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The best time to plan your Hamburg trip is from May to September when northern Germany reaches balmy temperatures of 70°c. Hamburg in summer is delightful, but it’s also the northern hemisphere’s high season, so expect accommodation and travel rates to be up there.
Early spring and autumn can also be good times to visit, when costs will be lower. The weather may be a little more unpredictable and could also be quite cold or wet, requiring coats and boots. Visit Hamburg in winter for Christmas markets and possibly snow, lending a typically Germanic feel to the city.
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Get the low-down on visiting Germany, with tips about packing, travel, money, staying safe and lots of great city itineraries for your trip.
You have several options to get into the city centre from the airport;
- Transfer – the quickest and most convenient option, you can book in advance with Intui Travel.
- Taxi – grab a cab, which will cost you around €25 and take about 25 minutes.
- Train – get the S1 S-Bahn line train which runs every ten minutes. Head for Jungfernstieg (not Hauptbahnhof, which despite its name, is much less of a central station) a journey of 27 minutes, to be on the doorstep of the old town and a ten minute walk from our recommended hotels. Tickets cost €3.30 or buy a one day Hamburg Card for €10.50.
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The Henri Hotel is perfectly located in Hamburg’s Altstadt, surrounded by shops and restaurants. Situated inside the previous house of a tea merchant, this Hamburg hotel has an eclectic and contemporary aesthetic featuring books, colourful fabrics and a laid-back vibe. Service is efficient and breakfast is a highlight, served until midday at the weekend.
The Adina Apartment Hotel Hamburg Speicherstadt is well located to see Hamburg, on the edge of the old town and close to the eponymous warehouse district. With a cool, minimalist design in a simple palette of greys and browns, the apartments feel spacious and light (and have soundproofed windows). Kitchens are equipped with everything you need to prepare and eat a meal and include a kettle for tea and instant coffee.
See & Do
Hamburg is a modern industrial city, the northern powerhouse of Germany due to its North Sea position in an almost landlocked country. This easily walkable city is not always an easy visit though, with difficult history from World War II potentially detracting from Hamburg’s development to being the culturally open and modern city it is today. Follow our one day itinerary and Hamburg travel tips to see the history and the progress side by side and understand the essence of this sophisticated and culturally important city.
get a taste of the city and see all the important landmarks.
Visit the Rathaus
Take a tour of the Rathaus and learn about Hamburg and the fake document which gave ‘free city’ status and allowed Hamburg to pay no trade taxes until 2003!
Look out for Stolperstein
Visit the Memorial of St Nikolai
This is a deeply moving place where the lose-lose outcome of any war are palpable. St Nikolai really is one Hamburg must-see on your tour.
Wander Through the Speicherstadt & HafenCity
The oldest warehouse in the Speicherstadt is Kaispeicher B. At eleven storeys high, with an arresting gabled facade, it is a fitting home for the International Maritime Museum, where you’ll find artefacts such as Admiral Nelson’s letters and Ernest Shackleton’s lifeboat.
Visit the Elbphilharmonie
It is totally free to enter the Elbphilharmonie and tour the building and observation decks. You are required to queue and get a ticket, but there is no requirement to pay. Touts hang around the entrance trying to sell tickets to unsuspecting tourists, don’t get sucked in.
Take a Boat Trip
Hamburg is complete without a foray onto the water.
You’ll have by far the best view of the Elbphilharmonie from the harbour too.
Party in St Pauli
St Pauli, just east of the centre and meandering to the Elbe, is down to earth and a bit rough around the edges, but thrums with live music, energy and life. Its most famous street, the Reeperbahn, with its sex shops, window displayed prostitutes and strip clubs is an eye-opener to the uninitiated. Visit this part of Hamburg at night, when the area wakes up and shows its best side.
This is also the part of Hamburg connected with The Beatles, three of whom played here in the early 60s. A guided tour is the best way to see all the important bits of this loud, gritty and occasionally kitschy district.
Grab a Traditional Lunch
Just along from the wonky houses backing onto Nikolaifleet is the Deichgraf restaurant. Serving a variety of Hamburg specialities, the restaurant is best know for its Labskaus, a tasty meat, fish and potato stew common in the region. With a traditionally decorated restaurant and long street side tables, this is a great place to sample local produce sourced from the region.
Top Five Hamburg Tips
- For one of the less expensive things to do in Hamburg, take a tour of the docks using public ferry 62 (with your Hamburg Card) from Landungsbrücken, a great way to see the harbour although you won’t get any commentary.
- Sunday’s are a serious matter in Germany, with almost all shops and some restaurants remaining closed, even in tourist areas. Sunday in Hamburg is no different, if possible pick a different day of the week to visit.
- Only visit Miniatur Wunderland if you really, really like small things. Otherwise this somewhat twee museum is a little …odd.
- With the Hamburg Card, you have unlimited travel on all Hamburg public transport (HVV) including the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus and ferry routes, as well as more than 150 discounts at many of the city’s museums, restaurants and stores. Even if you’re visiting Hamburg in a day and don’t intend to do any museums, it’s great value for money. A one day card is valid until 6am the following morning and costs €10.50 for one adult. Buy at the airport before you take your first train journey into the city.
- Explore Hamburg on two wheels and sign up for the city’s public bike system, StadtRAD Hamburg. Perfect for bike-lovers and an ideal way to get about, there are 120 hire points around the city.
Do you have just a little longer to spend in Hamburg?
Are you looking for a two day Hamburg itinerary, or do you have another half a day to spend in Hamburg? Why not add these attractions to your itinerary?
- Planten un Blomen is one of Europe’s top urban parks, with 47 hectares of gardens, ponds, greenhouses and botanical plantations of verdant space. Head for the old Botanical Garden, which was planted on the site of the city wall in 1821and has glasshouses with plants from Mediterranean climes including laurels, olive trees, palms and eucalyptus.
- Visit the Hamburger Kunsthalle, one of richest art museums in Germany. With art from Rembrandt, Gauguin, Goya, Rubens, Klee, Picasso and Canaletto, there’s something here for everyone.
- Walk under the Elbe, using the Elbe Tunnel. Opened in 1911 and 24m below the river, the tunnel transformed the lives of Hamburg’s harbour workers commuting from the left to the right bank. The northern entrance is at Landungsbrucken, obvious because of it’s bright green dome. If you go on foot take your time and enjoy the Jugendstil architecture, vintage signage and maritime motifs
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