Things to do in

Hamburg

From the UNESCO-listed warehouse district to the Reeperbahn, there’s something for everyone in this maritime city.

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The Top 10 Things to Do in Hamburg

Thanks to centuries of sea trade, the vibrant city of Hamburg offers an unparalleled wealth and variety of culture. Stay a weekend, stay a week – you're sure to fall for its irresistible charm. Whatever you do, don't miss out on these 10 highlights!

  • St. Pauli

    1. St. Pauli

    Don't let St. Pauli's skull and crossbones flag deter you. This traditionally working class neighborhood is now one of Hamburg's most culturally diverse and vibrant areas.

  • Reeperbahn

    2. Reeperbahn

    Also known as the "most sinful mile," the Reeperbahn is Hamburg's infamous red-light district. Nowadays it's a bustling and highly popular locale, home to the city's best nightlife.

  • Hamburg Dungeon

    3. Hamburg Dungeon

    Discover the dark side of Hamburg's history on a fun and interactive tour – but be warned, the Hamburg Dungeon is not for the faint of heart!

  • Alster Lakes

    4. Alster Lakes

    These two beautiful lakes surrounded by parks are ideal for a break. Have a picnic, jog along the water, or take a boat out. At Alster Lakes you'll forget that you're in the middle of a city.

  • Hamburg Harbor

    5. Hamburg Harbor

    The Port of Hamburg has an important economic role in the city and is still today one of the busiest ports worldwide. Take a stroll along Germany's "Gateway to the World" gorgeous historic harbor and top it off with a snack from the famous fish market.

  • 6. Speicherstadtmuseum

    The Speicherstadt, Hamburg's warehouse district, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Well worth a visit, the Speicherstadtmuseum offers fascinating insight into the city's rich trade history.

  • Hamburg Zoo (Tierpark Hagenbeck)

    7. Hamburg Zoo (Tierpark Hagenbeck)

    Whatever your age, you're sure to love this charming zoo, where every care has been taken to make the animals feel at home. The aquarium next door is equally impressive.

  • 8. Finkenwerder

    If you're looking to enjoy a delicious seafood meal, head to this quaint riverside neighborhood. The restaurant Landungsbrucken Finkenwerder has long been a local favorite.

  • 9. Herbertstraße

    A gated street entirely dedicated to legal prostitution and lined with classic "windows." If the Reeperbahn didn't satisfy your curiosity, the nearby Herbertstraße certainly will.

  • Harbor Piers (Landungsbruecken)

    10. Harbor Piers (Landungsbruecken)

    Stroll along the Landungsbruecken to watch the ships come and go, then hop on a ferry and enjoy an inexpensive and picturesque ride across the waters en route to your next destination.

Planning Your Visit

  • Save Money on Transport

    If you plan on discovering the many sides of Hamburg, it's really worth getting bundle transport tickets. Different deals are available depending on the length of your stay and you're sure to save a lot of money rather than buying singles each time. Also, these tickets give you access to the ferries, which are the cheapest way of admiring the city from the water.

  • Wait for the Spring

    Hamburg is infamous for its grey, cold winters. If you can, it's best to plan your visit between April and September. Once the weather improves, the city truly transforms – moods soar, streetside cafés fill up, and the parks and lakes once again become bustling hang-out spots.

  • Eat Like a Local Without Breaking the Bank

    Known for its gigantic portions and very reasonable prices, the restaurant Erika's Eck near the Schlachthof has been a favorite for locals and tourists alike for over 30 years now. This is the perfect spot to feast on some original German grub and if you're out on the town, come here after midnight for its famous €1 sandwiches – available until 9am!

Good to know

  • Language
    German
  • Currency
    Euro (€)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+01:00)
  • Country Code
    +49
  • Best time to visit
    Spring, Summer

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Hamburg

Thomas Dowson is the founder of Archaeology Travel, a website for those seeking adventures in archaeology and history. As a professional archaeologist Thomas enjoys visiting archaeological and historical sites around the world. And sharing these experiences so that others can explore the world’s pasts more deeply. On his blog, you can find more information and all the details for planning a trip to Hamburg.

What should I do on my first trip to Hamburg?

Hamburg, more specifically the harbour of Hamburg, is the main attraction here. For anyone planning their first visit to Hamburg my recommendation for an essential, first experience is a harbour cruise. There is no better way to get a feel for this city and its history. From the UNESCO listed historic Speicherstadt (‘city of warehouses’), to the very striking 20th century Elbphilharmonie (concert hall). Whether you are interested in a general cruise about the port and its history or something more specific, such as the Hanseatic history of Hamburg, the choice of river cruises is broad.

What are some hidden gems to see in Hamburg?

Not exactly hidden in Hamburg’s harbour, but certainly half submerged is a Soviet submarine. Built in the 1970s, the U-434 submarine is still in very good condition and provides a near as real-life as possible experience of what conditions in a submarine are like. Visitors enter at one end, and then walk and even crawl through compartments to the exit at the other end. Of course there is a sense of claustrophobia. But this is nothing when you are told that this vessel would hold up to 78 men.

How much time should I spend in Hamburg?

Apparently the average visitor spends two nights in Hamburg. Like most big cities with a long history, you could easily spend a week in Hamburg and still come back for more. But two nights does seem rushed, that is only one full day. Two or three full days would be a better amount of time to explore the city: to take a harbour cruise, see the impressive town hall, visit St. Michaelis church and walk though the old warehouse district.

What food is Hamburg known for? 

For anyone with a sweet tooth, when in Hamburg you have to try at least one Franzbrötchen. Pastry is rolled in lots of butter and cinnamon sugar before being baked. History, or urban legend, has it that these pastries were introduced to Hamburg by Napoleon's troops. For a more substantial dish try ‘labskaus’, a stew made up of different ingredients including beetroot, which then gives it a pink colour. Local cuisine has not only been influenced by seafaring visitors from around the world, but also the culinary traditions typical of northern Germany.

What is the best way to get around Hamburg?

Hamburg is a big city, and the various points of interest are scattered about. Fortunately Hamburg has a very good public transport system, making getting about easy on the feet. Specifically for visitors, there are also the usual hop-on-hop-off buses, which follow routes around the city stopping at most of the main attractions. 

What are the best months to visit Hamburg?

Hamburg is a great city to visit during the Summer. It never gets uncomfortably hot, and it is a lot drier and less windy than it is during winter months and early spring. As the sun starts shining and spring flowers start blooming, so too Hamburg comes alive with street festivals, live music and art performances all over the city. Over four days in September and at many venues in the Reeperbahn, visitors can enjoy Europe’s largest club festival - the Reeperbahn Festival.

What is neighborhood Reeperbahn known for?

For a vibrant night scene head to the Reeperbahn in St Pauli. The entertainment heart of Hamburg. The street is lined with theatres and nightclubs, bars and restaurants. And it is not known as ‘the most sinful mile’ for nothing. You will also find sex shops, strip clubs and brothels. Look out for the Beatles monument, a reminder that the group built their reputation here as well as in Liverpool.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

Hamburg is not only Germany’s second largest city, it is the most wealthy city. Not surprising then it is a shoppers paradise. You can find everything from flea markets to luxury boutiques and brands. Along the kilometre long Neuer Wall you will find a collection of the most exclusive shops in Hamburg. These shops sell everything from high end fashion and jewellery to designer furniture. Colonnaden not only has exclusive boutiques in historic architecture, the pedestrianised street hosts a monthly flea market. Good buys and antiques can be found at the many weekly and regular flea markets in Hamburg.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Hamburg?

Hamburg is home to the incredible Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway. This is no ordinary miniature railway exhibit. Fifty computers direct over 1000 trains over nearly 16,000 metres of track length that are set in reconstructions of nine geographic regions, including central Germany and Switzerland, USA and South America. There are over 269,000, over 9,000 cars and 130,000 trees. And a lot more. Besides visiting this vast model railway set, the organisers also stage special events. The most popular and booked out being the ‘culinary trip around the world’.

What are the best annual events in Hamburg? 

Hamburg has over 30 individual Christmas markets, which run from the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve. Many of the Hamburg neighbourhoods have their own markets, and there are several in the city centre as well. St Pauli has one of the most popular markets, and another one not to miss is the market in the vast square in front of the City Hall. There is even a Dogs Christmas market.

Other Sightseeing Options in Hamburg

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What people are saying about Hamburg

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 63,228 reviews

Eine wirklich coole Tour, wenn man mal spannende Geschichten und Fakten über die Reeperbahn hören und sie gleichzeitig erleben will. Auch der Guide hat die Tour sehr authentisch gestaltet und sie nicht langweilig werden lassen. Insgesamt echt empfehlenswert, auch wenn es leider ein paar kleine Abstriche wegen Corona gab (v.a. Alkoholverbot und Sperrstunde).

Es war unser erster Abend in Hamburg. Unsere Führung würde von Jürgen durchgeführt. Er kennt sich super im Kiez aus und hat uns tolle Stories erzählt. Außerdem hat er sich viel Zeit für uns genommen. Natürlich würde ich die Tour wieder mit Jürgen buchen.

Hafen Rundfahrt war einfach super. Einzig die Tatsache, dass das Boot nicht von Steg 1 sondern von Steg 7 wegfährt war unangenehm. Wenn man relativ zeitnah kommt, wird das zeitlich doch knapp zum anderen Steg zu laufen

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and gave us much more information than expected. She was very familiar with the area and the history and knew things that one could not simply discover over the internet.

Einfach super! Sehr gut organisiert und extrem nett und freundlich durchgeführt.