Hamburg sits on the River Elbe and is Germany’s largest port. It is known as the ‘Tor zur Welt’ – Germany’s gateway to the world. So when visiting Hamburg you must take a cruise around the harbour, exploring the old canals of HafenCity, the docks and shipyards and the busy container port. You can see Germany’s exports in action, last year their exports rose to a record 118.2 billion euros.
That’s enough economics lets get back on track – sightseeing and drinking German beer.
It was our first day in Hamburg, the sun was out, the sky was blue and although chilly it was perfect for a trip around the harbour. We chose the ‘Classic’ 1-hour harbour tour by Barkassen-Meyer, although in German they did have an English audioguide also they have a phone app you can download.
The boat was a smaller canal type boat which could take you under the low bridges and around the canals of Speicherstadt (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), this was the largest warehouse district in the world, originally built in the late 19th century and heavily bombed during WWII.
Speicherstadt is part of the HafenCity quarter which is now home to the landmark Elbphilharmonie concert hall.
From HafenCity we cruised over the river to the working Port of Hamburg, where large cranes and container ships dominate the skyline. There are busy shipyards like the 125 years old “Blohm + Voss”, where rusty old boats share dock space with cruise ships and the shiny white super-yachts of millionaires.
The large lock gates of Ellerholzschleuse open to let us through, we pass even more ships from all over the world getting loaded with goods to further increase Germany’s trade surplus.
The Barkassen-Meyer classic boat cruise lasts about 60 minutes and they usually depart on the hour. We found this a perfect length of time to experience the sights and sounds of Hamburg harbour but they also do a 2-hour tour if want to become a real ‘salty dog’.
You can see more of our trip to Hamburg on our YouTube Travel Channel.
We were guests of the Come To Hamburg scheme.