Guide to Hamburg

Hamburg Harbor

GettyImages / RudyBalasko


Hamburg is Germany's second largest city (after Berlin) and home to 1.8 million people. Located in the north of the country off the Elbe River and North Sea, it features a large working harbor, interconnecting waterways, and hundreds of canals. Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined, all adding up a to a bustling city with lots of maritime charm.

Today, Hamburg is the mecca of the German media and its publishing houses make the city one of the wealthiest in Germany. Hamburg is also known for elegant shopping, world-class museums, and the legendary nightlife on the Reeperbahn. It is one of the cities you must visit in Germany with plenty to do for the whole family.

Attractions in Hamburg

There are more than just ten things to see and do in Hamburg. Among the must sees:

  • Hamburg Harbor - The 800-year-old harbor is one of the largest ports in the world. Take the free ferry or wander through the reinvigorated Hafencity, a warehouse district that is newly built up and offers the latest in shopping and dining.
  • Fischmarkt - Another historic, lively working site is the 300-year-old fish market. Come early to shop, or come here after a late night to eat.
  • Emigration Museum Ballinstadt - This museum covers the mass migration of 5 million people who moved through the city from 1850 to 1939.
  • Church of St. Michaelis - A baroque church that defines the city skyline and ls known affectionately at "Michel".
  • Hamburger Kunsthalle - An impressive art collection makes up one of the largest museums in the country.
  • Planten un Blomen - A botanical Garden with the largest Japanese garden in Europe.

Hamburg Nightlife

After dark the city doesn't stop. This is the city where the Beatles first found fame, there are endless bars and clubs, and the Reeperbahn, one of the biggest red light districts in Europe, earns its reputation.

Explore Hamburg's top bars, restaurants, theaters, sex shops, erotic museums and strip clubs any time of day, but visit at night to get the full neon experience. And while you need to watch your possessions, the area is generally quite safe.

Food in Hamburg

Hamburg is famous for seafood: The fresh catch from the North Sea arrive daily at the harbor. For fine dining, head to Restaurant Rive, which offers excellent seafood and commanding views of the harbor.

For a cheap snack on the go, walk down the main pier of Landungsbrücken where you can get fresh and inexpensive fish sandwiches called Fischbrötchen.

Weather in Hamburg

Hamburg's weather is typical of Germany and due to its northern location and westerly winds coming in from the North Sea, Hamburg travelers should always be prepared for rain.

Hamburg summers are pleasantly warm and breezy with temperatures in the upper 60s. Winters can be very cold with temperatures dropping below zero and the people of Hamburg like to go ice skating on the frozen lakes and rivers in the city center.

Transport in Hamburg

Hamburg International Airport

Hamburg International airport opened in 1911 and is Germany’s oldest airport still in operation. Recently, it has undergone major modernization and now offers a new airport hotel, shopping malls and modern architecture.

Located only 8 km outside of Hamburg, the fastest way to reach the city center is by metro. Take the S1 to reach the city center in approximately 25 minutes.

Cabs are also available outside the terminals and cost about 30 euro into the city center.

Hamburg Main Train Station

Situated in the center of the city, Hamburg’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is surrounded by many museums and is just a few steps away from its main pedestrian shopping street, Mönckebergstraße.

So how long does it take you to reach Hamburg by train?

  • From Berlin to Hamburg: 1.5 hours
  • From Frankfurt to Hamburg: 3.5 hours
  • From Cologne to Hamburg: 4 hours
  • From Munich to Hamburg: 6 hours

Getting Around Hamburg

Besides exploring the city by foot, the easiest way to get around is by public transportation. Well-developed, modern and easy to navigate, the Hamburg metro system (HVV) includes rail, bus, and ferries (that are also a great and affordable way to see Hamburg's cityscape from the waterside).

If you plan on using the metro a lot, the Hamburg Discount Card may be a good deal for you.

Where to Stay in Hamburg

From affordable hostels, to luxurious hotels, Hamburg offers a wide range of accommodation that suits every taste and wallet. For example, check out the design-conscious Superbude Hotel on our coolest hotels in Germany list, or our complete list of best hotels in Hamburg.