Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city (after Berlin) and is its main port. It’s a very cosmopolitan city with a small historic section (Altstadt) – most of the city was destroyed during the Second World War) – and large portions that have been redeveloped. The city is hemmed in by two lakes (the Binnenalster and Aussenalster) and the Elbe River – this unique geographic location is also one of its biggest attractions.

Hamburg is a vibrant and prosperous city with great shopping, world-class restaurants, beautiful parks and many worthwhile sights. For the first-time visitor, I’ve listed below ten things to do and see in Hamburg.

1. Stroll around the Altstadt. Go on a tour inside the Rathaus (City Hall).

2. Shop till you drop: explore the many arcades and galleries around the Neuer Wall in the Golden Triangle (including the splendid, blindingly white Alster Arcade).

Shops, cafés and restaurants at the Alster Arcade

3. Admire the neo-gothic architecture of the historic Speicherstadt & the contrasting 21st century HafenCity, then head to the Deichstrasse to see some of Hamburg’s oldest homes.

Modern architecture in HafenCity

Read about my visit to the Airbus production plant in Hamburg

4. Take a harbour cruise around the wharfs where some of the world’s largest ships are built.

Shipbuilding in Hamburg

5. Get up early on a Sunday morning (5am – 9:30am) and head for the Fischmarkt (fish market). It’s colourful, boisterous and uniquely Hamburg!

6. Stroll down Hamburg’s most notorious street: the Reeperbahn (the red light district).

7. Climb 453 steps to the top of the St. Michaeliskirche (St. Michael’s Church) for magnificent views of the city and the harbour.

An aerial view of Hamburg

Read about my visit to the amazing Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg

8. Have a drink or meal at one of the terraces along the Alster Arcade for unbeatable views of the Rathaus; or the historic Alster Pavilion and enjoy the views across the Binnenalster.

9. Head out to the suburbs. Take the S-Bahn to Wedel, walk down to the Elbe river and hop onto the boat to Blankenese, passing the Airbus plane factory along the way. Blankenese is a picturesque hillside village with quaint houses and gorgeous views of the Elbe.

Picturesque Blankenese

10. To cap off a long day of walking, indulge yourself at the Hamam Hafen Hamburg (Turkish bath) and opt for the full package! You’ll never forget the sensation of the rich warm lather being rolled onto your back!

Search for accommodations and tours in Hamburg

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