The Top Ten Things to Do in Hamburg

Hamburg's Best Attractions and Sights

Alsterarkaden
••• Klaus Kehrls / Getty Images

Find out what to do in Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. From the harbor to the infamous Reeperbahn to the fish market, here are Hamburg's top ten attractions and sights that no Hamburg traveler should miss.

  • 01 of 10
    Hamburg, Landungsbrücken and harbour
    ••• Hans-Peter Merten/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Hamburg is a harbor city and its port is the third largest in the world (after London and New York City).

    There are so many ways to still enjoy Hamburg's 800 year old harbor. Take a boat tour, stroll along the waterfront, and have an excellent seafood dinner at restaurant Rive, which offers commanding views of the port.

    Want an even closer look at the harbor? Climb into a real Russian submarine and experience history below the surface.

  • 02 of 10
    Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany
    ••• Konrad Wothe / LOOK-foto

    The city's most famous street is the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's Red Light District - one of Europe's biggest. Located within the district of St. Pauli, this area is all neon, erotic theaters, and strip clubs, but don't be scared off. The area is largely safe and everyone is welcome from Kinder to Oma.

    The eclectic mix of bars and restaurants along with strip clubs and erotic museums brought the Beatles here, who started their international career in Hamburg in the 1960’s. Fans of the Fab Four should visit the Indra Club and the Kaiserkeller as well as the newly built Beatles Square at the street corner of Reeperbahn/Große Freiheit.

  • 03 of 10
    Fischmarkt, traditional fish market takes place every Sunday morning, market, building in the backround is Fischauktionshalle, St. Pauli, Hamburg
    ••• Engel & Gielen / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

    Fresh seafood, exotic fruits and nuts, and teas from all over the world – the Hamburg Fischmarkt is a must for every foodie or collector. Everything is for sale, from fine porcelain to live animals to spices from around the world. 

    The 300-year-old open-air market, right next to the historic fish auction hall, is open on Sundays between 5 and 9 a.m., so get up early to get the best buys just off the boat - or just forget going to sleep. Plenty of visitors are still on their night out. And clearly the hours aren't a turn-off, over 70,000 visitors walk the many stands along the Elbe every day.

  • 04 of 10
    Ballinstadt Emigration Museum Hamburg
    ••• Sean Gallup/Getty Images
    Between 1850 and 1939, more than 5 million people from all over Europe emigrated from Hamburg to the New World. The museum complex "Ballinstadt" recreates this life-changing journey on historic grounds; see the original emigration halls, and an extensive interactive exhibition (in English and German). You can even trace back the journey of your own family by studying the original passenger lists and the largest genealogical database in the world.
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Historic Warehouse District

    Photo of Hamburg Germany
    ••• Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

    Adjacent to the harbor, you find Hamburg's historical warehouse district, the largest warehouse complex in the word. Narrow cobble stone streets and small waterways are lined by 100-year old warehouses, which store cocoa, silk, and oriental carpets. Light projections in the evening create a magical atmosphere on buildings, bridges and canals.

  • 06 of 10
    Kunsthalle Hamburg
    ••• Daniela Ziebell / Wikimedia Commons

    A trio of architectural gems house one of the most impressive art collections in Germany. Over 700 years of European art history are represented at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, from medieval altars to modern paintings. Highlights include masterpieces by Rembrandt, Caspar David Friedrich, and Edvard Munch.

  • 07 of 10
    St. Michaelis Church Hamburg
    ••• Lux Tonnerre

    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 the most famous church in the North of Germany; its white and golden interior seats 3000 people. Climb the spiraled top to enjoy sweeping views of the Hamburg city scape and harbor.

  • 08 of 10

    Alster Arkaden

    Alsterarkaden
    ••• Klaus Kehrls / Getty Images

    Hamburg is famous for exclusive shopping, and the elegant Alster Arkaden is one of the most picturesque places for your retail therapy. The historic arcades, inspired by Venetian architecture and lit by wrought iron lamps at night, lead you along the canals to Hamburg's main square and its richly decorated city hall.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Hafencity

    Hamburg Speicherstadt and Hafencity
    ••• Martin Deja

    Visit Hamburg's future in "Hafencity", the largest urban building project in Europe of the 21st century. At 155 hectares, this 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 enjoy some of Europe's most visionary architecture here.

     

  • 10 of 10
    Planten un Blomen Hamburg
    ••• DZT/Planten un Blomen Michael Pasdzior
    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.