Ten things to do in Hamburg



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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26 Responses to “Ten things to do in Hamburg”

  1. Keith Jenkins 13/12/2017 1:02 pm

    I read about it. I should add it to this post. Hehe! Thanks for the heads-up!


  2. Greg 13/12/2017 1:45 am

    Hi Keith! This year a new free attraction has appeared. The construction of the Elbphilharmonie has been completed and for free you can take a futuristic staircase to the observation deck and see 360 ​​° panorama of Hamburg. I really recommend.

  3. AirTreks Nico 24/11/2009 11:22 pm

    I love that you posted this! And I can vouch for the harbor cruise at least. I also remember the rathaus being larger than life.

    An interesting forgotten city.

  4. velvet 19/08/2009 2:34 pm

    Hi Ren,
    Thanks for your comment. I see that you’re well on your way to making this trip a reality. Good for you! Glad to help with any other tips of places you’ll be visiting.


  5. Ren 19/08/2009 1:29 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m planning a trip with friends next year, and one of our stops is most likely to be Hamburg… I’ve definitely bookmarked this page for future reference! 🙂

  6. jen laceda 18/06/2009 4:09 pm

    I’ve never really seen Hamburg in pictures…until today. Thanks for sharing. Now I know this is one place I shouldn’t miss. I like how the rivers wind through the city. And those precariously tipped apartments are quite fascinating!

  7. velvet 18/06/2009 4:13 pm

    Thanks Jen. Yes, it’s pretty cool how the city is hemmed in by the river on one side and the lakes on the other, with many canals running through the city. I can certainly recommend a visit. You’ll love the shopping too! 🙂


  8. velvet 18/06/2009 12:57 am

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, Hamburg, though being inland, has a long waterfront (along the river, the lakes & the canals). very cool city. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I went there and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a cool city, very clean and lots to see. Being a plane freak, I was thrilled to see the Airbus factory there. The shipyards are awesome too!


  9. Dave and Deb 17/06/2009 10:20 pm

    Ooh, my sister lives in Germany. I haven’t made it to Hamburg yet, but now after reading your post I want to go. I didn’t realize that there is such a waterfront and so many canals. It looks beautiful.


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