Are you wondering what to do in Hamburg, Germany? This port city is one of the most visited in the country, and has a bunch of fun to be had.
Hamburg is a major city in northern Germany, that is connected to the North Sea by the Elbe River. This bustling port city has great culture, delicious food, and wild nightlife. Check out all of the great ways to enjoy Hamburg.
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Where is Hamburg in Germany?
Hamburg is located in the north of Germany, along the River Elbe. It is one of the biggest cities, and sea hubs in the country.
Getting to Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg has quite a few ways of being reached. Here are a few of the different options to get there.
Traveling to Hamburg by Air
Hamburg airport is just outside the city, and takes 24 minutes in train to reach. Many European cities fly into Hamburg such as Amsterdam, Milan, Paris, Zurich, Copenhagen, Istanbul, London, Dublin, Stockholm, Athens, and Fuerteventura to name a few. Dubai also flies direct to Hamburg.
Traveling to Hamburg by Land
Hamburg is very well connected with many other cities in Germany. Trains are one of the most popular ways to get around the country, and they are very efficient and punctual (as most things in Germany).
You can get domestic trains to Hamburg from Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and many other cities within Germany. Other European cities that connect to Hamburg by train are London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Paris.
Traveling to Hamburg by Sea
Did you know that Hamburg is actually a very popular port city? This is a huge hub in Europe, and many cruise ships dock here as a port of call, or also to do dry dock. In fact, we spent two weeks in Hamburg docked while our ship was having renovations!
While traveling, there are a few things that you may forget about, that may differ from where you are coming from. Here are some of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to Hamburg.
The official language in Hamburg is German. It is definitely helpful to pick up a bit of the language. However, Germans are quite good at English, and it is very easy to get by if you speak English.
The currency used in Germany is the euro. Right now (October 2023) the euro is almost equal to the USD (yay!). Credit cards are widely excepted, so you probably won't need much cash, unless you are visiting small outdoor markets.
Germany uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C & F. The standard voltage in Germany is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.
In Germany it is very typical to drink bottled water. However, it is particularly expensive to get bottled water, and sometimes the same price or more expensive than beer!
The tap water is completely safe to drink though, so we suggest you to bring a refillable water bottle while visiting Hamburg and other German cities.
The tipping culture in Germany isn't as rigid as countries like the US or the UK. Many Germans will simply round up to the nearest euro, or leave a couple of extra euros to the server in a restaurant. If you believe the service was very good, you can leave between 5-10% extra.
What to Do in Hamburg, Germany
Now is the fun part! Wondering what to do in Hamburg, Germany? Well, there are a ton of great things to do throughout this big city. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Visit the Rathaus
Rathaus is the town hall of Hamburg, where the seat of the government sits. Not only does is have amazing architecture, but it is the historical center of the city, and surrounded with a large plaza and other beautiful buildings.
2. Go Party at Reeperbahn
Reeperbahn is the "Red Light District" of Hamburg. It may not be the classiest of places, but it is definitely not one to miss. Grab 1 euro shots or enter in one of the bars with girls dancing on the bars. This is the most famous place to go out in and enjoy Hamburg nightlife.
3. Enjoy the Trendy Vibes of Sternschanze
If Reeperbahn is a bit much for your liking, Sternschanze is a great alternative for nightlife. This hip neighborhood is covered with colorful graffiti, cozy cafes, and great music venues. There is also an old slaughterhouse, where Flohschanze flea market offers a great variety of furniture, clothing and jewelry.
4. Check out Speicherstadt
Located in the port of Hamburg, is the world's largest warehouse district in the world. Here the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations of oak logs. This canal area is extremely picturesque, especially at night.
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5. Stroll through Planten un Blomen
This urban park is found right in the middle of the city. It offers 47 hectares of fountains, lawns and floral displays, and is a great place to walk around or have a picnic in the warm weather.
6. Walk through Elbe Tunnel
This tunnel crosses the Elbe River, connecting the port of Hamburg and Langdusbrucken. There is a road for cars, as well as a pedestrian path, so people can go from on side to the other, and admire the views from across the river.
7. Admire the Views from the Port of Hamburg
Once you go through the Elbe Tunnel, you will have a beautiful view of the rest of the city of Hamburg. Whether its watching the boats sail by during the day, catching the sunset, or watching the buildings from Langusbrucken light up, its a great place to sit back and relax with a drink in hand.
Known also as The St. Pauli Piers, Langdusbrucken is the largest landing place in the Port of Hamburg, and also one of the cities major tourist attractions. Stroll along the water, or take a boat ride down the river for a great tour of Hamburg.
9. Take in the views from St. Micheal's Church
"Michel", as locals like to call Hamburg's largest church, is one of the city's must-see sights. It is one of the most famous churches in Hamburg, as its copper bell tower offers stunning views over the city.
10. Eat & Drink at the Fischmarkt
The Fish Market is famous for its Sunday Mornings, where it unites night owls and early birds alike. After a long night out, the youth of Hamburg will continue their Saturday night into Sunday by have drinks and food here, and enjoying the entertainment.
Everything from exotic spices, flowers, and fresh fish can be found here. Additionally, there is live music, giving this market along the water a vibrant and fun atmosphere to finish off your weekend.
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11. Go Shopping at Jungfernstieg
Set between Hamburg's inner-city lake Binnenalster to the left, and shopping and commerical district Neustadt to the right, lies an urban promenade. The city's foremost boulevard, is a great place to check out the traditional jewelry shops and chic fashion boutiques.
12. Take a Post Card-worthy Shot at Nikolaifleet
Nikolaifleet is a canal in the Altstadt of Hamburg, which was the original branch of the Alster estuary. It separates the Cremon island from the mainland. As one of the oldest parts of the port of Hamburg, it is definitely worth stopping by for that picture perfect moment.
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13. Check out Miniatur Wonderland
Miniatur Wunderland is a model railway and miniature airport attraction located in the historic Speicherstadt district, and the largest of its kind in the world. This place is 20 euros to enter, and will bring out your inner child.
14. Take a Look at Chilehaus
The Chilehaus is one of Hamburg's most impressive structures, as a ten-story office building. Located in the Kontorhausviertel, it is definitely worth a stop over to marvel at its unique architecture.
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What to Do in Hamburg, Germany for Food & Drinks
German cuisine is extremely good, and varies depending on the area. Here are our personal favorites in the city of Hamburg.
Where to Eat in Hamburg
Let's be honest, food isn't just a necessity, but one of the best parts of traveling! Here are some of the best food & drink experiences in the city to take advantage of.
Check out the Food Trucks
Every Thursday at St. Pauli Straßenmampf, there is a food truck festival from 5 pm- 11 pm, called Street Food Session. With local snacks, cheeses, wines, and traditional cuisine, this is the perfect place to try some great food & drinks in Hamburg- and there is even live music to boot!
For the Best Seafood in the City
Being a port town, it is no wonder that Hamburg boasts some great seafood. Head down to the port area of St. Pauli's and have some of the freshest seafood in Germany! Our personal favorite is Fischerhaus, with its elegant style and delicious menu items.
For a Drink With the Best Views
Skyline Bar 20up is a must visit place is you like great views. With ceiling to floor windows on all sides, you can have a fancy cocktail, while admiring the views of the beautiful port area. Cheers to that!
What to Eat in Hamburg
Here are a few of our favorite local foods to try while in Hamburg.
The Franzbrötchen is traditionally a french pastry, but made it's way over to Germany and is only found in Hamburg and local areas. It is usually made only with heaps of sugar and cinnamon, but today most bakeries offer different flavored varieties, such as with raisins, chocolate or macadamia.
The Hamburger Hummersuppe is a lobster soup served with a small amount of whipped cream, and garnished with dill and topped off with a dash of cognac. What could be a better starter to your meal?
This fish sandwich is the harbour city’s quick go to, which is simple, salty and delicious. Served on a bread roll, it is typically filled with pickled herring, and sometimes substituted with other fish specialties.
This traditional fish dish is named after Hamburg’s Finkenwerder district, a historic fishing village. It combines baked or pan-fried plaice with parsley, onion and crispy bacon.
Schnitzel is popular not only in Hamburg, but all over Germany. This breaded and fried chicken or pork is good for any occasion, whether its for a sit down meal, or served as a sandwich for a snack on the street.
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How to Get Around Hamburg
In order to get into and out of Hamburg, it is quite simple. There is the main train station of Hamburg, called Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. Here you can find railways to and from so many different cities in Hamburg.
When traveling around Hamburg, it is a fairly walkable city. We suggest getting around by foot as much as you can, as there are many beautiful areas worth walking through.
The underground system in Hamburg, known as the U-bahn, is also very well connected throughout the city. The S-bahn and AKN are two other lines that connect with the U-bahn. The system in Hamburg is the oldest in Germany and is very cheap and efficient. Below is the map of the system around the city.
Tickets inside the city are just 1.60 Euros, and work on a zone basis. The further you go, the more expensive tickets get, but are never more than just a few euros. For more info on tickets, zones, and scheduling, you can check the official website
What to Do in Hamburg, Germany for Day Trips
Hamburg is a great city with lots to do, but if you have a few extra days, there are some great cities that are just around the corner! Want to know what to do in Hamburg, Germany outside the city? Check out some of these great day trips you can take from the Central Station of Hamburg, just a train ride away.
Located just over a half hour from Hamburg, lies the cutest Medieval town. Luneburg is the perfect place to just stroll around and enjoy the beautiful architecture, or grab a drink in one of its adorable cafes.
Lübeck is the former capital and Queen City of the Hanseatic League. Its symbol is the Holstentor, a red-brick city gate that defended the river-bounded old town.
Enjoy the beautiful buildings and views along the water in this cozy little town. You can easily reach here by hopping on the train for just 45 minutes from the central station of Hamburg.
From Hamburg, it takes about 1 hour 1/2 to 2 hours to get to Schwerin. This town will truly make you feel as you are in a fairytale. Known for its gorgeous castle with ornate rooms and elaborate gardens, it is also surrounded by 12 different lakes, fountains, and cute plazas.
Just an hour 1/2 from Hamburg, lies a cute fairytale town called Bremen. Check out the main square with its ornate architecture, beautiful fountain, and Gothic town hall. Wander along the Weser river, or grab a coffee in one of the cute cafes.
Situated on the River Liene, Hanover is the largest city and capital of the Lower Saxony state in Germany. It is an important commercial center with a culture rich in arts and music.
Check out the Herrenhausen Gardens, old town hall, Marienburg Castle, or the Maschee Lake. Hop on the train from central station for just an hour and 20 minute ride over to this beautiful city.
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Being just two hours from Hamburg, its a great opportunity to visit the Capital of Germany. If you are in the area for a several days, hop on the train at the central station directly over Berlin, and check out all this great city has to offer.
With so much to do and see, we would suggest spending a couple of days enjoying what to do in Hamburg, Germany itself, and if you have more time, to give yourself a few days to check out the beautiful towns and cities around it.
Enjoy the delicious seafood, crazy nightlife, and great views of this port city. Want to see more great cities in Europe? Take a look at the rest of our European travel guides
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