Hamburg City Travel Guide

Interested in things to do in Hamburg, Germany? Dive head first into this city of Hamburg Travel Guide. Find out where to stay in Hamburg, Hamburg’s tourist attractions, what to eat and where to shop.

River Elbe and the Hamburg Waterfront

Hamburg City

Many cities in Germany have masses of water flowing through them, but none have quite the same appeal as Hamburg. Germany’s second largest city and biggest port is one of the most beautiful places in Germany if you love water. 

Hamburg lies in the north of Germany close to the border of Denmark. Hamburg is one of Germany’s 16 states. The states surrounding Hamburg are Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. 


Quick Facts about Hamburg

  • Founded in the 9th century
  • Known as the “Gateway to the World” thanks to its port
  • Hamburg’s population is 1,788,000 (the greater metro area) [source: Macrotrends, 2022]
  • There’s over 2500 bridges with the city limits of Hamburg making it the city with the most bridges in Europe.

The city has been shaped by its maritime past. And many things to do in Hamburg are centered around the harbor, canals, rivers and lakes. 

The city of Hamburg was part of the medieval Hanseatic trading league. An organization set up by northern German towns to protect their trading interests.

Where do I find the tourist information center for the city of Hamburg?
There are three tourist information centers in Hamburg. One is found at the airport between terminals 1 & 2. A second center is located in Hamburg’s main train station

At the harbor, there’s another tourist information center. The address is Bei den St. Pauli Landungsbrücken 4, 20359 Hamburg.

Sightseeing in Hamburg

You will not be stuck for things to do in Hamburg. The city is packed with history. There are enough museums, art galleries, and historic buildings to keep you busy for months.

We recommend you collect a free map of Hamburg city center from the tourist information office. Many hotels will also have free maps available, just ask at reception. 

There are many districts of Hamburg to visit but we recommend sticking to the most central areas. See our quick sightseeing guide to Hamburg below.


Best areas for sightseeing in Hamburg

Click on the area to read more about it

A good place to start sightseeing in Hamburg is in the Altstadt. 

Locate the Town Hall – Rathaus – and take your time wandering through the streets and canals. Make sure you find Deichstraße, dating back to the 14th century. This is the oldest street in Hamburg.

Look out for the historic churches which have viewing platforms open to the public.

To the west of the Altstadt sits Hamburg-Neustadt. Wander along the promenades and sit Grossneumarkt. Have a look at the Hamburg Museum or Museum fur Hamburgische Geschichte, if you like your history. This is the largest city history museum in Germany.

Those who like to shop will not be disappointed by the Hamburg-Neustadt. It is the place to go for an upmarket shopping trip.

Don’t forget to have a look at Komponistenviertel – Hamburg’s composers’ quarter. The red brick houses from the 17th and 18th centuries are iconic. Walk in the footsteps of many a famous composer.

North of Neustadt
Stop at Planten un Blomen Park for a moment of peace away from the hustle and bustle. Especially good if you’ve got children in tow. There’s several playparks and cafes.

The Reeperbahn is found in St. Pauli, this is where you’ll find the (in)famous nightlife of Hamburg. Also known as the Most Sinful Mile

It had its heyday in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Things have changed a bit now and the area has become a little rundown. There is still a red-light district run by the city.

Clubs, restaurants, bars and pubs line the streets and surrounding streets. Locals tend to stick to the side streets of Reeperbahn for nightlife.

Hamburg Messe is in St Pauli

If you’re in Hamburg for a tradeshow, you’ll find the Hamburg Messe to the north of St Pauli. Messehallen U-Bahn Station serves Hamburg Messe. 



A new area of Hamburg thanks to an urban redevelopment project. Museums, restaurants and parks are dotted through the area. HafenCity is home to the architectural wonder that is the Elbphilharmonie.


Close by to HafenCity, you’ll find the UNESCO world heritage site Speicherstadt. The red brick, canal side warehouses date from the 19th and 20th centuries. Interesting fact – these imposing buildings are built on oak foundations.

Popular museums in the Speicherstadt include the Hamburg Dungeon and Miniator Wunderland, for seafarers, the International Maritime Museum is worth a visit. The building alone is impressive – the oldest preserved warehouse in Hamburg.

A must for all visitors is a trip to the waterfront at St Pauli Piers. Head to the jetties at “Landungsbruecken”. The U-Bahn & S-Bahn station called “Landungsbruecken” is opposite the jetties on the waterfront. 

Made up of a series of pontoons built in the 50s after being destroyed in WWII.
From the pontoons, you can watch the ferries in the harbor and look at the classic boats. There are cafes and restaurants galore.

This is a good place to catch a ferry to see the harbor from a different angle. This is also where tourist boat tours set sail from.

Places to Stay in Hamburg

If you’re only travelling to Hamburg for a few days you’ll definitely be wondering where’s the best place to stay in Hamburg? It’s a big city with a lot of things to see so being on the outskirts is not an option. 

We’ve created a list of the best areas to sleep in Hamburg if you’re only staying for a couple of nights. 
Each area is centrally located and well-placed for tourist attractions. All the recommended areas are located in the city center and within walking distance of the main train station, Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. 
Where to stay in Hamburg



Home to many luxury hotels. This upmarket area is expensive but there are some hidden gems which won’t cost the earth. Close to the sights and sounds of Hamburg but also has quieter neighborhood streets.


Right in the heart of the most historic part of Hamburg. The prime location of Altstadt does mean high hotel prices. Hamburg’s Altstadt is a great base if you can afford it.


HafenCity & Speicherstadt

Hafencity is part of a major redevelopment project. There aren’t many hotels in this area. The hotels here are excellent value for money. If you want to stay close to HafenCity, Speicherstadt has a few more hotels and is also a little closer to the city centre.


St Georg

Located behind Hamburg Hbf, this is the place to stay for budget travelers in Hamburg. Located right beside Alster Lake. Walking to the tourist attractions of Hamburg will take a little longer but there are multiple U-Bahn stations nearby.

Booking a hotel room in advance

Prices of hotels in Hamburg fluctuate depending on what’s going on in the city. Regular trade shows can see hotel prices rise sky high. The exhibition hall is located just north of Hamburg Neustadt. 

There is plenty of accommodation options available at a range of prices. Book early and you’ll get the best deal. 

Booking online in advance of your trip is simple. If you’re looking for a hotel, hostel or aparthotel, the best place to book is on It has the best choice, plenty of reviews and clear pricing. It is a trusted booking service.


Tourist Attractions In Hamburg

Depending on your interests there are many places to visit in Hamburg. We’ve split the tourist attractions into five categories.

Click on a category below to read more about the tourist attractions in Hamburg.

Things to do in Hamburg

Rathaus in Altstadt
A Baroque masterpiece. With 647 rooms, including the impressive Emperor’s Hall, the 40 minute guided tour is well worth the small entrance fee.

Chilehaus in the Kontordistrict by Altstadt
Shaped like an ocean liner, this has been crowned one of Hamburg’s most beautiful buildings. Built in the 1920s for a rich merchant, it is built in the impressionist style. The Chilehaus is not open to the public but the exterior is what you’re here to marvel at.

St Michaelis Kircher in Neustadt
A recognizable landmark in Hamburg. The tower can be accessed and once at the top you’re treated to a great view of Hamburg and the surrounding day – when the weather allows.

Hamburger Kunsthalle in Altstadt
Two buildings full of art from the Renaissance masterpieces to modern day contemporary German artists. Open late on Thursdays when the entrance fee is a little less.

Johannes Brahms Museum in Neustadt
This ones for classical music lovers. The composer was born in Hamburg in 1833 and the city celebrates its famous descendant with this dedicated museum.

Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe in St Georg
St Georg is said to be a microcosm of Hamburg City. And this museum showcases a varied collection of fashion, posters, porcelain from all over the world. A great place to come to understand how this great port city has been shaped over the years.

Elbphilharmonie in Speicherstadt & Hafencity
A major concert hall located to the west of HafenCity. This architecturally renown icon houses Europe’s longest escalator. The balcony at the top provides a city and harbor view. There’s a packed program worth checking out on the off chance you can catch a performance during your trip to Hamburg.

Miniatur Wunderland in Speicherstadt
Not just for children. This miniature world is the world’s largest model railway, but there’s more than trains to see. There are themed areas including Rio de Janeiro and a passenger airport that took 6 years to build. The attention to detail is remarkable.

Zoology Museum – Zoologisches Museum
A museum for a rainy day. Slightly further out of the center of Hamburg.

The market to visit if you want a true Hamburg experience. Expect to see crowds. Not just a fish auction, there are stalls of all sorts. It’s a good place to get breakfast.
Open on Sundays from 5am to 9.30 am in summer and 7am to 9.30am in winter

St Pauli Nachtmarkt
This one’s for those who don’t appreciate an early start. The night market takes place every Wednesday from 4pm to 10pm. It is the only market in Germany with live music and a beer garden.

If you like flea markets, this is the place for you. Considered Hamburg’s most popular flea market. Open on Saturdays from 8am to 4pm. It’s full to the brim with vintage clothes, antiques, and LPs.

Hamburg has a hundreds of guided tours. Hamburg has bus tours, walking tours, bike tours, boat tours and go-kart tours.

Guided Hamburg City Bike Tour by Hamburg City Cycles
If cycling is your thing, you’ll enjoy this three and a half hour sightseeing tour of Hamburg by bike. You’ll see more of the city on bike than you could by foot or train. Also a good place to rent ebikes and pushbikes from.

St Pauli and Port of Hamburg Walking Tour by SANDMANS NEW Europe – Hamburg
This city walking tour lets you delve a little deeper into the culture and history of Hamburg’s waterfront and red light district. The tour lasts roughly 2 hours 30 minutes. They do get booked up so it is worth reserving your place on the tour in advance

Hamburger Dom is held three times a year in March, July and November. It is a funfair dating back to 1329. It is thought to be one of Europe’s oldest funfairs.

Hafengeburtstag in May is a three day gala celebrating Hamburg being granted customs exemption by Emperor Barbarossa. Expect live music, fun fairs and a lot of beer.

MS Dockville in August is held on the south bank of the Elbe in Wilhelmsburg. Musians from across Germany come to Hamburg to perform is this festival.

Christmas Markets open from late November. There are multiple Weihnachtsmarkt in Hamburg, you’ll find them all over the city including on the waterfront, in Altstand and St Pauli.

Classical music at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg

Music, Theatre & Nightlife

Hamburg is famous for its nightlife. And depending on your preferences, you’ll be spoiled for

If you’re a fan of live music, have a look at what’s on at these venues: GruenspanCascadas; and Fabrik.

Jazz fans have come to the right place, Cotton Club in Grossneumarkt is the oldest jazz club in Hamburg. Also, check out Mojo Club on Reeperbahn.

The opera & classical music lovers are in for a treat with the Elbphilharmonie’s program. And the Staatsoper, Hamburg’s State Opera House, has a full program to browse, tickets can be booked online.

Shopping in Hamburg

The largest shopping mall in the center of Hamburg is Europe Passage. Resembling a cruise ship, this mall has 120 shops spread over its 16 floors. The mall regularly hosts exhibitions and concerts. It is also home to a range of dining options. It’s a real destination for retail lovers.

Try the areas of St Pauli, Altona and St Georg for boutiques and something a little different.

If you like vintage clothing and want to check out Hamburg’s vintage clothing shops, check out Hip Cats in St Pauli or Stilbruch in Altona.

It’s good to note that shops don’t tend to open on a Sunday in most parts of Germany. For more information about shopping on Sundays in Hamburg, visit the tourist information page

Getting around Hamburg City Center

Airports close to Hamburg

The best airport to fly into is Hamburg Airport also known as Flughafen Hamburg Helmut Schmidt Located 7 miles north of Hamburg city center. 

Travel from Hamburg Airport to Hamburg City Center by Taxi

To take a taxi to travel from Hamburg Airport to the city center, go to the nearest taxi rank. There is a taxi rank outside the airport terminal. 

It is best to have cash ready for the taxi fare. The journey will take about 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Ride the train from Hamburg Airport to Hamburg City Center

Use the S1 to travel direct from Hamburg Airport to Hamburg Main Train Station. It is a 30 minute journey. Follow signs in the terminal for the train station. Buy tickets for the city center at the machine. 

From Hamburg Hbf you can reach your accommodation by foot or the U-Bahn. The best website to find the right connections is It is possible to book tickets using the Deutsche Bahn website.

For more information about public transport around Germany, visit our general travel info page.

Travel from Hamburg Train Station to City Centre

Hamburg Travel Tickets

It might be worth picking up a Hamburg CARD. The Hamburg Card allows free travel on public transport network including harbor ferries as well as travel to and from the airport.

The Hamburg Card is available for individuals and groups. Single day tickets and multi-day tickets are available from €10.90 per person. Read more at Hamburg Travel.

The ticket can be bought at the airport or online. When bought online, the Hamburg CARD can be printed off at home, or downloaded onto your phone.

The Hamburg CARD also gives tourists discounts on over 150 tourist attractions including museum entrance fees and sightseeing tours.

Using the U-Bahn in Hamburg

The most convenient way to get around Hamburg is by foot and U-Bahn. U-Bahn stations are dotted around the city and S-Bahn stations cover the greater metropolitan area. 

All tickets can be bought at U-Bahn stations in Hamburg including single fares and day tickets.



Best Ferries in Hamburg for Tourists

Hamburg is a city on water and there is a ferry system operating in the city. Sightseeing by ferry is a good way to see more of Hamburg.

Hamburg Ferry 72 departs from Elbsphilharmonie on the Elbe in Speicherstadt. On this ferry, you’ll see the Elbsphilharmonie and the entrances to the canals in Speicherstadt.

As an alternative to a boat tour, hop on the Hamburg Ferry 62 from Landungsbrucken to Finkenwerder. From the open air deck you’ll pass by Altona’s fish market (Fischmarkt) and Hamburg’s cruise shop terminal. Disembark at Dockland (Fischereihafen) to explore Altona.

Food & Restaurants

Where to Eat in Hamburg

Naturally, Hamburg is a great place for seafood as Europe’s third largest port. And thanks to local and international sailors, there’s always been a wide variety of cuisines and flavors in Hamburg. 

But what should you try in Hamburg? And where’s the best place to find a quick bite to eat?

We’ll cover the essentials below.

What to eat in Hamburg?

Hamburg is famous for its Labskaus. It has a rich history from seafarers. It is a stew typically made with whatever was on hand, as well as beetroot. The beetroot gives the Labskaus its bright pink color.

The home of the Currywurst is Hamburg. This sausage with curry sauce is a local delicacy in many parts of Germany. Berlin, Hamburg and the Ruhr region argue over the origin story. Uwe Timm states he ate currywurst in Hamburg two years before Herta Heuwer started selling Currywurst in Berlin.

Either way, currywurst is loved in Germany. Herbert Groenemeyer even sings about currywurst. So don’t go home without trying at least one currywurst! In the [translated] words of Groenemeyer “nothing better in the word than a currywurst”.

If you like sweet things, try Rote Gruetze. A dessert similar to a compote, made of mixed berries and cherries, then served with custard. Refreshingly simple and healthy.

$$ Alt Helgolaender Fischerstube, Fischmarkt 4a-c

A good place to try the Labskaus, you can even order a sample sized portion. This restaurant serves seafood in a traditional German style. Expect to pay between €16 – €30 for a main course. The menu is online. During peak season booking is recommended.

$ Bruecke 10, St. Pauli Landungsbrucken

Right on the waterfront, this place is a good place to try a seafood sandwich. Expect to pay over €10 for fish or crab sandwich, but it’s worth the money. The long queues on a Saturday are proof of that.

$ Erika’s Eck in Sternschanze

Traditional food at its finest. Think beers and schnitzel. Open until late, this one is a party lover’s favorite. Very basic diner-style dining, you only come here for the food.

$ Erdapfel, Burchardstraße 10


Named after the humble potato, even meat-lovers would be happy with this vegetarian menu. Just a minute’s walk away from the Chilehaus in the Altstadt. Good portions of healthy food in a convenient location.

If you’re looking for fancy restaurants, you won’t go wrong heading to the waterfront. Some of the most upmarket restaurants in Hamburg are found by the harbor.

$$$ Fischereihafen Hamburg, Große Elbstraße

Royalty have dined at this restaurant, so it must be fancy. Enjoy the finest seafood with views over the water. The option to sit outside on the terrace on a warm day is a must. Booking in advance is recommended.

$$$ Henssler & Henssler, Grosse Elbstrasse

Japanese food in the heart of Hamburg. This celebrity chef owned restaurant serves the best tempura, sushi and grilled fish in Hamburg. The industrial chic exterior doesn’t give much away but the food is phenomenal. Booking is essential. This is the ultimate special occasion treat.

$$ Marend, Feldstraße

Traditional Alpine food in the form of dumplings (Knoedel). The interior is cosy and the food is comforting. Particularly good if you’ve come here for the Christmas markets. Not on the waterfront, instead it’s found beside the Feldstraße Bunker.

The waterfront offers a good selection of food stalls, with an almighty selection of Portuguese stalls.