Hamburg is not only an important port city (it is third largest after London and New York City), but it’s also a perfect place to escape for a weekend away. Old redbrick shipping warehouses, harbor views, and delicious seafood will make your stay in Hamburg a unique experience. I have been invited to Hamburg in June 2018 by project Come to Hamburg, and in this article, I will list the best things to do on a trip to Hamburg.
Some practical things to mention:
- Getting there: There are many direct flights to Hamburg from different locations but consider also a connecting flight which might be even cheaper than a direct flight. If you live in northern part of Europe, a good connection is airBaltic with 2 daily flights to Hamburg via Riga.
- Transportation: If you are staying for more than one day, consider to get the Hamburg Card, with this you will get a day pass for the public transportation system and will get discount on all major attractions. They also have a group Hamburg card for up to 5 persons, and it pays off to buy it if you are just 2 people travelling together. Note that taxi is relatively expensive and for a 7 km ride you will pay around 20 EUR. That’s the price for a 1-day group Hamburg card (can be used for up to 5 persons).
- Airport transfer: There is a direct train connection from the airport to the city centre, and the airport train ride is included in Hamburg Card price.
- Language: English language is widely understood, so you will not have any problems speaking English.
- Where to sleep and eat: At the end of the article, you will find my recommendation for the hotel, as well as places to eat.
Opened in 2017, the Elbphilharmonie is city’s tallest inhabited building at more than 100 meters. For great panoramic views, you can enter Elbphilharmonie for free (you’ll have to wait in line near the entrance to get a free ticket). Once inside, take a futuristic escalator until you’ll be transported to the roof of the old warehouse, where you can go outside to the 360-degree balcony.
Go for a Boat Tour with Barkassen-Mayer
If you want to explore Hamburg’s attractions from a different perspective, I recommend taking part in one of the harbor boat tours. A tour of company Barkassen-Meyer will take you through countless canals of Hamburg, warehouse district Speicherstadt, and of course, to the port territory. Take into account that the tour is in German, but you can also download the company’s English app to help ensure you don’t miss out the information.
Hamburg Townhall (Rathaus) is an impressive Neo-Renaissance building in the center of the town. The construction of this 133-meter-wide building took 44 years and seven architects were involved in the project. Inside the Townhall, there are short-term exhibitions, which are free to visit and you can enter it through the courtyard, which has a beautiful fountain crowned with a statue of the goddess Hygieia.
Watch Sunset with Swans Next to Alster Lake
Right in the centre of Hamburg, you will find two artificial lakes: one is inner lake and the other is outer Alster Lake. This is a great place to enjoy the sunset or to go for a jog around the lake. You can also hire a boat or canoe at many spots all around the Alster lake. Expect to see many different species of birds – during my visit, I saw several families of swans and gooses.
Relax in Hamburg’s most famous park: “Planten un Blomen” (meaning “plants and flowers”). It features a Botanical Garden with multiple greenhouses, a rose garden and the largest Japanese garden in Europe. From May to October, you can enjoy free Water Light Concert and Fountain Show which takes place at the lake in the park every evening at 22:00 and lasts for 30mins.
Right behind the Speicherstadt, you will find Hamburg’s most modern district HafenCity. This is the largest urban building project in Europe of the 21st century with contemporary steel-and-glass apartments, offices and attractive cafés. Go for a walk in HafenCity to see it’s creative and modern architecture.
The Miniatur Wunderland is the worlds largest model railway attraction, but apart from trains, there are tiny versions of whole cities of USA and Europe, mountain villages, and even airport. To avoid long waiting times, book your ticket with exact visiting time online.
One of Europe’s biggest entertainment district (also Red Light District) is located on Reeperbahn street. In German, this place is sometimes called as die sündigste Meile, (the most sinful mile) as this place houses most of the nightclubs, bars, and brothels. By the way, The Beatles used to play in this street before they became famous.
Fish Auction Hall and Market
The famous Fish Market of Hamburg (Fischmarkt) is a bustling Sunday morning market where you can purchase seafood, fresh fruit, flowers, clothes and much more. The market attracts early birds and people who are on their way home from a night out to listen to live music played in the historic auction hall, where one can buy a pint of beer and a famous Fischbrötchen (fresh bread rolls packed with fried, baked or cured fish).
Market opening hours: only on Sundays 5 am – 9:30 am (Apr to Oct), 7 am – 9:30 am (Nov to Mar)
The longest river tunnel in the world and is located under Hamburg’s river Elb. You will find the entry point from the harbor (Landungsbrücken). It takes about 10 minutes to walk from one side to another to explore this architectural masterpiece that was built in 1907 and used since 1911
Located in the oldest red-brick warehouse in the Speicherstadt district, the International Maritime Museum is a great place to discover 3000 years of maritime history around the world. The museum has nine ‘decks’ (floors), and each floor has specific items like model ships made, paintings, uniforms etc. The core of the museum exhibition consists of the private collections of Peter Tamm, who was the chairman of Europe’s largest publishing house Axel Spriner AG, and who was an avid collector of model ships.
Address: Peter Tamm Sen. Stiftung, Kaispeicher B, Koreastraße 1, 20457 Hamburg
Official site: http://www.imm-hamburg.de
Where to eat in Hamburg (restaurants and cafes)
Restaurant: VLET an der Alster is a great choice if you are looking for a restaurant that specializes in Hamburg cuisine and regional products. It is located in the beautiful Alster Arcades overlooking the water and the town hall.
In summer 2018 they have a special menu (Schlemmer-Sommer): for 64 EUR they offer a 4-course meal for 2 persons, which consists of:
- Potato and cabbage bread
- Clear tomato soup
- Cod fillet
- Cherry yogurt mousse
This is really good offer for that type of restaurant.
Pizza: at Flamm Hus, you can eat delicious French pizza (Flammkuchen) in different varieties at an open kitchen space right on point. But in addition to the pizza, the restaurant also offers traditional French bistro cuisine like croques, quiches and delicious desserts.
website: flammhus.com (only in German, but you can use Google Translate for translation)
Pasta & Pastry: Kasiserwetter is a nice and inexpensive place to try delicious pasta and pastry accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea. They have two locations in Hamburg.
a) Bleichenbrücke 11, Mon – Fri: 07:00 – 18:00, Sat: 10:00 – 17:00
b) Friedensallee 11 Mon – Fri: 08:00 – 17:00
website: kaiserwetter-catering.de (only in German, but you can use Google Translate for translation)
Streetfood: Try famous Currywurst and Fischbrödchen (fish roll).
For a short stay in Hamburg, I recommend a hotel, where I stayed during my trip. I was staying in Best Western Alsterkrug hotel 4*+, which is located in the green district of Hamburg called Alsterdorf just 8 minutes ride from the airport. This is super convenient location if you arrive on a morning flight (official check-in time is from 15:00, but you can leave your luggage at the reception and go straight to the city). The hotel rooms are of an exceptionally large size, each morning they serve a rich and delicious Continental style breakfast. Read my full review of this hotel here. If you are interested in booking a room in this hotel, you can visit the hotel website: www.alsterkrug-hotel.de . If you prefer to book with Booking.com, here is a hotel page link.