Things to do in
Hamburg

From the UNESCO-listed warehouse district to the Reeperbahn, there’s something for everyone in this maritime city.

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Our most recommended things to do in Hamburg

St. Pauli: Reeperbahn Walking Tour by Drag Queen or Local Celebrity

1. St. Pauli: Reeperbahn Walking Tour by Drag Queen or Local Celebrity

Discover Hamburg's iconic district of St. Pauli with a local drag queen guide. Your insightful guide will share their own unique experiences and stories about the St. Pauli district as they take you on a journey across the Reeperbahn, the main thoroughfare of St. Pauli’s red-light and entertainment district. Have a drink and follow your guide, walking past lively bars and trendy nightclubs. Find out what life was like in Hamburg’s most famous district, how it has changed, and how fascinating it is today. Hear how Germany’s most famous and colorful drag queen Olivia Jones speaks up for respect, diversity, and tolerance. Enjoy the witty remarks, quirky anecdotes, dazzling landmarks, as well as a cheeky drink. This tour combines the perfect mix of information, entertainment, stops, and sights. You’ll undoubtedly be all set for a fun night out in St. Pauli by the end of your tour.

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St. Pauli: Reeperbahn Walking Tour with Zur Ritze Entry & Drink

2. St. Pauli: Reeperbahn Walking Tour with Zur Ritze Entry & Drink

Explore Hamburg's St. Pauli neighborhood and experience the famous Reeperbahn street and entertainment district. Listen to adult tales of sex and crime as you visit numerous pubs, theaters, and sex shops, including the Zur Ritze bar. Pass by the most famous side street of the Reeperbahn: the Große Freiheit. Listen to stories about the nightlife scene in the city and the famous strip clubs including the "Dollhouse" play. Go inside the famous boxing and erotic bar “Zur Ritze” where Mike Tyson and the Klitschko brothers trained. Learn about life in this special Kiez and its rules. Your guide will tell you both dark and funny anecdotes as you walk around, providing you with additional context and background information that you wouldn’t otherwise know. To make the tour even more special, take the opportunity to enjoy a drink with your group and guide.

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Hamburg: Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour

3. Hamburg: Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour

Enjoy the unique maritime flair and colorful crowds at the Port of Hamburg on this daily cruise that loops the docks. Thanks to your guide, learn about the history of the port and the city and take an exciting ride through the locks. Discover this gateway to the world up-close onboard a little ship, equally suited to a fleet. Find out just how huge the Port of Hamburg, the second-largest port in Europe, is. Hardly another city in the world is so tied to its port; Hamburg truly developed because of it. The most important sights and the skyline are inextricably linked to it. Experience the contrast between past and present, commerce and culture, the little fishing town along the Elbe, and the state-of-the-art container complexes. You'll also learn about the sinful stretches and fish market, old cutters, and massive cruise and container ships.

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Hamburg: Harbor Evening Lights Cruise

4. Hamburg: Harbor Evening Lights Cruise

Embark on a roundtrip evening cruise from the historical and romantically-illuminated Speicherstadt through the Hamburg harbor's sea of light. Enjoy a boat tour through the Speicherstadt canals and discover the highlights of Hamburg from the water. Learn about the history behind this intriguing city. See the Zollkanal, Wasserschloss, and the International Maritime Museum, and cruise along the modern HafenCity, the newest district in the Hanseatic city. See the HafenCity University, the Marco Polo Tower, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, and the panorama of the district.  Catch a breathtaking view of St. Pauli Piers all the way to Überseebrücke with the museum ships Rickmer Rickmers and Cap San Diego. Sail through the port's sea of light again and witness the activity around the container terminals.

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Elbphilharmonie Plaza: Guided Tour

5. Elbphilharmonie Plaza: Guided Tour

Visit the Elbphilharmonie Plaza with a guide, and learn some exciting background information about this spectacular building as you discover both its outside and inside. After meeting your guide, find out about the building’s original plans, plus its construction, completion challenges, and special features. Tour the outside of the building while learning about its façade and other external features. Then, travel on up the Tube — the longest escalator in the world. Glimpse its large panoramic window before arriving at the Plaza: an activity hub connecting the historical docks to the modern glass architecture. Take a moment to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Hamburg over the harbor and HafenCity from the Plaza. While there, hear about the music that is played inside as your guide gifts you with more tidbits about this striking modern structure.

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Hamburg: Line A Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

6. Hamburg: Line A Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour

The Line A sightseeing tour leads you through Hamburg's highlights: along the Speicherstadt (warehouse city) and harbor city to the shopping areas of the town! Experience the wonderful villas in Harvestehude, the Outer Alster lake, the city hall, several museums, the famous Reeperbahn and the harbor. Your day ticket enables you to hop on and hop off at 20 bus stops. All Red Double Decker bus tours are fully escorted. A GPS steered audio system offers narration in 11 languages via headsets: English, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Portuguese. Lean back and enjoy the all-round view. In nice weather the bus goes open top!

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Hamburg: 1.5-Hour Harbor and Speicherstadt Day Cruise

7. Hamburg: 1.5-Hour Harbor and Speicherstadt Day Cruise

See Hamburg’s harbor-side attractions from a unique perspective, float past impressive container ships, and discover the historic Speicherstadt District aboard a 1.5-hour cruise featuring live commentary from a German-speaking guide and an exclusive stop at the iconic Elbphilharmonie. Start your harbor adventure on land as you cross the famous "Überseebrücke" bridge to reach the pier where you will board a traditional Hamburger boat referred to as a Barkasse. Listen as your captain decides on which route the boat will take based on weather conditions, the water tides, or, if for example, a really exciting and interesting container ship or a special boat is visiting the harbor. Set off and glide into the narrow waterways of the largest warehouse district in the world known as Speicherstadt. Take in the stunning architecture of buildings standing on timber-pile foundations and oak logs. Sit back and relax as you go past Hafen City. Explore the open decks and feel the cooling sea breezes as you wait for perfect photo opportunities from the boat’s many vantage points. Cruise past rows of massive container ships as the boat makes its way into St. Pauli’s Pier and the Hamburg Port. Learn the history of the many important landmarks from your German-speaking expert guide. As your trip comes to an end, disembark right in front of the Elbphilharmonie or you can choose to get off back at where the cruise initially took off.

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Hamburg: 1-Hour Harbor Cruise

8. Hamburg: 1-Hour Harbor Cruise

Experience a tour of the port on your visit to the Hanseatic city. No other city in Europe has more bridges than Hamburg, not even Venice. There are approximately 2,400 structures over water, canals, channels, and docks in the Hanseatic city. Climb aboard the boat and discover the many different attractions and sights in the city, depending on the tides and the day's events. Explore the historical Speicherstadt (warehouse district) with its canals, the modern HafenCity, the numerous bridges over the Elbe River, busy locks and container terminals, the Köhlbrand Bridge, and much more. Along the way you will learn more about the city, its history, the incoming and outgoing ships, and anything else that interests you. Sit back and admire the views of the city on the sun deck or in the air-conditioned lounge with large panoramic windows.

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Hamburg Harbor: Evening City Lights Barge Cruise

9. Hamburg Harbor: Evening City Lights Barge Cruise

Experience Hamburg's Harbor by the evening light on a traditional barge. Take a romantic round-trip voyage through the Hamburg Harbor and enjoy a cozy atmosphere with the illuminated silhouette of the city as your backdrop. Travel through the historic Speicherstadt (depending on the tide) and along the impressive illuminated container terminals. Hear interesting stories of the harbor's history with live moderation from the captain, while relaxing with a drink. Alternatively, pick one of the special tours that take place only occasionally. Choose the special Queen Mary II cruise to accompany Queen Mary II at the Cruise Terminal and then follow her along the River Elbe. During the boat ride, learn all about the ship from the professional guide. Or, celebrate the Anniversary of Hamburg Harbor onboard a traditional barge. Watch the opening parade to the festival unveil, as the weekend of celebrations will then follow.

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Hamburg: Night Watchman's Tour of St. Pauli in German

10. Hamburg: Night Watchman's Tour of St. Pauli in German

Enjoy a unique city tour with the traditional night watchmen around the largest entertainment and red-light district in Europe. Your German-language guide will meet you at the Landungsbrücken and showcase all that St. Pauli has to offer. Your guide will take on the role and uniform of the original St. Pauli night watchman, who represents the notorious district of Hamburg. He will discover the Große Freiheit ("The Great Freedom”) with you. Satisfy your curiosity and learn all of the local secrets. Hear about what it's like inside the Davidwache Police Department, how the rope-making industry carved out the path the Reeperbahn, Joe Cocker's incident, the mysterious Herbertstraße, and legendary stories involving Paul McCartney.

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Frequently asked questions about Hamburg

What top attractions are a must-see in Hamburg?

Planning Your Visit

  • Save Money on Transport

    If you plan on discovering the many sides of Hamburg, it's really worth getting bundle transport tickets. Different deals are available depending on the length of your stay and you're sure to save a lot of money rather than buying singles each time. Also, these tickets give you access to the ferries, which are the cheapest way of admiring the city from the water.

  • Wait for the Spring

    Hamburg is infamous for its grey, cold winters. If you can, it's best to plan your visit between April and September. Once the weather improves, the city truly transforms – moods soar, streetside cafés fill up, and the parks and lakes once again become bustling hang-out spots.

  • Eat Like a Local Without Breaking the Bank

    Known for its gigantic portions and very reasonable prices, the restaurant Erika's Eck near the Schlachthof has been a favorite for locals and tourists alike for over 30 years now. This is the perfect spot to feast on some original German grub and if you're out on the town, come here after midnight for its famous €1 sandwiches – available until 9am!

Good to know

  • Language
    German
  • Currency
    Euro (€)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+01:00)
  • Country Code
    +49
  • Best time to visit
    Spring, Summer

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Hamburg

Thomas Dowson is the founder of Archaeology Travel, a website for those seeking adventures in archaeology and history. As a professional archaeologist Thomas enjoys visiting archaeological and historical sites around the world. And sharing these experiences so that others can explore the world’s pasts more deeply. On his blog, you can find more information and all the details for planning a trip to Hamburg.

What should I do on my first trip to Hamburg?

Hamburg, more specifically the harbour of Hamburg, is the main attraction here. For anyone planning their first visit to Hamburg my recommendation for an essential, first experience is a harbour cruise. There is no better way to get a feel for this city and its history. From the UNESCO listed historic Speicherstadt (‘city of warehouses’), to the very striking 20th century Elbphilharmonie (concert hall). Whether you are interested in a general cruise about the port and its history or something more specific, such as the Hanseatic history of Hamburg, the choice of river cruises is broad.

What are some hidden gems to see in Hamburg?

Not exactly hidden in Hamburg’s harbour, but certainly half submerged is a Soviet submarine. Built in the 1970s, the U-434 submarine is still in very good condition and provides a near as real-life as possible experience of what conditions in a submarine are like. Visitors enter at one end, and then walk and even crawl through compartments to the exit at the other end. Of course there is a sense of claustrophobia. But this is nothing when you are told that this vessel would hold up to 78 men.

How much time should I spend in Hamburg?

Apparently the average visitor spends two nights in Hamburg. Like most big cities with a long history, you could easily spend a week in Hamburg and still come back for more. But two nights does seem rushed, that is only one full day. Two or three full days would be a better amount of time to explore the city: to take a harbour cruise, see the impressive town hall, visit St. Michaelis church and walk though the old warehouse district.

What food is Hamburg known for? 

For anyone with a sweet tooth, when in Hamburg you have to try at least one Franzbrötchen. Pastry is rolled in lots of butter and cinnamon sugar before being baked. History, or urban legend, has it that these pastries were introduced to Hamburg by Napoleon's troops. For a more substantial dish try ‘labskaus’, a stew made up of different ingredients including beetroot, which then gives it a pink colour. Local cuisine has not only been influenced by seafaring visitors from around the world, but also the culinary traditions typical of northern Germany.

What is the best way to get around Hamburg?

Hamburg is a big city, and the various points of interest are scattered about. Fortunately Hamburg has a very good public transport system, making getting about easy on the feet. Specifically for visitors, there are also the usual hop-on-hop-off buses, which follow routes around the city stopping at most of the main attractions. 

What are the best months to visit Hamburg?

Hamburg is a great city to visit during the Summer. It never gets uncomfortably hot, and it is a lot drier and less windy than it is during winter months and early spring. As the sun starts shining and spring flowers start blooming, so too Hamburg comes alive with street festivals, live music and art performances all over the city. Over four days in September and at many venues in the Reeperbahn, visitors can enjoy Europe’s largest club festival - the Reeperbahn Festival.

What is neighborhood Reeperbahn known for?

For a vibrant night scene head to the Reeperbahn in St Pauli. The entertainment heart of Hamburg. The street is lined with theatres and nightclubs, bars and restaurants. And it is not known as ‘the most sinful mile’ for nothing. You will also find sex shops, strip clubs and brothels. Look out for the Beatles monument, a reminder that the group built their reputation here as well as in Liverpool.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

Hamburg is not only Germany’s second largest city, it is the most wealthy city. Not surprising then it is a shoppers paradise. You can find everything from flea markets to luxury boutiques and brands. Along the kilometre long Neuer Wall you will find a collection of the most exclusive shops in Hamburg. These shops sell everything from high end fashion and jewellery to designer furniture. Colonnaden not only has exclusive boutiques in historic architecture, the pedestrianised street hosts a monthly flea market. Good buys and antiques can be found at the many weekly and regular flea markets in Hamburg.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Hamburg?

Hamburg is home to the incredible Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway. This is no ordinary miniature railway exhibit. Fifty computers direct over 1000 trains over nearly 16,000 metres of track length that are set in reconstructions of nine geographic regions, including central Germany and Switzerland, USA and South America. There are over 269,000, over 9,000 cars and 130,000 trees. And a lot more. Besides visiting this vast model railway set, the organisers also stage special events. The most popular and booked out being the ‘culinary trip around the world’.

What are the best annual events in Hamburg? 

Hamburg has over 30 individual Christmas markets, which run from the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve. Many of the Hamburg neighbourhoods have their own markets, and there are several in the city centre as well. St Pauli has one of the most popular markets, and another one not to miss is the market in the vast square in front of the City Hall. There is even a Dogs Christmas market.

Other Sightseeing Options in Hamburg

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What people are saying about Hamburg

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 67,799 reviews

It was so much fun! So many information about hamburg and the monuments. Riddles made your group work together which is perfect for team work and having some fun. Definitely recommended!

Super organized and informative. We got there a little earlier and were actually able to take an earlier trip, completely unproblematic.

I liked the tour very much, everything was explained very well and there were many interesting stops.

Even on the third tour we booked, everything was great. Great tour and great guide. Thanks Sandra.

Great city tour, very good explanation of the sights.