HAMBURG - gateway to the world

(Updated January 2019)

Hamburg, Germany's second largest city, prides itself to be the "most beautiful city in the world". While this, of course, is just a highly exaggerated catchphrase, it actually is alluring with views that make you yearn for undiscovered shores - Germans call it 'Fernweh' (loosely 'aching for distance') - lots of maritime charm and its historic openness to the world.

River Elbe (Photo: © Andreas Vallbracht /
Along the river Elbe all the way to the Northern Sea...who wouldn't get the travel bug with this view?
(Photo: © Andreas Vallbracht /

Hence the other slogan - "gateway to the world" - takes it already much closer to its real assets.
Whereby the city owes this description rather to the fact that Hamburg is Europe's third largest industrial port and has connected it with the rest of the world over centuries.

WELCOME TO HAMBURG - general tourist information

BY THE WATERS  - attractions in the area around the harbor

ON THE WATERS - boatrides on river Elbe and lake Alster

HAMBURG IS A BEACH - boatrides on river Elbe and lake Alster

PARKS, GARDENS AND WOODS - enjoying on of Europe's greenest cities

MILES AND MILES: REEPERBAHN UND KUNSTMEILE - red light district and white cube

MERCHANTS AND HOBGOBLINS - historic vessels and places

LANDMARKS AND MEMORIALS - the city's most important churches


FISH - and beyond - where to eat

MAPS - tracing the tour on a responsive streetmap and a downloadable network plan


Hamburg is a so-called Free and Hanseatic City which means that it always has been self-governed and independent from the federal structures of its surroundings. It's membership of the Hanse association from the 12th century on makes it a Hanseatic City. The Hanse was a coalition of up to 200 cities with the main purpose of protecting trade routes e. g. against pirating.

Moin! bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
"Moin" being used from dawn till dusk exclusively (!) in northern Germany.
If you would like to remember it morning by morning, you can get this fun china at the Museum of Hamburg's History; you'll find the address farther below.

Until this day, Hamburg has a certain special position: Germany is divided into 16 Federal States and Hamburg is not only a city, but also a Federal State of its own (just like Berlin and the relatively small city of Bremen, by the way). Having always been a city of commerce and trade, until now it's among the wealthiest cities in Germany. But since being a Hanseat includes a certain understatement, the Hamburgers (that's the correct order to avoid fatal misunderstandings) don't flash their cash.

Container Harbor Hamburg (Photo: © Christian Spahrbier/
It has always been the harbor that brought wealth to Hamburg and the Hamburgers.
Wherever I'm travelling, Hamburg Süd Containers remind me where my passport is being issued. Container Harbor Hamburg (Photo: © Christian Spahrbier/

Sounds unique? It is. And the following roundup will prove that there is much more to explore and experience than you've ever imagined.

So please, step in through the gate to the world into vibrant Hamburg.


Hamburg has an international airport which is kind of a joke - relatively small and provincial, still the advantage is that it's really close to the city center and easily accessible by public transport: The city train S-Bahn #1 is going there e. g. from the central station every 10 to 20 minutes between 4 a. m. and almost midnight, the one-way trip costs 3,30 €uro. And even if you absolutely need to take a cab from anywhere in the city center, it shouldn't cost more than 25 €uro.

Right at the airport where you are waiting for your luggage are dispenser with information and free city maps.

If you happen to arrive by train, note that there are three stations serving short and long-distance destinations: the central station 'Hauptbahnhof' in the very center, 'Dammtor', a station close to the university and the convention center, and Altona, the final stop and hub for the trains going further north.
If you are coming from the south, don't get confused when your train stops at 'Harburg' - and more importantly, don't get off if Hamburg is your final destination. Harburg is a suburb of Hamburg, from here you still have another ten minutes to go.

However, there is the University of Technology TUHH located in Harburg - the university where Mohammed Atta studied before he flew a plane in the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Actually, it was at his flat in Harburg where the group gathered to plan the attacks.

Another occasion that made Hamburg internationally infamous was the G20 summit last summer: Some brilliant minds had the really smart idea to organize this widely criticized event in the very heart of a city with 1.8 million inhabitants - at a convention center right next to a traditionally rather left-wing and anarchistic neighborhood. If you happened to have forgotten how well this went, I wrote on what occurred in an earlier post.


After going through customs, you'll find bank booths as well as ATMs to change or get money. Since 2001, 19 European countries paying with €uros, and Germany is one of them. The exchange rate is 1 US$ = 0,88 EUR (February 2019), but you can check the conversion on this page.


Gate to the world - of course, most people speak pretty decent English and in the city center, the announcements on buses and subways are even bi-lingual. For some useful words and phrases, you might want to practice a little with help from e. g. Babbel (the first lesson is for free and already supplies you with useful basic vocabulary).

Note In this article, I'm writing out some of the German names of brands and places and you will notice that there are letters that might not exist in other languages: 
First of all there is the letter ß that exists only in the German alphabet and it's by no means a B - it's a 'sharp', double S as in kiss. When writing, you can actually replace it by a double S.
Then there are three more vowel, ä being the easiest one since it's pronounced like an open e as in head.
Ö and ü are tougher, ö being pronounced more or less like the e in her and ü as the u in huge.

Tourist Information and Deals

Although it's a significantly growing industry, compared to other cities, international tourism is not overflowing the city and touristy goodies and services are not exactly overwhelming.

Hafengeburtstag - Harbor Anniversary (Photo: © Michael Zapf /
Rush hour on river Elbe: On the occasion of annual harbor anniversary in May, Hamburg is not only packed with people.
 (Photo: © Michael Zapf /

Yet there is the Turbopass Hamburg granting you free use of all public transportation including the S-Bahn from and to the airport as well as the ferries on river Elbe. You can either get it e. g. on arrival at the Hamburg Airport (Hamburg Welcome Center, open daily from 6.30 a. m. to 11 p. m.) or the  Hamburg central station (Radio Hamburg Ticket Center, entrance Glockengießerwall, open daily from 8 a. m. to 8.30 p. m. (weekends from 10 a. m.)) or you order it online on their website.

Adult Youth
24 hours 39,90 29,90 19,90
48 hours 64,90 42,90 32,90
72 hours 84,90 52,90 42,90
5 days 109,90 64,90 54,90

Depending on what you intend to do and whether you travel by yourself or with others, the Hamburg city card might be another good option for your stay. Here all public transportation is included, too, but you get only a discount on certain activities, no free entrance - on the other hand, you get discounts for theater and musical tickets, at selected restaurants etc. - so it really strongly depends on your itinerary which card is the best for you. Consider the huge price difference, too.

1 Adult
(+ up to
3 kids)
5 Adults
1 day 10,50 18,50
2 days 19,90 32,90
3 days 25,90 44,90
4 days 34,50 54,90
5 days 41,90 74,90

Considering your choice keep in mind that a ticket for public transportation costs €uro 7,20 for the entire day and €uro 6,40 for the day if bought after 9 a. m. It's good for one adult and up to three kids age 6 to 14. Alternatively, there's a group ticket for up to 5 people any age for €uro 12,00, but only valid after 9 a. m. You get this and further information on the transport company's website.

Hamburg has an excellent system of public transport. When you take the U-Bahn #2 between St. Pauli and Rathausmarkt,
it's almost like a short sightseeing tour of the Harbor.

A really cool way of getting to know Hamburg is to join one of the free city tours which are becoming more and more popular in many cities around the world. In Hamburg, you can e. g. join Sandeman's New Europe, which is a chain operating in many other cities, or the really Hamburg oriented Robin and the Tourguides - I love them already for the name!

You can meet the guides right on the Rathausplatz, the town hall square. Sandeman's have a red umbrella, Robin's Guy(de)s have yellow ones.
It's a free tour - but please, don't forget to tip...


Accommodations in Hamburg are rather pricey. Here are some centrally located hotels of different price ranges - and youth hostel with a million dollar view!

Low price - good location

Superbude has a great concept: Functional furnishing, ingeniously upcycled decoration, cool atmosphere. The St. Pauli-branch is located between to hip neighborhoods, the neighborhood at Spaldingstraße is not very alluring, but it's close to the city center.

Superbude St. Pauli
Juliusstraße 1 - 7
22769 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 80 79 15 82 0

Middle price - convenient location

Since its renovation about three years ago the old Hotel Reichshof is part of the Hilton chain and accordingly luxurious - and a bit pricey. Right across the street is the main station, so it's very centrally located; but around the train station are all these people that hang out around every train station in the world, so it's a bit depressing and maybe even scary when you're new in town. If you walk a couple of minutes, you find yourself at the Lange Reihe, one of Hamburg's hippest streets, or at the Alster lake.

Reichshof Hamburg 
CURIO Collection by Hilton
Kirchenallee 34-36
20099 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 370259-0
Reservation : + 49 - 40 - 370259-666

High price - premium location

Ok, so this is Hamburg's newest hotel, located right at the Elbphilharmonie - let's just not talk about the price at this point. If you've recently found a diamond mine, book yourself in a room with a view over the harbor and enjoy life.

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg 
Platz der Deutschen Einheit 4
 20457 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 8000 100

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Hamburg
At weekends, the U-Bahn, Hamburg's subway, is taking passengers safely home. If you choose an accommodation in the city center, it's particularly comfortable.

Middle price - premium location

Before the finished the Elbphilharmonie, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, located right over the Landungsbrücken, was indisputably the accommodation with the most breathtaking view. Well, obviously, the view is still there and you can get a room here at a surprisingly low price. Even if you chose not to stay here, you should have a drink at their Tower Bar, 62 meters / 203 feet above the ground.

Hotel Hafen Hamburg
Seewartenstraße 9
20459 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 31 11 3 - 0

Low price - premium location

I guess it's quite unique that you can have an accommodation with one of the best views at one of the lowest prices in town: On a slope of the river Elbe's right bank called 'Stintfang' is one of Hamburg's youth hostels! Of course, there were plans to build a luxurious hotel here, but youth senatrix Paula Karpinski (1897 - 2005) achieved against all odds to keep the youth hostel there; in her honor, the square in front of the hostel is called Paula-Karpinski-Platz.

Landungsbrücken Hamburg  (Photo: © Jörg Modrow /
Not bad for a view from a youth hostel, right?!
(Photo: © Jörg Modrow /

Jugendherberge Hamburg - Auf dem Stintfang
Alfred-Wegener-Weg 5
20459 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 5701590

Another fun fact about the Stintfang that even many Hamburgers don't know: 
Since 1995, on the Stintfang's south slope, there is a little vineyard! It was a gift from the organizer of the 'Stuttgarter Weindorf' - the 'Stuttgart Wine Village' - an annual culinary fair taking place on the Rathausmarkt, the town hall square, from 1986 till 2015. 
Vineyard....well, we are talking about 100 vine stocks here. 
Every year, 40 to 50 bottles of "Hamburg Stintfang Cuvée" are gained which are given exclusively to the city's guests of honor. 
There was no vintage in 2010 since the crop had been sacked; in 2016 another 90 percent was gone. Hence I guess that some Hamburgers actually might know about this quirky vineyard....

keep reading...or go back up!


If you've booked yourself in one of the three last listed accommodations, you are already there, right next to Hamburg's main attraction: the harbor!

Since it's the harbor that made Hamburg the wealthy yet worldly metropolis and even partly shaped its geography, a visit to the city's core should start right here.


The Landungsbrücken, the gangplanks, are centrally located at the most scenic part of the harbor. In the past, the building marked by two towers used to be the steamboat terminal. On one of the towers, you can spot the time as well as get informed on the river Elbe's water level.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Hamburg Landungsbrücken
The most iconic view of the Harbor: St. Pauli Landungsbrücken.

There is an underground - U-Bahn - as well as S-Bahn-stop here. Just cross the bridge towards the water.

Strolling up and down the gangway on the water line, you enjoy the best views. You can shop some - cheesy - Hamburg souvenirs or have a 'Fischbrötchen', a fish sandwich. There are some great activities like a harbor tour or the visit of one of two historic vessels. We come to that, just keep on reading.

Alter Elbtunnel

One of the coolest things to do at the harbor is found under the river: it's the Old Elbtunnel, built in 1911 and the only way of crossing the river for the longest time.
To get to the tunnel which is 24 meters / almost 80 ft below street level, you can climb down stairs or take an elevator.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Hamburg Elbtunnel
Since there is such a cool place with lots of space, why not use it for various events, right?! Therefore sometimes there are even exhibitions taking place 24 meters below.

Pedestrians and Cyclists are crossing the 426 meters / almost 1,400 ft for free and around the clock while cars are allowed on one track from 8 a. m. to 1 p. m. from Landungsbrücken towards Steinwerder on the other side and from there back to Landungsbrücken from 1 p. m. to 6 p. m. and they have to pay 2 €uro each way.

From Steinwerder you enjoy one of the best views on Hamburg's most iconic skyline.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Hamburg Harbor
Seen from the other side.


The Fischmarkt, fish market (this example proves how similar German and English can be!), is one of Hamburg's most quirky traditions: Every Sunday morning locals and tourists, nighthawks and early birds alike meet at the huge market around the 'Fischauktionshalle', the former fish auction hall, to stock up on flowers, veggies and other produce You can get a hearty breakfast snack like a fish sandwich or enjoy a free jazz concert inside the auction hall.

Fishmarket around the old fish auction hall in Hamburg  (Photo: © Christian Spahrbier /
The former fish auction hall is the central point of Sunday's fish market where the nighthawks mix with the early birds.
(Photo: © Christian Spahrbier /

The market takes place every Sunday from March 15 to November 14 from 5 a. m. to 9.30 a. m. and from November 15 to March 14 from 7 a. m. to 9.30 a. m.

Elbphilharmonie and HafenCity

The next and newest building on the harbor front is the controversial building of the Elbphilharmonie, the Elbe opera house, opened in January one year ago.

For 9 years the building of Hamburg's prestige project was the talk of the town. Not because it's designed by Swiss star architects Herzog and de Meuron, that readers of my blog know I love a lot. but because it was a big miscalculation: instead of the budgeted 241,3 million €uro and an opening in 2010, at the opening in 2016, the amount had added up to 866 million €uro.

Elbphilharmonie   (Photo: © Christian O. Bruch /
There she is - the Elbphilhamonie in all her 866 million €uro splendor!
(Photo: © Christian O. Bruch /

This tells you a little bit about the indeed flattering prejudice of German correctness and efficiency.

But now it's done and everybody is all happy and proud - so please pay at least the "Plaza" a visit and enjoy the view of this harbor like from the bridge of a ship.

Elbphilharmonie Plaza   (Photo: © Christian O. Bruch /
Whether rich or poor - whether into concerts or not: Enjoying the spectacular views from the Elbphilhamonie's 'Plaza' is something everyone can afford.
(Photo: © Christian O. Bruch /

Since the building houses also a hotel (see the Sleeping-section of this post) and two restaurants (on the 5th and 8th floor and a beer bar and souvenir shop on the 6th floor, you can even spend a little more time.

Right behind the building begins the HafenCity, Hamburg's newly built neighborhood. This terrain used to be the container port which got more and more obsolete.

Today the HafenCity is Europe's largest inner-city development project. It's expected to be completed in 2025 and will then have increased the city center by 40 percent consisting of more than 6,000 flats for about 14,000 inhabitants and jobs for up to 45,000 people. There is a brand new campus welcoming students from all over the world and the publishing house Der Spiegel and the Dutch-British company Unilever have also already moved their businesses there. Completed by wide squares and places it's slowly losing its antiseptic ghost town atmosphere.

To learn more about this mega-project, I recommend you visit the exhibition at the Kesselhaus. There you can also join a guided tour.

InfoCenter im Kesselhaus © Dominik Reipka
The large model of the HafenCity gives you a good idea of the project's volume.
(Photo: © Dominik Reipka/InfoCenter im Kesselhaus)

InfoCenter im Kesselhaus
Am Sandtorkai 30
20457 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 36 90 17 99

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (free entrance)


Being at the Kesselhaus, you find yourself already in the middle of the Speicherstadt, the harbor's old storage house district, today under the protection of the UNESCO World Heritage.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Speicherstadt Hamburg
View of the Speicherstadt, UNESCO World Heritage since 2015.

At these rows of beautiful brick houses, the Hamburger merchants used to store coffee, tea, carpets and all the other goods and treasures coming in through the harbor.
Today the ancient structures house hip agencies and a range of unusual exhibitions:

First of all, there is the...


At this warehouse museum, housed in original structures from 1888, especially kids enjoy the hands-on exhibitions dealing with different aspects of how the quartermasters in charge used to store, examine and improve imported goods such as coffee, tea, cocoa, spices and much more.

Am Sandtorkai 36
20457 Hamburg
Phone: 49 - 40 – 32 11 91

Opening hours from March to November Monday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.,
December to February Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 5 p. m.


To get more detailed information on storage and handling of spices as well as learn about their benefits, the Gewürzmuseum, the museum of spices, is the place for you - especially if you are travelling with kids:

Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum
Am Sandtorkai 34
20457 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 36 79 89

Open daily from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m.


Close your eyes - do you feel like being in Colombia or Brazil? Then you've probably found the Kaffeemuseum-Burg, a place all about coffee: An interesting exhibition, educational seminars on everything coffee-related and of course a cozy café where you can enjoy all the treats that the coffee store and roastery Burg has been selling at its store founded in 1923 in Eppendorf, a quite bourgeois neighborhood in the north-west of Hamburg. A nice place to stop, a good place to shop.

St. Annenufer 2
20457 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 55 20 42 58

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.
English guided tours only on Sunday at 1 p. m.


The Hafenmuseum, Hamburg's only in 2005 officially opened Harbor Museum, is a branch of the Museum of the History of Hamburg and obviously dealing with all the shipping-related topics that were - and are - relevant in an industrial port.
It's idyllically located in the heart of the HafenCity, but unfortunately till March 31, 2019, they are on a winter break, which makes sense insofar, that the exhibition doesn't take place only inside: On the premises is also all sort of heavy machinery to be admired, that is mostly still functioning.

Kopfbau des Schuppens 50A
20457 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 73 091 184

Open from April 1, 2019: Sunday to Monday from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. (weekends to 6 p. m.)

Miniatur Wunderland

I don't think that you'll get bored just because you cannot visit the Hafenmuseum before April: One of Hamburg's most visited attractions is the Miniatur Wunderland - and that's open year round.

Hamburg Landungsbrücken at Miniatur Wunderland © Miniatur Wunderland
Whether you want to explore the Wunderland's very neighborhood - like the Landungsbrücken....
(Photo: © Miniatur Wunderland)

Las Vegas at Miniatur Wunderland © Miniatur Wunderland
...or let them take you far - all the way to Vegas: At this place, you can get it all; it's called wonderland for a reason!
(Photo: © Miniatur Wunderland)

This miniature wonderland is world's largest model railroad layout, hence you'll find places and attractions from all over the world, set up not only in a very precise and artistic way, but very often with a twinkle in the eye. The brothers Frederik and Gerrit Brown have been building the wonderland on 1.490 square meters / over 16,000 square feet since 2000 - and they still keep on building: Visiting the open workshop is one of the greatest things to do.

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg 
Kehrwieder 2, Block D
20457 Hamburg

Although the exhibition is open year round, online reservation is highly recommended! It's fun to look around on their website, anyway, since there are already many pictures from the magnificent installation.

Hamburg Dungeon

Another must-see is supposedly the Hamburg Dungeon. I personally am not so much the theme park-dungeon-type, but it's based on true events in Hamburg's sinister past so it might bring history alive in a fun yet scary way.

One of the themes at the dungeon is infamous buccaneer Klaus Störtebeker who had lived in the late 14th century. He was beheaded in Hamburg (today there is a statue of Störtebeker marking the very spot were an executioner chopped off his head) According to one of the many legends on his persona, the burgomaster of Hamburg promised Störtebeker to set all of his men free that the buccaneer would be able to pass after having been beheaded.

Klaus Störtebeker im Hamburg Dungeon © Hamburg Dungeon
Klaus Störtebeker before losing his head.
(Photo: © Hamburg Dungeon)

Brave Störtebeker made it past eleven men - then the headsman threw the executioner's block at his feet. After the pirate stumbled and fell, the burgomaster ordered to behead all 73 pirates. That's how much you can trust a politician's word.

Hamburg Dungeon
Kehrwieder 2
20457 Hamburg
Ticket-Hotline : + 49 - (0) 1806 - 666 901 40

Open daily from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. (July and August 6 p. m.)
English tour on Friday, Sunday and on public holidays at 10 a. m.
Just like at the Miniatur Wunderland, pre-booking online is highly recommended.

Well, whether Störtebeker's story is true or someone simply spun a yarn - in Hamburg, it's all about waters and seafaring and no stay would be complete without having been...

keep reading...or go back up!


There are many different boat and ferry rides to chose from, a trip through the harbor being the most popular one.

Hafenrundfahrt - Harbor Cruise

Just go back to the Landungsbrücken and you'll run into gentlemen announcing loudly the next trip. I personally do not like it that much since seeing the industrial harbor from close isn't that alluring and I prefer to walk the Speicherstadt, too. But being a visitor - especially if you're from a place where there is no harbor - you might enjoy it. There are different companies offering tours of one or two hours as well as a one hour night cruise beginning at six.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Hamburg Harbor
There are various kinds of vessels to take you across the harbor.

To join a cruise, just go to the Landungsbrücken, look a little lost and immediately one of the gentlemen selling the cruise ticket will approach you. If you absolutely want to check online, there is e. g. the site of Rainer Abicht, one of the most traditional ship owners.

Ferry 62

A much cooler way to navigate along the river Elbe is taking ferry #62 which is actually part of the regular public transportation system (so you might want to avoid the rush hours in the morning and in the late afternoon): For the price of a standard ticket it takes you along all the sights like the harbor (obviously), the Fischmarkt, the new and modern Docklands, the Museum Harbor with the old ships and boats, the yacht harbor at Teufelsbrück, the Airbus plant all the way to the former fishermen village Finkenwerder.

Today it's a rather boring middle-class residential neighborhood, so don't bother to get off. Just stay on board, after a couple of minutes the ferry goes back to Landungsbrücken and will take you right where you've started from.

Fischauktionshalle/Fish Auction Hall Hamburg (Photo: © Christian Spahrbier/
The old fish auction hall is only one of Hamburg's great sights that has its own jetty for passengers of ferry #62.
(Photo: © Christian Spahrbier/

If you like, you can make this trip, of course, a hop on - hop off tour and visit the sights you please along the way.

Note Every year in on the weekend around May 7, the harbor anniversary is celebrated with a big parade of different historical ships - which is nice - and a huge funfair along the Landungsbrücken - which is like any other funfair (= for me personally the horror). There are many visitors coming to Hamburg just for this event, so if you are into this sort of fun, you will absolutely love it.

Fleetfahrt - Canal Tour

The 'Fleete' are waterways built in the past to get the goods from the harbor into the city. Since this commercial purpose nowadays is obsolete, most of these canals were filled. However, on those that remained and give the city center a romantic twist, can be explored on a highly interesting cruise where you learn much about Hamburg's glorious past as a merchant city.

Waters always add charm to a city - and Hamburg is practically flooded.

You can enter the cruise, that takes two hours, at the Jungfernstieg jetty at the lake Alster (check the map below)

Anleger Jungfernstieg
20354 Hamburg
Phone : + 49 - 40 - 35 74 24 0

The waterways cruises are taking place daily from March 30 to October 28 at 10.45 a. m., 1.45 p. m. and 4.45 p. m.

Alsterrundfahrt - Alster lake trip

The river Elbe is not the only water supplying Hamburg with the most stunning views: The Alster lake - divided into the parts, the inner and the outer Alster - is another place where you can do the most amazing things by and on the water.

Having a great time and a clear conscience by cruising the lake Alster on a solar power ship.

Actually being a river, too, the Alster runs on 56 kilometers from Henstedt-Ulzburg in the federal country of Schleswig-Holstein south towards the river Elbe.

Therefore boat trips are not only possible, albeit these are the most popular ones, on the lake, but there are other options to chose from. All this is listed on their website.

It's the same company that organizes the waterways tours, so check the details above.

The Alster cruises are daily taking place from March 30 to October 7 from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. every 30 minutes and from October 7 to 28 at 10 a. m., then from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. every 30 minutes and a last one at 5 p. m.

keep reading...or go back up!


If you've taken the ferry to Finkenwerder like I suggested, you've probably noticed the beach in front of the posh villas to your right. Yes, it's a real beach and if the weather was nice more often, ... It's not world's greatest beach, I give you that, but going on a walk along the river watching the big freight ships passing by to Rio, Hong Kong, and Shanghai....*sigh*, no wonder I became such a globetrotter.

If you really want to hit nice beaches, you have to go either to the Baltic sea - e. g. to Travemünde (approximately 75 minutes by regional train).

Beach of Travemünde (Photo: © Bernd Schmidt /
Beach of Travemünde with the iconic Strandkörbe, the beach wicker chairs. These are a fantastic invention, especially for this region where the wind can be quite strong. However, I think they would make perfect beach shelters everywhere in the world and been asking myself why no other nation is importing them.
(Photo: © Bernd Schmidt /

The Northern sea is rougher, more picturesque and has tides, but to get there from Hamburg takes two to three hours.

Cuxhaven - an extra tour

Very special: off the shore at Cuxhaven is Neuwerk, an island politically belonging to Hamburg - although 140 km / 87 miles away. The island is tiny - you can walk around its 3 square kilometers / 1.16 square miles in about one hour  - maybe you'll run into one of the 40 (yes: forty!) inhabitants. And it's very calm - private cars are forbidden.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Cuxhaven - Neuwerk
Crossing the mudflat from Cuxhaven to the Neuwerk island. 

When the tide is low, you can cross there walking. However, you should always do this in a guided group since venturing by yourself might be extremely dangerous as the water comes back really quick. That's the reason why you can always walk only one way and on the way back you need to take a boat.

If you are interested in this really very special tour, you can get all the relevant information online. A regional train takes you from downtown Hamburg to Cuxhaven in less than two hours, so if you are halfway organized, you can do it easily as a day trip.

Read about this amazing adventure in this post.

The season goes from April to October.

Along the beach from Altona to Nienstedten

But now back to the beach in Hamburg: If you walk it from its beginning in Altona all the way west, you get to the posh part, the rich neighborhood of Blankenese. Yes, it's a long walk of about 8 km / 5 miles, but it's very scenic, not traffic, just beach and then trails in some greenery, but yes, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

Beach on the river Elbe - (Photo: © Andreas Vallbracht /
The entrance to the beach on the river Elbe at Övelgönne.
(Photo: © Andreas Vallbracht /

Instead of goggling jealously the mansions overtowering the river, rather leave the trail at Strandhotel Blankenese (or if you've already passed it, go up at the jetty Blankenese just a stone throw away and possibly better to identify). Now just climb up the old, narrow alleys of the Treppenviertel, the stairs quarter. You'll immediately realize where this picturesque part of Hamburg has its name from. It used to be a fishermen's village and the most part of the cute old houses can be reached exclusively over the about 5,000 steps leading you up and down. When the sky is clear and you can see all the way to the Elbe's south shore, the Treppenviertel has a bit of Mediterranean flair to it.

Treppenviertel Hamburg  on the river Elbe - (Photo: © Martin Brinckmann /
Until this day the Treppenviertel, the stairs quarter, has a village atmosphere to it.
(Photo: © Martin Brinckmann /

Once uphill, try to catch your breath, enjoy the view of the peaceful river rolling towards the northern sea - and then turn east and walk about 1.5 km / 1 mi down the Elbchaussee to the Hirschpark, since now we are getting to another great asset Hamburg has to offer, the...

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Hamburg is an extremely green city, everybody notices that immediately: most of the streets are tree-lined and there are little parks and meadows in every neighborhood; 71 percent of the city's area has some sort of vegetation to it. So I point out only the city's biggest green patches which are


The Hirschpark, the deer park, is like I mentioned above, located at Hamburg's richie rich neighborhood Blankenese. The territory was bought in the late 18th century by merchant Jean Cesar Godeffroy. Till this day, Godeffroy's villa can be admired (albeit not visited) and the wildlife such as deer, peacocks, and waterbirds are also still there.
A nice place for a tea break is the Witthüs, a small cottage thatched with reeds. The Witthüs has even a Michelin Plate, so it's very popular and you better make reservation.

Elbchaussee 499a
22587 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 860 173


Enough of richie rich, let's go back to the city center and Hamburg's second largest park, the Stadtpark (the largest one is the Altonaer Volkspark, but I impossibly can take you everywhere).

This central park offers something for everybody: Of course, there are many vast meadows where the Hamburgers enjoy themselves playing all sort of ball games while not far from them, large families from all over the world are firing up their barbecue on weekends.

There are playgrounds for kids and a swimming pool made from a natural pond.
There are various cafés and bars to choose from.

Stadtpark Hamburg and Planetarium Photo: ©  Henning Angerer / HOCH 2 /
If you don't feel like lazing around on the meadows the entire day, there's Hamburg's planetarium right across the street.
(Photo: ©  Henning Angerer / HOCH 2 /

During the summer months on several days a week there are concerts taking place at the open-air stage, so you don't even have to pay entrance to hear some of the greatest international pop and rock stars for free since the music can be heard in the entire park.

Alster and Alstertal

I already introduced you to the lake and river Alster. And where there is a river, there is a river walk. It is possible to walk - or cycle, Hamburg has, like meanwhile most big cities, a system of bike rental that's especially recommendable during the summer months - from the lake-part of the Alster all the way up north towards its source.

Lake Alster (Photo: © Andreas Vallbracht /
A hike or a cycling tour can go around the Alster lake - or along the river all the way up north towards its source.
(Photo: © Andreas Vallbracht /

Unfortunately, it's not an uninterrupted trail, but it consists of different parts: some narrow trails along the river, some trails crossing pleasant parks, but also so parts that are on regular roads. However, if you feel like exploring the city on a bike, you can start on the lake's northern shore, go along Leinpfad and continue according to the route I've marked in the map at the end of this post. I ended it at Ohlsdorf cemetery, the largest park cemetery in the world. If you like, you can, of course, continue further up north.

Planten un Blomen and Wallanlagen

Another centrally located public park, very popular with the Hamburgers, is the Planten un Blomen, which is Low German for Pflanzen und Blumen, i. e. plants and flowers. It was founded in 1821 and is a manicured park arranged in various gardens like the rose nursery, the apothecary garden, and a traditional Japanese terrace. There are different snack bars, a hothouse with tropical plants and a huge playground for the little ones. In summer, there are often musical performances taking place - the most popular being the light concert at the great water fountain where the colorfully illuminated waters move up according to the classic melodies. Kitsch as kitsch can.

Planten un Blomen Hamburg Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /
Planten un Blomen - plants and flowers - what better name could there be for this spot? And look, there's even the cheezy
water fountain in the background! All the way in the back you can see the TV tower (TV, children, was something we used
to watch before there was Netflix).
(Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /

Planten un Blomen garden is part of the green belt along the former, historic Wallanlagen, the erstwhile rampart. This belt stretches basically from the Alster lake across the city all the way to the neighborhood St. Pauli on the bank of river Elbe. One of its main attractions is the roller rink that in winter is transformed into an ice ring.

There is a really quirky aspect to the Wallanlagen: In its neighborhood are the courts and behind the criminal court is the remand center - adjacent to the park. Often you see - and hear! - the inmates' relatives and friends standing at the wall fence, yelling messages. The inmates closest to the wall pass the greetings to those who cannot see the fence; this part of the story I know from hearsay, no experience on my side. Of course, this is not really legal - but it's hilarious to observe.

Did I just mention St. Pauli, Hamburg's traditional marine and the working class neighborhood around the red light district? Well, I guess this rings a bell in the ear of every sailor in this world.

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In the 17th and 18th centuries, today world-famous Reeperbahn started out as a ropewalk, i. e. an area where they made ropes for the seafaring. This, of course, attracted sailors and boatsmen, the guys were thirsty and lonely, they went to bars, they met these painted girls, one thing lead to know how it is. It became the red light district and got the nickname being the 'most sinful mile' (sündigste Meile). However, today the Reeperbahn and the adjacent streets are a wild mix of sex shops and brothels, but also of trendy clubs and bars, restaurant and theaters. Although you might get to see irritating things, it's far too frequented to be really dangerous. Beware of pickpockets and most of all of scam when you get involved with strangers at - erotic - bars.

Große Freiheit Hamburg St Pauli Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /
The legendary street 'Große Freiheit' - great freedom - actually lives up to its name.
(Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /

St. Pauli's claim to fame is also the fact that the Beatles started their worldwide career right here at the Starclub. John Lennon is quoted: "I might have been born in Liverpool – but I grew up in Hamburg".

From 2009 to 2012 the Beatles were remembered at the exhibition Beatlemania which sadly had to close down for financial reasons.

Today, there is the Beatles-Platz, the Beatles square, remembering the famous debutants. But if you want to learn more about this, you can join one of the Beatles tours following a guide who was actually there when the magic happened.

Beatles Tour Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /
Look at this tour - no wonder the Beatles had a great time in Hamburg!
(Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /

The tours are taking place Thursday to Sunday at 5 p. m. (also in English)

Beatles Tours Hamburg 
Große Freiheit 39
22767 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 162 - 379 77 47

Reading this post you'll think that the Hamburgers spend all their life outdoors on ships, beaches, and parks. This would be a brilliant idea if only the weather was better. Being so close to two oceans in Northern Europe means lots of rains - and we're talking this annoying light, but constant drizzle here. Terrible.

Kunstmeile - Art Mile

But Hamburg is ready for this: Although it's certainly not Germany's most exciting destination for arts and exhibitions (there are even much smaller cities offering much better shows), it has about 60 museums, and five of them are located along the 'Kunstmeile', the Art Mile, between the central station and the outskirts of the HafenCity.

Hamburger Kunsthalle - Hamburg Art Museum

Already the Kunsthalle's structure is interesting: the Art Museum consists of three individual, partly only subterraneously connected buildings from different eras. There is the old building from the 19th century, built and decorated according to classic renaissance architecture. In the early 20st century another building was added - it's located closer to the central station. It's was built in a neo classicist fashion. The third building, the gallery of contemporary art, was finished in 1997 and stands closest to the lake Alster so that the old building is practically framed by its two younger brothers.

Hamburger Kunsthalle - Hamburg Art Museum Photo: © Wolfgang Neeb / hamburger kunsthalle
The Kunsthalle's oldest part on the right and the newest part - the gallery of contemporary art - to the left.
(Photo: © Wolfgang Neeb / hamburger kunsthalle)

The Kunsthalle owns a collection of paintings and sculptures from the medieval times to contemporary and covers practically every era. Particularly noticeable are the paintings from German Romantic by Caspar David Friedrich, Philipp Otto Runge, Wilhelm Leibl and Anselm Feuerbach.
They also own some of the most important works by German impressionists Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth. Of course, there are also temporary exhibitions taking place, e. g. check out my post from last summer.

Hamburger Kunsthalle 
Glockengießerwall 5
20095 Hamburg
Phone: + 49- 40 - 42 81 31-200

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Thursday to 9 p. m.)

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg - Museum for Arts and Crafts

Founded in 1876, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg's Museum for Arts and Crafts, was Germany' third of his kind (after Leipzig and Berlin. Divided into fourteen sections, it houses about half a million objects.

Museum of Arts and Crafts   Photo: © Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe /
Museum of Arts and Crafts Hamburg.
(Photo: © Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe /

My absolutely favorite part is the section on German expressionism and Bauhaus including i. a. a show of bizarre masks and theater costumes by Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt. As well very interesting is the Bauhaus furniture and the 'Frankfurt kitchen' by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky from Austria, probably the first female architect in the world.

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
20099 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 428134-880

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Thursday to 9 p. m.)

Kunstverein in Hamburg - Hamburg Art Society

The Kunstverein, Hamburg's art society, was founded 200 years ago in 1817 to promote the arts and make art accessible for the broad public. It is one of Germany's oldest art associations and at its present location - at a former market hall just like the Deichtorhallen mentioned below - since 1993. I'd say that the exhibitions of contemporary art taking place at the Kunstverein are mostly rather extreme, hence a bit quirky and for a specialized audience. Check out my post from last summer to see what I mean.

Kunstverein in Hamburg 
Klosterwall 23
20095 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 32 21 57

Open from Tuesday to Sunday and on holidays from 12 noon to 6 p. m.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg 

The Deichtorhallen Hamburg - the halls used to be a covered market - is one of Europe's largest exhibition space for contemporary art and photography.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg - cool venue for art aficionados.

The steel-glass-structures from 1911 resp. 1913 have attracted art aficionados with their spectacular exhibitions of world renown artists since 1989 - like e. g. video artist Bill Viola in early summer 2017 (please read my earlier review).

Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Deichtorstraße 1-2
20095 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 32103-0

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. (every month's first Thursday to 9 p. m.)

Bucerius Kunstforum - Bucerius Art Forum

The Bucerius Kunstforum is found at a prime location next to the town hall in the very center of Hamburg.

Bucerius Kunstforum  Photo: © Kai-Uwe Gundlach /
It's good that the Kunstforum is included in the Kunstmeilen Pass, otherwise, I couldn't recommend visiting: too often have I been disappointed by the quite far-fetched concepts of their exhibitions.
(Photo: © Kai-Uwe Gundlach /

This gallery, financed by the foundation Zeit-Stiftung (Die Zeit is a very prestigious national weekly newspaper published in Hamburg), doesn't own a collection, but organizes every year four exhibitions on different topics and from various art epochs.

Bucerius Kunst Forum
Rathausmarkt 2
20095 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 36 09 96-0

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 7 p. m. (Thursday to 9 p. m.)

Kunstmeilen Pass

If you are like me and cannot get enough of art and exhibitions, then you probably should consider getting a Kunstmeilen Pass, a combined ticket for all five venues.

The regular one costs €uro 36 (with the a. m. Hamburg Card only €uro 28,50) and can be used for one year (one time access to each venue).

For visitors there is an even better option: the Kunstmeilen Pass for three consecutive days costs only €uro 25 or €uro 20 with the Hamburg Card.

You can buy it at any of the five participating museums or e. g. at the tourist information points quoted above.

Further information
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 428 131 314

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Once you're done with the Bucerius Kunstforum, the last stop on Hamburg's Kunstmeile, you can just go next door:


The Rathaus, Hamburg's town hall, houses the office of the "Bürgerschaft", the legislative assembly of the federal state of  Hamburg and the "Senate" which is the federal-state government. The imposing building was built between 1886 and 1897 in a neo-renaissance style. It's not only impressive outside, but it's also very beautiful inside so that I can highly recommend joining a guided tour.

Hamburg town hall, seen from the adjacent Alsterarkaden, the Alster arcades, housing posh cafés, and specialty shops.

If your German is good enough to follow a local tour, you can join a daily tour from 11 a. m. to 4 p. m. (Saturday to 5 p. m.) by the hour.
Tours in English and French are not performed on a regular basis, so please inquire by calling + 49 - 40 - 42831-2064 (workdays from  9 a. m. to 5 p. m.) or get information and register using the information hotline + 49 - 40 - 428 31 24.
Under the same number, you can get also info on tours in Lower German that take place once a month.

Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte -
Museum of the History of Hamburg

To get the most complete overview of Hamburg's exciting history, there's no better place to visit than the Museum of the History of Hamburg. Opened in 1922, it owns the largest collection of municipal history in all of Germany. Trace the history all the way back to the 9th century when Hamburg's predecessor, the Hammaburg, used to be a village with a population of about 200 fishermen, farmers, and craftsmen.

The entrance hall to a wealthy merchant's house - where he pursued his trade, but the family also used to live.

Find out how it grew to an important commercial center with an internationally operating harbor. Every aspect of life in Hamburg over the centuries is taken in focus.
A visit is recommendable for everybody, but especially kids will enjoy exciting trips back in time: There is a special self-guided tour with 50 different stops at the museum, one of them being a real piece of the steamship 'Werner', built in 1909 and scrapped in 1960.

Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte 
Holstenwall 24
20355 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 428 132 100

Open Sunday to Monday 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. (weekends to 6 p. m.)

Rickmer Rickmers

Since at the History Museum there is only a fragment left of the ship 'Werner', you might wanna explore an entire one - no problem at the third largest harbor of Europe! If you've been to the harbor before, you've certainly noticed the striking dark green tall sailing ship - the Rickmer Rickmers.

The bold green color, a traditional figurehead - the Rickmer Rickmers has all it takes to be a nautical jewel.

It was built in 1896 and named after the builder's grandson. Since 1983 it houses i. a. a museum and became one of Hamburg's landmarks. Originally furnished cabins can be admired e. g. on a scavenger hunt. The sporty folks might even climb the shrouds, the cozy folks enjoy refreshments at the restaurant.

Rickmer Rickmers
Bei den St. Pauli Landungsbrücken
Ponton 1a
20359 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 3 19 59 59

Open daily from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Cap San Diego

Less flashy and less romantic, but worth the visit nevertheless is the Cap San Diego, a former general cargo vessel built in 1961/1962. For twenty years the Cap San Diego was cruising the seven seas - mainly between Hamburg and South America. And although today it's a hotel and a museum, the Cap San Diego is still seaworthy and can be hired for special occasions.

There is a lot going on on the Cap San Diego, within sight of the Elbphilharmonie.

On board, there are galleries showing temporary exhibitions as well as a museum where you can learn everything about modern seafaring in two different exhibitions and on migration to the New World through the port of Hamburg at the show "Ein Koffer voller Hoffnung"/"A Suitcase Packed with Hope".

Cap San Diego
20459 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 36 42 09

Open daily from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (unless the Cap San Diego is on tour)


The exhibition "Ein Koffer voller Hoffnung"/"A Suitcase Packed with Hope" on board of the Cap San Diego was the first show remembering Hamburg having been a starting point to the New World for many migrants from Europe: about 5 millions between1 850 and 1934!

Ballinstadt Emigration Museum Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /
The history of emigration via the port of Hamburg can be traced at the BallinStadt that for many used to be the first stop of their long journey for the better.
(Photo: ©  Christian Spahrbier /

Since most of these immigrants were rather from the south of Germany or even from Eastern countries such as Russia and Poland, they came to Hamburg not having any shelter while waiting for their ship to leave. Hence they squatted in the streets which became a social and hygienic problem. Therefore Albert Ballin, founder, and owner of the shipping company Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft, short HAPAG, got the idea to build a reception center for those waiting; for obvious reason, he was very interested in these migrants to keep coming to Hamburg and taking his ships to America.

In the southern outskirts of Hamburg, a little settlement was built, consisting of clean dorms, dining halls where three meals a day were served - at that time a big luxury. There even were facilities like a playground for the kids and cinema. And there were two churches, a Catholic and a protestant one, and of course, a synagogue - since many of the migrants were Jewish fleeing the Eastern European pogroms.

I am a child of emigrants - my parents migrated in 1968 from Czechoslovakia to Germany after the Soviet occupations - so the faith of immigrants, the stories of leaving everything behind in search of better always touches me very deeply - and I spent hours at Ellis Island, looking at pictures, seeing fear and hope in the eyes of the people. Therefore I was very happy when Hamburg finally acknowledged its role in migration from Europe to the 'New World' and first installed the exhibition at the Cap San Diego (see above) and eventually re-opened the halls at the BallinStadt.

Read about the fascinating history of migration via North German ports in this post.

Auswanderermuseum Hamburg
Veddeler Bogen 2
20539 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 319 79 16-0


The Krameramtsstuben (Grocers' Apartments) Formerly homes for widows of members of the Grocers’ Institute (Krameramtswohnungen), 1620 to 1700 built, timber-framed buildings form the last of the 17th century enclosed courtyards of Hamburg. Now occupied by small shops, galleries, restaurants, and a museum, the group is arranged along the sides of a narrow courtyard, behind two 1700s buildings which front the street.

The courtyard of the "Krameramtsstuben" is one of the cutest - and quite hidden - places in Hamburg.
Here you can get some Hamburg souvenirs and enjoy a snack at the cozy little café at the end of the alleyway.

Next to the entrance to the courtyard is a restaurant by the name of "Krameramtsstuben" that serves traditional cuisine from Hamburg.

Krayenkamp 10
20459 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 36 58 00
Email :

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St. Michaelis

The Krameramtsstuben are just across the street from the most important Landmark in Hamburg, the St. Michaelis church aka the "Michel".

Michael is waiting for you at the entrance.

Make sure to visit the church's viewing platform - it grants you an unforgettable view of the city and the harbor. You can climb the 452 stairs - which should take about 12 minutes. However, you can also take an elevator on the 1st floor, but be aware that you have to climb 52 stairs in any case.  The tower clock - the largest in all Germany - measures 8 meters / 26 feet.

Hamburg's most important landmark, St. Michaelis church, probably better known by its nickname Michel.

St. Michaelis is a protestant church, the predominant confession in northern Germany. Besides the regular services, you can often enjoy beautiful concerts there, too.

St. Michaelis 
Englische Planke 1
20459 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 376 78-0

St. Katharinen

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: St. Katharinen Hamburg
In the front, St. Catherine is looking down on us.
Her golden crown is decorating the church tower in
the back.
St. Katharinen was founded in the 13th century when the city was extended. Its neighborhood was the quarter of the shipbuilders and beer brewers. Eventually, mainly wealthy merchants moved to this area, many of them being Dutch immigrants who had to leave their country for religious reasons.

St. Katharinen was named after the Cyprian princess Katharina.

The church is mainly famous for its copper tower, decorated with beautiful golden details like e. g. 'Katharina's' golden crown. It's considered Hamburg's most beautiful church tower.

St. Katharinen 
Katharinenkirchhof 1
20457 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 30 37 47 - 30

St. Nikolai

Like the Gedächtniskirche in Berlin, St. Nikolai is rather a memorial than a church: It's basically left in its damaged state and the permanent exhibition „Gomorrha 1943 – The destruction of Hamburg during the aerial warfare“.

The symbol against the dramatic sky.

A glass elevator takes visitors up the fifth highest church tower in the world.
From the viewing platform at 76 meters/ 249 feet, you can overlook the harbor, the Alster lakes, and Hamburg’s city center.

St. Nikolai
Willy-Brandt-Straße 60
20457 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 37 11 25

Open daily from May to September from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. and October to April to 5 p. m.

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So there is world's largest graveyard (it's still negotiable if that's actually an asset...) and one of Europe's largest gallery for contemporary art and Germany's largest church clock - but besides all the superlatives, to me Hamburg's greatest ambassador is Nivea, a brand that's known everywhere around the globe.

Wherever Hamburgers go, a piece of home is awaiting them. Here, on the beach of Figuera da Foz in Portugal.

Yes, the company Beiersdorf, that launched this modestly snow white (hence the name: 'niveus' - Latin for 'made of snow') in blue tin canisters with simple, bold white lettering on it, is located in the very center of Hamburg.
The first tin was sold in December 1911, and before the cosmetic industry - also within Beiersdorf - increased and started to manufacture different creams and lotions forever type of skin and dermatologic need, generations of German kids and adults alike used Nivea as their only skin emollient.
Since then Nivea extended its range of creams and lotions and recently they've even launched a perfume with the typical Nivea-smell.

In 2006 the first "Nivea-Haus" was opened in Hamburg. Besides being a store where you can purchase every purchasable Nivea-product you can image, they also have a SPA where they treat you with....take a wild guess!

NIVEA Haus Hamburg
Jungfernstieg 51
20354 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 82 22 474-0

Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 8 p. m.

Of course, you can get the products also at every supermarket or one of Germany's many drugstores. In Hamburg, you absolutely have to check out:


Budnikowsky Chair at Speicherstadt Hamburg
Besides the writing 'Hamburg' - doesn't this chair
just have your name on it?!
Budni definitely has it all!
(Photo: Budnikowsky)
Budnikowsky is a drugstore chain that you will find only in Hamburg and some well-chosen destinations up north. The Hamburgers call it affectionately Budni and I love to shop there, too.

I don't understand why Germany is famous for cars and beer. The great thing about Germany is the drugstores; the only nation that has similarly good drugstores are the US, all the others cannot compete since there is always missing one section.

Budni and the other German chains have it all: body care, cosmetics, and make-up, but also washing powder, rags, and brooms. And of course whole foods - dry and fresh and even some convenient whole food like soups and pizzas.
But since they want to sell their toothbrushes, they also have sweets - and even a variety of vines.

No other drugstore in the world - US aside - has all that! And besides the known brands which they already sell at a very good price, they also have a couple of house brands that are of excellent quality and really cheap. It's their fault that I'm schlepping my care products around the world with me from Germany - nowhere else do I get an excellent sunscreen for less than 5 bucks; nowhere.

For you, as a visitor, the most interesting products should be their line of stuff in the red and white design taken from Hamburg's emblem, the red and white Hammaburg. There are pens and diaries and of course T-shirts and bags and household stuff like bowls and cups and salt and pepper shakers - go there and check it out if you intend to buy souvenirs since all this stuff is at an unbeatable price; and it's actually a piece of Hamburg from a real store founded here when in 1912 Iwan Budnikowsky opened his first soap store.

Budnikowsky. bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Some products from Budnikowsky's Hamburg-collection - and there is much more to chose from!

There are a couple of Budnikowsky stores in every neighborhood.

Kölln Haferland

Another place where you can browse for nice, not tacky Hamburg souvenirs is the Kölln Haferland - the Kölln Oat Land. Just like Nivea is a synonym for all-purpose cream, Kölln stands for oat flakes - which have been manufactured since 1820 in Elmshorn in the outskirts of Hamburg.

Mill at the Kölln Haferland. bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
At the oat mill, everybody can mix their favorite basics, then add different ingredients like nuts and sundries, chocolates and many other treats. At the end, you design your own personalized label. A great souvenir for your loved ones - or yourself. 

In 2014, Kölln opened its flagship store in the city center. Oatmeal flagship store...I know, that doesn't sound too sexy, but actually it's very nice, especially for visitors: Of course, you get all their ready-made products and mixes, but they can mix your individual Müesli for you or you can do it yourself at a special bar (great fun for kids!). They have a very pleasant deli where you can enjoy good coffee, freshly made snacks and - just take a wild guess....
They also have some reasonably priced Kölln and Hamburg related merchandise that makes a great souvenir.

Kölln Haferland
Steinstraße 27
20095 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 329 089 81

Open from Monday to Saturday 8 a. m. to 6.30 p. m. (on Saturday from 9.30 a. m.)


Another breakfast treat only known in Hamburg is the Franzbrötchen, a sweet roll filled with cinnamon that makes every Hamburger's mouth water.

Franzbrötchen. bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
The plain original: Franzbrötchen.

You get Franzbrötchen at each and every bakery in Hamburg, but the best one - that comes also in different flavors such as whole grain, chocolate, with raisins, with apple and more - you buy at Dat Backhus (again: Lower German, here for Das Backhaus, meaning the bakery), a chain with actually not that many branches.
Besides selling all sorts of exquisite bread and cakes, they also have a small deli where you can enjoy hot and cold drinks with a sandwich or pie.

There is one really close to the Kölln Haferland:

Dat Backhus
Speersort 10
20095 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 30 37 40 63

Open Monday to Friday 7 a. m. to 6.30 p. m. and Saturday from 8 a. m. to 6 p. m.

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FISH - and beyond

There are thousands of options to chose from: There is the North German cuisine which due to the proximity to two Oceans obviously consists mainly of fish dishes. There are restaurants by immigrants from all over the world like e.g. the Portuguese quarter close to the harbor, there are the Middle Eastern, Asian, African restaurants. And there are of course numberless Turkish Kebab shops.

But let me introduce some of the best fish places:

Fish - excellent and cheap

Unfortunately, my favorite Daniel Wischer-restaurant was closed down in 2016. It used to be in the middle of Hamburg's biggest shopping area and no shopping spree was complete without fried haddock and potato salad.

Fortunately the same year they opened a new branch right next to the town hall - which is actually much nicer; but I don't want nice, I want tradition!

The new, posh location at Große Johannisstraße next to the townhall. If you're in a hurry or not too hungry, you can also just grab a fish sandwich or some fish'n'chips to go.

For traditionalists like me there is still the one at Steinstraße close to the central station, and here you'll feel like walking right back into the 70s - furnishing and staff included.

No matter which location you prefer, the food is always excellent: fresh, tasty, plenty; no wonder - Daniel Wischer has been frying fish since 1924!

Daniel Wischer
Große Johannisstraße 3
20457 Hamburg T
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 36 09 19 88

Open Monday to Saturday 11 a. m. to 10 p. m.

Steinstraße 15a
20095 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 32 52 57 95

Open Monday to Saturday 11 a. m. to 4 p. m.

Fish - at the most authentic location

One of the most original restaurants and bars is the Feuerschiff right in the harbor. This light vessel was built by Philips & Sons in Dartmouth/England in 1952. With a crew of eight men, the ship used to be a sea-mark off the English coast. After 36 years, it was replaced in 1989 and 'retired' in the harbor of Hamburg in 1992.

You cannot miss the fire-red Feuerschiff.

Besides being a restaurant serving typical Hamburg cuisine, it also is a bar and club. You can even spend the night in one of the berths - they are tiny yet equipped with everything an accommodation needs and at a reasonable price.

To party check their event calendar - they are concerts and other fun events taking place regularly like e. g. the Jazz night every Monday from 8.30 p. m.

Das Feuerschiff
20459 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 36 25 53

Open daily from 9 a. m. till 10 p. m.

Fish - excellent and expensive

Since 1981 the Fischereihafen Restaurant down by the riverside has been Hamburg's synonym for elegant and excellent dining. I think there isn't one German - and international - celebrity that came to Hamburg without paying this culinary institution a visit. Of course, the prices are accordingly - and don't bother to go there without making a reservation.

Fischereihafen Restaurant
Große Elbstraße 143
22767 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 - 40 - 38 18 16

Fish - and beyond

The Freudenhaus, i. e. 'house of pleasure', is located, as its name hints, right in Hamburg's red light district. Don't be surprised if people either frown or crack up laughing when you tell them you're going to the Freudenhaus since this in German in the synonym for brothel.

However, at this Freudenhaus the pleasures are exclusive of culinary nature: Classic home cooking, pimped up comfort food, Hamburg's fish classic - this house is full of pleasures that you'll enjoy in a very plushy, fun setting.
Not exactly cheap, but very recommendable!

Freudenhaus St. Pauli
Hein-Hoyer-Straße 7-9
20359 Hamburg
Phone: +49 - 40 - 31 46 42

Open daily from 5 p. m.


Need to know how to get to all these places? Here is a great downloadable map of Hamburg's public transport system.

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  1. i think this post has all needed information and wort for reading, kudos to ur blog

  2. I've been to a bunch of different german cities, but not yet to Hamburg. I hope one day soon I can go and visit there -- it looks STUNNING!!

    1. Big mistake, Emily, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. By train it's only 90 minutes from Berlin, 4 hours from Cologne, 6 from maybe on your next trip?!

  3. I've always wanted to visit Germany, hopefully i do one day~

    1. There is quite a lot to see, the distances between cities are rather short and there is a good public transport system, so it's really easy to travel.

  4. I love Hamburg. Have visited some of the places already!
    Have to say that you have a nice photography selection. Makes me wanna buy a drone...

    1. Thank you, Alexander. But you did realize that most of the pics are from a database, right (note the credits)? I'm a better researcher and writer than photographer so from time to time I take the liberty to use press pix - according to their rules regarding copyright, of course!

  5. I'd love to visit Hamburg, Germany one day. The river looks beautiful. Seems to have a lot of places to visit.

    1. It definitely has; and there are many awesome things to do in the outskirts, too.

  6. This is such a comprehensive guide! Thank you. I’d love to visit Germany one day but didn’t know where to start.

    1. There are many interesting places in Germany and the public transport system - trains, but also buses - is perfect, so you can do a lot even in a short time.

  7. Wow, this is a very informative post about Hamburg! I have been to Germany several times for work, but never to this city. Sounds like a great place to visit! I love how you pointed out unique things to do and not just 'touristy' things. Thanks!

    1. Hope you'll be back soon - to enjoy, not only to work...
      Glad you like the post.

  8. What a great post! So full of ideas for things to do and places to visit in Hamburg! I'm bookmarking for when I visit, which I hope will be soon.

    1. Glad you like it - and thanks for bookmarking it. Happy travels!

  9. Such an informative read. I have visited numerous German cities previously but not yet been to Hamburg. We are back in Europe later in the year, will definitely have to look into visiting Hamburg then and following some of your tips!

    1. That's exactly why I wrote it: somehow Hamburg is off the travellers' radar, which I don't get since it has so much to offer and is so conveniently located. If you have any questions regarding your trip, keep in touch, guys!

  10. WOW! This is a very, very extensive guide to Hamburg. I don't think I have to do any additional research now. Munich and Berlin always come to my mind first when I think of traveling there, I didn't even know Hamburg was the second largest city. I'll have to add this to my list

    1. Oh yes, I'm known for very, very extensive guides - always try to offer the best service to my readers.
      Munich and Berlin - I guess these cities are coming to everybody's mind first; that's exactly why I wrote this post.
      Thank you so much for appreciating it!

  11. Wow, this post is so through and well detailed with all the useful travel information. You really covered all the interesting things in Hamburg and I'm def bookmarking this for future trips.
    xo Sheree
    Posh Classy Mom

  12. This is super informative and real breakdown of everything to see and do in Hamburg. I went to Berlin last year and now I think my return to Germany may have to be here.


  13. Wow, the Elbe Opera House looks really cool, it's shaped like waves! I picked it out right away in the background of one of your other photos and marvelled at it already from there.

    And franzbrötchen looks a lot like Finnish korvapuusti. It's probably delicious as well!!

    1. Yes, that's exactly what the architects Herzog & de Meuron had in mind - to make it like part of the harbor and I find it worked out pretty well.
      Franzbrötchen is basically a larger korvapuusti, only that it's flat. It tastes practically the same.

  14. What an awesome place to be! There are so many beautiful places in Hamburg. Hopefully our Europe tour will push through this year. I am going to ask my husband to include Germany in our itinerary.

  15. What a detailed post! I have visted Germany before but still have not been to Hamburg. The guide will come in handy for when I do.

    1. Glad to hear that, Barry. Yes, so many people skip Hamburg when travelling to Germany - since Munich has all the Oktoberfest-Cliché and Berlin the cool rep; Hamburg has a very cool and elegant tradition and is absolutely worth a stop.

  16. What a great article and great photos! You've given s a nice of thing to do, see, and eat around Hamburg. Will definitely be putting this great city on my list now.

    1. Glad you like it. The pictures are mostly from a database, though, so the credit goes - literally - to pro photographers.

  17. This is such a detailed article and a complete guide to Hamburg. The city looks beautiful with its breathtaking views, fascinating architecture and interesting museums and landmarks. That Franzbrötchen looks tempting. Love your amazing photos!

    1. Glad you like it, Shaily. Whereby the pix are mostly from a database, so I cannot take the credit.

  18. I love how detailed your post is Renata! So much information for Hamburg! So many sights to see and experience including beaches and parks.. I am particularly interested with the Hamburg Dungeon. I’m sure it’s a unique way of learning Hamburg’s history, albeit the weird way.

  19. There is so much great information here, its all you need to know on your first trip! I have not been this side of the world yet and love reading about it. The food looks great and there is so much to do. Loved your pics too!

  20. Wow, what a comprehensive post about Hamburg. My father-in-law was born there, and he talks about it being dirty, dark, and depressing - nothing like you describe here! I guess people tend to the down about their place of origin. I would love to explore the culinary options and see the tall ships!

    1. Aha, that's where the 'Schatz' - the darling or treasure - come from!? It's neither dirty nor dark, but in wintertime it can get a bit depressing since it's getting a lot of rains from the ocean. But that's the same problem with every northern European city - it's not worse than London - and faaar better than Scandinavia... Yes, come and see for yourself 🤗

  21. We visited Hamburg with the Christmas markets and it was so cold. Your pictures make me want to plan a second trip when it's warmer, it looks lovely!

    1. Ya, well, it's the north. Whereby since it's close to the sea, it gets rather rainy and windy than really, really cold like places with a continental climate. Anyway, yes, come back to enjoy its sunny side up-side 🌞🌞🌞

  22. This is a fantastically comprehensive guide for visiting Hamburg. I learned so much! I cannot wait to visit Hamburg one day. Yay!

  23. Been to most of Germany cities but not Hamburg. Very detailed and informative guide you have here. Always enjoyed travelling to Germany in groups, because the group transport tickets cost are so valued for money.

  24. WOW. That's all I can say after reading through this. Thank you for such an incredible guide to what seems to be an incredible city.

    Definitely bookmarking this post for when we visit Germany.

  25. Wow, I didn't know Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany. When I'm looking at places to visit (planning), I missed this one. You have a very detailed on what to do in Hamburg.

  26. I've never been to Europe, but Germany has always been one of my bucket list destinations. Your writing and pics make me want to check flights to see when I can make it over for some beer and schnitzel.

  27. I've never visited Hamburg, but after reading your post it looks like such a great place. Your pictures are stunning too - and you've so much information for me to reference too. Thanks for sharing!

    Victoria |

  28. I love Hamburg and its been years since I been. But after reading your post and for some reason, I dont know or missed this, Nivea is from Hamburg? Wow! Didnt even know it was a German company!

  29. Only 90 minutes from Berlin! I will make that side trip when I get to Berlin. Elbphilhamonien is stunning. That photo of walking on water outstanding. I gotta have that Franzbrötchen! And, yes, we should import those beach wicker chairs. I am so impressed with this comprehensive post!

  30. Wow, I think you got everything in this post. I had very little knowledge of Hamburg prior to reading this. But now I feel like I know it all. Compliments on the balanced and honest review of many of the activities and cities pro's and con's. This is what travel blogs should be all about.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!

  31. Hamburg seems like an exceptional place to explore and I'll make sure to cross it off my bucket list as soon as possible, Renata. You offered some very practical and useful information!

  32. I love Hamburg. It carries historical beauty and european architecture style. Great place to explore and spend your vacation. Thanks a lot for sharing everything in detail including main attractions, accomodation, transportation etc.

  33. Oh I've heard a lot about Hamburg, I have a friend who visited the city as well and saw her photos and it was superb. I love your photos of Landungsbrücken and Hafencity I would love to visit this year. It's on my list. I just have to make a decision if I have to take the car or plane.

    1. However you get there, Alexi, have a safe trip and a great time in Hamburg.
      Regarding the parking problem at every major city, I'd rather recommend the train, though.

  34. This is such a super informative article about Hamburg. I've been to Germany many times, but never visited Hamburg. I'm from Europe, but I didn't know that it is europe's second largest industrial port. I would've never thought that. Also, it's fun to know the origin of the name Nivea:-)

    1. Yap, the largest one is Rotterdam. Where are you from, Irena?

  35. I found the information on the language really interesting, I have seen Ä, Ö, Ü before but didn't realise what language they where from.

    1. Ö and Ü are also very common in Turkish - much more than in German. I think ä is exclusively German.

  36. What a great big guide! Love all the tips. My brother and I are planing a trip this summer so the timing is PERFECT!

    1. Sounds great, Maya. If you need further info, just let me know!

  37. The opening photo above the river is incredible. Any transportation system that has something for multi day use or something to that effect has always been a plus for me. We enjoy using the public transport while in other cities and love the discount we get with these types of offers. Always wanted to visit Hamburg as well but haven't made it yet. The ships in the shipyard look amazing especially considering they are sailing ships.

  38. I hope to visit Hamburg soon as well. The Nivea-huis would definitely be my must-visit, being a Nivea user.

  39. I never thought Hamburg would be that much beautiful I'd love to visit Hamburg, Germany one day. Loving all the pictures.. filled with plenty of places to visit.

  40. This is amazing! So much information with sooo many options. We have not been to Hamburg yet but we are definitely going back to Germany in the near future and Hamburg will be one of our spots. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Wow Renata, your post is very very information. Thank you so much for all the details you have added. I wanted to visit Hamburg for a weekend and I can see there is so much to visit and do there. Very surprised with the beach and the island you mentioned. The pictures are fantastic. Thanks for sharing this! :)

  42. Never thought that Hamburg would have such things and beautiful things too see. Will definitely try to visit one day, thanks for all the info!

  43. A detailed introduction to Hamburg, a very charming German city which I would love to visit in the near future. The Fischmarkt looks like a well-preserved local tradition which we will be able to interact with locals to better appreciate their culture and practices.

  44. From all German cities, this is the one I really want to visit. Your post is so informative, I don't need to read anything else before going to Hamburg! :)

  45. I live in Hamburg since 5 years but I never heard of some things you have mentioned thank you tomorrow I am going to visit Hamburg again even I live there..


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