Hamburg is one of the largest port cities in Germany, and is connected to the North Sea by the Elbe River. Its city is full of canals and lakes which create the perfect “seaside” town. The city contrasts at every corner, from red brick warehouses, to charming nightlife, and a taste of fish and chips – Hamburg has a little bit of everything!
Whether you’re visiting for a day, a weekend, or longer, there’s plenty to do in Hamburg. So here’s a list of 10 of my favourite things to do while exploring the area!
1. Spend your morning at the Fish Market (Fischmarkt) 🐟
Every Sunday morning, the Hamburg fish market by the Elbe attracts thousands of visitors – some getting up super early, and others wandering over for a fish sandwich after a night on the Reeperbahn. You can find a lot more than just fish at the markets, fruit, flowers, clothing – a little bit of everything. You can come down to watch the fish auctions, or just to enjoy some fresh food and listen to the hustle and bustle of competing markets with sunrise views over the Elbe.
Summer (April — October) Sundays 5:00 a.m. — 9:30 a.m.
Winter (November — March): Sundays 7:00 a.m. — 9:30 a.m.
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2. Rathaus ⛪
The most impressive building in Hamburg, is the Neo-Renaissance Town Hall – Rathaus. It was built to reflect the prosperity and optimism of a newly united Germany at the end of the 19th century. The Rathaus is essentially the most iconic building in Hamburg, and sits right in the centre of the city. It’s just steps away from other popular sites in the Altstadt quarter and some great shopping spots.
3. Drinks on the Reeperbahn 🍺
An incredible contrast to the Hamburg we’ve seen so far, “the sinful mile” is the perfect place to explore some of the cities incredible nightlife.
4. Elbe Tunnel 🚇
In 1911, the Old Elbe Tunnel was created to provide a more direct route for dock workers over to the southern banks of the Elbe river from the Landungsbrücken. Today it is free for pedestrians pass through and enjoy an example of some outstanding German engineering.
5. Elbphilharmonie 🎶
Elbphilharmonie is one of Hamburg’s most iconic examples of architecture. It’s unique modern design and harbourside location create the perfect spot for a viewing deck. Visitors can head up to the viewing platform and take in incredible views of the harbour – or they can enjoy one of the events hosted inside.
6. Speicherstadt 🧱
A visit to Hamburg wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its very own UNESCO World Heritage Site. Speicherstadt is the largest warehouse district in the world – all made of red brick gothic revival buildings along the canals of Hamburg. A popular way to see the area is by harbour tour (I would check the tides before doing this), or to just wander around and explore for yourself! This is also where you’ll find some of Hamburg’s newer attractions such as Minatur Wonderland, Hamburg Dungeon, and the Coffee Museum.
7. Deichstraße 🍟
Deichstraße is the oldest remaining street in the Altstadt of Hamburg. Deichstraße dates back to the 14th century and was first mentioned in 1304.
8. St Pauli walking tour by Drag Queen 💄
While there are so many walking tours available in the St Paul area, the most popular way to do so is guided by Drag Queen or a Local celebrity! I was very surprised to learn the history of The Beatles in St Pauli – I never knew they had so many notable moments in their bands creation that started right here in Hamburg! On a walking tour you’ll be taken around to a few of the spots where these historic moments in Music History took place, as well as towards the red light district, and the famous Reeperbahn! Along the Reeperbahn you’ll spot Germany’s most famous Drag Queen – Olivia Jones. If not in person, than through the many businesses that operate along the Reeperbahn! You can find Olivia’s guided tours here.
9. Alster Lakes 💦
In medieval times, a dam turned the Alster river into a water reservoir to power the mills operating on its banks. This shaped what are now two large artificial lakes; Außenalster (Outer Alster) and the Binnenalster (Inner Alster). You can reach these lakes just a short walk away from the Rathaus and nearer the shopping districts. It’s the perfect place to sit down for sunset or to jump on to a harbour cruise.
10. Enjoy a drink at the Beach Bars 🍹
Berlin isn’t the only place known for their beach bars! One of the best spots to enjoy a cold drink on a warm Summers day is one of the beach bars. There are some artificial beach bars throughout the city, but along the Elbe River you’ll find some actual sand bars.