Hamburg: A Spacious City

Hamburg was one of my favorite German cities because it reminded me so much of Florence, Italy. It was so spacious but also bustling at the same time. You didn’t feel crowded but there was lots to do. What’s spectacular about Hamburg is its architecture; they have the old (warehouse district) and the new (HafenCity) right next to each other.

What to Do | What to Eat | Where to Stay | Transportation | Resources | Map

What to Do

1. Speicherstadt 

Canal on the bottom, bridge on the left, architecture at the top.

When I first saw the warehouse district, I was blown away by it’s historical beauty and charm. Literally warehouse city,  Speicherstadt is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest complex of warehouses. The district built into the Elbe river between 1883 and the late 1920s, on thousands of oak poles, is comprised of neo-gothic brick architecture and a network of streets, canals, and bridges.

Beautiful architecture and buildings
Canals and bridges all over the place with the modern Elbphilharmonie Hamburg concert hall peeking out in the back

2. Miniatur Wunderland 

Miniatur Wunderland is filled with little surprises and detailed delights

Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway system in the world and one of the popular tourist attractions in Germany. It’s a miniaturized version of many different countries, human activities, famous cities and buildings, a working airport, multiple harbors with cruise ships, all made with detail. Each inhabitant is unique in their design and activity; I love how it’s a family attraction but they hide a lot of very raunchy stuff for the adults. Definitely check out their intro video on the homepage of their website.

A live concert with music and lights
So much detail and no single little person is equivalent/a duplicate – all hand painted
Rolling hills rural landscape

3. Bike tour

Doing bike tours in major European cities is probably always a good idea when the weather is right. Europe is so bike-friendly. Definitely look up some Hamburg bike tours.

I didn’t realized what 3-4 hours of biking felt like. Easy trails no incline but the duration…

4. HafenCity

The Elbphilharmonie concert hall is the one in the middle with the waves at the top

Right next to the warehouse district is the neighboring HafenCity that filled with Hamburg’s modern steel-and-glass constructions. Harborside HafenCity is known for the landmark Elbphilharmonie Hamburg concert hall and currently Europe’s largest inner-city development project. The project is about designing cutting-edge, modern living spaces and is already setting new standards for both workplace and residential design, culture and leisure, tourism, and retail facilities. Built to consider ecological sustainability and urbanity, it is trying to be the epitome of what next generation urban cities be like.

5. Reeperbahn

The red light district where real estate prices continue to climb

The Reeperbahn is a street filled with adult entertainment in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district; it’s famous for being the center of nightlife and a red-light district. It used to be where all the sailors would go spend their hard earned money after living on the seas for long periods of time.

6. Hamburger Kunsthall

A really big and famous art museum. We were art museum’ed out so we skipped. Founded in 1850, the Hamburg Kunsthalle is one of the largest museums in the country.

7. Heinrich Hertz Tower

Just the top of the tallest tower in Hamburg

The Heinrich-Hertz-Turm, a landmark radio telecommunication tower, was built between 1965–1968 for the former Deutsche Bundespost (German Federal Post and Telecommunications Agency). As Hamburg’s tallest structure, it’s 279.2 m (916 ft) tall and used to have a two-story observation (lower floor) and restaurant (upper floor) platform; both became closed due to asbestos and not meeting other safety regulations. The tower is named after the Hamburg-born German physicist Heinrich Hertz.

Hertz tower in the background

8. Hamburg Rathaus (City Hall)

Hamburg Rathaus (city hall)

Constructed from 1886 to 1897, the Hamburg Rathaus is located in the Altstadt quarter in the city center, at the Rathausmarkt square, and near the lake Binnenalster and the central station.

Rathaus
Rathaus
rainbow
Across from Rathaus
Lake Binnenalster right next to the Hamburg Rathaus

9. St. Nikolai Memorial

View from the top of the tower

This memorial is a former main church of Hamburg that was destroyed during the 1933-1945 air raids. Today, the ruin is a place for remembering the victims of war and tyranny. It’s still the highest church tower in the city and going up its speedy, glass-walled panorama elevator takes you to a height of 76 meters. Down below in the cellar, there is a museum dedicated to remembering the destruction of Hamburg in the Second World War. Admission for the viewing point (with museum admission included) is a cheap 5 euros per adult. I highly recommend both attractions.

St. Nikolai
St. Nikolai
View from St. Nikolai
View from St. Nikolai

10. Day Trip to Schwerin Castle


Just a single 1.5 hour train ride from Hamburg to Schwerin gets you to a 20 min walk from Schwerin castle. It’s a beautiful castle next to a luscious park and is not full of tourists. I’m so glad I went to multiple castles in Germany, especially this one with such a lovely garden. Also, there is a museum in the garden as well.

From Hamburg to Schwerin Castle, it is less than 2 hours by car or by train. Leave the train at Schwerin Mitte or Schwerin Central Station (Schwerin hbf – Hauptbahnhof). From there it is an easy 20 Minutes walk to the castle. You can also take a taxi from Schwerin Central Station.

Schwerin Castle interior and exterior images
Schwerin garden and grounds

What to Eat

Hamburgers! Just kidding.

Where to Stay

We stayed at Ibis Budget Hamburg City. It’s super close to the main train station in Hamburg and it’s somewhat close to the legendary Kunsthalle Hamburg art museum and Miniatur Wunderland model railway exhibition.

Transportation

Hamburg is super walkable and bikeable. We took the train in from Frankfurt and took the train out to Berlin. We just got around via foot or a bike tour.

Resources

Map

Click here for the JoYo Germany map.

JoYo Germany Guide

Frankfurt
Hamburg
Berlin
Munich
Stuttgart

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