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The port city of Hamburg – in Northern Germany – combines Berlin's metropolitan character with Düsseldorf's elegance. It is a great city for a city trip as there is plenty to do for everyone. From old architecture to trendy entertainment centers, from premium fashion by expensive brands to alternative design, and from exquisite dishes to simple, decent meals from all over the world. You can find it all in Germany's second largest city.
The dock warehouses in the Speicherstadt are extremely attractive. These red-brick warehouses are partially built in the water and nowadays house shops, galleries, museums, cafés or restaurants. The Speicherstadtmuseum focuses on the history of this 'warehouse city'. Hamburg owes its wealth to its port. Because of the emergence of container transshipment, large parts of the old ports became redundant. For years, those ports were neglected, but a new part of the city is now under development: Hafencity. In addition to houses and offices, the area will allow for cultural centers, including the Science Center (an audacious design by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas) and a futuristic concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. The Maritime Museum has already been finished; here you can see a superb exhibition about the history of shipping. You can also visit a Russian submarine that is moored at the Baakenhafen.
It is not only in recent years that Hamburg is changing; it has always been a city of progress and renewal. This is demonstrated at the Hamburg Museum, which tells the city's history in a fun way. From prehistoric times, via the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi period and the subsequent occupation by the British until the formation of the Federal Republic and the Beatles' performance in Hamburg.
The two Alster Lakes are one of Hamburg's special attractions. Which great metropolis has two such large lakes in the city center? The Alster Lakes form the principal recreation area for Hamburg's inhabitants and all this just outside their doorstep! In the cozy Altstadt you absolutely have to visit the Rathaus. Make sure to look at the richly decorated façade, which displays no less than twenty statues of the emperor.
Sankt Pauli is Hamburg's entertainment area with the Reeperbahn in the heart of the district. In this neighborhood you do not only find cafés, bars and restaurants, but also theaters, nightclubs and discotheques. It is a fairly large area and in order to find the nicest places we recommend consulting Hamburg's (free) city guides. Sankt Pauli also houses the famous Fischmarkt on Sundays. For the best bargains (not just fish, but also souvenirs and artworks) you have to get up early. Or enjoy nightlife until the crack of dawn and then stroll through the market. You will not be the only one ...
The old Elbtunnel is a major tourist attraction. At the time of its inauguration in 1911, this 426-meter-long tunnel was a technical masterpiece where pedestrians and vehicles were carried down 24 meters by elevators. On the other side of the tunnel you have a wonderful view of the port and Hamburg's skyline.
South of the Elbe lies an area that is known to Hamburg's inhabitants as Altes Land. It resembles the Dutch river system with dykes, windmills and fruit orchards. There are some nice cycling routes in the area. You can reach Altes Land by crossing the Elbe by catamaran from Hamburg's center.
On the outskirts of the Altes Land lies the old fortress town of Stade. In the Middle Ages it was an important Hanseatic city, until it was surpassed by Hamburg. For almost a century, Stade was governed by the Swedes and the houses are therefore built in a typical Swedish style.
Further south you'll reach the Lüneberger Heide, particularly beautiful when the heather blooms. The area encompasses historical cities such as Lüneburg and Celle, with ancient churches, monasteries and castles.
Hamburg has no shortage of accommodations. You can really find any type of accommodation here, from the cheapest guesthouse for backpackers to luxurious five-star hotels. Hamburg is a popular tourist destination as well as a busy trading city where large conferences and trade shows are held on a regular basis. We therefore recommend booking your hotel in advance.
Thanks to excellent through roads, you can easily discover Hamburg by rental car. Parking by the way is relatively expensive, especially in the city center. Follow the dynamic parking information system to find a parking space in one of the parking garages. Alternatively, you can leave your rental car at one of the P+R lots around the city. Here parking is free and you can take public transportation to continue your journey to the center.
Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel Airport is located eight kilometers north of the city center. You can easily get to the airport by rental car, at least when you avoid rush hour as the roads are extremely busy during these times. The airport is located between two beltways (R2 and R3) and right along the A7 freeway (exit Schnelsen – Nord). The route is clearly signposted from the city center.