or you’re simply an early bird, be sure to catch the Sunday Morning Hamburg Fish Market. Listen to the market criers haggle, whilst tucking into a fresh fish sandwich, and watching the sun rise over Hamburg-Altona.
|Be sure to watch the sunrise over Hamburg-Altona when visiting the fish market.|
Just an hour’s journey from central Hamburg lies Stade, which used to be northern Germany’s main port. The old port, with quaint, half-timbered houses, make this town a must-see. Ratzeburg — a small town located on an island, and only accessible from the mainland via three dams — is another great option for a day trip, thanks to its incredibly clean air!
Additional sites of natural beauty around Hamburg include the Lüneburger Heide, a flat heathland. It is most impressive during August and September, when the heather plants are in full bloom. Finally, whether you take a trip to one of the city’s beaches, such as Travemünde Strand and Timmendorferstrand, or bathe in one of the city’s lakes, be sure to enjoy Hamburg’s waters during your visit!
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I stayed for a long weekend in January and I wouldn't go back during winter because it was so, so cold and windy - but other than that it is a beautiful city with many great things to see. Be sure to walk around Speicherstadt!