Hamburg, my pearl. This city is the best! The fascinating thing about Hamburg are the many different facets. Wealthy merchant city, elegant city, whicket Reeperbahn, historic Speicherstadt or Warehouse District, simple port area, non traditional and bold accommodations, modern port city… This cosmopolitan city doesn´t leave anything out. And there is one more thing, Hamburg has a loooot of water. Elbe and Alster define the cityscape and in between them there are numerous waterways, channels and the Fleete that are typical throughout the Hanseatic city. That doesn´t only look nice, but also provides the city with a great amount of quality free-time-activities.
The Elbe is a part of Hamburg like nothing else. Nevertheless, she was not the reason the city was founded here. The original port of the Hanseatic city was first located by the Bille and later by the Alster.
In 1189 Hamburg received a charter from Emperor Barbossa with extensive privileges and in the same year, the port we know today was built. That´s when things really got started for Hamburg. Nowadays the Port's Birthday is one of the most important events in Hamburg - with more than 1 million visitors each year.
A port cruise is an absolute must for first time visitors. These are especially interesting when doing it with a small launch boat that gets super close to the docks and container ships and then also pays a visit to the canals in the Speicherstadt/Warehouse District. On those tours you get a short version of Hamburg´s history.
Of course, you can also get to know Hamburg´s water on your own. A spectacular – and on top of that quite affordable – option are the port ferries. There are seven lines and all you need is a regular Hamburg public transportation pass (HVV) or the Hamburg Card. Our favourite route starts at Landungsbrücke 3 with line 62 and goes down to the Finkenwerder. This tour passes by the docks of Blohm + Voss, the fishmarket, the Övelgönner mueseums port and the splendid captain houses in Blankenese. And the best thing about it is that it´s like a maritime hop on hop off tour - you can get off wherever you´d like to and catch another ferry later.
Hamburg is a real dream for everybody who likes to paddle. Many boat rentals offer canoes, rowboats, paddle boats and stand-up paddle boards. The tour options are - thanks to the many waterways - nearly endless. Cruise along the luxury homes at the Außenalster, through parks and next to the idyllic gardens. If you get thirsty along the way, just make a quick stop at one of the bars where you can enter directly with your boat. Ahoi, we´d like two times Alster, please!
During the Hamburg Cruise Days the Hanseatic city does something that it usually doesn´t do, it lets itself go and shows off big time. With its beauty, its unique scenery and the huge port in the middle of the city. The Hamburg Cruise Days are the maritime top event of the year.
If you´re very enthusiastic about the port and its industry, or are considering becoming a skipper or shipowner yourself, you might want to visit the SMM (Shipbulding, Machinery & Marine Technology) convention in Hamburg which takes places every second year and is the leading convention for the maritime industry.
Hamburg isn´t only blue, it´s also green. Due to the countless parks in the city. They say there are hundreds of them. And they have something to offer everybody. Botanic gardens, sport activities, a place to hike or cycle, magnificent views, places to grill, to chill out, to play or take dogs for a walk. Without any doubt, Hamburg is an outdoorsy city, the little bit of rain doesn't change that.
The Planten un Blomen park, which was founded in the 1930s, is the green heart of Hamburg's city centre. There you can easily lose yourself for a day in your thoughts and dreams and forget all about time. Even though it´s in the centre of the city, it is as if you enter a different world when you go there. The botanic garden captivates with its Tropical House. Or what about a tea ceremony in the biggest Japanese garden in Europe? The rose garden has more than 300 types of roses and the fun factor at the Planten un Blomen is also guaranteed, thanks to roller blading and ice skating rinks. In the winter the ice skating rink is 4.300 squaremeters big, making it the largest open air ice skating rink in the world. It has a lot of retro charm and is - comparable to the rink in New York - simply timeless.
The most beautiful spectacle at Planten un Blomen begins once the sun has set. That's when the unusual dance of water and light starts. Synchronized to the music and following a well thought through choreography, the main fountain reaches up to 36m, and 99 smaller fountains start dancing towards the sky. The waterfountains are acompanied by a light piano with 762 headlights being played by another artist. The entire performance is beautiful and just amazing. That´s romanticism in the big city!
The nicest 'balcony' in Hamburg with the most stunning view is in Altona. The best thing about it is that it´s huge and that anybody can go there. It is a wide park between Elb-shore hiking trail, fishmarket and the Grünzug in New Altona. From the platform there is a breathtaking panorama view of the Elbe and its ships, as well as the colourful floating containerships and you can even see the Köhlbrandbrücke, one of Hamburg´s landmarks. The perfect background to grill and chill!
Placing a cemetary among the nicest parks of a city seems odd. But the Cemetary Ohlsdorf isn´t only the biggest … cemetary in the world, but with a stunning 389 hectare area also the biggest green area in Hamburg. So big that it even has two of its own bus lines that ride through the 17km long cemetary roads. Nevertheless, it is a calm and contemplative oasis in the middle of the cosmopolitan city.
If you want to get to know life in Hamburg better, there is no way around visiting the Stadtpark. It´s a lot more than just another green area – for the people of Hamburg it´s alongside the alster the N° 1 leisure-time centre. Here you can sunbathe, play and grill as common in parks. Whoever feels like goofing off can jump into the natural swimming pool, Stadtparklake or rent a boat. The sporty type can get going with one of the stand-up paddle boards which are for rent. The coolest beer gardens in the city are in the Stdtpark. Although saying beer garden is an understatement. The Café Sommer Terrassen, the Beach Club 'Die Buht' or Schumacher's Beer Garden attract cool audiences. They also like to party into the night with chill lounge music.
The Freilichtbühne or open air theatre in Hamburg´s Stadtpark
Of course, you can also find arts & culture at Stadtpark. For example, the beautiful Planetarium inside an old water tower. The diverse program guides you throughout the universe and invites you to discover unknown galaxies.
But the real star at Stadtpark is the Freilichtbühne or open air theatre with it´s varying program of events. In the summer there´s a different concert nearly every day and the atmosphere is great!
Hop On Hop Off- that´s what we call the most comfortable way to discover Hamburg. Whether you go on one of the typical red double decker buses - they also have a convertible option - or the boats, it doesn´t make a difference. Either way will be fantastic! The double deckers have 29 stops and the boats 9. Professional tour guides will tell you all kinds of interesting things about the city and its history.
Tours, prices, and departure times:
A more hands-on tour would be seeing Hamburg on a Segway. Two wheels and 50 sights, you get all of the interesting information through a built in sound system.
Have you ever been on an amphibian vehicle? If not, it´s time to try it. The unique Hamburg City Cruise takes you to the Speicherstadt/Warehouse District and HafenCity/Port City on a bus that turns into a boat when you enter the water and take the Elbe upstream.
What would Hamburg be without the Kiez? Of course the Reeperbahn always invites you for a stroll. The exclusive and funny Kieztours are perfect for everyone who wants to get a look behind the scenes. It doesn´t matter whether you join the Kiez expert Schnecke and his stretch limo or if you´re onto Drag Queen Olivia Jones' trails, fun is inevitable. www.rent-a-guide.de
The distinctive building of The Art Gallery Hamburg lies within the heart of the city. It´s one of the few buidings that leads you through the history of eight centuries of art. Next to numerous international special exhibits, they also present their permanent collection with 700 pieces of art. The focus is set on northern German medieval paintings, Dutch paintings from the 17th century, German paintings from the 19th century and modern art. Also worth visiting is the gallery of prints which contains 100.000 drawings and prints. And when you´ve had enough art, the nice museum café and the Café-Restaurant 'The Cube' offer food and drinks.
They´re counted as THE cultural top highlights of the city. You could hibernate at the Deichtor Halls, because there is so much to see! Good thing that the prizeotel Hamburg-City is in the neighbourhood and there will be luxurious beds awaiting you after a long day of visiting museums. We think that Deichtor Halls are so great that we´ve given them their own page.
Passing through the halls of a museum at night and losing yourself in art, enjoying culinary treats at midnight and then going to watch a movie or going to the theatre and afterwards dancing to the beats of a DJ? Sounds like a commercial for Chanel.
This happens once a year. It´s during the long night of the museums in Hamburg when more than 50 museums open their doors from 6pm until 2am. The options are endless from art galleries to theatres, tours, music, great workshops or even flee markets. In order to get the most out of this night, there are shuttle buses and boats available. There are also cityBIKES which are even free on this night.
Maybe in a different way, but not any less artistic – is street art and you´ll have a hard time imagining Hamburg without it. Whether it is graffiti or stickers, funny or critical, the facets of street art in Hamburg are countless. Whoever likes this uraban art should just stroll through the streets of the Karoviertel, Schanze and St. Pauli with their eyes wide open.
For whoever wants to find out more about the artists of this open air gallery, their techniques and the background of their work can book a Street Art Tour through Stattreisen Hamburg e. V.
Whoever prefers Rock´n´Roll and hot motorcycles should definitely visit the Hamburg Harley Days. Here 50.000 bikers roll through the streets of Hamburg and celebrate their lifestyle together with 400.000 visitors and some really cool activities.
Of course your well being is our top priority. That´s why we offer a big and delicious breakfast buffet and various snacks and drinks at our prizeotel Hamburg-City and prizeotel Hamburg-St.Pauli.
Since October 2016 there´s another hot spot in Hamburg, the Basil & Mars: uncomplicated, authentic and friendly. The owners wanted to create a space ''where one can feel cozy on a day to day basis and find their favourite food''. The mission was accomplished. The kitchen switches between top business lunches, varying daily offers and a night menu. Nothing crazy or over the top, here the high quality ingredients are the true stars on your plate. The meals are down to earth in a good way, but don´t lack being fine and modern. Your glass won´t stay empty either, they have first class cocktails and wines mostly from Germany, Italy and France. Our tip: Whoever wants a quieter setting can rent the captain's table. It is a private room that can seat up to 16.
Hamburgs Alster Pearl is almost a must for every visitor. There´s nothing more relaxing. The former little restroom house works kind of like a kiosk, exept that it only has delicious warm meals and lots of cold drinks. The view over the Alster is amazing, especially when you sit on the seawall and let the swans and ducks visit you. Here the people from Hamburg enjoy the ultimate sunset.
Ice Ice, Baby. Of course there are tons of options to grab some ice cream in Hamburg. But probably not many with such a good view. The Langnese Café is located at the Unileverhaus directly by the HafenCity. With a spectacular view of the port, the Elbe and the cruise terminal. One coffee, two scoops of strawberry ice cream and an ocean-giant, please! Besides ice cream they have tarts, wraps or Belgian waffles and everything with a beach club feeling directly by the water. When the weather is nice you can stay there until late at night and enjoy the atmosphere from the big city and the port.
Imagine there is a place where you are standing in sand with your feet, holding a cold glass of beer in one hand and watching the container ships float in the Elbe. The good news is that this place really exists. Everybody in Hamburg knows about Beach Pearl. Small snacks, cold drinks, a cool audience and lots of boats to look at - what more could you ask for?
We´re happy if you can make more of your city trip with the help of our insights and tips.
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