Hostelworld Guide for Hamburg

By Rebecca Keenan

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Known for its red light district, Hamburg is Germany's answer to Amsterdam. True, this city boasts an incredibly vibrant nightlife that includes innumerable bars, clubs and, yes, strip joints, but there's a lot more to Hamburg than what goes down on the Reeperbahn every night. This is a city with a diverse collection of neighbourhoods including boho Schanzenviertel and Altstadt, which is home to some of Hamburg's top sights. There are plenty of cultural attractions to be enjoyed in this city too, including the Hamburger Kunsthalle as well as numerous other art galleries, museums and churches. Hamburg is also a city with much to offer in terms of natural beauty, from parks like Planten un Blomen and the Stadtpark to the city's impressive lakes. One of the most popular destinations in Germany, Hamburg really does have something to suit all appetites.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Hamburg Airport is located a mere 8 kilometres outside the city and getting from there to the city centre is easy. You can either catch a taxi right outside of arrivals or you can hop on the S-Bahn at the airport station. The trip takes around 25 minutes and services run every 10 minutes during the day.

By train: Hamburg's Hauptbahnhof, which is the city's central train station, is located on Hachmannplatz. Services from a wide selection of German and European cities terminate at the station, including trains from Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Copenhagen, Zurich and Prague.

By bus: Hamburg's main bus station welcomes arrivals from all across Germany as well as various other cities throughout Europe. Buses from Berlin arrive at this station a number of times during the day.

Getting Around

On foot: Getting around Hamburg's city centre on foot is quite easy and you'll find that you'll be able to walk to many of the city's main attractions.

By U-Bahn/S-Bahn: The S-Bahn is Hamburg's light rail system, while the U-Bahn refers to the city's network of subway trains. Six S-Bahn lines operate across the city and there are three different underground lines. These trains are the best way to get to some of the great neighbourhoods and attractions you'll find outside of the city centre.

By bike: Hamburg is a very bicycle friendly city, with cycle lanes all over town and plenty of places where you can rent a bike.

 Hamburg facts

Location: Hamburg is located in the north of Germany and is situated on the River Elbe.
Population: The population of Hamburg is approximately 1.7 million.
Area: Hamburg covers an area of 755 square kilometres. It is the second largest city in Germany.
Founded: The city of Hamburg originates from a castle built in the area by famous ruler Charlemagne back in the early 9th century.

Due to its proximity to the German coast, Hamburg has a temperate oceanic climate. This means that it sees warm, wet summers and cold winters. July and August are the hottest months in Hamburg and usually see temperatures of around 18ºC. Hamburg also experiences its wettest weather in July and August when rainfall averages out at around 82mm for each month. January is generally the coldest month, with temperatures sometimes dropping below zero.

 Good to know...

Languages: German
Currency: Euro
Electricity: 220 Volts AC/50 Hz, 2-pin plug (round)
Area code: +49 (Germany), 040 (Hamburg)
Emergency codes: Ambulance/Fire 112, Police 110
Time zone: Central European Time (GMT +1)
Central Post Office: Postbank Finance Center, Alter Wall 38
Main Tourist Office: Landungsbrücken 4/5, St. Pauli


USA: +49 (0)40 41171100
Canada: +49 (0)30 203120*
Australia: +49 (0)30 8800880*
New Zealand: +49 (0)40 4425550
UK: +49 (0)40 44803236
Spain: +49 (0)40 4146460
France: +49 (0)40 41410630
Italy: +49 (0)40 4140070
Ireland: +49 (0)40 44186113

*Embassy in Berlin

Hostelworld Guide for Hamburg

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Moraba, Susannenstrasse 6, Schanzenviertel The daily specials are especially enticing as you get huge portions at affordable prices. Not just a good place for dinner, it also serves up tasty breakfasts and lunches. Comfy and welcoming, it's one of the standouts in Schanzenviertel. Open daily 8am-late.

Café Estrella, Neuer Kamp 25, St. Pauli If you're looking for a good breakfast, a filling lunch or just a daytime snack, Café Estrella is a great choice. Tempting tapas dishes are lined up along the counter along with sandwiches, quiche, pastries and more. Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 7am-6pm, closed Sundays.

 Filling food in a flash

Currywurst A local favourite in Hamburg, currywurst is available at lots of different types of eateries from restaurants to street vendors. Basically, it's a fast food dish which consists of a pork sausage that's cooked then cut into slices and covered with curry powder and sauce. Usually served with some bread, it's a cheap and tasty way to stop your stomach rumbling.

Tex's Bar-B-Q, Millerntorplatz 1, Reeperbahn On the menu at this Tex-Mex themed eatery you'll find a great selection of reasonably priced dishes including fajitas, enchiladas, ribs, steak, burgers and salads. Specials such as the huge portions of nachos are particularly good value. Open Sun-Thurs 11.30am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11.30am-1am.

Chakra, Susannenstrasse 11, Schanzenviertel Inside this funky restaurant you'll find nightscapes from various cities hanging on the walls and really comfy seats. If you're in the market for brunch, the pancakes here are lip-smacking good while other popular dishes include burgers, pastas and salads. Open Mon-Thurs 9am-midnight, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sun 10am-midnight.

Shooters, Große Freiheit 14-16, Reeperbahn It won't cost you a cent to get into this club which attracts a mixed crowd who come to take advantage of the Happy Hour (which lasts from 7pm to midnight), drink cheap cocktails and dance to music provided by live DJs. Hardcore partygoers take note; Shooters also hosts a morning club which can go on until 11am. Open Tues-Sat 7pm-5am/6am, closed Sundays and Mondays.

 Gay/Lesbian Hamburg

Hamburg has an incredibly vibrant LGBTQ scene with numerous bars and clubs to check out, along with a wide variety of annual events to add to your calendar. Bellini (Danzinger Str.) is popular with men and women, La Strada (Rostocker Str.) caters to men only and Frauenkneipe is one of the top lesbian bars on the scene.

Bedford Café, Schulterblatt 72, Schanzenviertel If you're looking for somewhere lively, this bar is a great choice as it attracts a chattering mix of punters. On Monday nights, check out the Blue Monday Sessions featuring intimate performances by a variety of live music acts. Open Mon-Thurs noon-2am, Fri noon-3am, Sat 10am-3am, Sun 10am-1am.

Lehmitz, Reeperbahn 22, Reeperbahn A top-notch rocker bar, Lehmitz is a good spot to grab cheap beers and more. The big TV inside shows sports and there's a foosball table for you to try out. It's a great place to hear live music with rock and metal bands performing regularly. Open Mon-Sat 2pm-6am, Sun 2pm-midnight.

Musicals, various locations Something you mightn't know about Hamburg is that it's one of the top destinations in the world to go if you're looking to see world-class musicals. Many of these are performed in German but they're still hugely popular with visitors to the city. Current shows include Disney's The Lion King and Tarzan, along with Sister Act and many more.

Presse Café, Susannenstrasse 42/43, Schanzenviertel Presse Café attracts a great crowd who come to sample the reasonably priced cocktails, beers and wines. There are plenty of comfy spots to sit inside including window seats with a great view out onto bustling Sussanenstrasse. Open weekdays 9am-midnight, weekends 10am/noon-close.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

Hamburger Kunsthalle, Glockengießerwall, Altstadt If you're looking for a bit of culture, check out this great gallery. From the Renaissance up to the present day, works of art on display include pieces by Van Gogh, Munch and Monet. Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-9pm, closed Monday; admission E10.

 Size doesn't matter...

Miniatur Wunderland, Kehrwieder 2-4, Speicherstadt This miniature wonderland boasts the largest model railway in the world. The detailed displays are even more impressive in the dark when some 300,000 tiny lights illuminate the models. Open Mon & Wed-Fri 9.30am-6pm, Tues 9.30am-9pm, Sat 8am-9pm, Sun 8.30am-8pm; admission E10.

Hauptkirche St. Michaelis, Englische Planke 1, Altstadt The view of Hamburg from the Hauptkirche St. Michaelis' 132-metre tower is nothing short of stunning. As well as the tower, have a wander inside and check out the creepy crypt. Open Nov-Apr daily 10am-5.30pm, May-Oct daily 9am-7.30pm; admission E5 for tower and crypt.

Hagenback Zoo & Tropical Aquarium, Lokstedter Grenzstraße 2, Stellingen Tierpark Hagenbeck was one of the first zoos in the world to start using open-air enclosures without bars. The Tropical Aquarium on the same site is also well-worth a look. Open daily from 9am, closing time varies with season; admission E25 for zoo & aquarium.

Rathaus Hamburg, Rathausmarkt 1, Altstadt Splendour is one word to describe Hamburg's town hall. Take a tour and you'll see ornate rooms with names like the Emperor's Hall and the Phoenix Hall. Tours depart on the hour (French/English) & on the half hour (German) Mon-Fri 10am-3pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm.

March-April - Hamburger DOM Attracting millions of visitors each year, this month-long event features a huge variety of carnival rides, carousels, games, food stalls and lots more. It also takes place in July and again in November.

May - Hafengeburtstag The Hafengeburtstag or Hamburg Port Festival is one of the world's largest port festivals and each year it attracts over one million visitors.

May - Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival During this festival, a selection of stages and tents are set up in Planten un Blomen to showcase Japanese culture. Martial arts and traditional Japanese art are just a couple of the events you can enjoy.

June - Hamburg Harley Days Over the course of three days in June, Hamburg is taken over by motorbikes. Around 50,000 bikers attend this festival which features stunt shows and more.

June - Hamburg Ballet Days On the go for over 35 years, the Hamburg Ballet Days are held at the end of the ballet season each year.

August - Christopher Street Day Celebrating Hamburg's LGBTQ community, this annual festival is very popular. As part of the event, a huge street party is held and a colourful procession parades through the city.

August/September - Alstervergnügen This annual festival takes place around Hamburg's Alster Lake. Over 500 artists, acrobats and other performers from Germany and beyond all take part in a wide variety of different events.

September - Reeperbahn Festival Held in Hamburg's infamous red light district, this festival features around 150 different live music performances. These are held in a variety of venues across the city.

October/November - International Boat Show Hamburg This long-running festival has been on the go for more than 50 years. Also known as 'hanseboot', it's the leading boat show of this kind in Northern Europe.

November/December - Weihnachtsmärkte Hamburg's Weihnachtsmärkte are the city's popular Christmas markets. Here you'll be able to buy handcrafts from the numerous stalls, sample some local cuisine, sip mulled wine and more.

Hostelworld Guide for Hamburg

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

St. Pauli Home to Hamburg's infamous Reeperbahn with its bars, clubs, strip joints and sex shops, St. Pauli is undoubtedly the centre of the city's nightlife. Keep in mind that there's more to this area than just its role as Hamburg's red light district. Here you'll find the Hamburgermuseum along with a great variety of reasonably priced restaurants and more.

Hafen City On a visit to this part of town you can check out the International Maritime Museum of Hamburg and more. As you wander around the various harbours you'll find plenty of open terrace areas where you can chill out for a while including the Magellan Terraces and the Marco Polo Terraces which are especially popular on fine days.

Altstadt Hamburg's Altstadt or Old Town is a must when visiting this city as it features some of the city's top attractions including the Rathaus and the Hauptkirche St. Michaelis. From here you'll also be able to stroll along by Hamburg's Binnenalster or inner lake, go shopping along Mönckebergstrasse or stop for a bite to eat at one of the many cafés, coffeehouses and restaurants in the area.

Altona You'll probably end up paying a bleary-eyed visit to this part of town if you're lucky enough to be in Hamburg on a Sunday morning as this is where the weekly Fischmarkt is held. It's worth noting that there are some other cool attractions here too like the Altona Museum and the Patrician houses on Palmaille.

 A neighbourhood favourite

Schanzenviertel Without a doubt one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Hamburg, Schanzenviertel is home to a wonderful variety of eateries, popular drinking establishments and funky shops. A triangle of streets, namely Susannenstrasse, Schulterblatt and Schanzenstrasse are at the heart of this district which boasts a welcoming, boho atmosphere.

 Shop 'til you drop

Europa Passage, Ballindamm 40, Altstadt Europa Passage is one of the most popular shopping centres in Hamburg. Alongside clothes shops like Tommy Hilfiger, Levis and Oakley, you'll find stores offering up funky interiors, watches, jewellery, electronics and more. Open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, closed Sunday.

Neuer Wall, Neustadt Shopaholics will be in their element along this shopping stretch which boasts a plethora of designer stores and more upscale boutiques belonging to some of the world's top names in fashion from Gucci to Louis Vuitton. If you're in the market for some serious bling, Cartier, Bulgari and Tiffany's have branches on this street.

Mönckebergstrasse, Altstadt This is the main shopping street in Hamburg and it is filled with a wide variety of stores selling clothing, shoes, accessories and more. Plenty of internationally recognisable names can be found here including Adidas, Fossil, H&M, Esprit and Zara, while many local brands are also available.

Fischmarkt, Grosse Elbstrasse 137, Altona Not just a shopping experience but a top Hamburg attraction in its own right, the weekly Fischmarkt is a spectacle that shouldn't be missed. Along with stalls selling fish, fruit and tempting tasty treats, you'll also find clothes, shoes, handcrafts and plenty more. And if that's not enough, live bands entertain market goers in the main hall. So, set your alarm for an early start. Open Sundays Apr-Oct 5am-9.30am, Nov-Mar 7am-9.30am.

Marktstrasse, Karolinenviertel If you're looking for something a bit more alternative why not check out Marktstrasse at the heart of the Karolinenviertel area. Funky little boutiques rub shoulders with shops selling army gear, music stores, piercing and tattoo places and some great vintage options.

 Hamburg for Free

 A Day in Hamburg...

Visit some of Hamburg's churches There's St. Jacobi Church on Steinstrasse, which was founded in the 13th century and which boasts a very impressive organ. Over on Mönckebergerstrasse, you'll find St. Petri Church. One of the oldest churches in the city, it features gorgeous stained glass and a towering steeple. Open daily, opening hours vary between churches.

Cross the River Elbe using the Alter Elbtunnel This tunnel crosses under the Elbe at a point between St. Pauli and Steinweder on the other side of the river. Built between 1907 and 1911, it can accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. If you're walking or cycling, you can travel across for free. Open 24 hours for cyclists and pedestrians.

 Floral feast for the senses

Wander through the Planten un Blomen park One of the most beautiful areas of Hamburg, Planten un Blomen houses botanical gardens, Europe's biggest Japanese Garden, numerous fountains and plenty more. It's one of the best places in Hamburg to take a moment to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Open Oct-Mar 7am-8pm, April 7am-10pm, May-Sept 7am-11pm.

Go for a stroll around the Alster Lake Hamburg's impressive lake, Alster, is one of the city's top attractions. Activities at the lake run the gamut from water-based fun like kayaking and boat trips to simply walking along the banks of the lake and appreciating the view out across the water.

Check out the Stadtpark Located just a short subway ride from the city centre, this huge park covers almost 150 acres and most of it can be visited at any time free of charge. Numerous trails wind through wooded areas, while the park also boasts green spaces, gorgeous gardens, interesting pieces of art and lots more.

Grab a pastry and a coffee at Café Estrella on Neuer Kamp in St. Pauli for a good start to the day.

Hop on the subway and make your way towards the Speicherstadt area where you'll find attractions like Miniatur Wunderland

From there, walk to Hauptkirche St. Michaelis and take the elevator to the top of the tower for stunning views of the city.

Grab a currywurst from one of the numerous eateries serving up this local favourite for a cheap and tasty lunch.

Visit Hamburg's impressive Rathaus or Town Hall and take the tour to see the elaborately decorated rooms inside.

lake pic

Spend some time exploring Hamburg's inner and outer lakes (pictured above) on foot or by taking one of the frequent boat trips offered.

Fill your cultural quota by checking out the impressive Hamburger Kunsthalle where you can wander around and marvel at the masterpieces.

Get back on the subway and head out to Schanzenviertel where you'll be able to find a delicious meal at restaurants like Moraba.

Hang around this popular neighbourhood and have a few drinks at bars like Bedford and Presse Café.

End the night down on the Reeperbahn where you can dance at Shooters or go to sample one of the more 'exotic' venues.

Hostelworld Guide for Hamburg