Hamburg runs from cold winters to warm summers, through a mild spring and autumn. Throughout the year, sudden showers and winds often bluster in across the harbour, but rest assured it takes a lot to dampen the mood in the St. Pauli party district. In deep winter, temperatures often drop into the minus, but with a gentler bite than in Berlin, and plenty of Glühwein cheer, attractions and world-class culture to see you through. Summer in the city tends not to reach higher than the early 20s, but this sure doesn’t stop Hamburgers tickling their toes in the Elbe.
When to visit Hamburg
With the city happily emerging from hibernation, spring is the time to enjoy the first flush of Hamburg’s lively café terraces and riverside bars. The harbour winds soften, the blossoms come out and the city brims with optimism—even if you still need a jacket. As the days get longer, it’s a fine season to stroll around the lively Sternschanze neighbourhood or to take a tour of Hamburg’s finest architecture and most beautiful buildings, from the 1920s Brick Expressionist Chilehaus to the most recent projects around HafenCity. In May, the city’s Port Anniversary sees hundreds of historic boats sail up the Elbe, as well as an impressive waterfront firework display.
Though it never gets very hot in Hamburg, the city embraces summer with gusto. Urban beach bars like StrandPauli and Sky&Sand offer rugged harbour views with reggae tunes and ice-cold Astra. It’s a great time of year to take to the water, whether you ride a ferry around the harbour or hire your own sail boat or canoe to explore the city’s lakes and canals. Summer is also packed with public festivals, not least the city’s Christopher Street Day parade from the Lange Reihe (St. Georg) to Jungfernstieg in the Altstadt.
As the temperature cools and the summer crowds disperse, autumn is a great month to explore Hamburg by bike or foot. Make the most of the city’s extensive cycle pathways or head West to lovely Jenischpark for a stroll among the oak trees and a slice of cake and modernism at Ernst Barlach House. If you’re in the mood for a rustic seasonal touch, take the short train ride out to the Altes Land for a satisfying bite of harvest time in Germany’s charming orchard region.
If you’re feeling the cold, head to the Kiez. Hamburg’s St. Pauli district parties hard through the night and the seasons. Take in the bright, bawdy lights of the Reeperbahn; duck into a classic side street Kneipe like Zum Silbersack; or peel off the layers and pelt out a power ballad at packed-out karaoke den, Thai Oase. During the day, warm body and soul with the masterpieces of the Hamburger Künsthalle, one of Germany’s most important art museums, or a soaring organ concert in the historic church of St. Michael. From the end of November, several Christmas markets go up across the city, with the largest taking place in front of the neo-Renaissance Rathaus.