Hamburg is one of the most important cities in Germany, especially because it is a major port city in the country. Unfortunately, Hamburg is often overshadowed by Berlin and Munich, and many tourists choose to visit them instead of this eclectic and interesting city. But Hamburg has at least as many attractions as Cologne or Berlin, with incredible nightlife and amazing history. Hamburg is a pretty modern city too, and this is due to its destruction in World War II. Of course, the old and the modern are deeply intertwined, and you can easily admire the city’s architecture, canals, and museums and enjoy its charm. Even though one day is not enough to truly discover Hamburg, it may be enough to make you fall in love with the city and start planning your next trip here.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Hamburg?
Hamburg is a city that can be visited anytime because it has a specific charm in every season. However, if you hate cold weather, and it gets really cold here in winter, the best time to visit it would be during summer. The climate is temperate, so even during summers, the temperatures do not go above 26°C a lot. The warmest months are July, August, and June (in this order).
These are also the most crowded months because summer is the peak of the tourist season. So, if you visit Hamburg from June to October, you will see a lot of fellow travelers in the city. That being said, this place is nice during winter too, even though the temperatures are low and can be less enjoyable for people who appreciate warm weather. On the plus side, however, this is the time when the fewest tourists visit the city and also the prices are low.
A Few Facts About Hamburg
Hamburg is a major port city in Germany, so one of the most interesting and flabbergasting facts is that there are more bridges here than in Amsterdam, London, and Venice together. About 2500 of them!
The port of Hamburg is as big as Copenhagen, so the size of the city can easily be imagined. Copenhagen can fit into Hamburg at least 7 times!
And maybe one of the most interesting facts about Hamburg is that it has its own island. Back in 1299, the city took over the rights to Neuwerk. This was a measure of protection against pirates, and since then, this island which is 100km west of the city is an integral part of it.
Top Things to Do in Hamburg
Hamburg is a big city where you can find anything. From nightlife to excellent museums, public squares, and other iconic places, you can discover the city’s history and mysteries. If you have one day to spend in Hamburg and do not have a plan or an itinerary, here are some suggestions on what you can do.
Start the day with a breakfast near the lake
Alster Lake is one of the major attractions of Hamburg, which has about 8% of its surface covered with water. There are many cafes and restaurants here, but Literaturhauscafé is among the most amazing ones. It is big enough to find a free table whenever you choose to go there, and their menu is very interesting. They offer a variety of meal options, each of them named after a famous writer. For example, if you choose the Richard Yates menu, you will have Florentine Eggs, while the F. Scott Fitzgerald menu has pancakes with yogurt.
Explore the Alster Lakes
Beginning your day by connecting with nature is incredible and can give you the boost of energy and tranquility you need. The Alster Lakes (there are two of them, actually) are a nice attraction in Hamburg, and you can choose to explore them by renting a kayak, a paddleboard, or a boat. Bobby Reich is one of the many businesses that allow you to rent a boat to explore the lake and its canals. From Literaturhauscafé you can walk about 2 km to the location, or just take the 6 or 17 bus. And if you feel hungry after you explore the lake, they also have a nice restaurant connected directly to the dock, so the view is wonderful.
Explore the Speicherstadt
The Speicherstadt is a street full of buildings that serve as warehouses that stored spices, tobacco, coffee, and many more. This district of warehouses is popular among tourists, so during summer months, you will see many of them trying to find the most photogenic spot.
The building of the district started in 1883 and finished in 1927, and since 2015 it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can take the U-Bahn 1 (metro) from Bobby Reich and reach Speicherstadt in 30 minutes.
Discover Miniatur Wunderland
Miniatur Wunderland is one of the major attractions in Hamburg you should not miss. Even though most people think this attraction is just for kids, youngsters and adults visit it regularly. Miniatur Wunderland covers more than 2.000 square meters of mini buildings, and you can see areas dedicated to the Nordic countries, the USA, and Germany.
The most interesting and fascinating thing about Miniatur Wunderland is that the buildings are not static, but everything is full of life. Planes actually take off from the airport and cars are moving through cities. It takes you only 7 minutes on foot to reach it from the Speicherstadt.
Visit Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum
Before heading to a lunch spot, you can stop by and visit Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum. It is just across the canal from Miniatur Wunderland, and it takes you only 3 minutes to reach it. This museum is dedicated to herbs and spices around the world, and you can find out more about their cultivation by visiting their exhibits.
Have Lunch at VLET in der Speicherstadt
The visit to the spices’ museum will have made you hungry, and VLET is an amazing fine-dining restaurant that can offer you the lunch experience you deserve and want. You need to walk 4 minutes until you reach it. There, you will enjoy a perfect atmosphere, excellent food, and staff that pairs the wine with the food without mistake.
Learn at the International Maritime Museum
One of the major attractions in Hamburg is the International Maritime Museum where you can find out more about the history of the Port of Hamburg and how the city developed.
After you have enjoyed your meal, you can head out to the museum which is only 8 minutes away from VLET. The private museum has 9 floors of maritime stuff, from ships to uniforms and photographs.
Admire the Elbphilharmonie
The Elbphilharmonie is a major attraction in the city, especially because it is located on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. Hamburg is an amazing city that has a lot of canals which shaped many peninsulas, and the German people took advantage of it.
Elphi, how the locals call it, is a concert hall that is one of the most advanced (from an acoustic point of view) buildings of that type in the world.
So, if there happens to be hosting a concert when you decide to visit it, you should definitely go in and hear it.
Visit the Rathaus
The Hamburg town hall is located 1.5km away from the Elbphilharmonie, and you can walk the distance in about 20 minutes. This would be a nice experience as you can admire the superb architecture of the district and discover more attractions on the way. The Rathaus is majestic and has over 600 rooms, some of which are open to the public on the Long Night of Museums, which took place in April this year.
Have Dinner at the Parlament Hamburg Restaurant
The area where the city hall is located is full of restaurants that offer a wide variety of meals, from seafood to Irish meals. But if you want to discover the German cuisine, you can go to the Parlament Hamburg Restaurant, which is located within the town hall. The atmosphere is fantastic and the interior design transports you back in time.
Spend the Evening at Sternschanze
Every city has a street or area full of bars, cafes, and restaurants, and Hamburg has Sternschanze. You can choose to dine here as you have plenty of options, or you can just enjoy a German beer with your friends. Here you can sense a slightly different atmosphere, with live music and many locals, as this is one of their favorite places to hang out. You can take the U3 metro from the Rathaus and reach it in 15 minutes.
Where to Stay in Hamburg?
Hamburg is a big city, so there are a lot of options when it comes to accommodation. Here are some of the hotels and hostels that are loved by tourists, and no matter which one you choose, you will surely enjoy it.
AMERON Hamburg Hotel
Am Sandtorkai 4 , HafenCity, 20457 Hamburg
If you have loved the Warehouse district and the Speicherstadt, then this hotel is the right choice. It is located near one of the canals and offers amazing views over the Speicherstadt and the HafenCity (where the Elbphilharmonie is). You can enjoy your meal at their restaurant and relax with a drink in their bars.
Hotel Hafen Hamburg
Seewartenstr. 9, St. Pauli, 20459 Hamburg
This hotel is amazing because its buildings are so full of history and the owners decided to keep it to make the hotel more attractive. The rooms are full of maritime antiquities and are traditionally decorated, with a touch of modern facilities. Hotel Hafen has a tower bar where you can admire the night beauty of Hamburg.
Hotel St. Annen
Annenstr. 5, St. Pauli, 20359 Hamburg
Situated in a quiet location, close to an U-Bahn station, this cozy little hotel is just about the best one in the city in this price range. They serve fantastic breakfast here, plus there’s a lovely garden terrace where visitors can relax and unwind. Perfect for a good night’s rest!
Steintorplatz 3, St. Georg, 20999 Hamburg
This is one of the most appreciated hostels in Hamburg because it has an excellent location and services. It is located 16 minutes by foot away from the Rathaus and it is one of the largest hostels in the city. The hostel has a bar where you can have a meal or a drink and meet other travelers.
Day Trips from Hamburg
Germany is known for some amazing and spectacular castles that you should not miss. Schwein is home to such castles, and one of them is the Schwerin Castle. It is located on an island in Lake Schwerin, so the location is superb.
You can reach Schwerin with the regional train in one hour and a half. Here you can spend your day admiring the amazing architecture and visit some of the castle’s rooms which are open to the public.
If you want to discover traditional Germany, you could head to Altes Land. It is located one hour away from the center of Hamburg and you can take the train to the location. This is the largest growing fruit area in Germany, so here you can admire the beauty of apple, cherry, and pear trees and the traditional cottages. Its beauty is incredible when the trees bloom, but you can visit it in any season to relax and enjoy the experience.
Even though cities in Germany seem far away, they have good public transportation. You can reach Bremen in one hour by train and discover its beauties. Bremen is an important cultural and economic hub of Germany, full of history and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The best thing about Bremen is that its architecture was not affected by World War II, so you can get a glimpse of how life in Germany looked like before.
Extra Tips for Visiting Hamburg
– Transportation within the city is smooth and easy, but Germany is an expensive country. Getting a Hamburg card allows you to use the metro, train, bus, ferry, and so on without paying extra. It also gives discounts and free entrances to many museums, so it is worth it.
– Many small cafes, bars, and restaurants in Hamburg accept only cash, so it is better to always carry a few with you. Rent a bike to explore the city at your own pace.
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