Things to do in Hamburg

Things to do in  Hamburg

Experience life on the water

Located right on the Elbe and Alster rivers, Hamburg is a city of converging culture, diverse influences, and expanding opportunity. An increasingly popular destination in Germany, it’s renowned as a thriving port, financial center, and cultural and creative melting pot. Essential sightseeing stops include city hall, the harbor promenade, and the Speicherstadt—the old warehouse district, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the St. Pauli quarter, you’ll find the Reeperbahn area, home to a vibrant nightlife scene. Tours explore its rich musical history as the proving ground of the Beatles, as well as its present-day reputation as the largest red-light district in Europe. The city doesn’t seem to do anything by halves: HafenCity is the biggest urban development project on the whole continent. Visitors looking for more traditional attractions can enjoy relaxed walks along the café-laden Schanze neighborhood; the first zoo to feature enclosures without bars; and classic attractions such as the Laeiszhalle concert venue and St. Michael's Church. You can also take tours of the city’s copious street art, drink your way through its impressive beer scene, or get a little exercise by opting for a bike tour. With more than 200 theaters, museums, and music venues—plus its array of festivals—Hamburg offers travelers plenty of opportunities to let loose with a side of culture.

Top 15 attractions in Hamburg

Warehouse District (Speicherstadt)

Hamburg really capitalizes on its waterside location with the Speicherstadt, or Warehouse District. Not only will you marvel at the impressive red-brick architecture and canal network within the world’s largest warehouse complex, but several buildings have been converted into museums and attractions that bring the area’s rich history to life.More


Opened in 2017, the Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic) is a striking work of modern architecture on the banks of the Elbe River in Hamburg. Made with 1,096 individual glass panes, it houses two concert halls, as well as a hotel and residential apartments. The halls’ acoustics are considered among the best in the world.More

Hamburg Dungeon

Located in Hamburg’s UNESCO-listed Speicherstadt District, the Hamburg Dungeon offers a spooky, macabre, and entertaining way to discover the darkest parts of the city’s history. On an interactive, actor-led visit, you can learn about the Great Fire of 1842, hear gruesome tales of torture, and have plenty of suspense and surprises along the way.More

St. Michael's Church (Michaeliskirche)

The clock tower of the Church of St. Michaelis (Michaeliskirche) has soared above the rooftops of Hamburg since the 1680s. This baroque Protestant church stood as a beacon for sailors for centuries; today, visitors enjoy panoramic views out to the Port of Hamburg from the tower's observation deck.More

Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus)

The unabashed highlight of Hamburg’s Old Town (Altstadt), the opulent Hamburg City Hall (Hamburger Rathaus) is recognizable by its soaring tower, coffered ceiling, and vast scale. The neo-Renaissance landmark on the edge of scenic Alster Lake dates back to 1897, and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.More

Reeperbahn & St Pauli District

Explore an alternative side of Hamburg with a visit to the Reeperbahn, a street in the red light district at the heart of the St. Pauli neighborhood. This pedestrian street is lined with bars, clubs, and sex shops, but more upmarket restaurants and theaters with family-friendly shows have also opened here in recent years.More

Port of Hamburg

Approximately 12,000 ships per year deliver and pick up goods at the sprawling Port of Hamburg. The port takes up about an eighth of the city and is easiest to see on a river cruise. Learn about Hamburg’s maritime history during a visit to the MS Cap San Diego, a museum ship that travelers can step aboard and explore.More


Deichstrasse is the oldest street in Hamburg, Germany dating back to the 14th century. It is located near Speicherstadt, which is the old warehouse district near the harbor. The Great Fire of 1842 destroyed many of the original 14th century buildings on this street, so most of what you see today are restored 17th-19th century buildings. The tall, narrow, half-timbered houses here represent typical architecture from this region a few hundred years ago.The harbor and the warehouse district played a big part in shaping Hamburg as a city, and a visit here will give you a glimpse at the city's history. Along this road, you will find many restaurants and pubs. The Johannes Brahms Museum is located at number 39, which is the composer's former home. The Telemann Museum, a great place for music lovers, is also located in this area. Around the corner at Peterstrasse 35-39 is a replica of the Beylingstift complex, a baroque building built in 1751.More


A hundred years ago, Hamburg’s port dominated the city, a maze of waterways bustling with industry. But trade has now taken to the skies, and the port’s been redesigned into the largest inner-city development project in Europe: HafenCity (which translates to “Port City”). Today, in place of shipyards, you’ll find restaurants, hotels and shops, office and apartment buildings—even the Elbphilharmonie.More

St. Nikolai Memorial

The St. Nikolai Church was first constructed in the 12th century, a fantastic Gothic cathedral on the River Alster. Rebuilt several times over, it was mostly destroyed during World War II air raids—miraculously, the cathedral tower still stands. Some 35,000 people were killed during Operation Gomorrah; today, the church ruins serve as a museum and memorial to those lives lost.More


Hamburg’s grandest promenade, Jungfernstieg is a top spot for sightseeing and stylish shopping. Located along the Inner Alster Lake (Binnenalster), its name is inspired by the days when families would take their unmarried daughters (“Jungfern”) to walk along the promenade in a coming-of-age tradition.More

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church is one of the five main churches in Hamburg that survived World War II. It is also the oldest remaining church in the city. Although the church has been expanded and rebuilt a few times, a church has been standing in this place since at least 1195. It is located at the highest point in Hamburg's old town. Today you can see the church's tower which stands at 433 feet tall and was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1842. Visitors can climb 544 stairs to the top of the tower for one of the best views of Hamburg from above.Inside the church you will find many works of art. A mural from 1460 depicts the first bishop Ansgar of Bremen with the words “Apostle of the North.” Two oil paintings from the 17th century by Gottfried Libalt were returned to the cathedral in 2001 after being restored. A painting entitled Christmas 1813 in St. Peter's shows Hamburg citizens locked in the church when they refused to provide food to Napoleon's troops.More

Outer Alster Lake (Aussenalster)

The Outer Alster Lake (Aussenalster) is the larger of Hamburg’s two lakes, stretching to almost 400 acres (162 hectares) in size, although never more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) deep. Equally popular with tourists and locals, it provides a welcome place of calm and tranquility against the urban backdrop of the busy city.More

St. Pauli Piers

The impressive St. Pauli Piers (St. Pauli Landungsbrücken) is one of Hamburg's most popular attractions. Built in 1907, the 2,257-foot (688-meter) landungsbrücke (“pier”) is composed of several floating pontoons, which are accessible from land by 10 movable bridges. Once mooring points for large passenger steamships, today the pontoons are mostly used by sightseeing boats. The structure also features two towers of differing heights, plus several copper domes.The Landungsbrücken is located in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district, between the lower harbor and the fish market, on the banks of the Elbe river. It forms a central transportation hub, with streetcar (S-Bahn), underground train (U-Bahn), and ferry stations all stopping here. It’s also a major tourist magnet, with numerous restaurants and departure points for harbor cruises. (A boat tour is considered the best way to see Hamburg.) With the water on one side, and colorful souvenir shops and quaint fish restaurants serving North Sea shrimp on the other side, it’s easy to forget that you are walking on a floating platform.More

Old Elbe Tunnel (Alter Elbtunnel)

Hamburg’s Old Elbe Tunnel (Alter Elbtunnel, or officially St. Pauli Elbtunnel) runs under the Elbe River, connecting the St. Pauli jetties on the river’s north side to the Steinwerder in the Port of Hamburg. Comprising two separate tunnels for pedestrians and vehicles, it takes on-foot visitors on a very unique sort of stroll—underwater.More

Trip ideas

The Beatles Music History in Hamburg

The Beatles Music History in Hamburg

Top activities in Hamburg

Hamburg Dungeon Admission Ticket

Hamburg Dungeon Admission Ticket

Guided Hamburg City Bike Tour

Guided Hamburg City Bike Tour

Private 2-Hour Hamburg Highlights Walking Tour

Private 2-Hour Hamburg Highlights Walking Tour

per group
Private Small-Group Hamburg City Tour with a Luxury Vehicle
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Sailing trip on the Hamburg Outer Alster
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Elbphilharmonie Plaza Tour

Elbphilharmonie Plaza Tour

Hamburg Private Guided Tour

Hamburg Private Guided Tour

per group
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All about Hamburg

When to visit

Hamburg sets a lovely holiday scene in December, with Christmas markets, twinkling lights, and the “Märchenschiffe” (fairy tale–themed ships) on Inner Alster Lake. Autumn is equally lovely, with fewer crowds and fall foliage to make up for the cooler temperatures—there’s also Oktoberfest in late September and early October.


People Also Ask

What is Hamburg best known for?

Nope, not hamburgers. Hamburg is best-known for its harbor—the UNESCO-designated Speicherstadt, a can't-miss maze of 19th-century warehouses and canals—and its unrivaled nightlife. This is where The Beatles' career took off, after all.

What is there to do in Hamburg?

Stroll along 19th-century Speicherstadt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the River Elbe. Climb up 453 stairs to the top of St. Michaelis Church; stop by the Fischmarkt for street food (running since 1703); take in neo-Renaissance Hamburg City Hall; and walk the ​​neon-lit streets of Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s nightlife-rich neighborhood.

Is Hamburg worth visiting?

Yes. Though many see Berlin as Germany’s eccentric arts hub, the creative pulse beats hardest in Hamburg. With hundreds of museums, theatres, and music venues, culture geeks are spoiled. As a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and a member of the Hanseatic League, history buffs win, too.

What is there to do in Hamburg on Sundays?

The 300-year-old Fish Market is a Sunday draw from 5am to 9am—grab brunch on the second-floor balcony. Retail therapy abounds at the Venetian-inspired Alsterarkaden, or take a budget-friendly harbor wander and nosh on a fischbrötchen (fish sandwich). Don't miss Planten un Blomen park and UNESCO-listed Speicherstadt on the Elbe River.

Does Hamburg have good nightlife?

Yes. Hamburg has some of the best nightlife in the world. The scene centers around the St. Pauli neighborhood, encompassing Reeperbahn and Hamburg’s red-light district. Find everything from old-school sailors’ hangouts to cocktail joints and music venues featuring house DJs to live jazz. For an alternative vibe, hit up nearby Sternschanze.

Is Hamburg dangerous?

Yes. In general, Hamburg is quite safe. But like in any big city, exercise caution in areas like train stations and along the nightlife-heavy Reeperbahn. Note that women and minors are not allowed along Herbertstraße, the city’s red-light district.

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