Travel Tips When You Visit Hamburg
As Germany's 'Gateway to the World' Hamburg is a fantastic city to visit. Stunning architecture – both old and new – and you won't fail to notice that Hamburg is a port city as you're surrounded by water.
12. TIME DIFFERENCE
Hamburg is one hour ahead of the UK, 6 hours behind New York and Singapore is 7 hours ahead of Hamburg.
11. WHEN TO VISIT
The summer months (June to August) are the warmest and the most popular season to visit Hamburg. You can expect long daylight hours and café and bar terraces to be busy along the Elbe River.
Autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May) are chilly so you'll be wearing a coat or jacket most days. And by winter (December to February) you'll find it much colder and, therefore, the city is quieter. Hamburg is known for its damp weather in the winter so you'll need a warm and waterproof coat.
A really popular reason to visit is for the annual Long Night of Museums in May. More than 50 cultural locations in Hamburg open from 6pm to 2am. The ticket price is exceptional value as it includes public transport between the venues.
10. WHAT TO EAT
Starting with a sweet treat, Franzbrötchen literally means "the French roll" and is similar to a croissant. It's traditionally made with lots of sugar and cinnamon but you'll also find other varieties such as marzipan, raisin, chocolate, macadamia or pumpkin seeds.
Fischbrötchen is an impressive fish sandwich with salmon, pollock, mackerel, herring or North Sea shrimps. With the city having access to freshly caught local fish, it has made this a popular snack.
Finkenwerder Scholle is a traditional fish dish named after a district of Hamburg that was once a fishing village. Plaice (scholle) is baked or pan-fried with crispy bacon, parsley, onions and North Sea shrimps. It goes excellently with fried potatoes. Think of it as German fish and chips.
And even though it's from Berlin, you'll find currywurst is just as popular here as a fast food snack.
You can hail a taxi in the street or look for the taxi ranks where there's a green box to wait by. Most taxis are white cars with a yellow and black 'TAXI' light on the roof. Compared to US cab fares, taxis are expensive in Germany. Most taxis accept credit card payments.
8. PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Hamburg public transport (HVV) is the U-Bahn (underground), S-Bahn (tram), ferries and buses. A Hamburg Card gives unlimited travel and up to 50% discount at many museums, restaurants and shops too. You can buy a Hamburg Card from all ticket machines, via the HVV app, the online shop, from the bus driver and more.
One-day cards start from 6 am and are valid for 24 hours. An adult pass actually covers one adult and three children up to 14 years old. Or you can get a Group Pass for up to 5 people of any age.
There are no turnstiles at the train stations so you just have to ensure you have your ticket on you when travelling to show to a ticket inspector if asked.
Buses are available all day and night. You can get a "Nachtbus" (night bus) from Rathausmarkt near the town hall. The S-Bahn and U-Bahn services start around 5am and end 11pm-1am. Both run all night on the weekends.
Bus line 111 is a good sightseeing option as it runs from the Fish Market to HafenCity passing 16 notable attractions.
7. BOAT TRIPS
As Hamburg is a harbour city you really need to take a boat trip to explore the extensive waterways. There are lots of options from calm canal barges to super-fast speedboats as well as the tourist boats with commentary.
If the commentary isn't important to you, do consider a public transport ferry as they are very well priced. The harbour ferries start from Landungsbrücken and you can use your Hamburg Card travel pass. Do be prepared to queue at busy times.
Ferry 62 is a great way to see Hamburg's harbour and it runs every 15 minutes. You can do a round trip from Landungsbrücken to Finkenwerder passing the fish market, museum harbour, the container terminals, the Köhlbrand Bridge, the Elbe beach and the grand houses in Blankenese. The journey takes about 30 minutes and you can stay on to return to Landungsbrücken. You can also choose to get off at any of the stops along the way.
Or take ferry 75 to Steinwerder which is just across the river. It's never as busy as Landungsbrücken and it's a great spot for taking photographs. And ferry 72 from Landungsbrücken is the one to choose if you'd like to visit the stunning Elbphilharmonie.
6. BOOK AHEAD FOR ELBPHI
Only open since 2017, Elbphilharmonie (known locally as Elbphi) is an impressive concert venue at the point of the Grasbrook peninsula. To get tickets to see a performance you need to start looking at least three months in advance.
If you don't have that much lead time, you can still visit the Plaza where you can enjoy harbour views for just a few Euros. Buy a ticket on the ground floor and then you'll travel up on Europe's longest escalator. The main escalator takes you to the 6th floor with window views and then a shorter escalator connects to the Plaza on the 8th floor to the wraparound balcony.
There are also guided tours available of this landmark building, available in both English and German.
5. FREE CONCERT
St Michael's Church (St Michaeliskirche), known locally as Der Michel, is another landmark building. A perfect excuse to go inside is for the free organ recital at noon each day. Sit down and soak up the music while admiring the church's outstanding white and gold interior.
You could stay to climb the 452 steps to the top of the tower for the fantastic view.
4. DINING VIEW
Another place with amazing views is the aptly named Clouds. On the 22nd to the 24th floor of the 'dancing towers' (Tanzende Türme), this is Hamburg’s highest restaurant and bar at 105 metres above sea level. There are views over the city, port and illuminated Reeperbahn. Most diners order steak but there are fish and vegetarian options too.
Again, you'll need to plan ahead to get in here so look to make a reservation at least a month in advance. Die Bank doesn't have the same views but it's another prestigious restaurant where you'll also need to reserve well in advance.
3. GO FOR A RUN
If you prefer to get your morning run outside, there's a 7.4 km loop around the Outer Alster (lake). You'll pass lots of small parks as well as houseboats and sailing boats. And you can reward yourself at a café on Lange Reihe, one of Hamburg’s most popular streets.
Or you could go through the Old Elbe Tunnel as it's mostly used by pedestrians and bicycles. It's completely free and offers a great way to cross over to the viewpoint of Steinwerder where you can look back towards Landungsbrücken.
2. RIDE A BIKE
Hamburg's flat roads and dedicated cycle paths make it an ideal city to ride a bike. The city-wide StadtRAD rental scheme is simple to use. Register online and you can then use a Hamburg Card discount (no registration fee and lower per minute rental rate).
The sturdy StadtRÄDER red bikes are free for everyone for the first 30 minutes use. You could, of course, return a bike after 29 minutes and take another to pay no fee. Or you can keep the bike for the day with a daily capped rate.
Once you're registered online, you can take two bicycles at the same time with just one account.
1. MUSEUM PASS
If you want to see the best museums at one flat-rate, the Kunstmeile Pass is excellent value (and under 18s go free). There's a three-day pass and it's discounted with a Hamburg Card.
Kunstmeile covers five of the city's most renowned art institutions, all within walking distance of each other. Close to the main station, Hamburger Kunsthalle has one of Europe's largest art collections displaying Canaletto and Rembrandt to Picasso and Andy Warhol.
And at the southern end is Deichtorhallen – two 19th-century market halls transformed into exhibition venues for contemporary art and photography.
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Written by Laura Porter - Travel writer for Frasers Hospitality