Your essential Hamburg travel guide

Plan out your trip to Hamburg with this insider guide to public transit, where to stay, things to do and travel tips

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Marius Brede

Welcome to Hamburg, “gateway to the world.” Since its Hanseatic heyday, the maritime city has long welcomed travellers and trade from around the globe and remains one of the wealthiest and most diverse cities in Germany. It’s a peppy, urban mix of attractions, districts, ethnicities and political inclinations in which you’re sure to feel swiftly welcomed into the fold, whether you’re in Hamburg for a romp along the Reeperbahn, some unforgettable dinners at the city’s best restaurants or some sterling Kultur at the Hamburger Kunsthalle and Elbphilharmonie. Check out our list of insider tips to help you navigate smoothly around town and make the most of the best things to do in the harbour city, whatever the shipping forecast.

Here's everything you need to know

The best time to visit Hamburg
Things to do

The best time to visit Hamburg

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.

Where to stay in Hamburg
Hotels

Where to stay in Hamburg

Hamburg Ahoi! Whether you’re after world-class art collections, no-holds-barred nightlife or timeless Hanseatic elegance, Germany’s second-largest city has neighborhoods that cater to every type of traveler. This vibrant, prosperous harbor city is as proud of its Old Masters and world-class new Elbphilarmonie as it is of its cheep beer and raucous St Pauli bars; no matter where you stay, you'll find plenty of things to do in Hamburg. Fans of elegant boutiques, great exhibitions and historic architecture will find plenty to admire in the Altstadt, while those looking for a laid-back neighborhood vibe and top-notch coffee can happily stroll the streets and cafes of the Schanzenviertel. For those who prefer leafiness and luxury in the city, the well-heeled slopes of Blankenese promise sumptuous hotels, Michelin-starred dining at some of Hamburg's best restaurants and wonderful Elbe views.

Travel tips every first time Hamburg visitor needs to know
Things to do

Travel tips every first time Hamburg visitor needs to know

Welcome to Hamburg, a city brisk with sea air, brimming with Hanseatic pride and open to the world not only in terms of centuries of maritime trade, but also in its vivid mix of nationalities, identities and political inclinations—not to mention its dusk to dawn party stamina. Whether you’re in town for 48 hours, a week or indefinitely, here’s how to make the most of this exciting harbour city, from public transport tips to tucked-away architectural treasures.

Public transportation in Hamburg
Things to do

Public transportation in Hamburg

Hamburg public transport (abbreviated to HVV) is extensive and efficient, comprising U-Bahn (underground), S-Bahn (overground), bus and ferry routes within the city centre as well as several “regional” train services to Hamburg suburbs and beyond. The five public transport zones span from central A and B out to regional E, some 60 kilometres outside the city. The Hamburg Card—available online, at HVV vending machines, service centres, tourist offices and many hostels and hotels—is a popular tourist choice, covering all forms of public transport within the central A and B zones, with additional discounts at many of the city’s museums, restaurants and stores. A one-day card, which is valid until 6am the following morning, costs €9.90 for one adult and up to three children under the age of 14. A three-day card costs €25.50. There are also regular HVV day, week and month passes, without the attraction discounts. You do not need to validate your ticket, but should keep it on hand in case of inspection. Children under the age of six travel for free across the HVV. Almost all central Hamburg stations are wheelchair accessible, with designated points on the platform to board the train.

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