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What to do in Hamburg

What to do in Hamburg

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The metropolis on the waterfront is extraordinary: the distinct maritime character, the international outlook and the cosmopolitan attitudes make the Hanseatic City of Hamburg one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Hanseatic elegance on Elbe and Alster, the historic Town Hall, the UNESCO Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel, the nightlife on the famous red-light district Reeperbahn and the traditional Hamburg fish market are outlining the diversity of Hamburg as a tourist destination. Futuristic architecture is shaping the newly built HafenCity district and the unique Speicherstadt (historical warehouse district) give evidence of the city’s history and its future of urban building.

Hamburg is famous for its diverse shopping arcades, spacious boulevards and exclusive boutiques. Creative fashion, edgy streetwear, exclusive jewelry or perhaps just a souvenir with a difference – shopping in Hamburg provide a high level of versatility.

Tip: Hamburg Card - explorer Hamburg by bus, train and harbour ferry (HVV) and save up to 50 % at more than 150 tourist attractions.

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Hamburg culture & events

Historical Hamburg

UNESCO World Heritage Site “Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus Dirstrict with Chilehaus”

The historic Speicherstadt and the Kontorhaus District with the legendary Chilehaus are brickwork symbols of the rise of Hamburg as a trading metropolis and are known as the largest contiguous complex of warehouses worldwide. Built on oak logs, the impressive red-brick buildings make up a unique district you simply can’t miss.

The famous Chilehaus is one of these beautifully decorated red-brick buildings which are so typical for Northern German architecture and the Wasserschloss is the Speicherstadt’s most photographed landmark.

Located right in the port of Hamburg the districts, preserved in their entirety, are the pride of Hamburg: In 2015 they were designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site – an outstanding ensemble of maritime warehouses and modern office buildings of exceptional universal value.

The buildings and their impressive architecture with its clinker facades have shaped the face of the metropolis on the Elbe: The Kontorhaus district was not only Europe’s first district constructed exclusively for office buildings but the historic Speicherstadt also played an important role in enabling Hamburg to climb to the pinnacle of world trade.

Today, the area presents itself as a lively cultural quarter which combines past and present where you can find numerous gastronomic facilities and tourist attractions.

Town hall

Built between 1886 and 1897, Hamburg’s town hall dominates the city centre with its impressive architecture and its 112 metre-high tower. This magnificent sandstone Neo-Renaissance building is the seat of the Hamburg Senate and the Hamburg State Parliament. It has 647 rooms and its façade displays the statues of twenty kings and emperors of the old German Empire. The representative halls and back rooms can be viewed only on guided tours. Also worth seeing is the fountain of Hamburg’s patron goddess Harmonia in the town hall’s courtyard

St Michaelis Church

St Michaelis, the Lutheran main church in the southern part of the Neustadt, is affectionately known by locals as ‘Michel’ for short. The church was built between 1647 and 1669 by Peter Marquardt and Christoph Corbinus. It burnt down twice and has been rebuilt twice since then. Today St Michaelis Church impresses with its bright Baroque nave with a total of five organs. The observation deck of the church tower stands at a height of 106 metres and offers a panoramic view of the port and the city.

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The Old Elbe Tunnel

The Old Elbe Tunnel has a length of 426.5 metres and connects the Elbe island of Steinwerder directly with the St Pauli Landungsbrücken. Built in 1911, the historic tunnel is still used by pedestrians and cars; it is equipped with a car lift. The opening of the tunnel was a technological sensation at the time. In 2003, the Old Elbe Tunnel with its maritime tiles was classified as a listed building, and since 2011 it also bears the title of “Historic landmark of German civil engineering”. The walk through the two narrow tunnels is rewarded with a magnificent view of the cityscape from the other side of the Elbe.

Christmas markets

Strolling during Christmas time through Hamburg, one can experience exciting and at the same time fulfilling life. Tourists love to explore the 16 unique and pretty Christmas markets around the city centre in Hamburg. On November 27th Hamburg will be transformed again into a fairytale Christmas Capital of the North. Enjoy a unique atmosphere between Elbe and Alster, at historic churches and dreamy Fleeten, active places and romantic corners.
Delicacies, bright-light, handcraft, Christmas music and conviality are waiting for you. Each market has a charm of its own and offers specialties for every flavor and mood.

  • Historic Christmas Market at the town hall square: A special attraction is the flying Santa, who hovers three times a day above the visitors and reads out Christmas stories.
  • White Magic at the Jungfernstieg: Lighten up with Christmas decoration, a smell of mulled wine, cinnamon and roasted almonds give visitors a taste of Christmas in Germany at the boulevard.
  • On Germany´s only over 18 Christmas market Santa Pauli in the red-light district are Christmas tradition and party combined. Live music, fireplace and striptease expect you on the Reeperbahn.

Besides the gathering with family and friend, Christmas is also shopping time. One of the most attractive shopping streets of Germany is located in Hamburg´s centre: Neuer Wall. There you can find luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Hermès as well as traditional shops. Especially during Christmas time is a shopping trip through the festive decorated passage impressive.

For further information: www.hamburg-travel.com/experience/events/christmas-time-in-hamburg

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Classic culture

The Hamburg Metropolitan Region offers art treasures, museums and exhibitions as well as world class music and theaters.

The Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s concert hall and new landmark is welcoming music enthusiasts as well as tourists from all over the world, seeing itself as a concert hall for everyone. The musical programme is therefore designed to be varied and inviting, offering capivating concert experiences to both connoisseurs and newcomers alike. Concerts and concertante opera performances in the Grand Hall featuring the best orchestras from around the world represent the epitome of musical achievement. But the Elbphilharmonie isn’t just a destination for the musically minded or culturally astute: the spectacular building houses not only three impressive concert halls but also gastronomy, a hotel and a public viewing plaza which offers a breathtaking and unbeatable 360° panoramic view over the entire city and harbor.

Elbphilharmonie concert hall

The Elbphilharmonie is truly a building of superlatives and has set itself the goal of becoming one of the ten best concert halls in the world. Since its opening in January 2017, the Elbphilharmonie, which was designed by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron is far more than just a concert hall: Surrounded by three sides of water, the spectacular building houses not only three impressive concert halls but also gastronomy, a hotel and a public viewing PLAZA. Therefore it isn’t just a destination for the musically minded or culturally astute. Here is why:

At a height of 37 meters, the PLAZA offers a breathtaking and unbeatable 360° panoramic view over the entire city and harbor. It is an open platform that can be accessed also independent of a concert visit by visitors from Hamburg and around the world at any time of day.

Just as impressive as the view is the route into the Elbphilharmonie through the Tube – an 82-metre-long, curved escalator.

The core of the building is the Grand Hall with 2,100 seats. It opens up a completely new musical experience based on the synergy of sound and space, acoustic perfection and the proximity between artists and audience.

The stunning roof and glass facade formed upon a historical red brick construction of the former cocoa warehouse, rises up to a height of 110 meters and builds another highlight of this unmissable, eye-catching landmark. Now, the former warehouse forms the foundation for 200,000 tonnes of culture.

Museums

Five museums with a total exhibition area of over 30,000 square metres line Hamburger Kunstmeile. It comprises renowned art institutions in the heart of the city, including the Bucerius Kunst Forum, the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, and the Hamburg Art Gallery. Together they exhibit an up-to-date, vibrant selection of contemporary and historical art in all forms, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, applied arts, and design.

The Speicherstadt is also home to numerous museums and they prove beyond doubt that history and learning don’t have to be dull, dry or dusty: At Spicy’s Spice Museum, for example, smelling, tasting and touching are expressly encouraged and a visit to the International Maritime Museum, is even both exciting and educational. The world’s largest private collection of maritime paraphernalia tells of explorers, conquerors, captains and crews. During a guided tour through the Chocoversum visitors are taking on a journey of the cocoa up to the refinement of the chocolate. One of the highlights is the producing of an own chocolate, which can be taken home.

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The Miniatur Wunderland in the historical warehouse district is a sheer pleasure for young and old alike, making it the most visited tourist attraction in Germany. It is home to the world’s largest model railway, whose lovingly created landscapes and intricate details have to be seen to be believed.

Hamburg maritime

Maritime festivals

One of the special festival highlights is the Hamburg Port Anniversary. The world’s biggest port festival revolves around cruise liners, sailing vessels and military ships in the port of Hamburg. The four-day programme includes the famous tugboat ballet and the grand finale parade. The biannual spectacular Hamburg Cruise Days will be held in September along with the international SeaTrade Europe convention, ringing in an entire Cruise week in Hamburg, where the fascination of cruise lining comes alive onshore as well as offshore. The harbour offers maritime markets with culture, music, culinaric highlights and an impressive cruise liner parade accompanied by traditional boats and fireworks.

Tip: The harbour is dipped into blue lights during Hamburg Cruise Days which creates a unique atmosphere.

Fishmarket:

A "must" for every Hamburg tourist is the walk across the traditional “Hamburger Fischmarkt”. Each Sunday as the sun rises, crowds of early birds and night owls make their way to market and anyone who thinks he can only trout, Steinbutt, Krabben & Co are the first to make a mistake: the in 1703 established Hamburg fish market offers everything what one can demand: On this historic square on the Elbe, countless booth traders loudly extol their fresh fruit, veg and flowers, clothes and bric-a-brac.

But make sure to get up early: in summer, the spectacle starts at 5 o'clock and in winter at 7 o'clock.

Landungsbrücken

Further down the River Elbe one should take a stroll along the jetties of the St Pauli Landungsbrücken. The Landungsbrücken (Landing Docks) line the edge of the harbour, from which visitors have the perfect view of a mighty port bustling with maritime life. This is also the traffic hub for port ferries, Elbe ferries and excursion boats, making it to the perfect starting point to get on one of the barges that are so typical for Hamburg and to join a harbour tour by boat.

Hamburg sophisticated

HafenCity

Within a few minutes’ walk of the city hall and the main station, the HafenCity Hamburg is directly adjacent to today’s downtown and will extend its area by around 40 percent. For more than ten years, the HafenCity has emerged out of an area that was once used by cargo ships to unload their freight. A completely new quarter has been developed on a former port area with a surface area of 250 hectares making it to the largest urban development project in Europe. With the development of a huge new urban space along the Elbe River, Hamburg is setting new standards throughout Europe: a vibrant city with a maritime atmosphere which uniquely blends work and living, culture and leisure, tourism and retail emerged.

The HafenCity Hamburg is always worth a trip to enjoy, for example, the summer programme on Sundays, to watch the ships at the cruise terminal, in the Traditional Ship Harbour or in the Elbe, to stroll along the promenades, wine and dine or simply to discover the fascination of building sites.

Besides modern and impressive architecture, the new city district provides a unique mix of cultural attractions, like the International Maritime Museum, shopping streets like Überseeboulevard, as well as hip restaurants and bars. New shops and restaurants are opening up all the time. If the weather is fine, Bistros, cafés and bars open up their outdoor terraces - an inviting opportunity to relax after an exciting but tiring shopping expedition and enjoy picturesque views of the water. There is also a rapidly expanding range of eateries offering gastronomy from the widest variety of countries.

Eppendorf: Twice a week, the Isemarkt, Europe’s longest open-air market invites residents as well as tourists for an extend stroll over the over a kilometre long market, where fruit, vegetable and flower merchants offer their wares for sale. Organic cheeses, fresh pasta, fish from the North and Baltic Seas, confectionery, but also books, clothing and tools are on sale here. And if you just want to look, you can maybe enjoy an invigo Review snack at one of the many café or snack carts.

Shopping

Noble and Beautiful: Just beside the town hall you will find Neuer Wall, one of Europe’s leading designer fashion promenades. Labels such as Louis Vuitton and Jil Sander, jewelers Bulgari and Cartier, as well as Hermès accessories all have a branch at Neuer Wall. But the street is also home to a number of traditional retailers.

Hamburg´s Inner City Arcades: Hamburg´s city centre has 26 shopping arcades, providing you with a sheltered shopping experience in all weathers. With a floor space of 30.000 square meters, the Europapassage is Hamburg´s biggest inner city shopping center and is located at the far end of the Jungfernstieg. In contrast to this, the Mellin Passage is the smallest of Hamburg’s arcades and connects the Alsterarkaden and Neuer Wall. It´s Venetian style ceiling paintings are a touristic attraction in itself. Also among the city’s smallest and finest shopping arcades is the Levantehaus, which is located at the Mönckebergstrasse. While the Alsterarkaden impress with their Venetian flair, the Hanse-Viertel let you experience shopping the Hanseatic way. Numerous restaurants and cafés, as well as attractive events and exhibitions will further sweeten your shopping experience.

Boulevards: The Jungfernstieg along the Inner Alster Lake is Hamburg’s most renowned and most traditional shopping boulevard. Today, the Jungfernstieg is all about shopping in different retail shops and large department stores such as the famous Alsterhaus. The Mö, as the locals fondly call the Mönckebergstrasse, is Hamburg’s major shopping mile. This street, displays an impressive variety of large department stores, fashion boutiques, retail shops, cafés and restaurants.

Culinary stars and diversity in Hamburg

Seafood restaurants, culinary excursions through the world, regional organic cuisine, and the beautiful Hamburg atmosphere: Hamburg offers more than 1,200 restaurants, with countless culinary highlights waiting to be explored. Whether it is noble and extravagant or simple and good, prepared by a master chef or a more down-to-earth cuisine: Hamburg can cater for every taste and every budget.

Trendy restaurants and celebrity cooks also discover Hamburg’s city centre. Til Schweiger, one of the stars in the Oscar-decorated Hollywood blockbuster „Inglourious Bastards“, opened his first Restaurant Barefood Deli in the heart of Hamburg, as did Germany’s most popular television cook Tim Mälzer. Being big buddy with Jamie Oliver, Tim loves the big show and surprises with his first daytime restaurant Die gute Botschaft, lushly located on the shore of the city’s Alster Lake. Steffen Henssler, learned all about fish at the Sushi Academy in Los Angeles before he opened his first restaurants and started his cooking career on television. Steffen sets new standards in street food with his third restaurant Ahoi in Hamburg’s most populated pedestrian zone, the Spitalerstraße.

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A totally must to eat is the typical Hamburg food speciality Fischbrötchen (a fish in a roll). This dish belongs to an authentic visit to Hamburg and can be described as simple and regional snack which can be best enjoyed at one of the stands at Landungsbrücken piers or at the fish market.

Hamburg has more star-rated restaurants than ever. With “The Table”, Hamburg finally got its first three-star restaurant. Chef Kevin Fehling and his team offer the finest combinations of classic dishes with a modern twist as well as completely new, innovative creations. Christoph Rüffer and his team present modern and creative menus based on classic French gourmet cuisine. The ambience is elegantly reserved and the service is impressive with its balance of subtlety and attentiveness. A real insider tip is the Große Elbstraße, also called “Elbmeile”. Located between the famous Fish Market and the Cruise Terminal Altona, the Elbmeile is the place to be for all fish and sea food lovers. Discover the charm of the wide world at the restaurant Seepferdchen am Hafen. Only fresh caught and harvest-fresh ingredients come to the table in the former fish warehouse.

Tip: A Hamburg original and therefore an indispensable part of Hamburg is the Franzbrötchen, a sweet pastry made of leavened dough which is filled with cinnamon and sugar. It is the most popular sweet of Hamburg.

Hamburg edgy&rough

Whether it is culture, art, fashion or gastronomy: hidden backyards and small side streets reveal a boundless potential of creativity, lifestyle and inspiration. With its scene districts Hamburg is more than justifying its reputation as an eternally young metropolis on the Elbe.

If you go on a stroll through the Schanzenviertel or Karolinenviertel, you will quickly notice that there life is pulsing and alternative shopping is the order of the day. Whether it’s the “Flohschanze”, one of the most beautiful antique and flea markets in the Hanseatic City or one of the small studios and showrooms in which talented artists design their young and inspiring fashion: here you can shop outside of the box and experience the hippest Hamburg in a convivial atmosphere.

Schanzenviertel, Karolinenviertel or St. Pauli are a paradise for all those who are into Scandinavian, French, Berlin and Hamburg labels and little cafés and bars. The young and wild fashion designers in Hamburg are largely found in the Karolinenviertel around Marktstraße. An increasing number of young creative designers have also opened home accessories and fashion design shops in St Pauli. Numerous young labels have already achieved international success and are causing a sensation with their imaginative and fresh ideas. But also "used" is in fashion. At the shop "Hot Dogs" you can discover many treasures from long past days.

With the shop "Lockengelöt" old objects are becoming useful again. By upcycling disposable products, unique custom-made products are manufactured here.

Located directly in the Karoviertel, "Groove City" provides all vinyl lovers with their favorite plates. Everywhere shops with all sorts of stuff and funny gift ideas guarantee shopping experiences away from the mainstream.

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The Hamburg hip-hop lifestyle continues out on the streets. Old-established clubs and bars like “Übel & Gefährlich” (Feldstraße 66), the “Grüner Jäger” (Neuer Pferdemarkt 36), the “Bernsteinbar” (Bernstorffstraße 103) and the “Fundbureau” (Stresemannstraße 114) are all just a few minutes’ walk from one another, and have provided a home for the hip-hop community for many years – in some cases even decades. Hamburg’s hip-hop lifestyle is booming like never before. While established bands like Beginner are storming the album charts, newcomer acts like Ace Tee are also gaining international fame, taking the cool, cosmopolitan Hamburg hip-hop style to the world. But away from music, Hamburg also has other hip-hop things to offer: Numerous streetwear labels founded in this Hanseatic town give the city its own unique identity, and have become real success stories in recent years.

Tip: An insider tip for culinary delights is the "Bullerei" - the restaurant of TV-Chef Tim Mälzer. Located in the heart of the Schanzenviertel, the restaurant serves modern German cuisine.

Hamburg natural

Parks and gardens

Even though Hamburg is a metropole there are still numerous green spaces to escape from the everyday stress, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere or do sports. The Planten un Blomen park in central Hamburg is a wonderful destination for families, romantic couples and those seeking relaxation. There is a botanical garden with a tropical greenhouse and the largest Japanese garden in Europe. From May till September coloured fontains with a changing music programme cater for a wonderful coloured water concert.

The large Alsterpark, located on the northwestern shore of the Outer Alster, is very popular with everyone in Hamburg - you can find blissful relaxation among swans, geese, sailing ships and greenery.

The Alster – water and horizons in the heart of the city

Terraced restaurants on the banks of this green piece of paradise are an ideal place to take a rest, while the lake itself is popular for sailing. The fleet of white barges offers round trips and scheduled services – this is where you can enjoy finest views on villas, church towers and historical buildings.

For those who prefer to take the control themselves the Alster also offers enough possibilities: The big lake in the heart of the green Hanseatic City is a paradise for yachtsmen and canoeist paddlers alike.

You can find boat rental businesses at the Outer Alster, at the Alster itself or at the Alstercanals such as the Goldbek -, Isebek- and Osterbekcanal. Also a nice walk around the Alster is worthwhile because some of the most sought-after residential areas of Hamburg are located around it and also the well-known Atlantic hotel.

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Elbe Coastline

On sunny days, for many residents of Hamburg, a walk from Teufelsbrück to Övelgönne is simply de rigeur - especially on Sundays. It is not deserted here in Winter either: Because on the banks of the Elbe there are many restaurants with different styles - from terraces to beach bars. In Övelgönne you will stroll past some small houses and beautiful gardens that lie picturesquely along the Elbe.

On the Elbe beach you can not only enjoy the sun and relax, but also take part in a variety of leisure activities. Locals and tourists use the kilometre-long beach on the Elbe not only for walks in summer and winter but also to watch the huge container ships in the harbour. Sports enthusiasts can be seen jogging or walking and at certain places on the Elbe beach barbecues are allowed. In addition to this, there are many charming cafés, restaurants and during summer time also a Beach Club.

Tip: Famous for a snack in the sun is the trendy café Strandperle which lies right on the Elbe beach.

Hamburg to party

Reeperbahn and Schanzenviertel

If you want to discover Hamburg's nightlife, St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn cannot be missed. Formerly a popular destination for sailors from all over the world, the Reeperbahn has been attracting magicians to all age groups for years. The Reeperbahn, also called “Kiez" is no longer only the address of old-fashioned erotic establishments - it is Hamburg's entertainment district number one and Hamburg’s red light district. The Reeperbahn in St Pauli is as well Germany’s most famous party mile. There is only one word to describe the district of St Pauli: diverse. Commerce and instant entertainment, theatres and musicals, fancy restaurants, hip party people, punks, and local families – all these can be encountered on the streets of St Pauli. The Reeperbahn and its side streets – Grosse Freiheit, Hamburger Berg, Talstrasse, Silbersackstrasse – and the area around Hans-Albers-Platz are melting pots for diverse music genres, trends and entertainment.

Hempel’s Beatles Tour is one of the attractions taking place in the heart of St Pauli: singer/songwriter Stefanie Hempel takes you on a musical journey through the Fab Four’s time spent in Hamburg

The theatre Operettenhaus, numerous trendy bars, nightclubs, pubs and cult clubs – everything can be found on 930 meters! During the day rather quiet the street awakens at night. Thousands of people of all ages are out and about with the aim to have fun - which varies from cabaret to techno to commercial sex.

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Most popular music festivals

Hamburg has besides the Reeperbahn a full repertoire of festivals.
The Elbjazz Festival offers finest international jazz in unusual venues in the harbor while during the Hamburg Ballet Days John Neumeier’s international renowned Ballet shows its masterpieces.

At the Reeperbahnfestival perform over 300 international newcomers from the divisions Indie, Pop, Skirt, Singer-Songwriter, Electro, Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz and Neo-Classic in unusual locations all around the Spielbudenplatz. For further information please visit www.hamburg-travel.com

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