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Things to do in
Hamburg

From the UNESCO-listed warehouse district to the Reeperbahn, there’s something for everyone in this maritime city.

Our most recommended things to do in Hamburg

Hamburg: 1.5-Hour Harbor and Speicherstadt Day Cruise

1. Hamburg: 1.5-Hour Harbor and Speicherstadt Day Cruise

See Hamburg’s harbor-side attractions from a unique perspective, float past impressive container ships, and discover the historic Speicherstadt District aboard a 1.5-hour cruise featuring live commentary from a German-speaking guide and an exclusive stop at the iconic Elbphilharmonie. Start your harbor adventure on land as you cross the famous "Überseebrücke" bridge to reach the pier where you will board a traditional Hamburger boat referred to as a Barkasse. Listen as your captain decides on which route the boat will take based on weather conditions, the water tides, or, if for example, a really exciting and interesting container ship or a special boat is visiting the harbor. Set off and glide into the narrow waterways of the largest warehouse district in the world known as Speicherstadt. Take in the stunning architecture of buildings standing on timber-pile foundations and oak logs. Sit back and relax as you go past Hafen City. Explore the open decks and feel the cooling sea breezes as you wait for perfect photo opportunities from the boat’s many vantage points. Cruise past rows of massive container ships as the boat makes its way into St. Pauli’s Pier and the Hamburg Port. Learn the history of the many important landmarks from your German-speaking expert guide. As your trip comes to an end, disembark right in front of the Elbphilharmonie or you can choose to get off back at where the cruise initially took off.

Hamburg: Sex and Crime in St. Pauli Tour for Ages 18+

2. Hamburg: Sex and Crime in St. Pauli Tour for Ages 18+

Discover Hamburg’s wild side on this sex and crime walking tour in the St. Pauli district. Hear interesting anecdotes and details from your guide about the lives and loves of the red light district as you visit its legendary spots. On your tour visit the “Zur Ritze” bar and learn how it got its name. Head down to the boxing club in the basement, where Mike Tyson and the Klitschko brothers trained. Find out where the famous local boxer disappeared to and why so many celebrities come to this rustic bar. See how women can walk down Herbertstrasse, and learn about the Nutella gang and its rivals, the GMBH gang. Discover who controls St. Pauli, who was the godfather in the neighborhood, and how the legal system works here. Find out if Jack the Ripper or someone similar was in Hamburg, and get entrance to a premier show club at the end of the guided tour.

Hamburg: Line A Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

3. Hamburg: Line A Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

Enjoy a guided tour on the double-decker Line A sightseeing bus in Hamburg. Travel along the Speicherstadt (warehouse city) and harbor city to the shopping areas of the town. Gain valuable insights into the city and its history. Hop aboard with your day ticket that enables you to hop on and hop off at 20 bus stops. See the wonderful villas in Harvestehude, the Outer Alster lake, the city hall, museums, the famous Reeperbahn, and the harbor. Get information in your own language with a GPS steered audio system that offers crystal-clear narration in 11 languages via headsets. Lean back and enjoy the all-around view. In nice weather, the bus goes open top to allow you unobstructed views.

Hamburg: 1-Hour XL Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour

4. Hamburg: 1-Hour XL Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour

Discover Hamburg on a harbor cruise and admire views of the warehouse district and HafenCity. See the city with the most bridges in Europe, with approximately 2,400 structures over water, canals, channels, and docks. Climb aboard the boat and discover the many different attractions and sights in the city, depending on the tides and the day's events. Explore the historical Speicherstadt (warehouse district) with its canals, the modern HafenCity, the numerous bridges over the Elbe River, busy locks and container terminals, the Köhlbrand Bridge, and much more. Along the way, learn more about the city, its history, the incoming and outgoing ships, and anything else that interests you. Sit back and admire the views of the city on the sun deck or in the air-conditioned lounge with large panoramic windows.

Hamburg: Hamburg Dungeon Admission Ticket

5. Hamburg: Hamburg Dungeon Admission Ticket

Join the seasonal show "The Revolt of the Coffee Pickers" in March & April only! Angry women shouting, chains of people blocking factory entrances and threatening smoke rises - What's going on in the Speicherstadt? Female coffee pickers are revolting against the unacceptable working conditions, hard labour and unfair penalties! As an important trading centre for coffee, Hamburg was and still is a centre of coffee - the so called "black gold". But all that glitters is not gold. The Hamburg Dungeon shows the darker side of coffee processing in the Hanseatic city in an additional show called "The Revolt of the Coffee Pickers", when hundreds of women protested in April 1896! Visitors are drawn into the preparations for this protest, but then the situation escalates, and the strike plan turns into a fiery and explosive showdown ... The Hamburg Dungeon brings the darkest period's of the city's history to life in an entertaining way. The state-of-the-art special effects and professional actors provide a very special kind of live entertainment. The live actors step into historical roles and take you on a journey through 600 years of Hamburg's murky past in interactive shows. The visitor attraction in the historical Speicherstadt district presents thrilling live shows based on true stories and offers plenty of action on 2 fun rides. Visitors can embark on an unusual journey on the "Elevator of Doom". You can also discover the dark years of the Plague or try to save the pirate Klaus Störtebecker from execution. Among other unfriendly hosts, the torturer welcomes suspicious villagers inside his Chamber of Torment. Defend yourself before the mercy of the inquisition and face the revenge of a restless spirit - with a twinkle in the inquisitor's eyes and the opportunity for lots of fun. At the end of the journey, the lucky survivors will take a seat in Hamburg’s unique freefall tower to escape the depths of the dungeon – good luck…

Hamburg: 90-Minute Evening Lights Harbor Cruise

6. Hamburg: 90-Minute Evening Lights Harbor Cruise

Experience Hamburg's Harbor by the evening light on a traditional barge. Take a romantic round-trip voyage through the Hamburg Harbor and enjoy a cozy atmosphere with the illuminated silhouette of the city as your backdrop. Travel through the historic Speicherstadt (depending on the tide) and along the impressive illuminated container terminals. Hear interesting stories of the harbor's history with live moderation from the captain, while relaxing with a drink. Alternatively, pick one of the special tours that take place only occasionally. Choose the special Queen Mary II cruise to accompany Queen Mary II at the Cruise Terminal and then follow her along the River Elbe. During the boat ride, learn all about the ship from the professional guide. Or, celebrate the Anniversary of Hamburg Harbor onboard a traditional barge. Watch the opening parade to the festival unveil, as the weekend of celebrations will then follow.

Hamburg: 2-Hour XXL Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour

7. Hamburg: 2-Hour XXL Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour

Enjoy the unique maritime flair and colorful crowds at the Port of Hamburg on this daily cruise that loops the docks. Thanks to your guide, learn about the history of the port and the city and take an exciting ride through the locks. Discover this gateway to the world up-close onboard a little ship, equally suited to a fleet. Find out just how huge the Port of Hamburg, the second-largest port in Europe, is. Hardly another city in the world is so tied to its port; Hamburg truly developed because of it. The most important sights and the skyline are inextricably linked to it. Experience the contrast between past and present, commerce and culture, the little fishing town along the Elbe, and the state-of-the-art container complexes. You'll also learn about the sinful stretches and fish market, old cutters, and massive cruise and container ships. Our onboard guide provides live commentary in German. For commentary in other languages, please download the 'Rainer Abicht' app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app offers audio tours of the harbor cruise in six different languages.

Hamburg: Insider Tour of the Reeperbahn & St. Pauli

8. Hamburg: Insider Tour of the Reeperbahn & St. Pauli

Experience Hamburg's Red Light district with Reeperbahn experts on a guided tour of the St Pauli area. Encounter people like Udo Lindenberg’s legendary bodyguard, Eddy Kante, or iconic Red Light bouncers like Fabian Zahrt. Meet drag queens, like Barbie Stupid, or local historian, Doc Eva Decker. Experience a guided walking tour through St. Pauli featuring the perfect mix of information, entertainment, sinful stops and sights, and a crazy sightseeing show. Pass by the world-famous Herbertstraße and the Davidwache police station, or visit a BDSM dungeon or a sex shop. Learn more about the rich LGBTQ+ heritage of the area, and gain an insight into legendary clubs and celebrity hotspots. Depending on the option selected, each tour will have a slightly different focus and route, where you'll be guided by a true local expert.

Hamburg: Night Watchman's Tour of St. Pauli in German

9. Hamburg: Night Watchman's Tour of St. Pauli in German

Enjoy a unique city tour with the traditional night watchmen around the largest entertainment and red-light district in Europe. Your German-language guide will meet you at the Landungsbrücken and showcase all that St. Pauli has to offer. Your guide will take on the role and uniform of the original St. Pauli night watchman, who represents the notorious district of Hamburg. He will discover the Große Freiheit ("The Great Freedom”) with you. Satisfy your curiosity and learn all of the local secrets. Hear about what it's like inside the Davidwache Police Department, how the rope-making industry carved out the path the Reeperbahn, Joe Cocker's incident, the mysterious Herbertstraße, and legendary stories involving Paul McCartney.

Hamburg: 1-Hour Harbor Evening Lights Cruise

10. Hamburg: 1-Hour Harbor Evening Lights Cruise

Embark on a roundtrip evening cruise from the historical and romantically-illuminated Speicherstadt through the Hamburg harbor's sea of light. Enjoy a boat tour through the Speicherstadt canals and discover the highlights of Hamburg from the water. Learn about the history behind this intriguing city. See the Zollkanal, Wasserschloss, and the International Maritime Museum, and cruise along the modern HafenCity, the newest district in the Hanseatic city. See the HafenCity University, the Marco Polo Tower, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, and the panorama of the district.  Catch a breathtaking view of St. Pauli Piers all the way to Überseebrücke with the museum ships Rickmer Rickmers and Cap San Diego. Sail through the port's sea of light again and witness the activity around the container terminals.

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Planning your trip to Hamburg

Frequently asked questions about Hamburg

What top attractions are a must-see in Hamburg?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Hamburg

Thomas Dowson is the founder of Archaeology Travel, a website for those seeking adventures in archaeology and history. As a professional archaeologist Thomas enjoys visiting archaeological and historical sites around the world. And sharing these experiences so that others can explore the world’s pasts more deeply. On his blog, you can find more information and all the details for planning a trip to Hamburg.

What should I do on my first trip to Hamburg?

Hamburg, more specifically the harbour of Hamburg, is the main attraction here. For anyone planning their first visit to Hamburg my recommendation for an essential, first experience is a harbour cruise. There is no better way to get a feel for this city and its history. From the UNESCO listed historic Speicherstadt (‘city of warehouses’), to the very striking 20th century Elbphilharmonie (concert hall). Whether you are interested in a general cruise about the port and its history or something more specific, such as the Hanseatic history of Hamburg, the choice of river cruises is broad.

What are some hidden gems to see in Hamburg?

Not exactly hidden in Hamburg’s harbour, but certainly half submerged is a Soviet submarine. Built in the 1970s, the U-434 submarine is still in very good condition and provides a near as real-life as possible experience of what conditions in a submarine are like. Visitors enter at one end, and then walk and even crawl through compartments to the exit at the other end. Of course there is a sense of claustrophobia. But this is nothing when you are told that this vessel would hold up to 78 men.

How much time should I spend in Hamburg?

Apparently the average visitor spends two nights in Hamburg. Like most big cities with a long history, you could easily spend a week in Hamburg and still come back for more. But two nights does seem rushed, that is only one full day. Two or three full days would be a better amount of time to explore the city: to take a harbour cruise, see the impressive town hall, visit St. Michaelis church and walk though the old warehouse district.

What food is Hamburg known for? 

For anyone with a sweet tooth, when in Hamburg you have to try at least one Franzbrötchen. Pastry is rolled in lots of butter and cinnamon sugar before being baked. History, or urban legend, has it that these pastries were introduced to Hamburg by Napoleon's troops. For a more substantial dish try ‘labskaus’, a stew made up of different ingredients including beetroot, which then gives it a pink colour. Local cuisine has not only been influenced by seafaring visitors from around the world, but also the culinary traditions typical of northern Germany.

What is the best way to get around Hamburg?

Hamburg is a big city, and the various points of interest are scattered about. Fortunately Hamburg has a very good public transport system, making getting about easy on the feet. Specifically for visitors, there are also the usual hop-on-hop-off buses, which follow routes around the city stopping at most of the main attractions. 

What are the best months to visit Hamburg?

Hamburg is a great city to visit during the Summer. It never gets uncomfortably hot, and it is a lot drier and less windy than it is during winter months and early spring. As the sun starts shining and spring flowers start blooming, so too Hamburg comes alive with street festivals, live music and art performances all over the city. Over four days in September and at many venues in the Reeperbahn, visitors can enjoy Europe’s largest club festival - the Reeperbahn Festival.

What is neighborhood Reeperbahn known for?

For a vibrant night scene head to the Reeperbahn in St Pauli. The entertainment heart of Hamburg. The street is lined with theatres and nightclubs, bars and restaurants. And it is not known as ‘the most sinful mile’ for nothing. You will also find sex shops, strip clubs and brothels. Look out for the Beatles monument, a reminder that the group built their reputation here as well as in Liverpool.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

Hamburg is not only Germany’s second largest city, it is the most wealthy city. Not surprising then it is a shoppers paradise. You can find everything from flea markets to luxury boutiques and brands. Along the kilometre long Neuer Wall you will find a collection of the most exclusive shops in Hamburg. These shops sell everything from high end fashion and jewellery to designer furniture. Colonnaden not only has exclusive boutiques in historic architecture, the pedestrianised street hosts a monthly flea market. Good buys and antiques can be found at the many weekly and regular flea markets in Hamburg.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Hamburg?

Hamburg is home to the incredible Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway. This is no ordinary miniature railway exhibit. Fifty computers direct over 1000 trains over nearly 16,000 metres of track length that are set in reconstructions of nine geographic regions, including central Germany and Switzerland, USA and South America. There are over 269,000, over 9,000 cars and 130,000 trees. And a lot more. Besides visiting this vast model railway set, the organisers also stage special events. The most popular and booked out being the ‘culinary trip around the world’.

What are the best annual events in Hamburg? 

Hamburg has over 30 individual Christmas markets, which run from the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve. Many of the Hamburg neighbourhoods have their own markets, and there are several in the city centre as well. St Pauli has one of the most popular markets, and another one not to miss is the market in the vast square in front of the City Hall. There is even a Dogs Christmas market.

Explore Hamburg

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What people are saying about Hamburg

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 83,274 reviews

I liked the way each room had so much information but it was presented in a way that was compact and entertaining. I wasn’t bored one second, we had at any moment something to do. Also, the guide (miss Ann-Cha), was so sweet and included everyone in the activities. She had a way of engaging even with little children when they got fussy or bored and would always bring their attention to what we were doing.

It was a lovely tour and just the right amount of information. The reference to Harry Potter made things look more closely. Also suitable for people who are not familiar with the Harry Potter world. You see the city differently than on a 'normal' city tour. Definitely a great tour with a very nice and committed driver.

Our guide’s enthusiasm for the topic of Harry Potter was palpable. That was great. It would have been nice if they had gone into more depth than just "that looks like...", but that was e.g. Partly difficult because some children had not yet seen/read all the parts. All in all it was very nice and a lot of fun.

Stephan was a great host! Showed us some great bars & got involved in the festivities which helped keep morale up. It was a fantastic group of people from UK (us), Spain & Germany - everyone was so friendly and we all had some chats & shared plenty of laughs. Would definitely recommend!

Something I would never really be able to experience otherwise. We have several family members with visual impairments and this gave a chance to understand how they manage in the world.