If you’re planning a trip to Hamburg, Germany, you’ll want to make the most of your time in this vibrant and diverse city. From world-class museums and historic landmarks to trendy neighborhoods and exciting nightlife, Hamburg has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the 13 best things to do in Hamburg, from sightseeing and shopping to dining and entertainment. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this guide will help you discover the best of what Hamburg has to offer. So let’s dive in and explore the top attractions and activities that should be on your itinerary for your trip to Hamburg.
Visit the Elbphilharmonie
Hamburg’s iconic Elbphilharmonie is a modern masterpiece that has become a symbol of the city’s cultural renaissance. The striking glass and steel structure, which towers over the Elbe River, is home to one of the most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world, as well as a hotel, restaurants, and public observation deck. Here’s everything you need to know about the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and why it’s a must-visit attraction in the city.
History and Design
The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg was designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and opened in 2017. The project was initially planned as a refurbishment of an existing brick warehouse, but after numerous delays and budget overruns, the decision was made to build a new structure on top of the existing building. The result is a striking combination of old and new, with the original brick facade now serving as the base for the shimmering glass and steel structure that sits on top.
The Elbphilharmonie’s design is intended to reflect the city’s maritime heritage, with its wave-like roof and curved glass facade resembling the sails of a ship. The building is also notable for its unique curved escalator that leads visitors from the ground floor up to the main concert hall, as well as the public plaza and observation deck that offer breathtaking views of the city and the river.
Concerts and Events
The main attraction of the Elbphilharmonie is undoubtedly its concert hall, which is considered one of the best in the world for both its acoustics and its stunning design. The hall is home to the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, but also hosts a wide range of other performances, from classical music and opera to jazz and world music.
Visitors can purchase tickets to attend a performance in the main concert hall, or can opt for a guided tour of the building that includes access to the smaller chamber music hall and backstage areas. The Elbphilharmonie also hosts a variety of other events and activities, including lectures, workshops, and festivals.
Dining and Accommodations
In addition to the concert hall and public plaza, the Elbphilharmonie is also home to several restaurants and bars, including the Michelin-starred Störtebeker restaurant, which offers modern German cuisine and stunning views of the river and city skyline. Visitors can also grab a bite to eat or a drink at the more casual Kaistudios restaurant and bar, or the 2nd Floor Bar and Lounge.
For those looking to spend the night, the Elbphilharmonie also features a 5-star hotel with 244 rooms and suites, each offering breathtaking views of the river and city. The hotel also includes a spa, fitness center, and event space.
Take a Harbor Cruise
A harbor cruise in Hamburg is a must-do activity for anyone visiting this beautiful city. Known as the “Gateway to the World,” Hamburg has a rich maritime history and culture, and a harbor cruise is the perfect way to experience it all. From the bustling Port of Hamburg to the tranquil canals of the Speicherstadt district, a harbor cruise offers breathtaking views and a unique perspective on the city. Here’s everything you need to know about taking a harbor cruise in Hamburg.
Types of Cruises
There are a variety of harbor cruises available in Hamburg, ranging from short sightseeing tours to longer dinner cruises. Some of the most popular options include:
The Classic Harbor Tour: This 1-hour tour takes you through the Port of Hamburg and the historic Speicherstadt district, offering stunning views of the city’s skyline and waterfront.
The Evening Lights Tour: This 2-hour tour takes place in the evening and allows you to experience the city’s illuminated landmarks and harbor at night.
The Jazz Cruise: This 3-hour cruise includes live jazz music and a 3-course dinner as you sail through the harbor and canals.
The Brunch Cruise: This 2-hour cruise includes a delicious brunch buffet as you take in the sights and sounds of the harbor.
No matter which type of cruise you choose, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
What to See
During your harbor cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of Hamburg’s most iconic landmarks and attractions. Some of the highlights include:
The Port of Hamburg: One of the busiest ports in Europe, the Port of Hamburg is a bustling hub of activity with giant cargo ships, container terminals, and cranes.
The Elbphilharmonie: Hamburg’s iconic concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, is located on the banks of the Elbe River and is a striking architectural masterpiece.
The Speicherstadt: This historic district is home to a network of canals and warehouses that date back to the 19th century. Today, the warehouses have been converted into museums, restaurants, and shops.
The Landungsbrücken: The Landungsbrücken are a series of floating docks and piers that serve as the hub for Hamburg’s water transport system. From here, you can catch a ferry to other parts of the city or take a harbor cruise.
Tips for Your Cruise
To make the most of your harbor cruise in Hamburg, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Dress appropriately for the weather: Depending on the time of year, it can be chilly on the water, so be sure to bring a jacket or sweater.
Bring a camera: The views from the harbor are stunning, so don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the sights.
Arrive early: To ensure you get a good spot on the boat, arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
Be prepared for motion sickness: If you’re prone to motion sickness, be sure to take medication or bring remedies such as ginger candy or sea bands.
Explore the Miniatur Wunderland
If you’re looking for a unique and fascinating attraction to visit in Hamburg, Germany, then look no further than Miniatur Wunderland. This incredible museum is home to the world’s largest model train set, which covers over 1,500 square meters and features more than 15 kilometers of tracks. In addition to the trains, Miniatur Wunderland also has hundreds of miniature buildings, landscapes, and vehicles, creating a stunningly detailed and realistic miniature world.
Located in Hamburg’s historic Speicherstadt district, Miniatur Wunderland is a popular destination for visitors of all ages. The museum is open daily, and admission prices vary depending on the time of day and the day of the week. However, no matter when you visit, you’re sure to be impressed by the incredible attention to detail and the vastness of the miniature world.
One of the most impressive aspects of Miniatur Wunderland is the sheer variety of landscapes and regions represented in the model world. From the rolling hills of the Swiss Alps to the bustling streets of New York City, the museum has it all. Visitors can watch as miniature trains make their way through the various regions, passing by intricate buildings, vehicles, and even tiny people going about their daily lives.
In addition to the trains and landscapes, Miniatur Wunderland also has several interactive features that allow visitors to control different parts of the miniature world. For example, visitors can control the movement of miniature vehicles on a busy highway, or they can operate cranes and other machinery in the miniature harbor.
If you’re traveling to Hamburg with kids, then a visit to Miniatur Wunderland is an absolute must. However, even adults will be impressed by the level of detail and craftsmanship on display at the museum. With so much to see and do, you could easily spend hours exploring the miniature world and discovering all of its hidden surprises.
Visit St. Michaelis Church
St. Michaelis Church, also known as Michel, is one of the most iconic landmarks of Hamburg, Germany. This beautiful church has a rich history that dates back to the 17th century, and it continues to be a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
The history of St. Michaelis Church dates back to 1600, when a small chapel was built on the site of what is now the church. Over the next century, the chapel was expanded and rebuilt several times, until it was finally destroyed by a fire in 1750. In the following years, the current church was built in its place, with construction taking nearly 20 years to complete.
Today, St. Michaelis Church is one of the most beautiful and impressive churches in Germany. The church’s impressive Baroque-style architecture is immediately noticeable from a distance, with its iconic tower standing at over 130 meters tall. Visitors to the church can climb to the top of the tower for a breathtaking view of Hamburg and the surrounding area.
Inside the church, visitors will find a stunning interior that features ornate decorations, intricate artwork, and beautiful stained glass windows. The church’s impressive organ, which dates back to 1914 and is one of the largest in the world, is also a major highlight of any visit to St. Michaelis Church.
In addition to its impressive architecture and interior, St. Michaelis Church also has a rich cultural history. The church has been the site of many important events throughout Hamburg’s history, including the funeral of composer Johannes Brahms in 1897. Today, the church continues to play an important role in the city’s cultural scene, hosting regular concerts and events throughout the year.
Visitors to Hamburg should not miss the opportunity to visit St. Michaelis Church. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply looking for a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, St. Michaelis Church is sure to impress. With its impressive tower, stunning interior, and rich cultural history, it’s no wonder that St. Michaelis Church is one of the most popular destinations in Hamburg.
Shop in the Jungfernstieg District
Jungfernstieg is a historic district located in the heart of Hamburg, Germany. It is one of the city’s most popular destinations, attracting both locals and tourists with its charming atmosphere, beautiful architecture, and scenic views of the Alster Lake.
The district’s name, which translates to “Maiden’s Path,” dates back to the 17th century, when it was a popular promenade for unmarried women. Today, Jungfernstieg is a bustling commercial and cultural center, home to some of Hamburg’s most iconic landmarks and attractions.
One of the main draws of Jungfernstieg is its prime location on the banks of the Alster Lake. The district’s picturesque waterfront is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a drink or meal with a view.
Another must-see attraction in Jungfernstieg is the Alster Fountain, a beautiful landmark that dates back to 1897. The fountain is located in the middle of the lake, and its cascading water jets create a stunning visual display that is especially impressive at night when it is illuminated with colorful lights.
Jungfernstieg is also home to some of Hamburg’s most impressive architecture. The district’s historic buildings are a mix of architectural styles, ranging from the neoclassical façade of the Alsterhaus department store to the art nouveau design of the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg.
In addition to its stunning architecture and beautiful waterfront views, Jungfernstieg is also a popular destination for shopping and dining. The district is home to a wide range of high-end boutiques and luxury shops, as well as more affordable options for budget-conscious shoppers. Visitors can also enjoy a diverse range of culinary offerings, from traditional German cuisine to international dishes and gourmet cuisine.
Explore the Fish Market
The Fish Market in Hamburg is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. This historic market, which has been in operation for over 300 years, offers visitors the chance to experience the vibrant atmosphere of a traditional German marketplace while sampling some of the freshest seafood available.
Located in the St. Pauli district, the Fish Market is open every Sunday from 5am to 9:30am, and is a favorite among early risers and partygoers who are just finishing their night out on the town. The market’s lively atmosphere is fueled by the sounds of vendors hawking their wares and live music performances, which add to the festive vibe.
At the Fish Market, visitors can find a wide variety of seafood, from fresh fish and shrimp to oysters, mussels, and lobster. One of the market’s most popular offerings is the traditional “fish sandwich” or Fischbrötchen, a classic German street food that consists of a fresh roll filled with smoked or fried fish and topped with onions, pickles, and a dollop of tartar sauce.
In addition to seafood, the Fish Market also offers a range of other goods, including fresh produce, flowers, and souvenirs. Visitors can shop for everything from exotic fruits to handcrafted jewelry, all while taking in the lively atmosphere of the market.
But the Fish Market is more than just a place to shop for fresh seafood and other goods. It is also a cultural hub, where locals and tourists alike come together to enjoy food, music, and socializing. Visitors can mingle with locals over a cold beer or a cup of coffee, while enjoying live music performances by local bands and street performers.
Visit the Hamburger Kunsthalle
Hamburger Kunsthalle is one of the most important art museums in Germany and a must-visit destination for any art lover visiting Hamburg. This stunning museum, located in the heart of the city, boasts an extensive collection of European art spanning several centuries, as well as an impressive collection of contemporary art.
The museum’s collection of European art includes works from the Middle Ages to the present day, with a particular emphasis on Northern German art. The collection includes works by some of the most famous artists in history, such as Rembrandt, Rubens, and Dürer, as well as lesser-known artists who have made significant contributions to the art world.
In addition to its collection of European art, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is also home to a significant collection of contemporary art, featuring works by some of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The contemporary art collection includes works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and Anselm Kiefer, as well as many up-and-coming artists whose work is pushing the boundaries of contemporary art.
The museum is housed in a stunning building that is itself a work of art. The building, which dates back to the 19th century, has undergone several renovations over the years, most recently in 2016, which have transformed it into a modern, state-of-the-art museum that is a joy to explore.
Visitors to the Hamburger Kunsthalle can also enjoy a range of educational programs and events, including lectures, workshops, and guided tours, which offer insights into the museum’s collections and exhibitions. Additionally, the museum offers a range of amenities, including a cafe, a gift shop, and a library, making it a perfect destination for art enthusiasts of all ages.
Enjoy the Nightlife in St. Pauli
St. Pauli is one of the most vibrant and exciting districts in Hamburg, and its nightlife scene is second to none. Whether you’re looking for live music, clubs, or bars, there is always something going on in St. Pauli after dark. From world-famous venues to hidden gems, this district has something to offer for everyone who wants to have a good time.
One of the most iconic nightlife spots in St. Pauli is the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s famous red-light district. The Reeperbahn is a lively, colorful street that is home to many of the city’s most famous clubs and bars. The street is also home to the Beatles-Platz, a square dedicated to the Fab Four, who played in Hamburg before becoming famous.
If you’re looking for live music, St. Pauli has you covered. Venues like Molotow, Knust, and Hafenklang attract some of the best local and international acts in rock, indie, and electronic music. And if you’re in the mood for something more intimate, head to Hasenschaukel or Astra Stube, two smaller venues that offer a cozy and intimate atmosphere.
For those who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, St. Pauli has plenty of bars where you can unwind and enjoy a drink. Head to Jolly Roger, a pirate-themed bar that serves some of the best cocktails in town, or the Golden Pudel Club, a quirky bar that is known for its unusual decor and laid-back vibe. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, visit Clockers, a stylish bar that specializes in cocktails made from rare and exotic ingredients.
No article about nightlife in St. Pauli would be complete without mentioning the city’s famous strip clubs. The district is home to some of the most famous strip clubs in the world, such as Dollhouse and Safari, which attract visitors from all over the globe. But if strip clubs aren’t your thing, don’t worry – there are plenty of other places to go for a good time.
See the HafenCity District
Hamburg’s HafenCity district is a stunning example of modern urban planning, with its sleek contemporary architecture, world-class museums, and vibrant cultural scene. This bustling waterfront neighborhood is one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in Europe, and it has quickly become one of the city’s top destinations for locals and visitors alike.
One of the highlights of HafenCity – besides the Elbphilharmonie – is the International Maritime Museum. This museum is home to one of the largest collections of maritime artifacts in the world, with exhibits on everything from shipbuilding and navigation to piracy and naval warfare. Visitors can explore the museum’s extensive collection of model ships, navigational instruments, and naval weapons, as well as interactive exhibits that allow them to experience life at sea.
If you’re looking for a taste of the local culture, head to the HafenCity market, a weekly market that takes place every Saturday. The market offers a range of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local crafts, as well as a lively atmosphere that is perfect for soaking up the city’s vibrant energy.
For those interested in modern art, HafenCity is also home to the Deichtorhallen, one of the largest contemporary art centers in Europe. The center is home to two exhibition halls that showcase works by some of the world’s most innovative and influential artists, as well as a photography museum that is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary photography.
Finally, no visit to HafenCity would be complete without taking a stroll along the waterfront promenade, which offers stunning views of the harbor and the city skyline. The promenade is lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a great place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant neighborhood.
Visit the Planten un Blomen Park
Planten un Blomen is one of the most beautiful and popular parks in Hamburg, offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in a peaceful and picturesque setting. The name “Planten un Blomen” means “Plants and Flowers” in Low German, and the park lives up to its name with its stunning gardens, fountains, and green spaces.
The park covers an area of 47 hectares and is home to a wide variety of plant species, including over 300 different types of roses, making it a paradise for nature lovers and garden enthusiasts. The park’s beautiful Japanese Garden, with its traditional pagoda and stunning water features, is also a popular attraction and offers a peaceful retreat for those looking for a moment of tranquility.
One of the most unique features of Planten un Blomen is its water and light show, which takes place every evening during the summer months. The show features a spectacular display of fountains, water jets, and music, accompanied by stunning lighting effects, creating a truly magical atmosphere that is enjoyed by visitors of all ages.
In addition to its gardens and water show, Planten un Blomen also offers a range of recreational activities for visitors, including a playground for children, a skating rink, and a miniature golf course. The park also features several restaurants and cafes, making it a great place to enjoy a picnic or a meal with friends and family.
For those interested in culture, the park is also home to several music and theater venues, including the popular open-air stage, where concerts and performances are held throughout the summer months. The park also hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, including the popular Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, which celebrates the arrival of spring with traditional Japanese music, food, and cultural performances.
Planten un Blomen is easily accessible by public transportation, with several bus and train stops located nearby. Admission to the park is free, making it a great option for a budget-friendly day out in Hamburg.
Explore the Hamburg Museum
Hamburg Museum, also known as Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte, is one of the most important museums in the city and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of Hamburg. The museum is located in the historic district of Neustadt, just a short walk from the famous Elbphilharmonie concert hall, and is housed in a beautiful 19th-century building that has been beautifully restored and modernized.
The museum’s collection covers more than 1,200 years of Hamburg’s history, from its early days as a small fishing village to its emergence as one of Europe’s most important ports. Visitors can explore the city’s rich cultural heritage through a range of exhibits, including paintings, photographs, artifacts, and multimedia displays.
One of the highlights of the museum is its comprehensive collection of models and dioramas that showcase the city’s architecture and urban planning over the centuries. Visitors can see models of famous Hamburg landmarks like St. Michaelis Church, the Elbphilharmonie, and the Speicherstadt district, and learn about the evolution of the city’s built environment.
Another popular exhibit at the museum is the Hamburg History Gallery, which tells the story of the city from its earliest days to the present. The exhibit features a range of interactive displays, including a model of the city in the 17th century, a multimedia timeline of Hamburg’s history, and a collection of artifacts and documents that highlight the city’s role as a center of trade, commerce, and culture.
The museum also offers a range of programs and events throughout the year, including lectures, guided tours, and workshops that allow visitors to engage with the exhibits in new and exciting ways. For families with children, the museum’s interactive exhibits and play areas make it a great destination for a fun and educational day out.
Hamburg Museum is easily accessible by public transportation, with several bus and train stops located nearby. Admission to the museum is affordable, and visitors can save money by purchasing a Hamburg Card, which provides discounts on admission to the museum and other attractions in the city.
Take a Walk Along the Alster Lakes
The Alster Lakes, located in the heart of the city, are one of the most picturesque and popular destinations in Hamburg. This natural attraction is made up of two interconnected lakes, the Binnenalster and the Außenalster, and is surrounded by parks, gardens, and historic buildings. In this article, we will explore the beauty and charm of the Alster Lakes and highlight some of the best activities and things to do in this area.
Walk around the Binnenalster
The Binnenalster, meaning “Inner Alster,” is a small, circular lake located in the heart of Hamburg. It is surrounded by elegant buildings, cafes, and restaurants, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. You can also take a boat ride around the lake, which provides an excellent opportunity to see the historic architecture from a different perspective.
Take a boat tour of the Außenalster
The Außenalster, meaning “Outer Alster,” is a larger lake that is surrounded by parks and green spaces. It is the perfect location for water sports, including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Alternatively, you can take a boat tour around the lake to enjoy the stunning views of Hamburg’s skyline.
Visit the Alster Pavilion
The Alster Pavilion, also known as the Alsterarkaden, is a historic building located on the shores of the Binnenalster. The pavilion is home to a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal while taking in the views of the lake and the surrounding architecture.
Explore the Alster Park
The Alster Park, also known as the Jungfernstieg Park, is located on the banks of the Binnenalster. It is a popular destination for picnics, walks, and bike rides, and is home to a variety of outdoor events and festivals throughout the year. You can also rent a boat and explore the lake from the water.
Attend the Alstervergnügen Festival
The Alstervergnügen Festival is an annual event that takes place on the banks of the Binnenalster. It features a variety of food, music, and cultural activities, and is a great way to experience the local culture and traditions of Hamburg. The festival is held every year in August and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Visit the St. Peter’s Church
The St. Peter’s Church, also known as the Hauptkirche St. Petri, is located near the Binnenalster and is one of the oldest churches in Hamburg. It is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture and features stunning stained glass windows and a magnificent organ. The church is also home to a variety of musical performances throughout the year.
Take a walk along the Alster Canal
The Alster Canal, also known as the Alsterfleet, is a small canal that runs through the city center of Hamburg. It is lined with historic buildings, cafes, and restaurants, making it a picturesque location for a leisurely stroll. You can also take a boat tour along the canal to learn more about the history of Hamburg and its waterways.
Visit the Reeperbahn
The Reeperbahn was established in the 17th century, and its name translates to “rope street” in English. Back then, the area was mainly known for its rope-making factories. However, by the late 19th century, the district had transformed into a red-light district, with brothels, bars, and gambling houses popping up.
The Reeperbahn was also popular among sailors, who would visit the district for a night of entertainment before setting sail. This gave rise to the famous slogan, “The sailors’ home port,” which is still used today to promote the district.
Over the years, the Reeperbahn has gone through many changes. It was heavily damaged during World War II, but it was rebuilt in the post-war years and became even more popular. Today, the Reeperbahn is a bustling entertainment district that attracts visitors from all over the world.
Things to Do in Reeperbahn
The Reeperbahn has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in live music, theater, or just want to explore the nightlife. Here are some of the top things to do in the Reeperbahn district:
Visit the Bars and Clubs: The Reeperbahn is home to some of the best bars and clubs in Hamburg. From rock and metal clubs to techno and electronic music venues, you’ll find a wide range of options here. Some of the popular bars and clubs include Docks, Gruenspan, and Molotow.
Catch a Show: The Reeperbahn is also known for its theaters, which offer a variety of shows, from comedy to drama to musicals. Some of the popular theaters in the district include Schmidt Theater and St. Pauli Theater.
Explore the Red-Light District: Although the Reeperbahn is not as seedy as it used to be, it still has a red-light district that is worth exploring. The district is home to some of the oldest brothels in Hamburg, and you’ll also find a variety of strip clubs and sex shops here.
Try the Street Food: The Reeperbahn is also known for its street food, with many food stalls offering delicious snacks and meals. From currywurst to kebabs, there’s something for every taste.
Visit the Beatles-Platz: The Beatles played many gigs in Hamburg in the early 1960s, and the city has honored them with their own plaza. The Beatles-Platz features a statue of the band and is a must-visit spot for any Beatles fan.
Experience the Reeperbahn at Night: The Reeperbahn truly comes alive at night, with the neon lights illuminating the streets and the music pumping from the clubs. It’s an experience you won’t forget.