Since the days of the medieval Hanseatic League Hamburg has been a Free City and port of international status. Hamburg still has the second busiest harbor in Europe and stands as a City-State in Germany’s Federal Republic. A constant ebb and flow of seafarers have given Hamburg a rakish reputation, which is half the fun of St Pauli and the infamous Reeperbahn.
1. Hamburg St. Pauli Landungsbrücken & Harbor
A visit to the iconic St. Pauli Landing Bridges (Landungsbrücken) is one of the best things to do in Hamburg. The Landing Bridges comprise of ten floating pontoons, measuring 700 meters in total. The Landing Bridges were built in 1839 as a place for steamships to dock before heading overseas.
Today, the complex consists of the Art Nouveau reception halls, with archways to the pontoon, two corner towers, and cupolas. New pontoons were added after the complex suffered heavy damage during World War II.
Virtually all harbor cruises depart from here. The buskers, the slightly tacky souvenir stalls and boat companies touting their tours create a colorful hustle and bustle in this area. Numerous restaurants, bars, and food kiosks are also found along the St. Pauli Landing Bridges.
2. Rickmer Rickmers
The three-masted Rickmer Rickmers sailing ship is one of the highlights of Hamburg’s harbor. This 97-meter long windjammer has had a long and colorful history after its construction at the Rickmers shipyard in Bremerhaven in 1896. It was initially used in the saltpeter trade with Chile and from 1912 till 1962 was used by the Portuguese Navy as a cadet school ship.
One of the most notable features of this ship is its figurehead (designed to protect the ship against bad luck and to watch over its course) that is modeled after the four-year-old grandson of the founder of Rickmers shipyards. Rickmer Rickmers has been moored as a museum ship at Landungsbrücken since 1987. It’s a great pleasure to roam the decks, exploring the crew’s and officers’ quarters, the galley and even the engine room. You can get a good idea of what it was like to live onboard from the museum’s displays and learn about maritime travel. Two of the highlights of the interior are the Map Room where a selection of navigational instruments are on display and the stylishly decorated Officer’s Mess. Adrenaline junkies can climb the ship’s masts and rigging that rise to 35 meters on Saturdays and holidays.
Rickmer Rickmers is open daily from 10:00-18:00.
3. Speicherstadt by boat
One of the most popular photos of Hamburg is of Speicherstadt. This area is the reason why Hamburg is called the city of warehouses. This is the first spot in Hamburg that was awarded the status of UNESCO world heritage site. Most of the buildings were built here between 1880 and 1920 and stand on oak poles. The architecture is definitely stunning, even on a rainy day in Hamburg.
The best time to visit Speicherstadt is when it’s dark because the entire area gets illuminated by lights. Of course, the most romantic way to experience this is from the water. You can book a special “illuminated” boat ride through this area that starts when it is dark.
Speicherstadt is a part of HafenCity and you can combine this with a visit to Miniature Wonderland, which is also in the same area.
4. Hamburg Jungfernstieg & Binnenalster
Start your days in Hamburg at the famous Jungfernstieg boulevard. Jungfernstieg is one of Hamburg’s oldest streets dating to 1235 with a storied history. Its favorable location on the Binnenalster led it to be popular with the upper bourgeoisie. The street acquired the name ‘Jungfernstieg’ because, in the old days, wealthy families used to bring their unmarried daughters (Jungfern in German) for a stroll in search of a prospective groom.
Needless to say, it has undergone several changes since its founding and in 1838 Jungfernstieg became the first street in Germany to be asphalted. With grandstand-like steps along the edge of the shore, Junfernstieg is easily among Europe’s most attractive promenades. It’s really a pleasure to take a stroll down Jungfernstieg as it is an ideal place for shopping, strolling and relaxing.
Many of the big names in fashion have their flagship stores on Jungfernstieg, and you’ll find exclusive jewelry and interior design shops. Along with haute couture and prêt-à-porter from the fashion elite, there are more affordable stores housed in Neoclassical buildings. The Alsterpavillon (Alster Pavilion), Hamburg’s best-known café is also situated on Jungfernstieg, directly on the Binnenalster.
5. Miniatur Wunderland
The Miniatur Wunderland is not only the largest model railway in the world, but it’s also the most popular tourist attraction in Germany. Before going we thought it would be a bit kitschy (and it is) but it’s actually a lot of fun. They’ve built multiple massive scenes that are modeled around different parts of the world (and they’re adding more every year).
But the real joy is taking the time to admire all the details and easter eggs of each scene. And yes, some of the little figurines are a bit naughty. At Hamburg Miniatur Wunderland even Hamburg is mini. But it has everything that Hamburg also has: The landing bridge, the Michel, Speicherstadt with the old warehouses, the Kohlbrandt-Bridge, Hagenbeck Zoo, and the Miniatur Wunderland itself in 1:900. And then there is the Imtech Arena. In case you're an SC St.Pauli-fan, you have to be brave: You and about 12.000 tiny little wonderland inhabitants can watch the narrow defeat of St.Pauli against the local club HSV, and many other little surprises are waiting.
The recently opened Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall is the largest and acoustically most advanced concert hall in the world. This €870 million jewel of the Hamburg skyline is made to look like the ocean waves. Concert tickets are tough to score (and they’re not cheap - bout you have S-E-T-T - so don't worry we´ll get them for you) and you can visit the 360-degree view observation decks for a small amount.
7. Reeperbahn – Hamburg’s Red Light District
Do you know which city in Europe has the biggest red-light district? No, it’s not Amsterdam, it’s Hamburg. Most people don't know.
Hamburg red-light district is in and around Reeperbahn, which is the name of a street in St. Pauli. This street is also called “the sinful mile” and in the "golden times" was full of brothels, sex shops, sex shows, and similar things - nowadays you'll find many clubs, restaurants, and bars which make Reeperbahn a very attractive Nightlife hot-spot.
8. Zur Ritze
This place is an institution. Bar, Box-club, and a pimps living room. In the golden age of Reeperbahn, brothels called "Laufhaus" have been established and some of them had a few hundred Ladies working there. Zur Ritze was the pub where Reeperbahns "Godfathers" met, made decisions (not just friendly ones) and created alliances that broke up even hours later. These times where even shoot outs happened here are over (for many years) and Zur Ritze can be visited by everybody now in a very relaxed way. The Box-Club, where Legends like Stefan Hentschel and Alikes trained, is still there as well (Hentschel hanged himself in the Box Club as he could not handle the end of the gold Reeperbahn days)
9. Olivia Jones Bar
Olivia Jones, Germanys most famous Drag Queen and official Miss Drag Queen of the world from 1997 presents an incomparable St. Pauli experience with her flashy freaky family and her worldwide unique bars/clubs: he »Olivia Jones Bar« is a madhouse every night – with party & folk music, good vibes, and flashy entertainers. In the dim ambiance of this infamous former Transvestite’s bar, Olivia frequently welcomes "VIP" guests from shows like I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here!. The music is just as varied as the guests: German ›Schlager‹, pop music, oldies, and evergreens; And (almost) always right smack in the middle: Host Olivia Jones, her tubby Schlager-belting assistants or singing in-house transvestites: Barbie Stupid, Lee Jackson and Madame Veuve Noire. S-E-T-T can organize a "Reeperbahn-Kiez-Tour accompanied by Drag Queens".
10. Go to Sternschanze for a Taste of Nightlife in Hamburg
If nightlife at Reeperbahn is too sleazy for you, you should check out the scene at Sternschanze. This street is my favorite part of Hamburg and is dotted with the most amazing bars, cafes, and restaurants. You can book a pub crawl tour to experience nightlife in Hamburg.
11. Planten un Blomen
Planten un Blomen, which roughly translates to “Plants and Flowers”, is a large urban park in the middle of Hamburg. It’s an excellent escape on a nice day so pack a picnic and some adult beverages and enjoy nature. It’s also famous for having Europe's largest Japanese garden and an impressive tropical greenhouse complex. There are also a number of playgrounds and other attractions for kids.
12. Check Out Nikolaifleet – Hamburg’s Prettiest Canal
While Hamburg is gorgeous and has a lot more to offer than Amsterdam, the canals are not everywhere. You need to get to certain parts of the city to see the canals. If you’re in Hamburg for one day and want to make the most of it, this is one of the canals that you should surely see.
13. The harbor birthday
The harbor birthday in Hamburg is considered the largest harbor festival in the world. Every year, many visitors and ship lovers gather at the jetties to participate. On about 6 kilometers along the Elbe, from the Elbphilharmonie to the fish market, the shore turns into a colorful mile with many stalls, exhibitors and attractions. In addition to the program on land, it plays on the water a lot. In addition to the large entrance parade, impressive ships come into the harbor, some of which can also be visited. Each year, the birthday is celebrated with its colorful program for three days in May. ( May 08-10th 2020)
See a part of the Classic Parade with Oldtimer ships
14. Make your own Chocolate the Chocolate Factory – Chocoversum Chocolate Museum
Hamburg is the German chocolate capital. Every year 150,000 tons of cocoa are imported to Germany via the port of Hamburg. When you have a sweet tooth you can see for yourself how the bitter beans are turned into sweet gold at the Chocoversum by Hachez.
And the best thing is: you can taste and try out everything! Each tour starts at the Chocoholic-Checkpoint, the 1,43 m chocolate tasting fountain and for the next 90 minutes, you will learn everything about cocoa - from growing the beans to trading and processing. The different topics are covered at several stations and complemented by impressive exhibits and photos. Every production step is demonstrated live at the original machines while visitors can taste and smell for themselves to see how melting texture and taste evolve. The absolute highlight is creating your individual chocolate bar with top-quality ingredients that you can take home after the tour.
After your tour, you can indulge in the chocolate shop where you can buy everything that has to do with chocolate. The selection includes everything from pralines to Danish spiced chocolate and from body care products with cocoa butter to chocolate beer and chocolate balsamic vinegar.
15. Visit Hamburg’s Famous Fish Market – Der Fischmarkt
Every Sunday morning from 7 am to 9:30 am, the fish vendors in Hamburg set up one of Germany’s oldest markets – der Fischmarkt. It’s a place where the locals and visitors come together, not only to buy fish but also to enjoy the atmosphere. There is food, live music and an atmosphere like no other. A visit to Hamburg’s fish market actually one of the most popular things to do in Hamburg.
16. Hamburg Rathaus
If you love visiting cities for their architectural details, then you will love the City Hall. On the outside, the City Hall is a neo-renaissance gem, with a balcony surmounted by Hammonia, the Hamburg's patron goddess. Hammonia is known to represent the Hanseatic values of Hamburg: freedom, peace, prosperity, harmony, welfare, and trade. To make your experience special and unique: S-E-T-T can organize Lunch or Dinner for your group in the Rathaus Restaurant.
17. Hamburg, The Northern Capital Of Christmas - visit Hamburgs Christmas markets
While some cities have lackluster Christmas decorations going on (cof cof Barcelona) adding to the miserable feeling of winter, others really come alive during this time of the year.
In recent years, Christmas markets in Germany have boomed in popularity. Nowadays, it has become a tourist attraction per se and people now travel from all around the world to experience them. While Germans have taken this tradition abroad, nothing compares to the real thing!
As the largest city in the north, Hamburg wraps itself in beautiful bright lights with properly decorated wooden stalls scattered all around the city. Christmas markets in Hamburg usually open during the third or fourth week of November and run until Christmas Day or even New Year’s Eve.
Like the city itself, markets in Hamburg are very easy to walk around and to delight yourself with the Christmas spirit. For someone like me who had never been before, Hamburg‘s markets were the perfect introduction!
18. Shopping in Hamburg
Located along the numerous canals and bridges, the Alster Arcades is the best Hamburg shopping street, with the only difference being that it doesn’t flaunt streetwear but high-end & exquisite stores. You can explore the trendy fashion products or swanky jewelry here while you walk under the stars and soak up the aroma of good food coming from across the street. The street has small cafes on one side and a few musicians around that add on to one’s shopping experience here with a touch of Mediterranean flavor.
Timings: 10 AM to 8 PM
A kilometer-long boulevard, Neuer Wall is the fanciest place to spend your savings. From haute couture and finest jewelry to customized footwear and designer bags, this European luxury shopping street has got it all to catch your eye and win your heart. Brands like Armani, Jil Sander, Mulberry, Michael Kors, Prada, and Louis Vuitton are quite common to spot here. If you’re specifically shopping for souvenirs, Neuer Wall’s very own Brahmfeld & Gutruf sells some of the most mesmerizing jewelry pieces. And oh, don’t forget to stop by at Café Engelchen across the street for that much-needed coffee fix in between.
Timings: 10 AM to 8 PM
Are you a shoe lover or a person who loves collecting the best jewelry from across the world? Irrespective of being either, the Europe Passage is one of the finest shopping malls in Hamburg where you have to stop! Located in the Altstadt quarter between the Jungfernstieg and Mönckebergstraße streets, near the Binnen Lake, this mall flaunts the best Italian shoes and Spanish jewelry. It houses more than 100 stores under its roof and serves as an all-inclusive entertainment hub for travelers. You can even visit the top floor and soothe your soul with the gorgeous views of the fountains and small boats in the lake.
Timings: 10 AM to 8 PM
Boating the best of everything for those who fancy unique antiques and maritime-flavors memorabilia, the district of St. Pauli is perfect to enjoy the best prices. Even the top cheap clothes shops in Hamburg can be spotted here from where you can take home some of the most value for money outfits. The district also has a special night market if you can’t resist relaxing at your hotel in the evening. Voodoo masks, boat models, African swords, and more are the most usual things to buy from here.
Located on the Jungfernstieg boulevard, the Alsterhaus is the most traditional department store that offers the best shopping deals. Bags, jewelry, toys, and delis are some of the most famous attractions here that also make this place perfect for a day trip with your loved ones. You can satiate all your cravings to date by taking home the finest of home decor, fashion items, and more. This upscale place for shopping in Hamburg is truly one of its kind!
Timings: 10 AM to 8 PM
Hamburgs best Vintage Shop (kilo store) – Pick N Weight
Pick N Weight is based on the idea of selling unique vintage clothes by the kilo. A varied range of one-off items and accessories from past decades is a key element of the store concept and can be found in PICKNWEIGHT stores in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Ibiza, and London. In recent years, an ever-larger community of consumers has formed that has a strong awareness of sustainability issues. The pursuit of individuality also plays a major role. The dominance of cheap chain stores offering identical products means individuality is becoming increasingly rare.
Vintage Shops offer a wide selection of high-quality vintage goods that are unique.
19. Blankenese - where almost everyone is a Millionaire
This used to be a village, in fact, best known for fishing located on the West of Hamburg just on the Elbe. It’s now a popular destination for the wealthy and influential citizens of Hamburg. To be frank - there is no other area in Germany with such a high concentration of millionaires. It’s made popular for having one of the most beautiful hiking trails starting from the banks of the Eble River. It has a Mediterranean feel to it, with an almost fairytale-like landscape cascading the houses that are closely knit together in addition to the winding stairs that seem to go on forever. It’s simply a great place to take a walk with a priceless view of the Elbe as it flows out of Hamburg. It’s serene and your visit to Hamburg would be incomplete without discovering the Blankenese.
20. Museum Mile
Hamburg’s museum mile, which takes in five major galleries, is bookended by two very contrasting art institutions. At the northern end, close to the main station, Hauptbahnhof Nord, is the venerable Kunsthalle, housing one of Europe’s largest art collections. At the southern end is the Deichtorhallen, two 19th-century market halls transformed into exhibition venues for contemporary art and photography. The original Kunsthalle is an imposing 1847 red-brick building that has just completed a massive €24m renovation, showcasing old masters such as Cranac as well as 20th-century artists such as Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Max Ernst, and Picasso. Adjoining is a concrete and glass modern gallery, exhibiting the likes of Yves Klein, Warhol, and Tracey Emin. The Deichtorhallen lies in the shadow of the towering glass offices of Der Spiegel. The bare, minimalist Art Hall features avant-garde artists such as Sigmar Polke, Baselitz, and Beuys, while shows at the Haus der Photographie range from Martin Parr and Richard Avedon to Sarah Moon.
21. International Maritime Museum
The International Maritime Museum, which has an extremely impressive collection, is not only for "ship-nerds". More than 40,000 items are displayed over 10 floors and it would be easy to spend hours in the museum. The exhibitions trace maritime history from the early days of prehistoric man, through the European colonial years, the naval stories of war, and even up to the luxury cruise liners of today.
While there is a particular emphasis on German history, there are collections from around the world. It’s fascinating and is well laid out for both children and adults.
22. St. Michael’s Church
The emblematic 132 m (433 ft) Baroque spire of St. Michael's Church is completely covered in copper. For centuries, this prominent feature of the city's skyline has been a landfall mark for ships sailing up the Elbe river. Relatively simple outside yet surprisingly opulent inside, the church features a large bronze statue above its main entrance showing Archangel Michael conquering the devil. Be sure to enter the crypt, which has an exhibit narrating the city's long history. Try to plan your visit for a sunny day for the best views from the church's tower. You'll find easy access by stairs or elevator. This city landmark hosts frequent concerts and other cultural events.
23. The only fair venue surrounded by the fascination of Hamburg
Hamburg’s growing importance as a technology powerhouse, a media hub, and a hotbed of innovation is reflected in the exhibition program of Hamburg Messe und Congress. Today HMC attracts leading international trade fairs and has become a source of inspiration on many future-looking topics. Every year our state-of-the-art, the highly adaptable fair complex hosts more than 40 successful trade fairs and other events. Eleven exhibition halls covering 87,000 square meters as well as an outdoor area of 10,000 square meters offer plenty of space for magnificent gala events and intimate, exquisite gatherings alike. Hamburg Messe – Showcasing the World. S-E-T-T does not only have allotments in hotels for all major Hamburg Fairs