Only 100 kilometres from the North Sea, Hamburg is the second largest port in Europe to this day and home to more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice, and London combined. Visitors to the city enjoy its strong maritime connection and progressive, vibrant culture. Read more.
Only 100 kilometres from the North Sea, Hamburg is the second largest port in Europe to this day and home to more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice, and London combined. Visitors to the city enjoy its strong maritime connection and progressive, vibrant culture.
Surrounded by water
If you’re game, start your day very early, at Hamburg’s famous fish market. Stretching back 300 years it gets going from 5am on Sunday morning and is open until around 10am. Buy fish fresh off the boat and be sure not to pass up the chance for a fishbrötchen (fresh fish roll) for breakfast. To enjoy the water take a boat tour on the river Elbe - or alternatively take the ferry from Landungsbrücken - for a mere 2 Euros you’ll get a view of the fish market, the waterfront, Elbe beach, and Hamburg’s port. Lake Alster is also a boating paradise, dotted with canoes, dinghies and paddle boats, and the steamer that connects Jungfernstieg on the inner Alster to the quays on the outer Alster.
In the afternoon stroll along the Landungsbrücken, or St-Pauli Landing Stages, dotted with restaurants and cafes, or explore the area of the Speicherstadt, which provides an insight into Hamburg’s past role as an important trading centre. The massive warehouse complex in the centre of the city was where spices, teas, coffees and carpets arrived from the farthest-flung corners of the globe. You can also wander through HafenCity, Europe’s largest land development project, a new mixed commercial, residential and recreational district on what used to be industrial docklands. The area is slowly taking shape with buildings such as the impressive Elbphilarmonie Hamburg concert hall under construction.
Relax in the “Planten un Blomen” Park, which provides the perfect break from the city, to enjoy the idyllic gardens and sip a tea at the serene Japanese Garden Tea House. The beaches along the Elbe river are also the ideal place to have a barbeque at the end of the day while you watch the ships on the harbour. Walk home via Elbchaussee, a beautiful street lined with 19th century villas that overlook the river.
Getting around and where to stay
Named a European Green Capital in 2011, Hamburg is incredibly bike friendly. In fact, plans are underway to connect the city’s green spaces with a network covering 40 percent of the city. Explore these spaces by renting a StadtRAD (city bike) from one of the 70 checkpoints throughout the city - free for the first half-hour and with a maximum per day charge of 12 Euro. The city also has a comprehensive public transport network that includes under and above-ground trains, buses and ferries.
To the east of the city centre, the once downtrodden area of St. Georg is picking up with hip new establishments opening, while to the west is Altona with its pretty Altstadt (old town) and genteel residences lining the western edge of the lake. To stay in a more lively part of town try Rotherbaum, the student area with its cinemas, bars and pubs. Or to be in the heart of Hamburg’s nightlife, stay in St. Pauli, famously home to the Reeperbahn - the city’s red-light district.