A diverse city with the right fusion of social progress and modernity in its history make Hamburg a very interesting place to visit. Once overshadowed by neighboring Berlin and Munich, it has emerged to become one of the best destinations in Germany.
Hamburg is situated on the River Elbe between the North and Baltic seas and is known as the Free City and a key member of the Hanseatic League. It is often defined as the “Venice of the North” but offers six times more bridges than Venice. It is also known as a ‘green city’ and provides many nature areas for travelers – the recipe for a great getaway.
The recent opening of the beautiful Elbphilharmonie concert in January 2017 has further solidified Hamburg as Germany’s top cultural destination.
How to Get There
Your adventure in Hamburg happens the moment you land in Hamburg Airport (HAM), which is the fifth-busiest airport in Germany. The airport is located about eight kilometers north of Hamburg City Centre.
There are many ways to get from the airport to the city centre and one of them is the public bus. This mode of transportation provides two lines, which runs during the day and offers two-night lines. You can check the timetables ahead of time to make sure that you do not miss the bus.
The airport also offers its train station that is located underneath its terminals. The train S1 S-Bahn runs every 10 minutes and takes about 24 minutes to take you to the city centre. There are also taxi services available but also takes the same amount of time as well as a private transfer that you can coordinate with your hotel.
Since Hamburg is built on water – transportation can be quite complex but that doesn’t mean that it’s not convenient. The key element is the network of rapid transit and regional rail services are the S-Bahn and U-Bahn. There are four U-Bahn underground lines and six S-Bahn suburban lines and nine regional rail services that easily connect you to other cities in the region.
There is also an extensive range of bus services including metro buses that offer frequent services, express buses, sprinter buses, and regional buses. Of course, you can also ride the ferries and go around the harbor. Meanwhile, you can rent a bicycle for short distances around the centre.
Things to Do
Downtown Hamburg is the core of the city. It offers beautiful views of Lake Alster and is home to countless architectural gems and a shopping district that is one of the best in the world. Hamburg has been defined as a ‘shopper’s paradise’ and offers everything from top brands to unique finds. The centre of the city also features a beautiful city hall and delightful cafes and restaurants. A canal boat tour also gives you a view of vast sailing boats and lavish villas.
Meanwhile, Hamburg is also known for its museums. For history buffs and art lovers, they can visit Kunsthalle Hamburg, International Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Crafts. Or you can explore the neighborhoods of St. Pauli, Sternschanze, and Karolinenviertel with their interesting street arts.
Other famous tourist attractions in Germany include the Miniatur Wunderland and Elbtunnel, sometimes called St. Pauli Elbtunnel. The first one showcases the largest model railway in the world and features special exhibits. Meanwhile, Elbtunnel is a long tunnel that runs under the Elbe River and connects it to the city centre.
St. Michael’s Church gives you the excellent views of the city through its unique tower. You can also visit Planten un Blomen which is a large urban park in the middle of Hamburg. It’s an excellent escape from all the walking and a great way to unwind and be one with nature.
The Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall’s beautiful skyline is meant to look like ocean waves. There are also many concerts you can enjoy during your visit. And lastly, don’t leave Hamburg without visiting Jungfernstieg which is a promenade that runs along Lake Binnenalster.
What to Eat
Hamburg offers a diverse palette that brings in the perfect mix of tradition and modernity. It is known to have a multifaceted culinary scene that is slowly evolving with many foods to offer to tourists from all over the world.
Since Hamburg is surrounded by water, it’s only natural for them to serve the best seafood in the country. The Altona Fischmarkt is a weekly fish market that is often visited by families and tourists. It has become a hub for local life and offers a variety of food stalls. Try everything from yummy fish sandwiches to fish burgers. A more formal seafood restaurant to try is Fischereifhafen.
Another street food to try is offered at Rindermarkthalle which used to be a former cattle market and contains numerous cafes and restaurants. Its stalls offer everything from sushi to barbecue and burgers and even special desserts such as crepes. You may also try Heimat Kuche & Bar for the total Hamburg experience.
Hamburg has often been known for offering the best nightlife experience in the whole of Germany. Its nightlife offers everything from unique underground bars to on the water party experiences. Popular spots include St. Pauli, which features the red light and party district and offers bars such as Ex-Sparr and Glanz & Gloria.
Another alternative is Sternschanze which is both trendy and alternative. You can try the funky Le Fonque or the laidback Yoko Mono.
Where to Stay
Hamburg offers a wide variety of neighborhoods with hotels that will fit any type of budget.
Travelers who are in for an adventure often stay in St. Georg which is northeast of Altstadt. It offers the best hotels in Hamburg from luxurious names to unique ones such as The Aussen Alster. It is a multi-diverse location and is home to many cafes and restaurants as well.
Meanwhile, Schanzenviertel was once the homes of punks and activities but has gentrified and is now home to many modern shops and restaurants. It offers a lot of antique shops and independent boutiques. Many Hamburg hotels are located here and range from uber expensive to priced just right.
Altstadt is known as Hamburg’s Old Town and is a hub of culture and activity. It is perfect for families because it features many of the city’s museums and history. New Hotel Henri is one of the best Hamburg hotels as well as Adina Apart Hotel.
• Get to know the zones. The public network is structured into five rings around the Alster Lakes. Research on the zones to better complement your trip.
• Hamburg has many beautiful, secret corners that offer the best views. A passage between houses on Deichstrasse will bring you to this place.
• Hamburg has many smaller bars and establishments that only take cash so it’s important to always have it on you.