Here are the best attractions and sights that no Hamburg traveler should miss – all for free.
Hamburg is a harbor city – its port is the third largest in the world (after London and New York) and it's a great spot to start exploring the city.
Stroll along the waterfront called St. Pauli Landungsbruecken and snack on a budget-friendly fischbrötchen (fish sandwich) which are sold at various stands. Close to the pier, you’ll find the historical warehouse district of Hamburg, Hafencity (subway station "Baumwall"). The world's largest warehouse complex, most buildings are over 100-years old and once stored the cocoa, spices, and silk that made the city rich.
Wander among the signature red brick stones punctuated by steeped gables to absorb the soul of the city. If you come here in the early evening you can see colorful light projections that create a magical atmosphere on buildings, bridges, and canals.
Fresh seafood, exotic fruits and nuts, and teas from all over the world – Hamburg's Fischmarkt is a must for every foodie. The open-air market is open on Sundays between 5 and 9 a.m., so get up early (or stay up late) to get the best buys just off the boat.
Right next door to the market is the historic fish auction hall. The main floor sells everything from waffles to wurst to cell phone cases. If you need some more filling than the local favorite of matjes (young herring), go to the second floor balcony every Sunday for a full brunch. The bustling atmosphere of the 300-year old market and hall is one of Hamburg's top attractions and there is no charge for browsing.
The eclectic mix of bars and restaurants along with strip clubs and erotic museums draws visitors from all walks of life, from night owls and students to museum-goers and tourists. This is the scene that jump-started the Beatles international career in the 1960s. Today, there is even a newly designed Beatles Square at the street corner of Reeperbahn/Große Freiheit.
Visit Hamburg's future in Hafencity. This is the largest urban building project in Europe of the 21st century.
At 155 hectares, the harbor city within a city is expected to double the population of downtown Hamburg with thousands of new waterfront apartments, gleaming high-rises, stores, restaurants, and a new symphony. The ambitious project will be finished in 2025, but you can already get a glimpse of some of Europe’s most visionary architecture.
Hamburg is famous for exclusive shopping, and the elegant Alster Arkaden is one of the most picturesque places for your retail therapy, or just some wishful window-shopping.
The historic arcades, inspired by Venetian architecture and lit by wrought iron lamps at night, leads you along the canals to Hamburg’s central square and its richly decorated Rathaus (city hall).
The baroque church of St. Michaelis is the signature landmark of Hamburg. "Michel", as locals like to call the church, was built between 1648-1661 and is one of the most famous churches in the North of Germany. Its white and golden interior seats 3,000 people and visitors can climb the spiraled staircase to the top to enjoy sweeping views of the Hamburg and the harbor.
Take a deep breath in Hamburg's green scene, the park "Planten un Blomen". It features a Botanical Garden and the largest Japanese garden in Europe. Throughout the summer months, you can enjoy free water-light concerts, theater performances, and festivals in the park.
Since the 14th century, Hamburg hosts the DOM, one of the largest open-air fun fairs in the north of Germany.
Take a walk through Hamburg's 100-year old underground Elb-Tunnel, situated at the western end of the pier. Opened in 1911, this historic landmark is 0.3 miles long and the perfect escape from frequent rainy days.
When the weather does cooperate, the tunnel is an entrance way to a small island with spectacular view of Hamburg's cityscape.