Hamburg's Fish Market

Go Early or Stay up Late for this Hamburg Highlight

Sunday morning market in Fischmarkt
John Freeman/Getty Images

Exotic fruits, spices, flowers, and live music - Hamburg's Fischmarkt is so much more than fish.

It is a top attraction in the city and a foodie paradise, a must see in Hamburg. Located right on the harbor, the second-busiest port in Europe, discover the history of the Hamburg fish market and how to plan your visit.

History of Hamburg's Fish Market

Since 1703, this marketplace has been selling the freshest fish in the city. A bustling area for trade, it wasn't long before other goods like fine porcelain, enough animals to fill Noah's Ark, armfuls of flowers, and foods and spices from all over the world were sold as well. 

The Fish Market Hall located next to he market is over 100-years old, built in 1894. Its iconic red brick and metal dome are a Hamburg landmark. Its elegant design is that of a Roman market hall, complete with three-aisled basilica and transept.

The area and auction hall were partly destroyed by WWII bombing. It had already been stripped of elements such as the bronze which were melted down for the war effort. Burnt out and sad, it almost met the wrecking ball in the early 70s. But it was saved, along with reconstruction of the neighboring buildings, and restored to its former glory in the 1980s. To crown the resurrected building, the Minerva statue created by Kiel sculptor Hans Kock was placed back in the square.

The market is busy with activity until 9:30. These hours are a result of a compromise dating back to the markets opening. Fishermen eager to sell directly from the docks petitioned the city to sell on Sundays, but the clergy objected as it conflicted with religious services. The city allowed the market to open at 5:00, but requiring it to close before church. Despite these early hours (especially for those that indulged in the infamous pleasures of the Reeperbahn), over 70,000 visitors walk the stands along the Elbe each market day.

Visiting Hamburg's Fish Market

Haggling is loud and boisterous with Marktschreier (market criers) calling out their wares and market value. They offer "Zehn euro" (ten euros)?" Coyly respond with an "Sieben" (seven), and work from there.

The market includes established market stalls to humble wares out of car trunks. A basket of strawberries, an local herbs, and - of course - fish. In a country full of meats and sausage, the fish market offers everything from perch to halibut to eel. Approximately 36,000 tons of fresh fish are sold on the grounds of the fish market. This accounts for about 14 percent of Germany’s fresh fish supply. Buy seafood to prepare at home, or take-aways like fischbrötchen (fish sandwhich), krabben (prawns), or the local favorite of matjes (young herring).

Once you are done shopping, it is time for breakfast. The main floor offers all your tummy could desire from waffles to wurst in a happily chaotic environment. There are also live concerts for the revelers who haven't stopped partying from the night before. A bier at 8:00? Why not! There is no where else that combines fresh seafood, local vegetables and fruits, beers and live music so perfectly. Even brides and grooms have been spotted ending a night of festivities here at the market. 

For those wanting something more formal, there is a very elegant brunch held on the second floor balcony every Sunday with the sounds of the band drifting up to the dining area. If you must sit down for a meal and brunch isn't an option, Fischereihafen Restaurant (Grosse Elbstrasse 143) is a local institution located nearby. There is also a restaurant and oyster bar with all the seafood purchased from the Auction Hall.

Visitor Info Hamburg's Fish Market

Note that the markets short hours make for a crowded experience. You should also leave your best shoes at home as the Fischmarkt is actually below sea level and stormy days come with wet ground.

Address: Sankt Pauli Fischmarkt, Große Elbstraße 9, Hamburg in St Pauli down from the Reeperbahn
Public transport: S1 and S3 Station "Reeperbahnl"; U3 Station "Landungsbrücken"; Bus line 112 Stop "Fischmarkt"
Parking: At Edgar-Engelhard-Kai and in Van Smissen Straße
Phone: 040 30051300
Opening Hours: Year round. Summer (starting March 15) every Sunday from 5:00 - 9:30; Winter (starting November 15) from 7:00 - 9:30
Admission: Free
Brunch at Fish Market Auction Hall: Available every Sunday from 6:00 til noon and is 22 euros per person

Was this page helpful?