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Things to do in Hamburg: 15 beautiful places you must see [with map]

Hello from Hamburg . Come with us to the port city and discover the most beautiful sights and cool places that you simply must have seen. We have already spent a few nights on the Reeperbahn and early mornings with the "market screamers" at the fish market. We have fallen in love with the city on the Elbe with its beautiful corners.

Besides the Elbphilharmonie we present you the most beautiful places to visit and attractions in Hamburg. Whether during the day or in the evening: Hamburg is full of beautiful things to see. Here you can find the perfect sight for everyone.

We know our stuff - secret places and musical secret tips can't be missing! Did you know that Hamburg also has many parks and a botanical garden? Of course, the Hanseatic city also made it onto our list of the most beautiful travel destinations in Germany.

Updated on01.01.2023
Biggi & Flo from the travel blog Phototravellers

 

Our top 10 sights in Hamburg

A bridge in the evening light in Hamburg
I now reveal my top sights in the beautiful Hanseatic city of Hamburg

Here I reveal to you my personal top places to go in Hamburg. There are countless beautiful places and interesting places here that you simply must see. Many travel guides recommend at least three days to visit the main sights of Hamburg.

However, to be able to look at everything in peace and have no stress, I would rather plan five days. You can spend a whole day in Miniatur Wunderland alone.

  1. Port of Hamburg and Landungsbrücken
  2. Speicherstadt
  3. Miniatur Wunderland
  4. Fish market
  5. St. Pauli, Reeperbahn & Great Freedom
  6. Elbphilharmonie
  7. Main church Sankt Michaelis (Michel)
  8. Planten un Blomen
  9. Heinrich Hertz Tower
  10. Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel

By the way, Hamburg ranks high in our ranking of the most beautiful cities in Germany.

You can also find our top sights to see on our interactive map right below.

Map with our top sights at a glance

On this interactive map, you can find all our favorite places and sights in Hamburg.

1. Port of Hamburg and Landungsbrücken

The Landungsbrücken in Hamburg during rain
The area around the Landungsbrücken is one of the top things to do on every trip to Hamburg

The port of Hamburg is the largest seaport in Germany. To get an overview of the area, for example, a harbor tour is ideal. We did the harbor tour with the provider Rainer Abicht (25 euros for adults) and can highly recommend it. You learn a lot of interesting facts about Hamburg and the port.

The container ship HMM Gdansk in the port of Hamburg
With a length of 400 meters, the HMM Gdansk is one of the largest container ships in the world. On a harbor tour, you get very close to the ocean giants

In addition to the Speicherstadt, which is located in the HafenCity district, which was only founded in 2008, the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken is also part of the port area. This is one of the most famous sights and a popular photo motif in Hamburg.

From there you have an excellent view of the Elbe and the Elbphilharmonie – more about that later. Various historic ships are moored at the Landungsbrücken, including the three-master Rickmer Rickmers, which was saved from being scrapped and now serves as a museum ship.

Two towers with striking green domes mark the 205-meter-long terminal building at the Landungsbrücken, which has been a listed building since 2003. One of the towers provides information not only about the time but also about the water level of the Norderelbe.

Also worthwhile is a visit to the submarine museum very close to the St. Pauli fish market, my next top sight. When will you ever have the chance to board a real submarine?

The Submarine Museum in the Port of Hamburg
A very special highlight in the Port of Hamburg is the Submarine Museum

Tip: If you’re exploring the port city with your kids, check out our article Hamburg with kids: 15 excursion tips for families.

2. Speicherstadt

The Speicherstadt in Hamburg
-For me, the Speicherstadt is the top thing to do in Hamburg

Another favorite in Hamburg is the Speicherstadt, the largest historic warehouse complex in the world. The area has been a listed monument since 1991 and on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2015, along with the neighboring Kontorhaus district. The latter is characterized by large buildings in the style of brick expressionism, for example, the Chilehaus.

The famous view in the Speicherstadt
Exciting photo motifs can be found at every corner of Speicherstadt

The name Speicherstadt comes from the warehouses in neo-Gothic brick architecture, which stand on thousands of oak piles and are connected on one side to the water and on the other side to the street. General goods and especially coffee, tea, and spices were stored there.

Tip: The typical photo of the Wasserschlösschen (“water castle”) can be taken from the Poggenmühlenbrücke (“Poggen Mill Bridge”) (Google Maps).

3. Miniatur Wunderland

In addition, one of the most famous activities in Germany is located in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt: the Miniatur Wunderland (miniature wonderland), with over 1500 square meters the largest model railway in the world. Not only children love it here. It’s simply fun to stroll through the huge layout and discover the miniature world.

You can expect numerous cities and regions from all over the world – and a good dose of humor. Did you know that Lyon also has a miniature world, modeled on Hamburg?

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg
If you take a closer look, you will find one or the other mess in Miniatur Wunderland
The Eiffel Tower in miniature form
The Eiffel Tower in Paris in miniature form

Tip: The Hamburg Dungeon is also a frequently visited attraction and a very fun thing to do in the Speicherstadt. There, you’ll embark on a journey through over 600 years of spooky Hamburg history. Actors and rides will really make you scream and take you to dungeons, torture chambers, labyrinths, and plague hospitals as well as a pirate ship.

During your visit to Speicherstadt, be sure to check out the Speicherstadt Coffee Roastery (Google Maps), right next to the Dungeon and Miniatur Wunderland. There you can watch live how the coffee is ground. There is also a delicious breakfast here.

Coffee roastery Hamburg
The famous coffee roastery in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt. Inside the interior is still from the past- a cool thing to do in Hamburg!

4. St. Pauli Fish Market

Also part of the Port of Hamburg is the famous fish market, which deserves its own paragraph. It’s located west of the Landungsbrücken in the rival district of Altona-Altstadt. Since 1703, mainly fish but also fruit, vegetables, and plants have been sold here on Sunday mornings. It’s a very unusual thing to do!

The traditional fish market takes place every Sunday from 5 to 9:30 am (in the period from November 1 to March 31 only from 7 am). The stalls are located in the open air on the eastern end of the Große Elbstraße. There is also a large fish auction hall there, where, in addition to the sale of fish, events are often held and music is played.

The fish market has become one of the most popular attractions in the Hanseatic city, mainly thanks to the “market shouters”. The well-known sellers make fun of themselves, yell over to the other stand, and sometimes criticize the display of the other. Always with a wink of the eye, of course. It’s worth getting up early!

By the way, the time comes from the fact that the fishmongers had to be ready with their work in time for the church service on Sunday.

My tip: If you’re asking what to do in Hamburg in the evening, I’ll give you the answer! Whenever we were out in the evening in Hamburg, we went directly from the Reeperbahn to the fish market. That’s practically a cult in Hamburg. And believe me: the fish roll tastes three times as delicious at five in the morning. In addition, bands play in the Fischhalle. So you can continue partying right away.

⭐ A great guide for your trip to Hamburg

I can highly recommend this travel guide for your city trip to Hamburg. Have a look at Lonely Planet Pocket Hamburg (get it here*). You should also have a glimpse into Fodor’s Essential Germany (Full-color Travel Guide) (buy it here*).

5. St. Pauli, Reeperbahn & Große Freiheit

Pub Zwick on the Reeperbahn
In our favorite pub Zwick in Hamburg, there is always a live band playing

North of the Landungsbrücken, just a stone’s throw away and also in the St. Pauli district, is the infamous Reeperbahn. As dusk falls, this street, which is rather quiet during the day, becomes the most wicked entertainment mile in the party and red-light district. It’s clear that the Reeperbahn is high on my list of top sights.

At the eastern entrance to the Reeperbahn are the Dancing Towers, two high-rise buildings with “bent” facades. In it, among other things, there is a rooftop bar called clouds, from which you have a breathtaking view over Hamburg and can sip delicious cocktails.

However, the parallel Herbertstraße is considered a brothel street or, to put it less nicely, a “whore alley”. As a woman, you are not welcome here, which is why you should rather stay away from Herbertstraße directly. But there are signs there anyway that “forbid” the entry of young people under 18 and women. Even as a man, however, you should be careful – the ladies are often difficult to get rid of.

At night on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg
At night on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg- a fun thing to do here!
he famous pub Ritze
Where to visit the famous pub Ritze? At the Reeperbahn!

Safer is the Große Freiheit, a side street to the Reeperbahn. The two streets meet at Beatles-Platz (Beatles Square). It’s called that because this is where the Beatles made their first appearances in the 1960s, including in the still-existing pubs Club Indra and Kaiserkeller.

The Große Freiheit is notorious for its nightlife. Among others, three establishments of the drag queen Olivia Jones are located there: the Olivia Jones Bar, Olivia’s Show Club, and Olivia’s Wild Boys.

As you can see, the area around the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli is definitely one of the coolest places to see in Hamburg.

Tip: Be sure to check out the Panoptikum. This is the oldest wax museum in Germany. It is very worthwhile. What is to see in the Panoptikum? There you can see wax figures dating back to 1942. In addition to well-known personalities, you will also encounter many scurrilities there in the basement. We found it very exciting.

6. Elbphilharmonie

View of the Elbphilharmonie
The Elbphilharmonie is today one of the landmarks of the city and one of the best things to see in Hamburg!

We return to HafenCity, as it is home to another of Hamburg’s most famous landmarks and a top thing to do here! The Elbphilharmonie was only completed in 2016 and is intended to be a new landmark for the city and a “cultural monument for all“.

The building consists of the listed base of a former quayside pier and a modern superstructure with a glass facade, which is intended to evoke maritime motifs such as sails, water waves, or icebergs. Between the brick base and the glass superstructure, at a height of 37 meters, there is a publicly accessible square with a viewing terrace. To enter, you need a time-limited ticket but it is free on-site. The square serves as access and foyer of the concert halls, where you can experience an extensive musical program. They represent the heart of the Elbphilharmonie.

Tip: From the Landungsbrücken you can also easily reach the “Elphie” on a short walk. While doing so, you can enjoy the view of the harbor and the ever-growing Elbphilharmonie – fantastic.

The view from the observation deck of the Elbphilharmonie to the Landungsbrücken in the evening
This incredible view you have from the terrace of the Elbphilharmonie to the Landungsbrücken in the evening- it’s an amazing thing to do in Hamburg!

You can also reach a four-star-plus hotel via the public plaza. The Westin Hamburg (check rates here*) has 244 rooms, ranging from the sixth to the twentieth floor. Otherwise, some of the city’s most expensive condominiums are still located in the Elbphilharmonie, as are various dining options and a parking garage.

7. Main church Sankt Michaelis (Michel)

Der Blick vom Nikolai Mahnmal ist atemberaubend
Hamburg von oben: Der Blick vom Nikolai Mahnmal auf den Michel atemberaubend. Dahinter ragen die Tanzenden Türme in den Himmel

Now we finally move away from the harbor and continue towards the city center. There you will find the Protestant church of Sankt Michaelis, usually just called Michel. The building is considered the Hamburg landmark and the most important baroque church in northern Germany. It’s a top thing to do in Hamburg!

The church burned down in 1906 but was completely rebuilt in 1912 and has been under quasi-continuous renovation ever since. The interior of Sankt Michaelis is exceptionally bright and flooded with light thanks to the transparent windows. The nave has no less than five organs, one of which is in the crypt in the vaulted cellar.

The Michel also scores with its church tower. It is 132 meters high, with a viewing platform at 82 meters. The visitor reaches this after 452 steps and has as a reward a wonderful view of Hamburg. On many evenings, you can even climb the tower until 11 p.m., with a reservation if necessary – this is then called “Nachtmichel.”

At a height of 106 meters, there is once again a platform from which the Michel trumpeter, known as the Türmer, trumpets a chorale in all four directions. On weekdays, this popular attraction takes place at 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., and on Sundays and church holidays at noon. This is based on a 300-year-old custom: until 1861, the trumpet was used to signal the opening and closing of the city gates.

8. Planten un Blomen

Now I have the right tips for all those who need a little time out in the green between sightseeing tours. Hamburg has some great options.

First, there is the Stadtpark, a 148-hectare public park in the north of Hamburg. It’s open throughout and freely accessible. A characteristic feature of the Stadtpark is the planetarium, which was created from a former water tower. On the 8th floor, there is a viewing platform with a great panoramic view– a must-do in Hamburg!

There is the well-known park Planten un Blomen in the city center. The first tree in this former botanical garden was planted back in 1821. The old show greenhouses are also still preserved – they are located together with a tropical house complex in the middle of the park. The name, by the way, is Low German and means “plants and flowers.” It’s a fun thing to do in Hamburg!

A lake in the park Planten un Blomen with the television tower
Park Planten un Blomen – here with a view of the Heinrich Hertz Tower – is a green oasis in the middle of the Hanseatic city and one of the best places in Hamburg!

The Altonaer Balkon is also a popular place to visit, mainly thanks to the excellent view. This green space is one of a series of Elbe parks located above the river on a slope about 27 meters high. You’ll also find a number of sculptures there, for example, some large anchors or the “Fishermen” by Gerhard Brandes. Here you can stroll relaxed on foot and enjoy the park feeling.

Last but not least I can recommend the Sternschanzenpark, which is a bit smaller and less crowded. A special element of the partly public park is the Schanzenturm, formerly the largest water tower in Europe. Today it houses the Mövenpick Hotel, which opened in 2007 under protest from residents of the Schanzenviertel.

9. Heinrich Hertz Tower

The Heinrich Hertz Tower (also called “Hamburg Tele-Michel“) is another exciting thing to do which you definitely shouldn’t miss. Visible from afar, the TV tower is the tallest building in the city at 279.2 meters and one of the most famous landmarks.

According to current plans, visitors will be able to enter the viewing platform and the revolving restaurant again in 2023. By then at the latest, the TV tower should once again be a magnet for visitors. Children love the view over the entire city and can hardly stop marveling.

10. Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel

After the rest in the green, it goes now reenergized back into the hustle and bustle, namely in the just mentioned Schanzenviertel (also Schanze). The Sternschanze, which gave the area its name, was a star-shaped defensive fortification that stood on the site of today’s Sternschanzenpark from 1682 to 1816. Today, the Schanze is a popular trendy neighborhood and thus one of the most famous sights in Hamburg. Here you can find a great bar and restaurant tips.

Tip: By the way, TV chef Tim Mälzer has a restaurant called “Bullerei” directly at the Sternschanze S-Bahn station. There you will also find the coffee roaster Elbgold, where you can get delicious Franzbrötchen.

The adjacent Karolinenviertel, or Karoviertel for short, is also a trendy neighborhood in Hamburg. What to see in Karoviertel? While it used to be a rather poor neighborhood, there are now numerous cafés, boutiques, restaurants, and stores there, similar to the Schanzenviertel. This is where the stylish hippsters are hanging out.

Between Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel and the park Planten un Blomen is also the event area Heiligengeistfeld. The Hamburger Dom folk festival takes place here three times a year- it’s a cool thing to do here! In addition, there is the Millerntor Stadium of FC St. Pauli and a high bunker.

11. Lake Alster and Jungfernstieg

People on the shore of the Binnenalster in Hamburg
The Binnenalster is probably unique in a major city. No wonder the shore is a popular meeting place

The Alster is a tributary of the Elbe River, which forms the Alster Lake consisting of the Inner and Outer Alster in the city area- a great place to see. The Außenalster is the larger northern part and the Binnenalster the smaller southern part. The two are separated today by the Lombardsbrücke, a road, and a rail bridge. The Alstersee is a well-known landmark and is perfect for jogging and walking.

Especially popular for strolling is the Jungfernstieg, a street on the southern bank of the Binnenalster. The Jungfernstieg was created as early as 1235 as a dam for the Alster. One of the oak piles of the original dam has been made into a sculpture that can be seen on the platform of the U1 train, commemorating the victims of a water inrush during the construction of this station in the 1930s. Jungfernstieg is a great thing to do in Hamburg!

By the way, the name of the street comes in principle from a kind of “bridal show”. In the past, the unmarried ladies of the city – the maidens – used to walk there with their families on Sundays.

12. City Hall

The Hamburg city hall from the inside
The Hamburg city hall from the inside is an impressive thing to do!

Quasi opposite the Jungfernstieg is the Rathausmarkt. There is another section of the Alster, the Kleine Alster (“Little Alster”) with the Alster arcades. On the adjoining square, you will then find the town hall itself. It is the seat of the Senate and the state parliament of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg because Hamburg as a city-state also represents its own federal state.

The magnificent neo-Renaissance style city hall is dominated by a central tower that is as tall as the whole building is wide – 112 meters. The inner courtyard, which is open to the public, is also one of the most architecturally exciting places in the whole city.

Together, the Rathausmarkt, the town hall, and the Kleine Alster form an urban ensemble inspired by St. Mark’s Square in Venice and is generally considered to be particularly successful. What’s to do near the city hall?  In the Alsterarkaden and generally around the Rathausmarkt there are numerous restaurants, cafés, and stores. Mönckebergstraße, a popular shopping street in Hamburg, is also just a stone’s throw away.

Tip: If you are looking for the best Franzbrötchen in Hamburg, we can recommend the store Mutterland (Google Maps). Here the Franzbrötchen look like cinnamon buns but taste really delicious. Also brilliant Franzbrötchen – for us on the number two best Franzbrötchen in Hamburg – is the bakery Elbgold (Google Maps).

13. Memorial St. Nikolai

The view to the city hall from the Nikolai memorial
This is the view from the Nikolai Memorial to the famous Hamburg City Hall- it’s a cool thing to do!

The next sight in Hamburg that you should definitely have seen is a structure that perhaps not everyone knows about. It is the St. Nikolai Memorial, the central place of remembrance for the victims of war and tyranny of the years 1933-1945.

The former main church of St. Nikolai was in fact destroyed during the air raids on Hamburg in 1943. Only the tower, part of the southern outer wall, and the walls of the choir have been preserved – they form today’s memorial.

At 147 meters, the tower is the tallest church tower in the city, even ahead of the Michel. You can take a panoramic lift to a viewing platform 76 meters above the ground and look out over the whole city, for example at the impressive City Hall building. Access to the tower is included in the entrance fee for the museum now located in St. Nikolai.

There is a very similar sight in Berlin – the Memorial Church. Here you can find the most important sights in Berlin.

14. Old Elbe Tunnel

Elevator in the Old Elbe Tunnel
The elevators in the Old Elbe Tunnel are also an attraction

If you have a little time left, you should definitely take a look at the Alter Elbtunnel. It was opened in 1911 in St. Pauli and has been a listed building since 2003.

Just the ride with the ancient elevators underground is a terrific experience and an extraordinary sight. You should definitely have done it. The long Elbe tunnel is also impressive and an amazing thing to do in Hamburg!

On the other end, you can take a walk with a view of the city.

15. Deichstraße

Deichstraße is the last testimony of old houses in Hamburg
The Hamburg Deichstraße is the last testimony of old houses in Hamburg and is a great thing to do!

When I turn into Deichstraße (dike street), I am immediately fascinated. Small, cute houses are suddenly in front of me. Old pulleys still hang from the tops of the roofs. This street is the last preserved ensemble of old Hamburg burgher houses and one of the few small, secret places in Hamburg.

The Deichstraße is located in the district Altstadt directly at the Nikolaifleet. You can get there directly from Willy-Brandt-Straße to the Kajen.

More tips and sights

A beautiful sight on the Elbe is the Elbe beach west of the fish market. Here you can go swimming in the summer or just relax. The sand is beautifully white and invites you to swim. Many Hamburgers have their own boats and go to secluded places on Sundays.

The Hagenbeck Zoo is also one of the most popular attractions in Hamburg. A completely different sight is the Ohlsdorf Cemetery, the largest park cemetery in the world and also Hamburg’s largest green space.

Art lovers should stop by either the Hamburger Kunsthalle with its important art collections or the Deichtorhallen with contemporary art and photography. Chocolate lovers, however, are well catered for at the Chocoversum by Hachez.

Houses in the Treppenviertel in Blankenese
The Treppenviertel in Blankenese is a paradise for children. In addition to delicious hot chocolate at the countless kiosks, there is much to discover here
Biggi at the beach in Blankenese
In the Treppenviertel you will find so much sand that you can build sandcastles all day long

Finally, I can recommend the Blankenese district. This is an affluent residential area on the Elbe, which grew out of a former fishing village. Among others, Rolf Zuckowski and Otto Waalkes live here today. The former village center has become today’s Treppenviertel (staircase district) (Google Maps), which can be explored virtually only on foot on more than 5000 steps. A walk on foot is worth it!

Musical secret tips in Hamburg

The Lion King is not a secret tip in the musical city but should still be mentioned at least once as Hamburg’s most famous production. A very special highlight: a shuttle ship takes you from the Landungsbrücken to the Stage Theater in Hamburg Harbor.

Right next to it is the musical building The Ice Queen. The Disney play is also performed at the Theater an der Elbe. Experience how Princess Elsa saves the kingdom of Arendelle from disappearing into the eternal ice. Here, too, you can expect enchanting costumes and great songs.

But the play Harry Potter and the Enchanted Child should not be missing from the list of the best experiences for children in Hamburg. It takes place in Mehr! Theater am Großmarkt in Hamburg. The play has already been successfully performed in London, New York, and Melbourne. Extra tip: You’ll also find the Wizarding World Shop by Thalia in the Thalia bookstore right next to the main train station.

Other well-known plays currently being performed in Hamburg include Pretty Woman, Wicked, and Mamma Mia!

A real insider tip, however, is the musical Heiße Ecke at Schmidts Tivoli in St. Pauli. It’s about a snack bar on the Reeperbahn – so it’s a real Hamburg production!

Where to stay in Hamburg – the best hotel tips

Some exclusive hotel tips were already hidden in this article, like The Westin Hamburg (check prices here*) in the Elbphilharmonie or the Mövenpick Hotel in the Schanzenturm (check prices here*). The Hotel Atlantic Kempinski (check prices here*), where Udo Lindenberg has been staying since the mid-90s, is also extremely stylish.

The 4-star Hotel Boston HH (check prices here*) in Altona-Nord is also a great choice and even has a small wellness area. Also scoring 4 stars is The Suites Rainvilleterrasse (check prices here*), which is made up of six accommodations, each with its own balcony.

In the Speicherstadt and Hafencity is the modern and extremely stylish PierDrei Hotel (check prices here*). The Hotel Volksschule (check prices here*) offers a truly unusual concept, as it is actually housed in the brick building of a former school.

Hamburg’s traditional hotel Louis C. Jacob (check prices here*) is our very special hotel tip.

Breakfast room Hotel Louis C. Jacob
Our tip: The Hotel Louis C. Jacob
Rooms at the Louis C. Jacob
The rooms are nobly furnished and leave nothing to be desired

The Studio Feuerfest (check prices here*) near the Stadtpark is an excellent guesthouse with a terrace, communal kitchen, and lounge. The private room All you need – Room (check prices here*) also convinces with excellent reviews.

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