This article refers to the city of Hamburg. For the island of Neuwerk that is part of the state of Hamburg but not the city see there

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg) is Germany's second-largest city and, at the same time, one of Germany's 16 federal states or Bundesländer. Prior to the formation of the modern German state, Hamburg for centuries enjoyed a status as de facto independent city state and regional power and trade hub in the North Sea. Although situated over 100 kms from the North Sea down the Elbe river, Hamburg has been one of Europe's most important ports for centuries, as reflected in its full name referencing the Hanseatic League. The city was built upon a number of islands formed by the wide river and its larger and smaller tributaries, and a huge part of its southern half is still occupied by the massive port.

With a tumultous history preserved in more than just the ancient name, Hamburg grew to become one of Germany's most affluent cities, today hosting almost 1.8 million inhabitants and forming a metropolitan centre for many smaller cities and towns in neighbouring federal states. Its riverine location allows it to compete with Amsterdam or Venice with the number of canals, most of which (Called "Fleet" or "Brook") are actually former small rivers and streams regulated to allow the sprawling city to expand over their banks. And on top of that, Hamburg has more bridges (over 2,300) than Amsterdam, Venice AND London combined. There is plenty to enjoy in Hamburg, both in terms of views, culture and the general high standard of living Hamburg grew to be known for.


Hamburg districts
New and old town, this is the heart of Hamburg from the iconic city hall to the shopping mile of Mönckebergstrasse and Hamburg’s answer to the London Docklands — Hafencity — with the old warehouse district.
Altona-St. Pauli
St. Pauli with its main street Reeperbahn is the centre for nightlife and home to one of the world’s best known red-light districts. Further west along Elbe there’s the hip district of Altona with a Danish past.
Northern Hamburg
Beginning with the lake Außenalster, the city’s north is rich in greenery and home to several parks and the city’s zoo.
St.Georg and East
The colorful St. Georg district is at the same time bohemian and luxurious and home to people from many different cultures. Further east there are the suburbs of Wandsbek and Billstedt.
South of Elbe
The cranes of one of the world’s major ports is visible far away. Though perhaps not the city’s major attraction, the port still defines the Hansestadt and is the home to the emigrant museum.
 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 3.9 4.6 8.2 13.3 17.8 20.1 23.5 22.5 18.9 13.4 8.3 4.4
Nightly lows (°C) -0.1 -0.3 1.1 4.7 8.1 10.9 13.8 13.3 10.8 7.3 4.0 1.0
Precipitation (mm) 67.8 49.9 67.7 43.0 57.4 78.6 76.7 78.9 67.4 67.0 69.2 68.9



Aerial view of Hamburg

One of the most important harbours in Europe and the world, Hamburg takes great pride in its mercantile background, which built the city's wealth in the past centuries. From 1241 on, it was member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval trade alliance across Northern Europe. In the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, millions left Europe on their way to the new world through the Hamburg harbour. Today, the harbour ranks second in Europe and eleventh world-wide. Consequently, one of Hamburg's tag lines is "The Gateway to the World" (derived from the city’s coat of arms, showing a white city wall with a gate and crowned by three towers on a red background). Hamburg is known to be one of the richest metropolitan areas in the European Union, in the company of Brussels and London.

The harbour is the heart of the city, however, Hamburg is also one of the most important media hubs in Germany. Half of the nation's newspapers and magazines have their roots in Hamburg. And, unknown even to some locals, is the fact that, with one of the Airbus aircraft assembly plants, Hamburg is a major location of the world's aerospace industry, right after Seattle (USA) and Toulouse (France).

The mercantile background reflects in the city's architecture. The only palace in Hamburg is the town hall, which houses the citizen's parliament and the senate. Apart from that, the city still has large quarters with expensive houses and villas. These residences were home to merchants and captains, surrounded by lots of greenery. Large parts of the city were destroyed during the devastating air raids of World War II, particularly the port and some residential areas, killing tens of thousands and leaving more than a million homeless, yet much of historic value has been preserved.

Hamburg still keeps its tradition of being an open, yet discreet city. Citizens of Hamburg, just like most Northern Germans, may appear to be quite reserved at first. Once they get to know with whom they are dealing, they'll be as warm and friendly as you'd wish.


Hamburg was apparently built as a defensive castle on the orders Emperor Charlemagne back in 808 AD. Being on the frontline was a very auspicious position, and Hamburg has been then subsequently raided and destroyed multiple times by the Vikings, Danes and Poles. Despite this, it was rebuilt every time and was even afforded the title of "Imperial Free City" (Freie Reichstadt), which it proudly bears to this day, in 1189 (just in time for the Danes to invade it again).

Once Hamburg became an Imperial Free City, it established itself as one of the prime ports of Northern Europe, thanks to its favourable location up the navigable river Elbe, which prevented major storms from reaching it, and being almost equidistant from the North Sea and the Baltic. To access to the latter, Hamburg formed an alliance with Luebeck, which became the cornerstone of the Hanseatic League of ports of call and major trading centres around both seas, lasting up until the 17th century.

Hamburg around 1320, still within the old city walls, encompassing only the territory of today's Altstadt (the map was made in 1880 as historic documentation)

Hamburg found itself constantly changing, rebuilding and expanding, both due to being constantly ravaged by either foreign invaders or more mundane fires and diseases, and to the rapid growth in its wealth and might. This provided for both the expansion of the harbour and allowed for ambitious building projects to be completed (including the almost complete regulation of Elbe's tributaries, or Fleeten), and required the constant improvement of the city's defences. The most important thereof occurred when a new line of fortifications were created at the wake of the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, effectively defining today's city centre (Altstadt - the former old town - and Neustadt, one formed by expanding the range of the walls), not only in shape but also in the street structure preserved to this day.

Hamburg in 1700

Meanwhile Hamburg saw itself become a "free" city more than in just the name, first adopting Lutheranism during the Reformation and accepting protestant refugees persecuted in their home cities, and later allowing pretty much full religious freedom, becoming home to all kinds of religious minorities, including Sephardic Jews and even Catholics. The citizens have pressed against attempts to impose laws on them, and negotiated "recesses" from their rulers, which made Hamburg governed by a bicameral parliament with a relatively high degree of democracy and personal freedoms.

The extent of the great fire of 1842 (Hamburger Brand) - all the areas in the lighter shade were completely destroyed. The extent of the built areas of Hamburg at that time are marked by the darker red shade.

The last one to occupy Hamburg before the Second World War was Napoleon, driven away by the Russians in 1814. Continuing as a sovereign state in its membership of the various forms of German union, Hamburg evolved to become a modern republic. Exploding thanks to its prosperity, the city suffered a major drawback when a fire destroyed a quarter of it (yet killed only about 50 people) in 1842. Seizing the opportunities, the elders consulted architects, town planners and engineers to completely modernize the city. Among them was the British engineer William Lindley, who created a modern waterworks and sewage system for Hamburg, before going on to afford it to other cities like Budapest, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Prague, St Petersburg and Warsaw.

Thanks to the improved living conditions, peaceful environment and economic prosperity, Hamburg boomed to 800 000 inhabitants in the latter half of the 19th century, while also becoming now a transatlantic port, home to Albert Ballin's Hamburg-America Line, the largest transatlantic line at the beginning of the 20th. Hamburg became the gate to the New World for many emigrants and at the same time served as a gateway for produce from all over the world to enter Germany and Europe. Not only free and hanseatic, the city became cosmopolitan in the strictest sense with the influx of traders and workers from all continents.

The cosmopolitan Hamburg suffered the loss of its independence under the Nazi regime (although not as much as Luebeck, whom Hitler disliked so much he had its "Free and Hanseatic" status revoked), but in turn its territory was expanded to include among others Altona and Wandsbek. During the Second World War, Hamburg was hit by devastating Allied air bombing, and the British became the last to occupy Hamburg after the War.

After the war Hamburg was hit by the last major North Sea flood in Germany in the 1960s. Helmut Schmidt, then a local politician, distinguished himself by organising the rescue efforts and - constitutionally questionably at the time - using the military to help. This jumpstarted the career of the later chancellor of the Federal Republic. As Hamburg is more than 100 km inland nowadays flood warnings are broadcast as "German coast, Hamburg and Bremen" and not only "German coast" as before the flood.

Within post-war Federal Republic of Germany (initially only encompassing the western part of today's country), Hamburg retained its status as a separate state on par with the likes of Bavaria or neighbouring Lower Saxony. Larger in area only than fellow Free and Hanseatic Bremen, when it comes to population count and especially economic might (measured in GDP) it easily outshines many other states, including neighbouring Schleswig-Holstein and nearby Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and rivalling the potent Saxony up the Elbe.

Ich bin ein Hamburger

A Hamburger (with a capital "H") is indeed a citizen of Hamburg, and all of them would proudly refer to themselves as such. If you find it funny, you won't find many people to share the joke with in the city. The beef patty you might have in mind is a purely American invention, even if there are many theories somehow linking its name to that of Hamburg, and has only come to Germany (and Hamburg) with the spread of American culture and fast-food chains. Meanwhile, Hamburgers have been referring this way to themselves for centuries. Most people in Germany call the fast-food staple Burgers anyway and see little relation. Also do note that the "a" in "Hamburg" and "Hamburger" is pronounced the same full and short way as the "A" in "Alps", and the German "u" sounds like the English "oo", making the supposed homophones less alike.

Get in

By plane

The impressive interior of Terminal 2 of the Hamburg Airport

Airport Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel

You can go to the city from the airport of Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel directly by S-Bahn

  Hamburg Airport (IATA: HAM) is the fifth largest international airport in Germany, so arrival by plane is an obvious choice for those visiting from far away. There are plenty of connections within Europe, although only a few intercontinental direct services are offered.

The airport has been thoroughly modernized with new terminals, airport hotel, streamlined infrastructure, and facilities that are by and large adequate, so you won't get lost. Depending on the gate your flight arrives at or leaves from, walking longer distances might be necessary as on any other airport too.

Hamburg Airport is connected to the city by the S-Bahn S1 commuter train line, which connects to the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and the city centre in about 30 minutes. There are trains every 10–20 minutes, and a single fare is €2.95. Beware on the way back from the city centre to the airport: All trains are divided at Ohlsdorf, with only the first three cars going to the airport, and the rest going to the suburb of Poppenbüttel. There are no trains between midnight and 4 AM, but a bus runs along the same route. As there aren't any flights between 11PM and 6AM this may not affect your journey at all. Do consult the timetable for S1 for details.

The airport, which is hugely popular with plane-spotters, is surrounded by Schrebergärten (meticulously maintained allotments), park lands, and open green spaces, criss-crossed by bicycle and walking trails. The popularity of this area is not only due to the many viewpoints, but also because Lufthansa Technik (Lufthansa's maintenance service) operates some large hangars on the airport, which means that the site is visited by a variety of rare and interesting aircraft (including VVIP).

Lübeck Airport

The Lübeck-Blankensee airport (IATA: LBC) is 65 km from Hamburg via motorway A1, and is a low-cost alternative to Hamburg Airport. As of 2014, the only airline serving this airport is WizzAir, as competing Ryanair moved to Hamburg Airport.

Buses connecting to the flights go from Hamburg's central bus station ("ZOB", adjacent to the main train station). They cost €12 for single way and take about one hour and 10 minutes. The buses depart about two hours and 50 minutes before every Ryanair departure, meet every arrival, and wait for delayed flights.

Lübeck airport is also connected via regional train (RB) to Lübeck main station. There you can change into an hourly train (RE) to Hamburg.

While you cannot arrive at Finkenwerder Airport, you can go planespotting for the unique Airbus Beluga delivering aircraft fuselage parts for the Airbus final assembly there

Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport

On maps of Hamburg you can easily identify another airport, the Finkenwerder Airport (IATA: XFW) right on the Elbe's south bank. Unfortunately, this airport is closed to public passenger traffic, as it is the site of an Airbus assembly plant. You can, however go planespotting in the neighbourhood and even visit the facility on a guided tour. See our guide to the southern part of Hamburg for details.

Hamburg-Uetersen Airport

Air Hamburg serves several German islands from this airport. The only way to reach it is by taxi, the nearest railway station being Tornesch.

By train

Hauptbahnhof, Central railway station

Hamburg has five major stations:   Hauptbahnhof (central station),   Dammtor (Messe/CCH),   Altona,   Harburg and   Bergedorf. Being a terminus for many ICE as well as Intercity lines, trains tend to stop twice or even three times in Hamburg. Various types of train service are available.

Use the German railway's online trip planner to find connections to/from Hamburg and buy tickets.

By car

Hamburg is well connected to the German Autobahn network

via the Autobahn:

Be prepared to pay for parking. Hamburg has a wide selection of P+R (Park+Ride) parking areas outside the city centre, where you can park for free and very easily use public transport to get into the city.

By bus

Buses serving other cities (regional, national, and European destinations) arrive at or depart from Hamburg's central bus station ("ZOB"), which is located near the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof) (two minute walk). Destinations include Berlin (several times a day).

Buses to Lübeck depart from Wandsbek.

Buses to Bosnia are e.g. run by Salinea

A cruise ship at the Hamburg HafenCity Cruise Terminal

By bike

The Elbe Radweg one of the most popular cycle routes in Germany passes through Hamburg. As it follows the valley of the not very steep river Elbe for most of its course it is a good choice for inexperienced cyclists as well as aspiring Tour de France participants.

By boat

A lot of cruise ships visit Hamburg, so you may put your foot on Hamburg ground at one of the Cruise Centers. The most likely places are the Hamburg Cruise Center Altona (near to the fish market) and the Hamburg Cruise Center HafenCity (next to the new Unilever center), check out the Hamburg Cruise Center home page

Lübeck's port suburb Travemünde, about an hour away by train, is a major Baltic ferry port.


You can leave Hamburg to the south (A7-Hannover/Frankfurt/Munich) and southwest (A1-Bremen/Cologne/Netherlands) from the filling station known as "HH-Stillhorn" you can get there with the number 13 bus from suburbanstation S-Wilhelmsburg.

To Berlin you can start at the "Horner-Kreisel" and take the number 161 bus from S-Berliner Tor or walk from U3-Rauhes Haus.

From the UK, it may be an idea to take a ferry to Denmark and then travel down rather than going via the Netherlands.

Get around

Hamburg is an extensive city given its over 700km2, and visitor attractions are not all contained within the city centre. Fortunately, getting around is made easy by the extensive public transportation system. Walking is a good way of getting around in the centre, as pretty much around every corner is a sight to behold or a scenic lookout you might have missed otherwise. As many Hamburgers do, you may also opt to bike around. Driving is made relatively easy too by the wide thoroughfares intersecting the city in every direction, parking is paid but rates palatable and there is no requirement for your car to have an Umweltplakette.

Map of all rail lines in Hamburg

Public transport

Hamburg's public transportation system, operated by the HVV, consists of:

Hamburg has The S-Bahn and U-Bahn lines run partly over and underground, in the city, and in the outskirts. Sometimes you might meet the diesel powered AKN train as well in the northern districts. The only difference is that these are three companies, but there is a unified fare system.

All train platforms have signs showing the next train, where it is headed, and how many minutes until it arrives. Trains are described by a number and the final station. Note that the final station may vary. For example, half of the S1 trains heading west go all the way to Wedel, but the other half go only as far as Blankenese.

Note that train doors do not open automatically. You have to press a button or pull a handle on the door. Wait for the passengers to get off first before you enter. In the cold season, close the door after getting on the train if it looks like a longer stop. Either push the handle or press the closing buttons on the inside until the door is closed. All signs and notifications at stations and in trains are shown in at least two languages (German and English).


S-Bahn trains in Hamburg can look confusingly similar to both U-Bahn and R-Bahn ones

S-Bahn stations are marked with a green "S" and are often colocated with major long-distance railway stations and U-Bahn stations, allowing convenient transfers. While the S-Bahn logo is green, the trains are white-and-red like most German trains, and operated by Deutsche Bahn and feature a DB logo rather than the "S". It is easy to get confused by the variety of similar DB trains, so it is good to make sure you are boarding the S-Bahn you want and not a regional train.

There are six S-Bahn lines in Hamburg, with some confusing numbering and arrangements.

All of the lines meet at Hauptbahnhof, which is also a station for all U-Bahn lines, and all lines save for the S21 also meet at Hamburg-Altona. From there, the S-Bahn lines radiate in 5 different directions.

There is, however, an announcement made on the train (also in English) before the trains are separated to let you know if you are in a car going to the airport or not.

S-Bahn runs from approximately 5AM until 1AM in the central city, but there is often no service past 11PM in outlying districts. On weekends, it runs all night.

U-Bahn station Baumwall, line U3


U-Bahn station HafenCity Universität, U4

There are four U-Bahn (subway/underground) lines in Hamburg. They all run through the city centre and meet at Hauptbahnhof (although they stop at two separate stations - U1 and U3 at Hauptbahnhof-Süd, while U2 and U4 at Hauptbahnhof-Nord - both at opposite ends of the large Hauptbahnhof complex):

All U-Bahn lines except U3 meet at Jungfernstieg, though U3 stops at the nearby Rathaus station and is accessible through an underground passage.

Note that none of the lines goes to Altona - you need to take the S-Bahn or a bus to get there. U-Bahn runs from approximately 5AM until 1AM in the central city, but there is often no service past 11PM in outlying districts. On weekends, it runs all night.

The ultralong "bendybus" operating Metrobus line M5


Buses go around the clock. At night, a special "Nachtbus" (night bus) service connects the outlying districts and the city center. These buses depart and arrive at "Rathausmarkt", near the town hall and operate all through the night. Night buses are recognizable by their numbers which reach from 600 to 688.

Apart from regular and nighttime bus lines, there are also Metrobus lines, designed to carry heavy loads on the most popular routes, in a way replacing a tram system that Hamburg does not have (similar arrangement as in Berlin). Metrobuses are designed to serve commuters mostly, and as such are not that useful to the tourists - in fact most lines do not even reach the core city centre. Public transport lovers will be delighted, however, to know that those lines are served by the longest bi-articulated low-floor buses in the world (the Van Hool AGG 300, also used by public transport operators in Utrecht).


Six ferry services operate in the harbour and along the River Elbe as part of the regular public transport system.
Tip: take ferry line 62 from "Landungsbrücken" to "Finkenwerder" und then line 64 to "Teufelsbrück" or take ferry line 72 from "Landungsbrücken" in the HafenCity to "Elbphilharmonie". Sit back to enjoy a scenic trip through the harbour on a day ticket.


Urban rail lines in Hamburg. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Single tickets range from 1.50 € or 2 € for short trips and 3 € for Hamburg area to 11.10 € - 18.30 € for the entirety of Greater Hamburg. Vending machines in the rail stations (and at some bus stops) sell short-distance, single-ride, and day tickets. Group tickets are also available. On the buses, the driver will sell you what you need.

An all-day ticket for Hamburg area (Ganztageskarte) costs 7.30 € (2014), but if you start your travel after 9AM or weekend, buy a "9 Uhr Tageskarte" (5.90 €, Group Ticket up to 5 persons: 10.80 €). You can also buy a Hamburg Card, which includes the public transport system, museums, and other things, and is available at all ticket offices and from the bus drivers. To buy tickets for a week or longer, go to Hauptbahnhof or station Altona, get passport photos in the automated photo booth, and buy your pass in the information office.

If you are traveling to Hamburg using a Niedersachsen-Ticket (Lower-Saxony-Ticket), Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket or Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-West-Pommerania-Ticket) for one to five people (22 - 39 €), you have access to all the HVV lines.

Hamburg's public transit operates on a proof-of-payment system. Officials in red waistcoats make spot checks, but aside from that, you simply get on and off as you wish with no turnstiles or gates. You are required to show your ticket while entering a bus to the driver though. The exception are the crowded bus lines 4, 5 and 6, except after 21h and on Sundays.

Try to avoid rush-hour before 9AM and between 4-7PM. You are not allowed to take bicycles into subways before 9AM and between 4-6PM, unless it is a folding bike like a Dahon, Brompton, Bike Friday, etc. Folders are allowed on Hamburg public transit at any time of the day.

Jungfernsteig ferries

On the two Alster lakes, a ferry boat travels once every hour from Jungfernstieg in the city centre to Winterhuder Fährhaus. These boats are not in the general HVV ticket system, thus more expensive, however, they offer a splendid view to some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Hamburg.

By bike

StadtRAD station

You will see a lot of bicycles on the roads during the warmer months, many of the cities residents will use bicycles as their normal form of transportation. Drive ways for bicycles are not available on all roads. In fact you will have to shift from on the road to a mixed foot / bike strip to a separated bike strip frequently. Drive safely! Several hotels within Hamburg provide residents with access to hotel bicycles.

The city itself also offers bike rental services. This service is called StadtRad, and there are several kiosks located around the city. To use this service, customers must register On the Stadtrad website and create an account with a credit card. Once the account has been created, you can go to any one of these terminals and use one of their bikes as long as you want. The first 30 minutes are free, the next time coast 8 Cent/min. and the maximum charge is € 12 per day.

Alternatively, Hamburg City Cycles (working with the bicycle store next door) rents bicycles for €23 for 2 days and €7 for each additional day. Hourly rates are also available. The bicycles are large "cruiser" style bikes and the rental includes a lock, air pump, and toolkit if desired.

You can take your bike with you on the harbor ferries (e.g. line 62) free of charge.

By taxi

A taxi rank denoted by the green "taxi-calling post" (Taxenrufsäule)

There is a good supply of taxis in Hamburg 24 hours a day, both at taxi stands and in the streets. You can identify a taxi rank by a green box on a post somewhat like an oversized parking meter or alarm post. You will have to wait there or phone one of the numbers below, since the boxes can not be used to call a cab. Almost all vehicles are still in the traditional ivory white colour, but even if not, a yellow and black sign on the roof reading "Taxi" indicates a licensed cab. As usual, the sign is switched on to indicate vacancies. The taxi start at € 2.90 plus € 2.20/km. A trip in the city area will between € 7-15. For a trip from the city to the airport, expect to pay between € 20-30. Most taxis accept credit card payments.


There are generally 2 options:

Hint: something in between the two options: select a suitable area of the city with good public transport link were you can park your car next to the road and then take the bus or subway (e.g. areas next to the bus line 5 or the U1)


Individual listings can be found in Hamburg's district articles

The entirety of the city centre is worth walking throughout, as it is jam-packed with varied and truly interesting sights. Those range from the iconic Speicherstadt and Hamburg's five main historic churches, through the upscale area around the Binnenalster artificial lake and the town hall (Rathaus) to the ultra-modern Hafen-City. The centre is where the majority of Hamburg's canals and bridges are, as well as the old quays providing great views across the Elbe. There is also an unusual array of museums to visit.

St. Pauli is the bustling district for party, non-maintream shopping and Hamburg's largest funfair. The city's trade fairground (Messe Hamburg) and CCH (Conference Centre Hamburg) are also there. Altona has a long quay, with both the historic Landungsbrücken and parts still in active use, such as the Cruise Terminal and fishing harbour.

St. Georg immediately east of the Hauptbahnhof is a warm and welcoming area full of cafes and renowned for its gay culture, and it has the most upscale part of Außenalster's lakeside. The North is the greenest part of Hamburg, with the rest of Außenalster and numerous other parks, like Hagenbecks Tierpark the famous Zoo established 1907 by Carl Hagenbeck, who was the pioneer behind "Zoos without bars".

The South is a mostly industrial area, with some unexpectedly interesting views of the decoratively lit up Borhardt quays and the planespotter's favourite Finkenwerder airport. Further south is the historic Harburg, formerly an independent city

Hamburg publishes a thick, detailed booklet of local museums called "Museumswelt Hamburg". You can find the Museumswelt Hamburg at the information desk at any of the museums. Hamburg is part of the worldwide Global Greeter Network (free sightseeing tours given by local volunteers).


Individual listings can be found in Hamburg's district articles

Ferries across Elbe

You can make a trip on the river Elbe with the line 72 from Landungsbrücken to Elbphilharmonie, or the line 62 about Museumshafen Oevelgönne to Finkenwerder, and the line 64 to Teufelsbrück. Bicycles free of charge. Adults one trip: €1.90/€2.95, day card: €5.80/€7.10, incl. S+U-Bahn and Bus (2013).

Boat trips

The best way to explore Hamburg's extensive waterways (Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice and London combined) is on a ferry or pleasure boat. A variety of boat tours lasting from 50 minutes to 3 hours depart regularly from the Jungfernstieg on the Inner Alster lake. The exact offer varies depending on the season, so do check in advance or at the landing stage to see what's available. The simplest and shortest tour is the Alsterrundfahrt or Alster tour that lasts 50 minutes and takes in the Inner and Outer Alster lakes (adults: €15). The small cruise boats are often hired for weddings. One is an old steamer. Contact Alster Touristik on 35 74 24-0 or check out the website at

Theatre, Opera and Musicals

Theater im Hafen specializes in musicals, such as The Lion King, which opened in 2001, and still playing as of 2015. Next to it, the Theater an der Elbe under construction. Both are accessible by ferries from the northern bank of Elbe.

Hamburg has an opera house, venues where classical music is performed and many theaters. The city offers a number of different musicals, as well as other music events. Most of these venues are located either in the central or the eastern parts of the city. If you prefer less formal venues, head to St. Pauli.


Note that all musicals are in German language, regardless of their origin. If you're still interested, make sure to buy tickets early, many shows are sold-out. But, midweek there is a good chance that you will be able to buy last minute tickets at a highly discounted price of €40 regardless of price category, age, or occupation.



Fish Market
Port Anniversar 2013 with ship "Mein Schiff"

Street parties

Watch out for neighbourhood and street parties during summertime. Some of the biggest are:

Street parades


The Hamburg City Beach Club, complete with palm trees, deck chairs, umbrellas and a view of the port and huge container ships

There are a number of small beaches on the North side of the Elbe river between Övelgönne and Blankenese. Even though not common, it is safe to swim in the Elbe there (if you don't swim out too far). You may have a barbecue there in the evenings, as long as you bring a grill and clean up after yourself. Watch out for surprisingly large waves created by large ships passing by and stay clear at least 50m of any structure in or reaching into the water! See Stay Safe below!

In addition, there are a usually number of commercial beach clubs during the summer, usually between Fischmarkt and Övelgönne. Other than the name might indicate, these are bars open to the public.

The best way to come to the most popular beach is to take the harbour-ferry bus from the Landungsbrücken station to Neumühlen/Övelgönne.

Open Air


There are 11 universities in Hamburg, the biggest of which is the University of Hamburg.

Many courses and programmes are held in English.

Hamburg is home to schools from countries such as Japan, Sweden, France, Britain and more, where the pupils are taught in their native language. The International School Hamburg opened in 1957 as the first of its kind in Germany.


The harbour is the fastest growing job sector in Hamburg. Numerous minor and major companies work in that area. You should be able to speak German because due to the high unemployment rate in Germany's jobseekers are attracted by the relative lower unemployment rate in Hamburg. This results in high numbers of applications. Hospitality and media are the two main other industries.

Note that living costs in Hamburg may be significantly higher than in other big cities in Germany depending on your demands. Due to heavy destruction during World War II especially apartments in older Victorian style homes built at the beginning of the 20th century are rare but highly demanded. Be prepared to compete for apartments in attractive areas in town with well-paid media professionals, freelancers and spoiled kids with unlimited resources in their parents' bank account. Inner city areas have become quite popular among doctors, lawyers and architects as well in the last years.


Full shopping tour starts at central station, down to town hall, then Poststraße towards Gänsemarkt square and back on Jungfernstieg at the Alter lake side.
Individual listings can be found in Hamburg's district articles

The main shopping area of Hamburg is the   Mönckebergstraße in the centre of the city. This area features the stores you're guaranteed to find in major German cities such as Galeria Kaufhof, Karstadt, C&A and Saturn and further west fashion stores of common international brands. Take the subway to either central station, Rathaus (town hall), or Mönckebergstraße. Also check the side-street Spitalerstraße. Northwest of town hall towards Gänsemarkt are the more pricey shops like Hugo Boss.

The   Schanzenviertel is also getting more popular nowadays for unique designer boutiques. Younger people especially enjoy being here. Subway "Sternschanze"/"Feldstraße"

Shops are mostly open daily 10AM—8PM and on Thursday and Friday until 10PM.


Individual listings can be found in Hamburg's district articles


At Altona's fish market

Original Hamburg dishes are Birnen, Bohnen und Speck (Low Saxon Beren, Bohnen un Speck, green runner beans cooked with pears and bacon), Aalsuppe (Low Saxon Aalsupp/Oolsupp, often mistaken to be German for “eel soup“ (Aal/Ool translated ‘eel’), however the name probably comes from the Low Saxon allens [ʔaˑlns], meaning “all”, “everything and the kitchen sink”, not necessarily eel. Today eel is often included to meet the expectations of unsuspecting diners.), Bratkartoffeln (Low Saxon Braatkantüffeln/Brootkantüffeln, pan-fried potato slices), Finkenwerder Scholle (Low Saxon Finkwarder Scholl, pan-fried plaice), Pannfisch (pan-fried fish), Rote Grütze (Low Saxon Rode Grütt, related to Danish rødgrød, a type of summer pudding made mostly from berries and usually served with cream, like Danish rødgrød med fløde) and Labskaus (a mixture of corned beef, mashed potatoes and beetroot, a cousin of the Norwegian lapskaus and Liverpool's Scouse (food), all offshoots off an old-time one-pot meal that used to be the main component of the common sailor's humdrum diet on the high seas).

Alsterwasser in Hamburg (a reference to the city's river Alster with two lake-like bodies in the city centre thanks to damming), a type of, a concoction of equal parts of beer and carbonated lemonade (Zitronenlimonade), the lemonade being added to the beer. Mexikaner is another local specialty, a shot drink with vodka (or similar), tomato juice, chili and Worcester sauce that resembles a bloody Mary, but is knocked back in one go. There is a lot of good-natured rivalry between bars as to who can concoct the best Mexikaner, so if the concept appeals, be sure to taste how it differs from place to place.

Hamburg is also home to a curious regional dessert pastry called Franzbrötchen. Looking rather like a flattened croissant, the Franzbrötchen is somewhat similar in preparation but includes a cinnamon and sugar filling, often with raisins or brown sugar. The name may also reflect to the roll's croissant-like appearance franz appears to be a shortening of französisch, meaning "French", which would make a Franzbrötchen a “French roll.” Being a Hamburg regional food, the Franzbrötchen becomes quite scarce outside the borders of the city; as near as Lüneburg it can only be found as a Hamburger and is not available in Bremen at all.

Ordinary bread rolls tend to be oval-shaped and of the French bread variety. The local name is Rundstück (“round piece” rather than mainstream German Brötchen, diminutive form of Brot “bread”), a relative of Denmark's rundstykke. In fact, while by no means identical, the cuisines of Hamburg and Denmark, especially of Copenhagen have a lot in common. This also includes a predilection for open-faced sandwiches of all sorts, especially topped with cold-smoked or pickled fish. The American hamburger seems to have developed from Hamburg's Frikadelle: a pan-fried patty (usually larger and thicker than the American counterpart) made from a mixture of ground beef, soaked Staling, egg, chopped onion, salt and pepper, usually served with potatoes and vegetables like any other piece of meat, not usually on a bun. Many Hamburgers consider their Frikadelle and the American hamburger different, virtually unrelated. The Oxford Dictionary defined a Hamburger steak in 1802: a sometimes-smoked and -salted piece of meat, that, according to some sources, came from Hamburg to America.

Vegetarian/vegan food

Every day, you can get vegetarian food for donation (€1.50) in different places check out on this site.

In the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), there are a lot of snack bars to have a quick meal. While there are probably not many vegetarian snack bars, there is a fairly decent selection of veggie food to be found, such as croissants with brie cheese and meat-free pizza slices.


Individual listings can be found in Hamburg's district articles


If you want to relax and drink a coffee in some cafes go to   Lange Reihe. Many bars, cafes and restaurants all along the street. Although the Lange Reihe is the heart of the gay community, most places are jointly visited by straight and gay people of any age. All places are gay-friendly, many are gay-owned or gay-run, but not all of them.


Reeperbahn in St. Pauli is the place to go for late-night, all-out partying.


Information on parties and other news from the gay scene.


Vier Jahreszeiten has been working on its global reputation for well over a century
Individual listings can be found in Hamburg's district articles

There are plenty of hotel rooms across Hamburg and, although not a cheap city in general, you may find the price range to include much more affordable choices than in other northern metropoles. There are many higher-end hotels within the small central Neustadt-Altstadt area, but you options are certainly not limited to those. Hotels around the Aussenalster in the North provide relaxed comfort, while further up north you will find hotels closer to the airport, convenient for those arriving by air. The Atlantic and the Vier Jahreszeiten share the prize of Hamburg's best hotels over the last one hundred years. Emperors and movie stars have stayed there, including James Bond (Tomorrow never dies, 1997). The luxurious hotels at the waterfronts of the Alsters is actually reminiscent of Geneva.

Altona and St. Pauli contain both hotels aimed at business travellers arriving at the trade fairs and those along the coastline, offering great views at different prices. There you can find hotels at the other end of the price scale, catering to people who've come to take part of the city's nightlife. East of the centre, in turn, you will find more business hotels and budget accommodations, usually very conveniently linked with the centre, but often less expensive due to their unspectacular location. Finally, the South has a very small supply of accommodation options, but those can be worth reviewing by those arriving by car.


Contrary to what one might suspect from a city with such a cosmopolitan perspective and media presence, Hamburg does not have that many free WiFi spots. This is due to peculiar German legislation, which Hamburg's senate has decided to challenge in late 2014 with the goal of providing free wireless Internet at least in the city centre by 2020.

Until then, free WiFi can be obtained in main train stations (in particular, Hauptbahnhof and Hamburg-Altona) and in some cafes and restaurants. Do note that not all of gastronomic outlets provide free WiFi - do check before you sit down there to avoid disappointments. Another way is to simply buy a German prepaid SIM-card - as of 2015, 1GB can come as cheap as EUR 10, and 5GB at EUR 20. If you do not want to carry two phones or change the SIM-card in your regular phone, a solution can be to buy a standalone WiFi device to put the card into.

Stay safe

Hamburg is generally a safe city. Watch out for pickpockets, especially in the area around the Mönckebergstrasse, Central Station, on the Reeperbahn, in buses and trains, but also on crowded escalators and any other crowded places. Keep your distance from demonstrations unless you wish to get involved: both leftist groups and the Hamburg police are known for their heavy reactions in such situations.


Bathing in the River Elbe is possible but, of course, you must keep out of the way of ships. Swimmers can be thrown about and even totally swamped by the wake from ocean liners. Swimmers should also stay away from structures in the river and strictly avoid an area about 50 m around those extending into the river.

Strong underwater swirls going down as deep as 10–15 m and even close to the beach may pull the strongest swimmers under water. When relaxing on one of the beaches along the riverside, keep several metres away from the water's edge and keep an eye on children playing in or near the water. Container ships passing by sometimes create surprisingly large waves that won't just get your feet wet on the beach, but may also drag you into the Elbe.

Swimming in the Outer Alster lake is possible, though swimmers are rarely seen. The water is fairly clean. The lake is only about 2–3 metres deep.


Important phone numbers in emergency (dial without any local prefix all over Germany/always free of charge):

112 = Medical emergency and fire department

110 = Police

Note that the Hamburg police wear dark-blue uniforms, unlike the federal German police and many of the other state police forces in Germany, which still wear green uniforms.

Stay healthy

Tap water is very clean and you can drink it without any exception, even use it to provide baby food.


Religious services

General Catholic services are all listed here.

Go next

Both North Sea and Baltic Sea beaches are reachable within an hour by car, railway, or bus. As Hamburg is a port city several ferries and cruises as well as freight ships can get you to (almost) everywhere in the world as well.

Town Musicians of Bremen
Routes through Hamburg

Osnabrück Bremen  W  E  Ahrensburg Lübeck
Rendsburg Neumünster  N  S  Hannover Göttingen

Routes through Hamburg

Kiel  Kiel  Basel  Hannover Frankfurt
Kiel  Kiel  Stuttgart  Hannover Frankfurt Airport
END  Hamburg  Munich  Berlin Leipzig

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 11, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.