Hamburg - Fodor's Germany - Fodor's

Fodor's Germany - Fodor's (2016)


Welcome to Hamburg

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Top Reasons to Go | Getting Oriented | What’s Where | Planning | German Coffee and Cake

Updated by Jeff Kavanagh and Tania Ralli

Frequently described as “the gateway to the world” by its proud citizens, the handsome port city of Hamburg has for centuries welcomed merchants, traders, and sailors to a rich assortment of grand hotels, fine restaurants, and, yes, seedy bars and brothels.

This vibrant, affluent city’s success began with its role as a founding member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval alliance of northern European cities that once dominated the shipping trade in the North and Baltic Seas. To this day, the city is known as “the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg,” reflecting both its association with the league and its status as an independent city-state.

Shipping continues to be a major industry. Straddling the mighty Elbe River, more than 100 km (62 miles) inland from the North Sea, Hamburg’s inner city harbor is the third-biggest port in Europe. The city is now also one of Germany’s major media hubs, serving as headquarters for the publishing giants Axel Springer, Grüner + Jahr, and Bau Verlag; and for such influential publications as Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, and Stern.

The profits of these endeavors are apparent throughout Hamburg, from its imposing neo-Renaissance town hall, to the multitude of luxury boutiques studding the adjacent Neuerwall, to the Elbchaussee, a long, leafy stretch of road lined with Hollywood-like mansions and overlooking the Elbe. Hamburg has more millionaires per capita than any other German city.

Like many other of the country’s urban centers, however, the city has suffered a tumultuous history. Since its founding as “Hammaburg” in 811, Hamburg has been destroyed by Vikings, burned down by Poles, and occupied by Danish and French armies. The Great Fire of 1842 devastated much of its commercial center, and in 1943 the Allied Forces’ Operation Gomorrah bombing raids and the resulting firestorms left 40,000 people dead and large swaths of Hamburg in ruins.

Scars from World War II still remain, and you need only walk down a residential street to see the plain, functional apartment buildings that were built to replace those destroyed by bombs. There are also frequent reminders of the terrible fate suffered by Hamburg’s Jews, and others considered enemies of the state during this time. Memorials in HafenCity and near Dammtor train station mark where those persecuted by Nazis were deported to concentration camps. As part of a Germany-wide project, small brass plaques set into sidewalks outside apartment buildings commemorate former residents executed by the regime.

Modern-day Hamburg is a progressive city endowed with attractive architecture, cultural diversity, and liberal attitudes. It’s notable for its parks and trees and a pair of beautiful inner city lakes, but it’s famous for its enormous red-light party district, which fans off from the seamy, neon-lit Reeperbahn. Shabby but chic quarters such as St. Pauli and the Schanzenviertel are as beloved by locals as the affluent Blankenese and Eppendorf, and the city’s annual schedule of spring and summer festivals has enough room for a huge gay-pride parade in the middle of town, as well as a celebration of Hafengeburtstag—the harbor’s birthday.

As you’d expect in such a wealthy city, Hamburg has more than its share of world-class museums and art galleries, as well as an assortment of grand theaters and music venues, an opera company, and an internationally renowned ballet company. Not content to rest on its laurels, the city is also steaming ahead with the ambitious HafenCity, an urban-renewal project that has transformed a significant section of the city’s port front. The Elbphilharmonie—a futuristic concert hall that the city hopes will become as iconic as the Sydney Opera House—is to be its centerpiece.


Alster cruises: Marvel at the luxurious villas gracing the shores of the Alster lakes and its canals while relaxing with a Glühwein (mulled wine) or cool beer and listening to tidbits of trivia about the city.

Hamburger Kunsthalle and the Deichtorhallen: Spend an afternoon admiring the fantastic art collections at two of Germany’s leading galleries of modern art.

Historic harbor district: Travel back in time and walk the quaint cobblestone alleys around Deichstrasse and the Speicherstadt.

Retail therapy: Indulge your inner shopper as you weave your way through the streets behind the elegant Jungfernstieg, amble up and down Mönckebergstrasse, stroll through Altona and the Schanzenviertel, and end the afternoon at one of the quarters’ funky cafés.

Sin City: Adventure along the Reeperbahn, browse its quirky sex shops, and dive into the nightlife of Europe’s biggest party district.


The second-largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg sits on northern Germany’s fertile lowlands, within easy reach of the North and Baltic seas. A city-state of 1.8 million inhabitants, Hamburg covers an area of 755 square km (291 square miles), making it one of the least densely populated cities to have more than a million inhabitants. Taking up much of that space are its many parks and trees; it’s also centered on two major bodies of water. The Elbe River is the site of the city’s busy port, and it’s near some of its most colorful quarters. The inner and outer Alster lakes, meanwhile, are encircled by Hamburg’s downtown, and a cluster of upscale neighborhoods. It’s here, somewhere between the commerce of the river and the tranquility of the lakes, that visitors to the city tend to spend most of their time.


Altstadt and Neustadt. Together, the “Old Town” and “New Town” make up the Innenstadt, or inner city. Humming with locals and tourists on Saturday afternoons and public holidays, the center of town is the place to come for shopping, culture, and snaps in front of the Inner Alster lake and town hall.

St.Pauli and Schanzenviertel. An entertainment district since the 17th century, St. Pauli continues to draw fun seekers and night owls to its massive red-light and party district. Just down the road, the Schanzenviertel is filled with little shops and chilled-out cafés.

St. Georg. The center of Hamburg’s gay and lesbian scene and also home to a large Turkish community, St. Georg is an intriguing mix of affluence, relaxed attitudes, and cultures. It’s also full of many nice little shops and cafés.

Speicherstadt and HafenCity. The old and the new are both part of Hamburg’s inner city port, with formidable 19th-century redbrick warehouses at the UNESCO-listed Speicherstadt and state-of-the-art riverside apartment and office complexes at HafenCity.

Altona and Ottensen. These former working-class areas are now particularly desirable places to live and visit. Many of the old buildings and factories have been refurbished to accommodate fancy restaurants, art-house movie theaters, and design hotels.

Blankenese and Beyond. Many of Hamburg’s outlying suburbs have their own distinct atmosphere and feel—none more so than the elegant riverside neighborhood of Blankenese, which some locals compare to the French and Italian rivieras.



Known for its long, gray winters, Hamburg is frequently treated to a pleasant spring come late March or early April. Once the weather warms, the city’s mood visibly improves. One of the highlights of the season is Hafengeburtstag, in early May, when the Elbe comes alive with a long parade of ships and riverside festivities.

Summer may be the best time of the year to visit. Temperatures rarely exceed the mid-80s, and the days are long, with the sun rising at around 5 am and light still in the sky till after 10 pm. Tables outside cafés and bars fill up with alfresco diners and drinkers; plumes of smoke rise from grills in parks and beaches along the Elbe. From mid-June to August, the Schlemmersommer (Gourmet Summer) comes to tempt food lovers. During this time, more than 100 restaurants throughout the city, including a number of award winners, offer multicourse dinners for two for €64.

September and October are usually good months to visit, despite the fact that October can often be quite cold and wet. September’s Reeperbahn Festival is great for music fans hoping to see the next big thing, and Hamburg’s small but popular film festival (held the same month) usually attracts one or two of the leading lights of European and world cinema.

The mercury drops quickly once the clocks go back an hour at the end of October. Happily, Christmas markets selling Glühwein begin to spring up on street corners and in public squares around the last week of November, and many continue on to Silvester (New Year’s Eve). December, despite temperatures frequently dropping below zero, is a fun time to visit the city. January and February, however, are quiet and fairly uneventful.


Historischer Weihnachtsmarkt.
Hamburg’s Historischer Weihnachtsmarkt enjoys a spectacular backdrop—the city’s Gothic town hall. The market’s stalls are filled with rows of candy apples, chocolates, and doughnuts. Woodcarvers from Tyrol, bakers from Aachen, and gingerbread makers from Nürnberg (Nuremberg) come to sell their wares. And in an appearance arranged by the circus company Roncalli, Santa Claus ho-ho-hos his way along a tightwire high above the market every evening at 4, 6, and 8. | Rathausmarkt 1, Altstadt | | Nov. 23-Dec. 23, Sun.-Thurs. 11-9, Fri. and Sat. 11-10 | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn).


Hamburg Airport is 8 km (5 miles) northwest of the city. S-bahn line No. 1 runs about every 10 minutes from the airport to Hamburg’s main station (Hauptbahnhof) on its way to Altona. The trip takes 25 minutes, and tickets are €3.10. A taxi to the center of the city (Alstadt and Neustadt) will cost about €25. If you’re driving a rental car from the airport, follow the signs to “Zentrum” (Center). TIP There is an Edeka supermarket on the arrivals level between Terminal 1 and 2. It’s a bit smaller than a full-size German supermarket and the prices are a bit higher than they would be in town. However, it is a great place to pick up some snacks or drinks for your hotel room or some food for an extended journey.

Airport Information
Hamburg Airport. | Flughafenstr. 1-3 | 040/50750 |


The HVV, Hamburg’s public transportation system, includes the U-bahn (subway), the S-bahn (commuter train), ferries, buses, and express buses (which cost an additional €1.90). Distance determines fares; a single trip costs €3.10 for longer journeys (such as the airport into Hamburg’s main station); €2.10 for shorter distances (for instance, from St. Pauli or Altona into the center of town); and €1.50 if you’re only traveling a couple of stops. If you’re planning to make multiple trips about the city, then you may want to get the Tageskarte, or day pass, which for an adult and three children under 15 costs €7.50 when purchased before 9 am and €6 after that. An €11.20 Gruppenkarte is the best option for those traveling in a group. A group of five adults can use this card after 9 am on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Tickets and passes are available on all buses and from vending machines in every U- or S-bahn station. HVV is partially based on the honor system. You only need to show a ticket to the bus driver after 9 pm and all day on Sunday, but not on trains or ferries unless asked by a ticket inspector during random checks. Those caught without a ticket are fined €60 on the spot. Subway and commuter trains run throughout the night on weekends, but stop running around 12:30 am during the week. After that, night buses (Nos. 600-688) take over.

Information is available in English on the HVV website. The trip planner function gives the times, prices, walking directions, and maps for each journey. If you don’t know the address of a site, you can simply type in the name of the popular destination, such as “Hamburg airport.” Prepared commuters can buy tickets and passes from the website and print them out, or use HVV’s smart-phone app

Don’t be afraid to take the bus. Buses have dedicated traffic lanes, and most of their stops aren’t too close together, so travel tends to be fast. It’s a good way to see more of this beautiful city.

Hamburg’s intercity bus station, the Zentral-Omnibus-Bahnhof (ZOB), is located diagonally across from the south exit of the main train station.

HVV (Hamburg Transportation Association). | Johanniswall 2, Altstadt | 040/19449 | | Station: Steinstrasse (U-bahn).
Zentral-Omnibus-Bahnhof (ZOB). | Adenauerallee 78, St. Georg | 040/247-576 |


With its popular public transportation system, Hamburg is easier to negotiate by car than many other German cities, and traffic here is relatively free-flowing outside of rush hours. Several autobahns (A-1, A-7, A-23, A-24, and A-250) connect with Hamburg’s three beltways, which then lead to the downtown area. Follow the “Zentrum” (Center) signs.


Taxi meters start at €3.20, then add €2.35 per km for the first 4 km (2½ miles); €2.10 per km for the next 5 km (3 miles); and €1.45 per km after that. You can hail taxis on the street, outside subway and train stations, and at popular locations (like along Mönckebergstrasse). You can also order one by phone or online.

Taxi Information
Hansa-Taxi. | Hamburg | 040/211-211 |


Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Hamburg Main Station) is the city’s central hub for local, regional, long-distance, and international trains. InterCity Express (ICE) trains going to and from Basel, Stuttgart, and Munich all start and terminate in Hamburg-Altona, and pass through Hauptbahnhof and Dammtor stations on the way.

Train Information
Deutsche Bahn. | Hamburg | 0180/699-6633 |


Hamburg Tourismus (Hamburg Tourism Office) has several outlets around the city. The main office is in the Hauptbahnhof and is open Monday to Saturday 9-7, Sunday 10-6. The airport branch is open from 6:30 am to 11 pm daily and sits on the departure level between Terminals 1 and 2. At the harbor there’s an office at the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken, between Piers 4 and 5, open 9-6 Sunday to Wednesday, and 9-7 Thursday to Saturday. All tourist offices can help with accommodations, and there’s a central call-in booking office for hotel and ticket reservations and general information, the Hamburg-Hotline.

Visitor Information
Hamburg Tourismus Main Office. | Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Hachmannpl. 16, Altstadt | 040/3005-1701 hotline | | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-Bahn and S-Bahn).


Boat Tours

There are few better ways to get to know the city than by taking a trip on its waters. Alster Touristik, Rainer Abicht, Kapitän Prüsse, and Maritime Circle Line offer a wide variety of tour options, or you can simply take the HADAG ferry for great harbor views.

TIP An HVV public transport day pass is valid for trips on the No. 62 HADAG ferry between Landungsbrücken Pier 1 and Finkenwerder, a suburb on the south side of the Elbe river. There’s no commentary on the ferry, but on a fine day the top deck’s a great spot to watch ships sailing in and out of the harbor, and for superb views of the city from the river.

Alster Touristik.
This company operates a variety of picturesque boat trips around the Alster lakes and through the canals, leaving from a small dock at the Jungfernstieg. The one-hour round-trip Alster cruise leaves every half hour, daily 10-6 April-early October and at 10 and 5, plus every half hour 11-4 until the end of October. The Winter Warmer Trip, November through March, offers hot chocolate and Glühwein (for an additional charge) several times a day. You can also get a two-hour twilight tour through the canals from Jungfernstieg to the bucolic Harvestehude neighborhood May through August, and also into the waters around the historic warehouse district in September. The tour starts at 8 pm. A two-hour Speicherstadt canal tour runs April-October daily at 10:45, 1:45, and 4:45. Audio guides in English are available for all tours. | 040/357-4240 | | €15 for Alster cruise; €21 for twilight and Speicherstadt canal tours | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Harbor ferries offer an inexpensive way to get out on the water. Either take one of the scheduled ferries, or opt for the harbor tour or one of the hop-on, hop-off cruises. | 040/311-7070 | | From €1.50.

Kapitän Prüsse.
Every day of the year, Kapitän Prüsse offers cruises around the Elbe harbor that last 60-90 minutes. These include a night cruise that leaves between 6 and 9 pm (depending on the time of year) from Pier 3. | 040/313-130 | | From €18 | Station: Hamburg Landungsbrücken (S-bahn).

Maritime Circle Line.
The Maritime Circle Line tours major attractions on the Elbe. Passengers embark at St Pauli Landungsbrücken Pier 10 and can hop on and hop off at a number of stops including BallinStadt, Hamburg Harbor Museum, HafenCity, and the historic ship MV Cap San Diego. The tours run every two hours daily from 11 to 3, April through October, and every two hours from 11 to 3 on weekends, November to March. Tickets, which can be bought at the pier or online, include discounts at all the venues. | Landungsbrücke 10, St. Pauli | 040/2849-3963 | | €16 | Station: Hamburg Landungsbrücken (S-bahn).

Rainer Abicht.
One-hour tours of the harbor with commentary in English are offered aboard one of Rainer Abicht’s small fleet of boats, which include its famous Louisiana Star riverboat. The tours leave every day at midday from April until October from Landungsbrücken Pier 4. | 040/317-8220 | | €18 | Station: Hamburg Landungsbrücken (S-bahn).

Orientation Tours

Hamburger Stadtrundfahrt.
Sightseeing bus tours of the city, all with guides, who rapidly narrate in both English and German, leave from Kirchenallee by the main train station. A 90-minute bus tour sets off at varying times daily and one of the bus tours can be combined with a one-hour boat trip on the harbor. Departure times for tours vary according to season. There’s also a hop-on, hop-off service that runs daily, every 20 or 30 minutes, from 9:30 to 5, April through October; hourly Monday to Thursday 10-4, every half hour Friday to Sunday, 9:30-4, November through March. | 040/792-8979 | | €17.50; €30 for combined bus and boat trip; €30 day pass for hop-on, hop-off service | Station: Hauptbahnhof Sud (U-bahn).

Walking Tours

A great way to learn more about the city while also getting some exercise is on a walking tour. There are plenty of tours to choose from, although many only run from April through November. In addition to guided walks of the Altstadt and Neustadt, the harbor district, HafenCity, and St. Pauli, there are also themed excursions, such as Beatles tours and a red-light walking tour of the Reeperbahn. To find a guided walk in English, contact Hamburg Tourismus, the tourist office (


Hamburg’s almost custom-made for a long-weekend visit. Its airport is less than half an hour by train or taxi from the city center; it has an efficient and extensive public transportation system; taxis are reasonably priced and plentiful; and the city’s flat terrain is perfectly suited to walking and cycling. Exploring the Altstadt and Neustadt areas, where Hamburg’s Rathaus (Town Hall), the Alster lakes, the Kunsthalle and Deichtorhallen galleries, and a number of the city’s churches are all within a short stroll of one another, can easily fill a day and night—particularly if you throw in some shopping, and then dinner in nearby St. Georg. Another day can be spent wandering the harbor, taking a cruise, and perhaps bicycling around the Speicherstadt and HafenCity, followed by a night out in St. Pauli or the Schanzenviertel. A less vigorous day’s activities might include brunch in a café in Altona, lunch and a riverside walk in Blankenese, and some dinner back in Ottensen.


Hamburg is one of Germany’s most expensive cities, but the several citywide deals can make attractions more affordable.

The Hamburg Card allows unlimited travel on all public transportation (including express buses) within Hamburg and more than 150 discounts at many of the city’s museums, cruises, restaurants, and stores. A one-day card, which is valid until 6 am the following day, costs €9.50 for one adult and up to three children under 15. The three-day card will set you back €24.50. A Gruppenkarte costs €16.50 for one day, €41.50 for three days, and covers five people. The Hamburg Card is available from HVV buses, vending machines, and service centers; tourist offices; and many hotels and hostels; as well as online at and


When the afternoon rolls around, it’s time for Kaffee und Kuchen, one of Germany’s most beloved traditions. In villages and cities alike, patrons still stroll into their favorite Konditorei (pastry shop) for a leisurely cup of coffee and slice of cake.

The tradition stretches back hundreds of years, when coffee beans were first imported to Germany in the 17th century. Coffee quickly became the preferred hot drink of the aristocracy, who paired it with cake, their other favorite indulgence. In time, the afternoon practice trickled down to the bourgeoisie, and was heartily embraced. Now everyone can partake in the tradition.

There are hundreds of German cakes, many of which are regional and seasonal with an emphasis on fresh fruits in summer, and spiced cakes in winter. Due to modern work schedules, not as many Germans take a daily coffee and cake break anymore. Families will have theirs at home on the weekend, and it’s often an occasion for a starched tablecloth, the best china, and candles.


Seek out the most old-fashioned shops, as these tend to have the best cakes. Check out what’s in the glass case, since most Konditorein don’t have printed menus. Don’t worry about a language barrier—when it comes time to order, just point to the cake of your choice.


Frankfurter Kranz

The Frankfurter Kranz, or Frankfurt wreath, is a butter cake flavored with lemon zest and a touch of rum. It’s then split into three layers and spread with fillings of buttercream and red preserves. The cake’s exterior is generously coated with crunchy cookie crumbs or toasted nuts, and each slice is graced with a swirl of buttercream frosting and a bright red cherry.


Of all cakes, the Gugelhupf has the most distinctive shape, one that you’ll likely recognize as a bundt cake. It tends to be more popular in southern Germany. Gugelhupf had its start as a bready yeast cake, studded with raisins and citrus peel, but today you’re just as likely to have it as a marble cake. During the Biedermeier period, in the early 19th century, the wealthy middle class regarded the Gugelhupf as a status symbol.


A layer cake of dark chocolate, Herrentorte means “gentleman’s cake.” It’s not as sweet or creamy as most layer cakes, and thus meant to appeal to a man’s palate. A Torte refers to a fancier layered cake, as opposed to the more humble Kuchen, which is more rustic. The Herrentorte has a rich and refined taste—in Germany, all chocolate is required to have a high cocoa content, improving its overall taste and texture.


Mohnkuchen is a poppy seed cake—in fact, this is a cake so completely brimming with poppy seeds you could mistake it for a piece of chocolate cake. You’ll come across it as a tall wedge, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or a fat square glazed with a lick of icing. The poppy seeds are mixed with sugar, butter, and sometimes milk. Lightly crushed they make for a very moist filling.


This cake became especially popular in the 19th century, in Prussia. Owing to its versatility, you’ll find it today all over Germany. The simple, buttery yeast cake’s selling point is its sugary, crunchy topping of pebbled Streusel, which can stand on its own or be combined with rhubarb, apricots, cherries, apples, or other fruit. Streuselkuchen is baked on large sheet pans and cut into generous squares

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Exploring Hamburg

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Altstadt and Neustadt | St. Pauli and Schanzenviertel | St. Georg | Speicherstadt and HafenCity | Altona and Ottensen | Blankenese and Elsewhere

Despite being a large, sprawling city that covers almost as much ground as Berlin, Hamburg feels a lot more compact. The bulk of its major attractions and sights are between the Alster lakes to the north and the city’s harbor and the Elbe River to the south. At the center of the city are the Altstadt and Neustadt—the city’s historical core. East of the Altstadt is St. Georg, a major gay neighborhood. To the west of the Neustadt lie the nightlife district of St. Pauli and its neighbor the Schanzenviertel, while farther down the river are the more multicultural areas of Altona and Ottensen, and the quaint settlement of Blankenese. Just south of the Altstadt are the port-side districts of the Speicherstadt and the HafenCity.


Divided by the Binnenalster (inner Alster lake) and the Kleine Alster canal, the Altstadt (Old Town) and Neustadt (New Town) form the heart of Hamburg’s Innenstadt (Inner City).


Stretching from Hauptbahnhof to Hamburg’s town hall and down to the canals of the Speicherstadt and the Elbe, the Altstadt was heavily bombed during World War II (as was the Neustadt). Much of its splendor was restored during the postwar reconstruction of the city. Sprinkled between its office blocks and modern department stores are a number of majestic churches, handsome museums, and stately government buildings.

Getting Here and Around

The best way to get to the center of the Altstadt is to take the U-bahn or S-bahn to the Hauptbahnhof or the U-bahn stations of Mönckebergstrasse and Rathaus. Once here, most of the sights and attractions are within an easy walk of each other.


If you plan four hours for visits to the museums and the Rathaus and two more hours for a boat tour on the Alster lakes, you’ll comfortably end up spending a full day here.

Top Attractions

Fodor’s Choice | Alster Lakes.
The twin lakes of the Binnenalster (Inner Alster) and Aussenalster (Outer Alster) provide Hamburg with some of its most celebrated vistas. The two lakes meet at the Lombardsbrücke and Kennedybrücke (Lombard and Kennedy bridges). The boat landing at the Jungfernstieg, below the Alsterpavillon, is the starting point for lake and canal cruises. Small sailboats and rowboats, rented from yards on the shores of the Alster, are very much a part of the summer scene.

Every Hamburger dreams of living within sight of the Alster, but only the wealthiest can afford it. Those that can’t still have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the waterfront, however, and the outer Alster is ringed by 7 km (4½ miles) of tree-lined public pathways. TIP Popular among joggers, these paths are also a lovely place for a stroll. | Altstadt | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Chilehaus (Chile House).
Almost 5 million bricks went into the construction of this marvelous building at the heart of the Kontorhausviertel, a collection of handsome office buildings that were built in the 1920-40s and now, together with the nearby Speicherstadt, form a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in a brick expressionist style in 1924 for expat Brit Henry Brarens Sloman, who emigrated to Chile from Hamburg as a young man, made a considerable fortune trading saltpeter and returned to the city to make his mark, the Chilehaus stands 10 stories high, its impressive, jutting tip resembling the prow of a ship. Still a home to business offices, it also counts a number of small cafés and shops, and a bar as residents, and is well worth a visit, particularly at night when illuminated. | Fischertwiete 2, Altstadt | Station: Messberg (U-bahn), Mönckebergstrasse (U-Bahn).

QUICK BITES: Alt Hamburger Aalspeicher.
The Alt Hamburger Aalspeicher specializes in fish dishes, including Hamburg’s famous Aalsuppe (a clear broth with a variety of vegetables, seafood, and meat—basically everything that is leftover). Over time the Low German word for everything—all—became mistaken for the word for eel (aal) , so some restaurants make eel the focus, while others stick with creating their own versions of the soup. | Deichstr. 43, Altstadt | 040/362-990 | | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Deichstrasse.
The oldest residential area in the Old Town of Hamburg now consists of lavishly restored houses from the 17th through the 19th century. Many of the original, 14th-century houses on Deichstrasse were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1842, which broke out in No. 38 and left approximately 20,000 people homeless; only a few of the early dwellings escaped its ravages. These days the narrow cobblestone street is flanked by a number of lovely little restaurants specializing in fish or German cuisine, which have taken residence inside its historic buildings. | Altstadt | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn).

Hamburger Kunsthalle.
One of the most important art museums in Germany, the Kunsthalle has 3,500 paintings, 650 sculptures, and a coin and medal collection that includes exhibits from the ancient Roman era. In the postmodern, cube-shaped building designed by Berlin architect O. M. Ungers, the Galerie der Gegenwart has housed a collection of international modern art since 1960, including works by Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz, and David Hockney. With 1,200 drawings and other works, graphic art is well represented, including works by Pablo Picasso and Horst Janssen, a Hamburg artist famous for his satirical worldview. In the other areas of the museum, you can view works by local artists dating from the 16th century. The outstanding collection of German Romantic paintings includes pieces by Caspar David Friedrich. Paintings by Holbein, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Tiepolo, and Canaletto are also on view, while late-19th-century impressionism is represented by works by Leibl, Liebermann, Manet, Monet, and Renoir. | Glockengiesserwall, Altstadt | 040/4281-31200 | | €12 | Tues., Wed., and Fri.-Sun. 10-6, Thurs. 10-9 | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

This broad street of shops, which cuts through the city’s Altstadt, is Hamburg’s major thoroughfare. Built between 1908 and 1911 to connect the main train station to the town hall, but only open to taxis and buses, the street is perfect for a stroll. Home to the Karstadt and Galeria Kaufhof department stores, electronics megastore Saturn, as well as a host of global brand stores from Adidas to Zara, it swells with local and out-of-town shoppers on Saturday and public holidays. The best cafés and restaurants tend to be found on side streets off Mönckebergstrasse, where the rents for shop space are generally not as high. | Altstadt | Station: Mönckebergstrasse (U-bahn), Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn), Jungfernstieg (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Rathaus (Town Hall).
To most Hamburgers this impressive neo-Renaissance building is the symbolic heart of the city. The seat of the city’s Senate (state government) and Bürgerschaft (parliament), it was constructed between 1886 and 1897, with 647 rooms and an imposing clock tower. Along with much of the city center, the Rathaus was heavily damaged during World War II, but was faithfully restored to its original beauty in the postwar years, and it’s now one of the most photographed sights in Hamburg. The 40-minute tours of the building begin in the ground floor Rathausdiele, a vast pillared hall. Although visitors are only shown the state rooms, their tapestries, glittering chandeliers, coffered ceilings, and grand portraits give you a sense of the city’s great wealth in the 19th century and the Town Hall’s status as an object of civic pride. Outside, the Rathausmarkt (Town Hall Square) is the site of regular festivals and events, including the annual Stuttgarter Wine Festival and the city’s biggest Christmas market. | Rathausmarkt, Altstadt | 040/42831-2064 | | €4 | Daily tours in English at 10:15, 1:15, and 3:15 | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn), Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

St. Jacobi Kirche (St. James’s Church).
This 15th-century church was almost completely destroyed during World War II. Only the interiors survived, and reconstruction was completed in 1963. The interior is not to be missed—it houses such treasures as a massive baroque organ and three Gothic altars from the 15th and 16th centuries. | Jacobikirchhof 22 at Steinstr., Altstadt | 040/303-7370 | | Apr.-Sept., Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. after service; Oct.-Mar., Mon.-Sat. 11-5, Sun. after service. German guided tours: 1st Tues. of month at 12:45; 1st Sat. at 2 and 3; 3rd Fri. at 12:30. English guided tours available on request by emailing ahead of time | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn), Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

St. Petri Kirche (St. Peter’s Church).
This church was created in 1195 and has been in continuous use since then. St. Petri is the only one of the five main churches in Hamburg that came out of World War II relatively undamaged. The current building was built in 1849, after the previous building burned down in the Great Fire of 1842. Every Wednesday at 5:15 pm is the Stunde der Kirchenmusik, an hour of liturgical organ music . | Bei der Petrikirche 2, Altstadt | 040/325-7400 | | Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. 10-6:30, Wed. 10-7, Sat. 10-5, Sun. 9-8. Tower Mon.-Sat. 11-4:30, Sun. 11:30-4:30. Tours 1st Thurs. of month at 12:30; 3rd Thurs. at 3; and 1st Sun. at 11:30 | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn), Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Worth Noting

A pair of large markets built in 1911-12, not far from the main train station, now house two of Germany’s largest exhibition halls for contemporary art and photography. One of the Deichtorhallen’s modern, airy interiors resembles an oversized loft space, and its changing exhibits have presented the works of such artists as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Miró. The halls also accommodate the Fillet of Soul restaurant. | Deichtorstr. 1-2, Altstadt | 040/321-030 | | €10 | Tues.-Sun. 11-6 | Station: Steinstrasse (U-bahn).

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station).
This central train station’s cast-iron-and-glass architecture evokes the grandiose self-confidence of imperial Germany. The chief feature of the enormous 680-foot-long structure is its 446-foot-wide glazed roof. One of the largest structures of its kind in Europe, it’s remarkably spacious and bright inside. Though completed in 1906 and having gone through many modernizations, it continues to have tremendous architectural impact. Today it sees a heavy volume of international, national, and suburban rail traffic. | Hachmannpl. 16, Altstadt | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

QUICK BITES: Das Kontor.
Seasonal dishes such as plaice in spring and game in winter are served at this inviting Hamburg tavern. You could also head here for some of the city’s best fried potatoes and traditional desserts. | Deichstr. 32,Altstadt | 040/371-471 | | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn).

Mahnmal St. Nikolai (St. Nicholas Memorial).
Originally erected in 1195 and destroyed by fire in 1842, the church was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style, before it burned down again during the air raids of World War II. Today, the remains of the church serve as a memorial for the victims of war and persecution from 1933 to 1945. The memorial features an exhibition on the air raids and the destruction of Hamburg and other European cities. A glass elevator on the outside of the building takes visitors 250 feet up to the steeple, which offers magnificent views of the surrounding historic streets. Lectures, film screenings, panel discussions, and concerts also take place at the memorial. | Willy-Brandt-Str. 60 at Hopfenmarkt, Altstadt | 040/371-125 | | €5 | Apr.-Sept., daily 10-6; Oct.-Mar., daily 10-5 | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn).

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (Arts and Crafts Museum).
The museum houses a wide range of exhibits, from 15th- to 18th-century scientific instruments to an art nouveau interior complete with ornaments and furnishings. It was built in 1876 as a combination museum and school. Its founder, Justus Brinckmann, intended it to be a bastion of the applied arts that would counter what he saw as a decline in taste owing to industrial mass production. A keen collector, Brinckmann amassed a wealth of unusual objects, including ceramics from around the world. | Steintorpl., Altstadt | 040/4281-34880 | | €10; €7 Thurs. after 5 | Tues., Wed., and Fri.-Sun. 11-6, Thurs. 11-9 | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

St. Katharinen Kirche (St. Katharine’s Church).
Founded in 1250 and completed in 1660, this house of worship was severely damaged during World War II, but has since been carefully reconstructed. The interior was once dotted with plaques honoring different people, but only two of the epitaphs remain. | Katharinenkirchhof 1, Altstadt | near Speicherstadt | 040/3037-4730 | | Weekdays 10-5, weekends 11-5 | Station:Messberg (U-bahn), Brandstwiete (Bus 3, 4, and 6).


To the west of the Altstadt, and bordered by the Aussenalster (outer Alster) to the north and the Elbe to the south, lies the Neustadt. The area dates back to the 17th century, when a second wall was built to protect the city during the Thirty Years’ War. These days, the Neustadt is more or less indistinguishable from its older neighbor. Similarly blessed with a number of stunning buildings, including those that line the pretty lakeside promenade of Jungfernsteig, the Neustadt is also famed for its wealth of shopping opportunities.

Getting Here and Around

The Neustadt is served by a number of U-bahn stops, but Gänsemarkt or Jungfernstieg are the most central. Hamburg’s downtown area isn’t particularly large, and strolling to Jungfernstieg from the main train station via Mönckebergstrasse won’t take much more than 10 minutes, assuming it’s not a Saturday or during the school holidays.


Shoppers could easily while away a day here, perusing the boutiques of Neuerwall and the Alsterhaus department store, with stops for refreshments along the way. For those more interested in sightseeing, a visit to the Hamburg Museum, followed by a look around St. Michaelis church and the Krameramtswohnungen, and then a wander down the hill to the Portugiesenviertel for something to eat could also take the best part of a day.

Getting Here and Around

The Neustadt is served by a number of U-bahn stops, but Gänsemarkt or Jungfernstieg are the most central. Hamburg’s downtown area isn’t particularly large, and strolling to Jungfernstieg from the main train station via Mönckebergstrasse won’t take much more than 10 minutes, assuming it’s not a Saturday or during the school holidays.

Top Attractions

This wide promenade looking out over the Alster lakes is the beginning of the city’s premier shopping district. Laid out in 1665, it used to be part of a muddy millrace that channeled water into the Elbe. Hidden from view behind the sedate facade of Jungfernstieg is a network of several small shopping centers that together account for almost a mile of shops selling everything from souvenirs to haute couture. Many of these passages have sprung up in the past two decades, but some have been here since the 19th century; the first glass-covered arcade, called Sillem’s Bazaar, was built in 1845. | Neustadt | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

This elegant street lies steps away from the site of the former city wall, and is of great historical interest. At No. 35-39, for example, is a replica of the baroque facade of the Beylingstift complex, built in 1751. The composer Johannes Brahms’s former home, now a museum in his honor, is at No. 39. All the buildings in the area have been painstakingly designed to follow the style of the original buildings, thanks largely to nonprofit foundations. | Neustadt | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | St. Michaelis Kirche (St. Michael’s Church).
The Michel, as it’s called locally, is Hamburg’s principal church and northern Germany’s finest baroque-style ecclesiastical building. Its first incarnation, built between 1649 and 1661 (the tower followed in 1669), was razed after lightning struck almost a century later. It was rebuilt between 1750 and 1786 in the decorative Nordic baroque style, but was gutted by a terrible fire in 1906. The replica, completed in 1912, was demolished during World War II and the present church is a reconstruction.

The distinctive 436-foot brick-and-iron tower bears the largest tower clock in Germany, 26 feet in diameter. Just above the clock is a viewing platform (accessible by elevator or stairs) that affords a magnificent panorama of the city, the Elbe River, and the Alster lakes. Twice a day, at 10 am and 9 pm (Sunday at noon), a watchman plays a trumpet solo from the tower platform. In the crypt a 30-minute movie about the 1,000-year history of Hamburg and its churches is shown.

For a great view of Hamburg’s skyline, head to the clock tower at night. In the evenings you can sip a complimentary soft drink while listening to classical music in a room just below the tower. This is usually held from 5:30 to 11 pm: check to confirm times. | Englische Planke 1, Neustadt | 040/376-780 | | Tower €5; crypt and movie €4; combined ticket €7 | May-Oct., daily 9-7:30; Nov.-Apr., daily 10-5:30 | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn), Stadthausbrücke (S-bahn).

QUICK BITES: Old Commercial Room.
Just opposite St. Michaelis Kirche, this is one of Hamburg’s most traditional and best-loved restaurants. Book a table in one of its cozy booths to sample a local specialty such as Labskaus (a curious mixture of potato, corned beef, beet, and herring). If you don’t make it to the restaurant, you can buy cans of the stuff in Hamburg supermarkets and department stores. | Englische Planke 10, Neustadt | 040/366-319 | | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn), Stadthausbrücke (S-bahn).

Worth Noting

Bucerius Kunst Forum.
This independent art gallery, considered one of the leading exhibition houses in northern Germany, has staged four major exhibitions a year since opening in 2002 inside a historic Reichsbank building next door to the Rathaus. The gallery commissions guest curators from around the world to create shows, collectively covering every art period and style. | Rathausmarkt 2, Neustadt | 040/360-9960 | | €8, €5 Mon. | Fri.-Wed. 11-7, Thurs. 11-9 | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn).

QUICK BITES: Alex im Alsterpavillon.
Perhaps Hamburg’s best-known café, the Alex im Alsterpavillon sits on the edge of the Binnenalster at Jungfernstieg. Its curving terrace and high-windowed dining room make ideal spots for observing the near-constant activity of the lake’s little tour boats while imbibing a refreshment or two between bouts of shopping and sightseeing. | Jungfernstieg 54, Neustadt | 040/350-1870 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Hamburg Museum (Museum of Hamburg History).
The museum’s vast and comprehensive collection of artifacts gives you an excellent overview of Hamburg’s development, from its origins in the 9th century to the present. Pictures and models portray the history of the port and shipping here, from 1650 onward. | Holstenwall 24, Neustadt | 040/4281-32100 | | €9 | Tues.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 10-6 | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn).

Krameramtswohnungen (Shopkeepers’ Houses).
The shopkeepers’ guild built this tightly packed group of courtyard houses between 1620 and 1626 for members’ widows. The houses became homes for the elderly after 1866. The half-timber, two-story dwellings, with unusual twisted chimneys and decorative brick facades, were restored in the 1970s. A visit inside the Kramer-Witwen-Wohnung—one of the old apartments that has been turned into a little museum—gives you a sense of what life was like in these 17th-century dwellings. | Historic House C, Krayenkamp 10, Neustadt | 040/3750-1988 | €2.50 | Tues.-Sun. 10-5 | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn), Stadtbahnstrasse (S-bahn).

Planten un Blomen (Plants and Flowers Park).
In 1821, a botanist planted a sycamore tree in a park near Dammtor train station. From this tree, a sanctuary for birds and plants evolved and a botanical garden that resembles the current park opened in 1930. This 116-acre inner-city oasis features a grand Japanese garden, a mini-golf course, an outdoor roller-skating and ice-skating rink, trampolines, and water features. The original sycamore tree still stands near an entrance. If you visit on a summer evening, you’ll see the Wasserlichtkonzerte, the play of an illuminated fountain set to organ music. Make sure you get to the lake in plenty of time for the nightly show, which begins at 10 pm from May through August and at 9 pm in September. | Stephanspl., Neustadt | 040/4285-44723 | | Free | Apr., daily 7 am-10 pm; May-Sept., daily 7 am-11 pm; Oct.-Mar., daily 7 am-8 pm | Station: Dammtor-Bahnhof or St. Pauli (S-bahn), Messehallen (U-bahn).

Portugiesenviertel (Portuguese Quarter).
$$ | PORTUGUESE | On the edge of the harbor, tucked in between Landungsbrücken and Baumwall, lies a small slice of Iberia in Hamburg. Famed for its cluster of tapas restaurants and little cafés on and around Ditmar-Koel-Strasse, the Portugiesenviertel is a great place to go to feast on a plate of grilled sardines or have a creamy galão (espresso with foamed milk). Head here in summer, when the streets are flooded with tables and diners making the most of the good weather. | Average main: | Ditmar-Koel-Str., Neustadt | No credit cards | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn), Baumwall (U-bahn).


The harborside quarter of St. Pauli is perhaps the city’s best-known neighborhood, its web of narrow streets branching off the bright neon vein of the Reeperbahn. Named after the rope makers that once worked here, the long street runs the length of St Pauli’s extensive red-light district—one of the largest in Europe. The broad sidewalks here are lined with strip joints, sex shops, and bars. In the early 1960s, the Beatles famously cut their teeth in clubs just off the street, playing 12-hour-long gigs in front of drunken revelers. These days St. Pauli’s all-night bars, nightclubs, and pubs continue to be a big draw. Despite the seediness of its sex industry, however, the area has undergone some serious gentrification over the years, and those dive bars and flophouses now rub shoulders with trendy eateries and design hotels.

The neighboring Schanzenviertel has also experienced a significant makeover in the last decade. Once filled with artists, punks, and students, and infused with an antiestablishment culture, the “Schanze” remains a neighborhood where the most recognizable building is the Rote Flora, an old theater occupied by squatters who use it for concerts and cultural events. Now, however, it’s also a place where cool young Hamburgers go to browse through clothing boutiques and then drink and dine in laid-back, reasonably priced bars and restaurants. Germany’s answer to Jamie Oliver, Tim Mälzer, has a hugely popular café and restaurant here, and global labels such as Adidas and American Apparel have also set up shop. Ten minutes from the center of town by S-bahn, Schanzenviertel has elegant old apartment buildings that have found favor with Hamburg’s media and finance professionals. This has driven the rents up, and forced out many of the same tenants who once imbued the Schanzenviertel with its original edginess.

Getting Here and Around

The harbor can be reached by taking a U-bahn or S-bahn train to Landungsbrücken. The mile-long Reeperbahn is bookended by the Reeperbahn S-bahn and St. Pauli U-bahn stations. The Schanzenviertel is served by the Sternschanze U-bahn and S-bahn station.


You can easily spend a full day and a long night here, starting with breakfast and shopping in the Schanzenviertel, then lunch and a river cruise at the harbor, and a night on the Reeperbahn after dinner.

Hamburg: Altstadt, Neustadt, and Hafencity

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Fischmarkt (Fish Market).
A trip to the Altona Fischmarkt is definitely worth getting out of bed early—or staying up all night—for. The Sunday markets hark back to the 18th century, when fishermen sold their catch before church services. Today, freshly caught fish sold to the locals by salty auctioneers from little stalls is only a part of the scene. You can find almost anything here: live parrots and palm trees, armloads of flowers and bananas, valuable antiques, and fourth-hand junk. Those keen to continue partying from the night before can get down to live bands rocking the historic Fischauktionshalle. | Grosse Elbestr. 9, St. Pauli | Apr.-Oct., Sun. 5 am-9:30 am; Nov.-Mar., Sun. 7 am-9:30 am | Station: Reeperbahn (S-Bahn).

Landungsbrücken (Piers).
Hamburgers and tourists flock to the city’s impressive port (Germany’s largest) to marvel at the huge container and cruise ships gliding past, pick up maritime-themed gifts from souvenir stores, and treat themselves to something from the many snack and ice-cream stands. It’s best to take a tour to get a complete idea of the massive scale of the place, which is one of the most modern and efficient harbors in the world. Barge tours leave from the main passenger terminal, along with a whole range of ferries and boats heading to other destinations on the Elbe and in the North Sea. There’s frequently a breeze here, so it’s worth packing something warm, particularly if you’re planning on taking an open-top harbor tour. | Bei den St. Pauli Landungsbrücken, St. Pauli | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Hamburg: St. Pauli and Schanzenviertel

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Rickmer Rickmers.
This majestic 19th-century sailing ship once traveled as far as Cape Town. Now it’s permanently docked at Hamburg’s piers, where it serves as a museum and site for painting and photography exhibitons. | St. Pauli Landungsbrücken Ponton 1a, St. Pauli | 040/319-5959 | | €4 | Daily 10-6 | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Cap San Diego.
Close to the Rickmer Rickmers ship at Hamburg’s piers sits the handsome 1960s freighter Cap San Diego, nowadays a seaworthy museum and hotel. Before it docked at Hamburg permanently, it regularly sailed between Germany and South America. | Überseebrücke, Landungsbrücken, St. Pauli | 040/364-209 | | €7 | Daily 10-6 | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Reeperbahn.
The hottest nightspots in town are concentrated on and around St. Pauli’s pulsating thoroughfare, the Reeperbahn, and a buzzing little side street known as Grosse Freiheit (“Great Freedom”). It was there, in the early 1960s, that a then-obscure band called the Beatles polished their live act. The Kiez, as the area is known colloquially, is a part of town that never sleeps—literally, in the case of at least a couple of bars that claim to never close their doors. It has long been famed for its music halls and drinking holes, but also for its strip clubs, sex shops, and brothels. The first brothel was registered here in the 15th century, and although the love-hungry sailors that the area became famous for no longer roam the streets, streetwalkers still line Davidstrasse; around the corner, on Herbertstrasse, skimpily dressed women sit in windows and offer their services to passersby.

The Kiez is about more than just its red-light activities, however, and the Reeperbahn swells on evenings and weekends with bar hoppers and nightclubbers, concert- and theatergoers, and locals and out-of-towners out for dinner and a few drinks. And maybe a walk on—or at least through—the wild side afterward. | St. Pauli | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn), Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

The Beatles in Hamburg

It was on the mean streets of St. Pauli, and specifically Grosse Freiheit, that four young lads from Liverpool cut their teeth playing to frequently hostile crowds of sailors, prostitutes, and thugs before going on to become the biggest band in the world. Signed by Bruno Koschmider, a nightclub owner and entrepreneur of dubious character, the Beatles first arrived in Hamburg in August 1960. Their first gig was at Koschmider’s Indra Club, a seedy joint that doubled as a strip club, and their first lodgings consisted of a couple of windowless rooms in the back of a movie theater, the Bambi Kino. Over the next two-and-a-half years, the young Beatles would visit Hamburg five times and play almost 300 concerts in the city. During one stint in 1961, they performed 98 nights in a row, often starting at 8:30 at night and playing their last song around the same time the next morning.

Perhaps surprisingly, some of the venues where the Beatles strutted their stuff remain. The Star Club, the site of their last Hamburg concert, on New Year’s Eve 1962, may be gone, but the Indra Club is still at Grosse Freiheit 64. Down the road, at No. 36, is the Kaiserkeller, where the boys moved after the Indra was closed down for being too rowdy. In addition to hitting the clubs, fans of the Fab Four can pose beside the life-size, metal sculptures of the five original Beatles on the Beatles-Platz, and also retrace the band’s steps on a number of walking tours, which take in the Bambi Kino and other venues they played at, along with the Gretel und Alfons pub, a favorite haunt.


At the entrance to Grosse Freiheit stand life-size steel silhouettes commemorating the five original Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best, and Stuart Sutcliffe. In the summer of 1960, they played in the area while seeking fame and fortune. Although the statues are rather ordinary looking during the day, they make for a good photo op when they’re lit up at night. | Reeperbahn end of Grosse Freiheit, St. Pauli | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn).


First-time visitors to Hamburg may have some trouble, at least initially, getting their heads around this vibrant quarter. Fanning out to the northeast of the Altstadt, St. Georg is a place whose rich diversity is best understood by trips down its three main streets: Steindamm, Lange Reihe, and An der Alster. Just across the main station, Steindamm begins as a one-way street full of sex shops and prostitutes lurking in doorways and turns into a busy road lined with Middle Eastern restaurants and minimarkets and a large mosque. A few blocks over, in the middle of the three, is Lange Reihe, a long, narrow thoroughfare brimming with gay and lesbian bars and cafés and some of the best places to drink and eat in town. Lastly, a short walk from Lange Reihe to the outer Alster lake’s edge, sits An der Alster and a row of luxury hotels and penthouse apartments that come with million-euro views.

Getting Here and Around

The closest station for U-bahn and S-bahn trains is Hauptbahnhof, and the No. 6 bus runs the length of Lange Reihe. St. Georg is compact, making it easy enough to stroll around.


With all its cafés and little restaurants, St. Georg is an ideal spot for a lazy breakfast or an afternoon coffee or two. Factor in a stroll along the lake, and a few hours here can soon slip by.


No two places in Hamburg embody the changing commerce of the city and its love affair with the Elbe as vividly as the harbor districts of the Speicherstadt and the HafenCity. Built around a series of narrow canals, the stunning redbrick, Gothic architecture of the former’s warehouses (which make up the largest complex of integrated warehouses in the world and have recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage site) sits next to the gleaming glass and steel of Europe’s largest urban renewal development project. The Speicherstadt’s 100-year-old warehouses continue to store and trade in everything from coffee to Oriental carpets, but now count restaurants, museums, and the world’s largest model railway amongst their tenants. The HafenCity, meanwhile, has become a popular site for the headquarters of many of the city’s largest firms, as well as home to a number of new apartment blocks, hotels and restaurants, a university, and the jewel in its crown, the hugely ambitious Elbphilarmonie concert hall, which is scheduled to open in 2017.

Getting Here and Around

To get to the Speicherstadt, take the U-bahn to Messberg or Baumwall stations, or walk or bike over from the Altstadt. The HafenCity is served by the city’s U4 train line, which stops at the U-bahn stations of Überseequartier and HafenCity Universität. Both areas are close enough to each other to walk between.


This part of town is a popular spot for Sunday strollers, and ambling along its canals, taking snaps of the area’s impressive riverside edifices, combined with a visit to a museum or the Miniatur Wunderland can happily fill half a day.

HafenCity Infocenter Kesselhaus (HafenCity Information Center).
In an old 19th-century boiler house, this popular information center documents the HafenCity urban development project. In addition to changing photographic and architectural exhibitions, the center also has an impressive 1:500 scale model of the HafenCity. Free two-hour walking and cycling tours of the HafenCity are also available. Tours in English are offered for groups of 10 people or more and can be booked ahead of time on the center’s website. | Am Sandtorkai 30, HafenCity | 040/3690-1799 | | Free | May-Sept., Tues., Wed., and Fri.-Sun. 10-6, Thurs. 10-8; Oct.-Apr., Tues.-Sun. 10-6 | Station: Baumwall (U-bahn), Überseequartier (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Miniatur Wunderland.
You don’t need to be a model-railroad enthusiast or a 10-year-old to be blown away by the sheer scale and attention to detail of the Miniatur Wunderland. The largest model railroad in the world features more than 14,000 square feet of little trains click-clacking their way through wonderfully faithful miniature replicas of Hamburg itself as well as foreign towns in Switzerland, Austria, the United States, and elsewhere. Planes land at a little airport; every 15 minutes, day turns into night and hundreds of thousands of LED lights illuminate the trains, buildings, and streets. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of Hamburg’s most popular attractions, so it’s best to book ahead, particularly on weekends and school holidays, when waiting times for entry can stretch to a couple of hours. If you do have to wait, free drinks and ice cream for children, and videos to watch ease the pain. | Kehrwieder 2-4, Block D, Speicherstadt | 040/300-6800 | | €13 | Mon. and Wed.-Fri. 9:30-6, Tues. 9:30-9, Sat. 8 am-9 pm, Sun. 8:30-8. Hrs vary; call or check website before setting out | Station: Baumwall (U-bahn), Messberg (U-bahn).

An excursion to this little museum, inside an original, 19th-century warehouse, gives you a sense of the trade that flowed through the Speicherstadt in its heyday. Sacks of coffee and spices, chests of tea, and scales and mills are scattered throughout the museum and there is information detailing the history and architecture of the district as well as historical photographs and diagrams. | Am Sandtorkai 36,Speicherstadt | 040/321-191 | | €4.20 | Apr.-Oct., weekdays 10-5, weekends 10-6; Nov.-Mar., Tues.-Sun. 10-5 | Station: Baumwall (U-bahn).

Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum.
Hamburg’s proud past as Europe’s gateway to the world comes to life at the tiny but fascinating Spicy’s Gewürzmuseum, where you can smell and touch more than 50 spices. Nearly 1,000 objects chronicle five centuries of the once-prosperous spice trade in Hamburg. | Am Sandtorkai 34, Speicherstadt | 040/367-989 | | €5 | Nov.-June, Tues.-Sun. 10-5; July-Oct., daily 10-5 | Station: Baumwall (U-bahn).


Generally the closer an area is to water in Hamburg, the more desirable a place it is to live. This is particularly true of the borough of Altona and Ottensen, an upscale neighborhood. Bordered by the Elbe, where Altona forms part of the port, and centered on a large domestic and international train station, the area has an allure heightened by a lively shopping boulevard and narrow side streets with bakeries, boutiques, and bars.

Much of this predominantly working-class area has been transformed over the last few decades. Nineteenth-century factories and industrial plants now accommodate cultural centers, movie theaters, offices, and hotels. Despite its increasingly middle-class makeup the quarter remains multicultural, and a large Turkish population continues to live and run all sorts of businesses here. It’s a part of Hamburg that in many ways feels separate from the city surrounding it, which is unsurprising given its history. Part of Denmark until 1864, Altona was an independent city as late as 1937, and its stately town hall above the river is a reminder of its distinguished past.

Getting Here and Around

The Altona train station, 15 minutes from Hauptbahnhof, is the starting and finishing point for all domestic and international InterCity Express trains that pass through the main station. It’s also a stop on a number of local S-bahn lines. The main shopping area surrounds the station.


The area is a good place to while away an afternoon people-watching and browsing through shops, perhaps followed by a drink or two in one the area’s many fine cafés.

Holsten Brauerei.
Until the 20th century, German beer consumption was a regional thing. A thirsty German would walk in to a pub and say, “Grosses Bier, bitte” and a large beer simply appeared. There was no need to request a certain brand because there was only one or, if you were lucky, two to choose from. In Hamburg’s case it was Holsten and Astra, which are still brewed in the city, although both brands are now owned by the Danish brewery giant Carlsberg. To learn more about about how these brews are made and how they taste, Holsten brewery offers guided tours of the factory, with a complimentary beer or two at the end. | Holstenstr. 224, Altona | 040/3099-3698 | | €7 | Tours: weekdays at 9, 11:15, and 1:15 | Station: Holstenstr. (S-bahn).

QUICK BITES: Strandperle.
While it may not conform to everyone’s definition of a “beach”—in this case a long stretch of trucked-in sand on the north bank of the Elbe, directly across from the giant cranes and container terminals of the city’s port—there’s little doubting the popularity of the Elbstrand (Elbe beach) among locals. Whenever the sun’s out, you’ll find them out here in force, walking dogs and sipping beers and white-wine spritzers from a couple of little beach bars. Strandperle also does a decent chili con carne as well as curry sausages and fish rolls to keep hunger pangs at bay. | Oevelgönne 60, Altona | About 700 yards from bus and ferry stops | | Station: Neumühlen/Övelgönne (Bus No. 112), Neumühlen (Ferry No. 62).


Twenty or so minutes along the Elbe by car or by S-bahn from the middle of the city lies the lovely riverside suburb of Blankenese. It’s nicely situated on the side of a hill, with steep flights of narrow steps that snake between its handsome villas. It makes a popular destination for weekend walks and coffee and cake afterward.

Other parts of town within easy reach of the main station, and worth a visit, include the upscale neighborhood of Eppendorf, its more modest, less self-conscious neighbor Eimsbüttel, and the lakeside suburbs of Harvestehude, Winterhude, and Uhlenhorst.

Farther afield are the BallinStadt emigration museum in Veddel and the Neuengamme Concentration Camp.

Other than driving, the best way to get to Blankenese and Veddel is to take the S-bahn to their respective stations. Neuengamme is reachable by a combination of S-bahn and bus. The other suburbs are no more than 15 minutes away from the center of town by U-bahn.


Given that a major selling point of Blankenese is that it’s far from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the fact that you’ll need an hour to get there and back, it’s best to give yourself half a day to visit. Excursions to Ballinstadt and Neuengamme shouldn’t be rushed either.

This museum and family-research center tells the story of European emigration to the United States and elsewhere. The complex on the peninsula here, completed in 1901, was built by the HAPAG shipping line for its passengers, which came from all across Europe to sail across the Atlantic.

When the immigrants landed in the United States, they were subjected to thorough physical examinations. Those who were deemed sick were quarantined for weeks or returned to their home country. To reduce the likelihood of trouble, HAPAG began examining passengers before they left Hamburg for new shores. During the first 34 years of the 20th century, about 1.7 million people passed through emigration halls. Processing this many people took a long time, and Hamburg officials did not want foreigners roaming the city. To accommodate visitors for several days or months, the shipping company built a town, complete with a hospital, church, music hall, housing, and hotels. The emigrant experience comes to life with artifacts; interactive displays; detailed reproductions of the buildings (all but one was demolished); and firsthand accounts of oppression in Europe, life in the “city,” conditions during the 60-day ocean crossing, and life in their new home.

As compelling as the exhibits are, the main draw is the research booths, where you can search the complete passenger lists of all ships that left the harbor. Research assistants are available to help locate and track your ancestors. From St. Pauli, the museum can be reached by S-bahn or Maritime Circle Line at St. Pauli Landungsbrücken No. 10. | Veddeler Bogen 2, Veddel | 040/3197-9160 | | €12.50 | Apr.-Oct., daily 10-6; Nov.-Mar., daily 10-4:30 | Station: Veddel (S-bahn).

Konzentrationslager Neuengamme (Neuengamme Concentration Camp).
Hamburg is a city of great beauty but also tragedy. On the southeastern edge of the city, between 104,000 and 106,000 people, including children, were held at Neuengamme concentration camp in its years of operation from 1938 to 1945. It was primarily a slave-labor camp, not an area focused on extermination, where bricks and weapons were the main products. German political prisoners and Europeans pushed into servitude composed most of the population. Neuengamme held gays, Roma (gypsies), and Jews. Jewish children were the subjects of cruel medical experiments; others worked with their parents or simply grew up in prison. To keep people in line, there were random acts of violence, including executions, and atrocious living conditions. Officials estimate that as many as 50,000 people died at Neuengamme before it ceased operation in May 1945.

A memorial opened on the site in 2005. Where the dormitories, dining hall, and hospital once sat, there are low pens filled with large rocks. With so much open space, the camp has an eerie silence. There is still a gate at the entrance. The camp has several areas; the main area has exhibits describing working conditions in an actual factory as well as a museum with interactive displays about the prisoner experience. Firsthand accounts, photographs from prisoners, furniture, clothing, and possessions make the experience even more affecting. | Jean-Dolidier-Weg 75, Neuengamme | 040/4281-31500 | | Free | Grounds always accessible; exhibits Apr.-Sept., weekdays 9:30-4, weekends noon-7; Oct.-Mar., weekdays 9:30-4, weekends noon-5 | Station: KZ-Gedenkstätte, Mahnmal (Bus 227 or 327 from Bergedorf station [S-bahn]).

Tierpark Hagenbeck (Hagenbeck Zoo).
One of the country’s oldest and most popular zoos, the Tierpark Hagenbeck was founded in 1907 and is family owned. It was the world’s first zoo to let wild animals such as lions, elephants, chimpanzees, and others roam freely in vast, open-air corrals. In summer, you can ride a pony.

The Tropen-Aquarium, on the same property as the zoo, is like a trip around the world. Sea life, insects, curious reptiles, marvelous birds, and exotic mammals live in replicas of their natural habitat. Detailed re-creations of deserts, oceans, rain forests, and jungles are home to birds, fish, mammals, insects, and reptiles from almost every continent, including black-tailed lemurs living in a “Madagascar” village. | Lokstedter Grenzstr. 2, Stellingen | 040/530-0330 | | Zoo €20, aquarium €14, combination ticket €30 | Zoo: Mar.-June, Sept., and Oct., daily 9-6; July and Aug., daily 9-7; Nov.-Feb., daily 9-4:30. Aquarium: daily 9-6 | Station: Hagenbecks Tierpark (U-bahn).

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Where to Eat

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Altstadt and Neustadt | St. Pauli and Schanzenviertel | St. Georg | Speicherstadt and HafenCity | Altona and Ottensen | Blankenese and Elsewhere

Hamburg has plenty of chic restaurants to satisfy the fashion-conscious local professionals, as well as the authentically salty taverns typical of a harbor town. There may not be a huge range of restaurants, but what they serve is delicious.


Café Paris.
$$ | FRENCH | A slice of Paris in the heart of Hamburg, this turn-of-the-19th-century café’s unfailing popularity derives from its superb traditional French fare, which naturally includes steak frites and beef tartare, served by crisply polite staff beneath a tiled art nouveau ceiling. Tables may be hard to secure without a reservation at usual dining times late in the week and on weekends, but the café’s bar is an ideal spot to take in the atmosphere and sample something off the superb wine list until one becomes free. | Average main: €20 | Rathausstr. 4, Altstadt | 040/3252-7777 | | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn).

$$$ | GERMAN | This small and elegant fish restaurant in the heart of the historic district is a Hamburg classic. It’s one of the best places to get traditional dishes such as Hamburger Pannfisch (fried pieces of the day’s catch in a wine-and-mustard sauce) at a very reasonable price. The restaurant is in an old merchant house, and oil paintings in the dining room feature ships from the 19th century. Reservations are essential on weekends. | Average main: €22 | Deichstr. 23, Altstadt | 040/364-208 | | Closed Mon. | Station: Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn).

Die Bank.
$$$$ | FRENCH | Venture beyond the grand exterior of this 19th-century bank building and you’ll find yourself in an elegant bar and brasserie lighted by opulent chandeliers set in a ceiling supported by handsome black columns. Diners can feast on steaks, goose, and sashimi at white-clothed tables or out on the restaurant’s spacious, sunny terrace. | Average main: €28 | Hohe Bleichen 17, Neustadt | 040/238-0030 | | Closed Sun. | Station: Gänsemarkt (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Fillet of Soul.
$$$ | GERMAN | The art of fine contemporary European cuisine is on display at this hip, yet casual restaurant set among the modern art exhibits of the Deichtorhallen. The minimalist dining room fills rapidly for lunch and dinner every day, its guests drawn to dishes that combine fresh, organic produce such as apricot-and-ginger-glazed ling with yellow turnips or grilled chicken breast with mushroom risotto and hollandaise sauce. Although it’s not as sophisticated as the evening’s offerings, the lunch menu here is still very good—and with most dishes hovering around €10, it’s also a great value for money. | Average main: €23 | Deichtorstr. 2, Altstadt | 040/7070-5800 | | No dinner Sun. and Mon. | Station: Steinstrasse (U-bahn).

$$ | GERMAN | Snugly sited beneath vaulted ceilings in the cellar of the city’s town hall, this elegant old pub turned restaurant and cocktail bar serves no-nonsense meat and fish meals, including shrimp fresh from the North Sea, with a light touch of German nouvelle cuisine. Popular with local businesspeople during and after work, it’s also a nice spot for a frothy beer and some Flammkuchen, Alsace’s take on pizza, between traipsing around the nearby sights. | Average main: €20 | Rathausmarkt 1, Altstadt | 040/7038-3399 | | Closed Sun. | Station: Rathaus (U-Bahn).

Saliba Alsterarkaden.
$$$ | MIDDLE EASTERN | On the edge of a canal and beneath the arches of the elegant Alster arcade, this popular Syrian meze restaurant enjoys superb views of Hamburg’s town hall. Naturally, the best tables in the house are actually outside and fill up quickly when the sun shines. While it specializes in lamb dishes, including homemade sausages, Saliba’s menu also caters to vegetarian and vegan diners with offerings of falafels in harissa sauce and eggplant with dates and almonds. Wines to wash down the small plates of meze include whites from Germany and reds from Lebanon. | Average main: €21 | Neuer Wall 13,Neustadt | 040/345-021 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Se7en Oceans.
$$$$ | ECLECTIC | It may not have the best location, inside a busy shopping mall, but this intriguing combination of a Michelin-starred restaurant, sushi bar, bistro, and cigar lounge is worth a visit nonetheless. On the upper floor (OG2) of the large Europa Passage mall, Se7ven Oceans has a wall of windows to provide amazing views of the inner Alster lake and Jungfernstieg. Promoting itself as a “multidimensional” culinary experience, the restaurant aims to cater to every size of wallet and appetite, with foie gras and lobster in the Gourmet Restaurant, sashimi and sake in the Sushi Bar, or cocktails and chicken wings at the Oceans Bar. The sushi bar is a great option for lunch. It’s reasonably priced and rarely crowded. | Average main: €30 | Europa Passage, Ballindamm 40, Altstadt | 40/3250-7944 | | No credit cards | Gourmet Restaurant closed Sun. and Tues. Sushi Bar closed Sun. | Reservations essential | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Ti Breizh.
$ | FRENCH | Stepping into this 18th-century merchant’s house turned Breton crêpe restaurant, with its elegant white walls and sky-blue window frames, is a little like being transported to a seaside eatery in northern France. Waitstaff in striped fishermen’s shirts and speaking with heavy French accents take orders for fantastically good galettes (buckwheat crêpes) topped with ham, cheese, mushrooms, and fried eggs, and uncork bottles of cider to wash them down. French chansons emanate from the sound system, and through the windows the Nikolaifleet canal can be seen. An unfailingly popular slice of Brittany in Hamburg, Ti Breizh’s caramelized apple, banana, almond, and vanilla ice-cream crêpe is worth a visit alone. | Average main: €9 | Deichstr. 39, Altstadt | 040/3751-7815 | | Station:Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn), Baumwall (U-bahn).


$$ | MEDITERRANEAN | On a quiet square off the Reeperbahn, Abendmahl is a great launching point for a night out on the town. Candlelight, wooden tables, and a deep red interior set the tone. Relaxed yet romantic, it’s the type of place where you can show up in everything from jeans and a T-shirt to a suit, and still get the same attentive service. In addition to a small selection of primarily Mediterranean and northern German dishes on the à la carte menu, there’s also a four-course menu that changes daily. | Average main: €19 | Hein-Köllisch-Pl. 6, St. Pauli | 040/312-758 | | No credit cards | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

$$$ | STEAKHOUSE | The success of this extremely popular café and restaurant derives from its celebrity-chef ownership—Tim Mälzer, an old friend of Jamie Oliver, is a regular TV presence—its location in a former livestock hall in the heart of the Schanze, and its heavy emphasis on quality cuts of meat. Every night, the busy but friendly waitstaff ferries large plates of steak and pork through an interior of exposed brickwork and pipes, while diners dig into bowls of lamb, pork, and veal Bolognese in the white-tiled “deli” next door. If you can’t get a table, grab a place at the busy bar and eat there instead. | Average main: €25 | Lagerstr. 34 B, Schanzenviertel | 040/3344-2100 | | No lunch at restaurant | Reservations essential | Station: Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

$$$ | MODERN EUROPEAN | Despite its luxurious name (which means “Jeweler”), this excellent little restaurant not far from Schanzenpark is anything but ostentatious. Its wood tables are covered in white tablecloths, and the cream-color walls are gently lit by art deco lamp shades. Featuring a small number of starters and desserts and single vegetarian, fish, and meat options, the menu is similarly austere, but in terms of choice rather than the quality of contemporary European cuisine prepared from seasonal and regional produce. Dishes such as flat-headed mullet with ratatouille and risotto or leg of lamb with cassoulet and baby potatoes can be ordered individually or in three- to five-course variations. | Average main: €21 | Weidenallee 27, Schanzenviertel | 040/2548-1678 | | No credit cards | Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch | Station: Christuskirche (U-bahn), Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

$ | INDIAN | Such is the popularity of this occasionally hectic little Indian restaurant in the heart of St. Pauli, a table booking doesn’t always mean you’ll be seated at the time you booked, especially if it’s the weekend. The high quality of its vegetable and meat dishes—Himalayan kofta (vegetables and cheese mixed into balls and served with a tomato, cashew nut, and fruit sauce) and rogan josh (lamb cooked with red onions, peppers, and paneer) among them—combined with the coziness of its shabby-chic styling is enough to forgive the inconvenience, however. | Average main: €14 | Detlev-Bremer-Str. 25-27, St. Pauli | 040/3009-3466 | | No lunch weekends | Reservations essential | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn).

$$$ | GERMAN | The simple but cool style, excellent service, and high-quality food at this busy bistro keep the locals coming back. The focus is on seafood and modern German dishes, with seasonal variations using local produce. Inventive four-course menus merge typical German cuisine with international flavors. | Average main: €21 | Neuer Pferdemarkt 5, St. Pauli | 040/439-7823 | | No credit cards | Closed Tues. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Feldstrasse (U-bahn).


Café Gnosa.
$ | GERMAN | A stalwart of Hamburg’s gay and lesbian neighborhood, this local favorite is probably best known for its friendly service and outrageously good cakes—spiced apple; rhubarb; and Black Forest gâteau among them—that are baked on-site in the café’s own Konditorei. Beyond its sweet treats, the café whips up solid German breakfasts of bread rolls with smoked salmon and herring or cold cuts and cheeses, and has a dependable if somewhat unexciting menu featuring pasta, schnitzel, and salads for lunch and dinner. | Average main: €9 | Lange Reihe 93, St. Georg | 040/243-034 | | No credit cards | Station: Lohmühlenstrasse (U-bahn), Gurlittstrasse (Bus No. M6).

$$ | MODERN EUROPEAN | Aptly situated in the middle of St. Georg’s main drag, this trendy yet friendly eatery justifies a visit for its good-sized yet varied menu that includes the likes of teriyaki steak and wasabi burgers and house-made gnocchi with mushrooms, sage butter, and apple chutney. All the meat and fish served here is organic, and the Mediterranean-style vegetarian dishes are prepared with seasonal produce. Styling itself as a classic yet modern dining experience, Central’s narrow, minimally decorated dining room can feel a little overcrowded on busy nights, and the use of projections to create a mood will feel a little dated to some. | Average main: €20 | Lange Reihe 50, St. Georg | 040/2805-3704 | | No lunch weekends | Station: Gurlittstrasse (Bus M6), Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-Bahn).

$$ | GERMAN | Cox has delighted guests with its nouvelle German cuisine for years, and with a cool, dark interior and red-leather banquettes reminiscent of a French brasserie, it remains one of the hippest places around. Friday and Saturday nights see its two large rooms swell with diners, and consequently service can slow a little, but dishes such as red fish with miso and coriander or grilled chicken breast with spicy papaya relish, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff, easily compensate. | Average main: €20 | Lange Reihe 68 at Greifswalder Str. 43, St. Georg | 040/249-422 | | No lunch weekends | Station: Gurlittstrasse (Bus M6), Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-Bahn).

Hamburg’s Chain Restaurants

After a long day of shopping or for a break between museums, stop for a delicious as well as economical bite at one of these chain restaurants.

Block House. Founder Eugen Block opened the first Block House steak house in Hamburg in 1968 after falling in love with the concept in San Francisco. Today, there are 14 outlets in Hamburg and dozens more in the rest of Germany and Spain and Portugal. The good-size steaks come with a baked potato or fries, salad, and garlic bread. |

Campus Suite. This northern German chain started on a university campus in Kiel. The restaurant, with 14 outposts in Hamburg, serves reasonably priced Asian and pasta dishes, couscous, sandwiches, muffins, croissants, and coffee drinks. Beer, wine, and champagne are also available. |

Schweinske. This is Germany’s answer to T.G.I. Friday’s. Crowds turn out for after-work drink specials and German comfort food, like schnitzel and currywurst. This Hamburg creation has 33 outlets in the city and more throughout the rest of the country. |

Vapiano. This hugely popular Italian restaurant was born in downtown Hamburg; there are three in central locations, and many more scattered around Germany and the world. To customize your dish, you first choose the type of pasta or pizza you want, then select the toppings, sauces, and ingredients to go with it. |

Il Buco.
$$ | ITALIAN | Hidden down a side street off Hansaplatz, this neighborhood favorite is easily missed, but it’s worth seeking out for its excellent plates of vitello tonnato (cold sliced veal with a creamy sauce), saltimbocca (marinated veal with prosciutto and herbs), and truffle pasta. Down a few steps from the street, diners find themselves in a narrow, yet cozy, dining room that’s more grandmother’s living room than downtown trattoria. This intimacy extends beyond the candlelight and banquette seating to the restaurant’s amicable staff and spoken menu, which features many of the filling and comforting pasta, meat, and fish dishes typical of rustic Italian cuisine. | Average main: €18 | Zimmerpforte 5, St. Georg | 040/247-310 | Closed Sun. No lunch | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).


Carl’s an der Elbphilharmonie.
$$$ | FRENCH | This extension of the Hotel Louis C. Jacob, at the edge of the Elbe and next to the site of the Elbphilharmonie, is a pleasure on many levels. The relaxed Bistro restaurant serves quiche, tartines, and other small dishes. The more formal Brasserie looks a like typically Parisian brasserie and features a large bay window with excellent views of ships gliding up the Elbe. The French menu has touches of German flavors and local fish dishes, and service here is warm and knowledgeable. Below the two restaurants sits an elegant bar and the Kultur Salon, with live classical music concerts and jazz performances. | Average main: €25 | Am Kaiserkai 69, HafenCity | 40/3003-22400 | | Reservations essential | Station: Baumwall (U-bahn).

Das Feuerschiff.
$$$ | EUROPEAN | This bright-red lightship served in the English Channel before it retired to the city harbor in 1989 and became a landmark restaurant, guesthouse, and pub. Local favorites such as Hamburger Pannfisch (panfried fish with mustard sauce) and Labskaus (a mixture of corned beef, potato, onion, beet, and, if you’re brave, herring) are on the ship’s extensive menu, along with Argentinean steaks and rack of lamb. Head along on a Monday night to listen to live jazz. | Average main: €22 | City Sporthafen, Vorsetzen, Speicherstadt | 040/362-553 | | Station: Baumwall (U-bahn).

$$$ | GERMAN | Much like its setting inside a Speicherstadt warehouse, where exposed bricks and beams are offset by sleek furniture and lighting, Vlet’s menu blends traditional German methods with new techniques. The restaurant’s Labskaus, for an example, is a twist on the old Hamburg favorite of beef, potato, and beet and made as a clear soup instead of a stew. The kitchen also offers diverse à la carte menus, including a tasting menu that can be accompanied by corresponding glasses of wine, and the permanent “Durable” menu, which includes beef tartare prepared at the table. Although service is formal, the dining room is relaxed. | Average main: €24 | Am Sandtorkai 23/24, entrance at Kibbelstegbrücke, Speicherstadt | 040/3347-53750 | | Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. | Station: Uberseequartier (U-bahn).


Au Quai.
$$$$ | INTERNATIONAL | Still a shining star in the row of romantic restaurants that sit along Hamburg’s riverfront, Au Quai, in keeping with its location, has a menu heavy on seafood. Raw oysters and sashimi share the menu with offerings of tuna and North Sea sole, and amongst the beef dishes there’s a Surf and Turf to keep lovers of both worlds happy. An Asian goddess statue looks over a koi pond in its eclectic dining room, and groovy overhead lamps light rooms of modernistic tables and chairs after the sun has stopped shining through the wall of windows. The outside terrace is a big draw in summer, and the restaurant draws in the weekday crowds with its €18.50 three-course Business Lunch. | Average main: €26 | Grosse Elbstr. 145B-D, Altona | 040/3803-7730 | | Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Königstr. (S-bahn), Dockland (Fischereihafen) (Bus No. 111).

Fodor’s Choice | The Burger Lab.
$ | BURGER | Somewhat ironically, for a long time it was very hard to find a decent hamburger in Hamburg. The last few years, however, have seen a number of very good hamburger joints sprout up around the city and this small restaurant sandwiched between the Schanzenviertel and Altona is perhaps the pick of the bunch. Set up by two Germans and a Kiwi, The Burger Lab grinds the beef for its gourmet burgers as well as whipping up their own excellent sauces, which include chipotle aioli and grilled onion. They don’t take reservations, so if you’re hankering for a lamb burger and some sweet-potato fries, it’s worth getting there early to secure a table, particularly if you want to sit outside in summer. | Average main: €9 | Max-Brauer-Allee 251, Altona | 040/4149-4529 | | Reservations not accepted | No credit cards | Station: Schulterblatt (Bus No. M15).

Fischereihafen Restaurant Hamburg.
$$$$ | SEAFOOD | For some of the best fish in Hamburg, book a table at this splendid port-side restaurant. Plain from the outside, the restaurant feels like a dining room aboard a luxury liner inside, with oil paintings of nautical scenes hanging on the walls and white linen on the tables. The menu changes daily according to what’s available in the fish market that morning; the elegant oyster bar here is a favorite with the city’s beau monde. In summer, try to get a table on the sun terrace for a great view of the Elbe. | Average main: €29 | Grosse Elbstr. 143, Altona | 040/381-816 | | Reservations essential | Station: Altona (S-bahn), Dockland (Fischereihafen) (Bus No. 111), Königstrasse (S-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Landhaus Scherrer.
$$$$ | GERMAN | A proud owner of a Michelin star since it opened its doors in 1978, Landhaus Scherrer continues to be one of the city’s best-known and most celebrated restaurants. The focus is on the use of organic, sustainable ingredients to produce classic and modern German cuisine with international touches. Wood-panel walls and soft lighting create a low-key mood in the main building, which was once a brewery. Unsurprisingly, the accompanying wine list is exceptional. There’s also a small bistro here, where diners can feast on similar fare at lower prices. For delicious German comfort food (currywurst and potato salad), try the sister property, Ö1. | Average main: €40 | Elbchaussee 130, Ottensen | 040/8830-70030 | | Closed Sun. | Reservations essential | Station: Hohenzollernring (Bus Nos. M15 and 36).

Restaurant Eisenstein.
$ | ITALIAN | A long-time neighborhood favorite, Eisenstein sits inside a handsome 19th-century industrial complex turned art center and serves fantastic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at affordable prices. Sharing space with a movie theater, the restaurant is popular with pre- and post-movie crowds and though it offers dishes such as herb-crusted veal steaks and fried gilthead sea bream, it’s probably best known for its gourmet wood-fired pizzas. Well worth trying are the Pizza Helsinki (salmon, crème fraîche, and onions) and the Blöde Ziege (Stupid Goat) with rosemary-tomato sauce, crispy bacon, and goat cheese. | Average main: €14 | Friedensallee 9, Ottensen | 040/390-4606 | | No credit cards | Reservations essential | Station: Altona (S-bahn).

$$$ | SEAFOOD | It would be difficult to find a better spot in town than this handsome fish restaurant to watch big boats cruise by while satisfying your appetite for fresh lobster and oysters. Its ample sun terrace sits just above the Elbe, while the large open-plan dining room has ceiling-high windows facing downstream toward the city and the soon-to-be-completed Elbe Philharmonic Hall. With golden palms and sash curtains, it feels a bit like dining on a cruise ship. In addition to crustaceans and shellfish, diners can choose from a fairly extensive menu featuring sashimi, bouillabaisse, Scottish salmon, and Dover sole, as well as at least a couple of meat dishes. | Average main: €25 | Kreuzfahrt-Center, Van-der-Smissen Str. 1, Altona | 040/380-5919 | | Reservations essential | Station: Königstrasse (S-bahn), Dockland (Fischereihafen) (Bus No. 111).


Fodor’s Choice | Seven Seas.
$$$$ | EUROPEAN | With a couple of Michelin stars, Karlheinz Hauser, one of Europe’s premier chefs at the helm, and a spot high on a hill overlooking the Elbe, this restaurant of the Süllberg Hotel literally and figuratively is a cut above the competition. Naturally, with this lofty position come correspondingly high prices. Dishes can only be ordered in three- to eight-course set menus, and the full degustation menu, featuring scallops with Jerusalem artichokes and Iberian pork with corn and horseradish and accompanying glasses of wine, will set you back just over €300 per person. | Average main: €36 | Süllbergsterrasse 12, Blankenese | 040/866-2520 | | Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch Wed.-Fri. | Reservations essential | Station: Blankenese (S-bahn), Kahlkamp (Bus No. 48).

Fodor’s Choice | Vienna.
$$ | EUROPEAN | The trick to getting a table at this much-loved little bistro in Eimsbüttel is to get there early. The kitchen officially opens for business at 7 pm, but Vienna opens its doors early in the afternoon for those wanting an espresso or apertif from their tiny bar. Early arrivers might still be asked to share a table in the dining room or outside in the courtyard but, given the lovingly prepared schnitzels, fresh fish dishes, and hearty desserts coming out of the kitchen, it will matter little to most. | Average main: €17 | Fettstr. 2, Eimsbüttel | 040/439-9182 | | No credit cards | Closed Mon. No lunch | Reservations not accepted | Station: Christuskirche (U-bahn).

$$$ | JAPANESE | Hamburg may not have many good Japanese restaurants, but this modern bistro-style restaurant is undoubtedly a gem. On a long suburban artery of little eateries and clothes shops between Eppendorf and Eimsbüttel, Zipang has developed a loyal clientele of locals and Japanese expats through its warm service and modern interpretation of Japanese haute cuisine. As well as the typical offerings of sushi and tempura udon, the menu here features such treats as Wagyu beef with dipping sauces and duck and eggplant in red miso sauce. The restaurant also has a lunch special with a small miso soup and a dessert for around €10. | Average main: €25 | Eppendorfer Weg 171, Eppendorf | 040/4328-0032 | | Closed Mon. No lunch Sun.-Wed. | Station: Hoheluftbrücke (U-bahn).

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Where to Stay

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Altstadt and Neustadt | St. Pauli and Schanzenviertel | St. George | Speicherstadt and HafenCity | Altona and Ottensen | Blankenese and Elsewhere

Hamburg has simple pensions as well as five-star luxury enterprises. Nearly year-round conference and convention business keeps most rooms booked well in advance, and the rates are high. But many of the more expensive hotels lower their rates on weekends, when businesspeople have gone home. The tourist office can help with reservations if you arrive with nowhere to stay. In Hamburg, independent hotels may not have coffeemakers or an information book in the guest rooms, but, in general, you will find generously sized rooms and staff willing to answer questions about the hotel. Hotels without business centers will fax and copy for you. At hotels without concierges, front-desk staff will whip out a map and give recommendations.

All accommodations offer no-smoking rooms. Although breakfast is not generally included, those who opt for the meal are usually greeted with an all-you-can-eat masterpiece with hot food options that sometimes includes an omelet station.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably encounter nudity in coed saunas at most hotels. Also, most double beds are made of two single beds on a large platform and an individual blanket for each mattress.


Adina Apartment Hotel Hamburg Michel.
$$ | HOTEL | With its position on a quiet backstreet and handsome apartments equipped with kitchenettes and fridges, the Adina will appeal to those who appreciate a few home comforts when they travel. In the style of a modern townhouse, rooms are spacious and well lit, and furnished with natural woods, grey soft furnishings, and light-colored walls. Larger apartments feature separate bedrooms, sofa beds, and washing machines and dryers. Understandably, the hotel has found favor with businesspeople and families, but its location on the cusp of the Reeperbahn draws a younger crowd on weekends. A courtyard framed with apartment blocks is a nice spot for a drink on a warm day, and kids will appreciate the small swimming pool. Pros: excellent location; huge guest rooms with many amenities. Cons: indoor pool area is small; no real views. | Rooms from: €149 | Neuer Steinweg 26, Altstadt | 040/226-3500 | | 128 apartments | No meals | Station: Stadhausbrücke (S-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Fairmont Vier Jahreszeiten.
$$$$ | HOTEL | Some claim that this beautiful 19th-century town house on the edge of the Binnenalster is the best hotel in Germany. Antiques—the hotel has a set of near-priceless Gobelin tapestries—fill the public rooms and accentuate the stylish bedrooms; fresh flowers overflow from massive vases; rare oil paintings adorn the walls; and all rooms are individually decorated with superb taste. Thankfully the technology found in the rooms is up to date, with Nespresso pod coffeemakers, DVD players, and iPod docking stations. With 10 different places for dining and drinking within its premises, you don’t necessarily need to stay overnight to get a taste of the Vier Jahreszeiten’s famous luxury. Pros: luxury hotel with great view of Alster lakes; close to shopping on Jungfernstieg; large, charming rooms. Cons: high prices even in off-season; not much in way of nightlife outside of the hotel. | Rooms from: €495 | Neuer Jungfernstieg 9-14, Neustadt | 040/34940 | | 123 rooms, 33 suites | No meals | Station:Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Grand Elysée Hamburg.
$$$ | HOTEL | The “grand” here refers to its size, from the nearly 11,000-square-foot spa area and five restaurants to the 511 guest rooms and extra-wide beds. The centerpiece of the hotel is the Boulevard, which was modeled after the Champs Elysées and is lined with restaurants and a bar. The Grand Foyer features a lush, tropical installation with a waterfall and an accompanying bar, a large, quiet sitting area, and abstract art. Outside the Bourbon Street Bar, a piano player fills the air with music throughout the afternoon and evening. Pros: large, quiet guest rooms; close to tourist sites; diverse art throughout hotel. Cons: rooms’ tasteful beiges won’t set many hearts racing; public spaces can feel a little cold. | Rooms from: €200 | Rothenbaumchaussee 10, Altstadt | 040/414-120 | | 494 rooms, 17 suites | No meals | Station: Dammtor (S-bahn).

Henri Hotel.
$$ | HOTEL | Concealed down a side street not far from the main station, this small boutique hotel, with its retro-styled rooms, furniture, and phones, will undoubtedly please fans of film noir and Mad Men. The hotel’s designers wanted regular business clients to feel at home, too, so guest rooms are softly lit, their dark, wooden chairs and cabinets offset by light green walls, gray curtains, and white wood panels behind the beds. As a result, the Henri feels a lot like a stylish bachelor pad, a sensation heightened by the hotel’s small, denlike lobby and lounge, which flow on to an open-plan kitchen space, where there’s a communal refrigerator stacked with bottles of beer and tubs of ice cream. Pros: intimate, friendly service; very quiet; excellent house cocktail; stylish black-and-white-tiled bathrooms. Cons: may seem a little masculine for some tastes; on an otherwise uninspiring side street; limited nightlife in the area. | Rooms from: €118 | Bugenhagenstr. 21, Altstadt | 040/554-3570 | | 65 rooms | No meals | Station:Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn), Mönckebergstrasse (U-bahn).

Hotel Baseler Hof.
$$ | HOTEL | It’s hard to find fault with this handsome central hotel near the Binnenalster and the opera house; the service is friendly and efficient, the rooms are neatly albeit plainly furnished, and the prices are reasonable for such an expensive city. The hotel caters to both individuals and convention groups, so the otherwise roomy lounge area can be crowded at times. A small gym, a bar, and a restaurant specializing in German and French cuisine round out the facilities. Pros: directly across from the casino; walking distance from Dammtor train station. Cons: small rooms; rooms at the front of the hotel face onto a busy street. | Rooms from: €155 | Esplanade 11, Neustadt | 040/359-060 | | 163 rooms, 9 suites | Breakfast | Station: Stephansplatz (U-bahn).

Hotel Fürst Bismarck.
$$ | HOTEL | Despite its slightly sketchy location on a busy street opposite the Hauptbahnhof, the Fürst Bismarck is a surprisingly attractive hotel that feels homey yet contemporary. Grandfather clocks and old-fashioned chests of drawers decorate the hundred-year-old hallways, and the hotel’s rooms are reasonably sized and comfortable, although sometimes a little plain. Shopping on Mönckebergstrasse, whiling away afternoons at museums, and dining on Lange Reihe are just footsteps away from here. Guests get a free three-day public transportation pass. Pros: centrally located; competitive prices; free pass for public transportation. Cons: basic bathrooms; small rooms; small additional fee for Wi-Fi. | Rooms from: €133 | Kirchenallee 49, Altstadt | 040/7902-51640 | | 102 rooms | No meals | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Motel One Am Michel.
$ | HOTEL | Perched at the end of the Reeperbahn, this branch of the Motel One chain is ideal for those looking for a trendy, design-minded, central yet inexpensive base. The bed linens are sumptuous, towels are lush, and the bed is crowned with real leather and dark wood. The bathrooms have rainfall showerheads and organic toiletries. The rooms are small, however, and despite having HD TVs, lack basics like telephones, chairs, closets (there is a bar for hanging clothes), and information folders. Given the hotel’s prices and its proximity not just to the Reeperbahn, but to the harbor, St. Michaelis Kirche, and Planten un Blomen, few guests will mind too greatly. Pros: close to the best nightlife in town; bar open 24 hours; hard to beat value for money. Cons: no amenities; no restaurant; small rooms. | Rooms from: €94 | Ludwig-Erhard-Str. 26, Altstadt | 040/3571-8900 | | 437 rooms | No meals | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn), Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Park Hyatt Hamburg.
$$$$ | HOTEL | Housed within the historic Levantehaus, a luxury mall on the city’s main shopping drag, the Park Hyatt Hamburg delivers the hospitality and comfort expected of one of Germany’s best hotels, with plush beds, marble bathrooms, and peace and quiet. The open lobby is full of wood panels and soft illumination, and this feeling of space and light extends to the hotel’s large guest rooms and bathrooms. Those weary after a long day can relax in the hotel’s stylish bar, or book a massage in the huge, 10,800-square-foot wellness area, which includes a 66-foot-long pool and a fully equipped gym. Suitably refreshed, guests can take high tea in the Park Lounge or indulge in something more substantial from the grill in the Apples Restaurant. The hotel’s back faces busy Mönckebergstrasse, making this the most centrally located five-star property in town. Pros: close to museums; warm interior design; large, quiet rooms with all modern amenities; friendly and helpful service. Cons: area can feel dead on Sunday, when all the stores are closed; far from most nightlife. | Rooms from: €235 | Bugenhagenstr. 8, Neustadt | 040/3332-1234 | | 176 rooms, 21 suites, 31 apartments | No meals | Station:Mönckebergstrasse (U-bahn).

Radisson Blu Hotel, Hamburg.
$$ | HOTEL | There’s no missing the black glass and gray concrete form of the Radisson Blu, which towers 330 feet above Dammtor train station, with sweeping views of Planten un Blomen and the city. Built in 1973, it’s a bold yet welcoming property that resembles a giant harmonica balanced on one end. Guest rooms here have three modern design styles: pale-wood and earth-tone furnishings; bold aquas and mustard interiors; and black lacquer accents, dark wood, and turquoise carpets. Connected to a congress center, the hotel is a favorite of business travelers, and has all the amenities to keep them happy, including a small rooftop bar from which to admire the vistas. Pros: some of the best views in town; award-winning nightclub; next to a major train station; super-fast Internet. Cons: small gym; lower-floor rooms have no real view; few good restaurants in immediate area. | Rooms from: €175 | Marseiller Str. 2, Neustadt | 040/35020 | | 547 rooms, 9 suites | No meals | Station: Dammtor (S-bahn).

$$ | HOTEL | Futuristic, minimalistic—call it what you like, but this hip five-star hotel has been a byword for inner city cool since its opening in 2001. On a side street near the opera, SIDE stands out from the rest of the crowd not because of its exterior, which is rather bland, but because of what’s on the inside. Guests are greeted by a soaring, glass-paneled atrium and sleek, space-age interiors decorated with brightly colored cubes and pebble-shape furniture, all designed by the Milanese maestro Matteo Thun. The hotel’s popularity with its business clientele and local fashionistas is enhanced by its excellent cocktail bar and “Meatery” restaurant, which many claim does the best dry-aged beef in town. Pros: within a short wander of many major sights and attractions; convenient but quiet location. Cons: some might find interior design sterile; most guest rooms lack views. | Rooms from: €160 | Drehbahn 49, Neustadt | 040/309-990 | | 168 rooms, 10 suites | No meals | Station: Gänsemarkt (U-bahn).

Sofitel Hamburg Alter Wall.
$$$ | HOTEL | Behind the facade of a centrally located, former Deutsche Post building hides the sleek style and famously comfortable beds of one of the city’s finest business hotels. Dominated by gray, white, and dark-brown hues, rooms are furnished with tasteful, contemporary furniture, huge beds (by German standards), and even bigger marble bathrooms. The Sofitel’s Ticino restaurant serves flavors from around the world, while downstairs there’s a funky indoor pool and spa area, decked out in Italian tiles and natural stone, as well as a small gym. Pros: in the historic downtown area; close to luxury shops; large rooms. Cons: somewhat cold design; no real nightlife within walking distance. | Rooms from: €215 | Alter Wall 40, Altstadt | 040/369-500 | | 223 rooms, 18 suites | No meals | Station:Rödingsmarkt (U-bahn).


Arcotel Onyx Hamburg.
$$ | HOTEL | Moored at the start of the Reeperbahn, like a giant spaceship that’s just touched down, this black-glass monolith houses a welcoming design hotel ideal for those who want to just dip their toes into the waters of the red-light district. Pros: close to a number of attractions, including St. Michaelis and the harbor; just across from St. Pauli U-bahn; unique experience; exciting part of town. Cons: no real views, even from upper floors; buffet area in breakfast room can get overcrowded; designer furniture and carpets won’t be to eveyone’s taste. | Rooms from: €120 | Reeperbahn 1 A, St. Pauli | 040/209-4090 | | 204 rooms, 9 suites, 2 apartments | No meals | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | east Hotel.
$$$ | HOTEL | Not content to limit itself to merely being a place to sleep, this chic landmark hotel combines a buzzing cocktail bar with a similarly trendy sushi and steak restaurant to create one of the hottest spots in town. In contrast to the brickwork on its facade, the inside of this former iron foundry is full of curvy, funky shapes and forms and open spaces of deep oranges, dark browns, and creams. The effect, whether in the hotel’s lobby bar or in one of its open-plan guest rooms, is one of almost immediate comfort and a sense of escape from the frenetic nighttime activity of the Reeperbahn, a few blocks away. Pros: unique design and atmosphere; popular nightclub on fourth floor (Friday and Saturday only); excellent service. Cons: area around the hotel can be frenetic on weekends; parking garage is removed from main building; open bathrooms not for those who prefer privacy. | Rooms from: €190 | Simon-von-Utrecht-Str. 31, St. Pauli | 040/309-930 | | 122 rooms, 6 suites | No meals | Station: St Pauli (U-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Empire Riverside Hotel.
$$ | HOTEL | The prime location between the Reeperbahn and the harbor, the clever use of space and light, and a top-floor cocktail joint that attracts thousands every weekend make this a favorite with locals and out-of-towners alike. White-walled guest rooms feel spacious and airy, and most have river views. Dark-wood banquettes replace traditional desks, and pocket doors lead into the bright bathrooms. Even though the hotel is three short blocks from the center of the Reeperbahn, there is little noise, either from revelers outside or those who sip expensive cocktails and peruse the views in the 20up bar. If you want to fortify yourself before heading out for the night, a sushi bar opens in David’s lounge bar on the ground floor daily at 5 pm. Pros: close to nightlife; excellent view of the city and river; bright rooms; free Wi-Fi. Cons: a steep hill separates the hotel from the harbor; top-floor bar gets crowded after 9 pm on weekends. | Rooms from: €159 | Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 97, St. Pauli | 040/311-190 | | 315 rooms, 12 suites | No meals | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

Fritz im Pyjama.
$$ | HOTEL | Previously just a convenient spot to lay your head, this little hotel squeezed into an old apartment building in the center of the Schanzenviertel has been transformed by new ownership into fun, swinging-’60s-style accommodations. Guest rooms remain small, but their previously minimalist interiors have been decked out with stylish flower-print and geometric-shape wallpaper, crystal fruit-bowl lampshades, and vintage teacups and saucers. Modern touches include flat-screen TVs and standard hotel beds that feel a little out of place next to the retro armchairs and tables. Given that space is at a premium, there’s no breakfast room, but room service is available. Pros: unique, funky accommodations; S- and U-bahn stations directly across the street; myriad eating and drinking options nearby. Cons: noise from nearby train tracks; area crowded on weekend nights; difficult to find parking. | Rooms from: €115 | Schanzenstr. 101-103, Schanzenviertel | 040/8222-2830 | | 17 rooms | No meals | Station: Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Hotel Hafen Hamburg.
$$ | HOTEL | This harbor landmark, just across from the famous St. Pauli Landungsbrücken and a few streets back from the Reeperbahn, is a good value considering its four-star status. The main part of the hotel has small but nicely renovated rooms, while the modern tower annex offers a great view of the harbor. The location makes this hotel a perfect starting point for exploring St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn. Venture down the road to the Portuguese Quarter to try unbelievable food from the Iberian Peninsula. The Tower Bar is a popular Hamburg hangout and a great spot for a sundowner. Pros: top location for harbor and St. Pauli sightseeing; in the heart of the city’s best nightlife; Port restaurant serves good-quality Hanseatic fare. Cons: hotel spread between three separate buildings; a bit of a climb to reach hotel from the pier. | Rooms from: €140 | Seewartenstr. 7-9, St. Pauli | 040/311-130 | | 380 rooms | No meals | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Mövenpick Hotel Hamburg.
$$ | HOTEL | For its Hamburg outpost, the Mövenpick chain transformed a 19th-century water tower on a hill in the middle of the leafy Schanzenpark into a state-of-the-art hotel. Behind the handsome facade, much of the original tower still remains; the lobby features brick walls and vaulted ceilings, while steel from the structure frames guest-room doors. The guest rooms are all reasonably sized and stylishly modern, but the farther you climb the hotel, the greater the comfort and views. The many amenities here include an excellent restaurant serving international and Swiss cuisine, as well as a gym and spa. Pros: in the middle of a quiet park; unique building; amazing views from upper floors; English-language newspaper available in restaurant. Cons: modern styling will feel a little sterile to some; some lower-level rooms have ordinary views. | Rooms from: €139 | Sternschanze 6, Schanzenviertel | 040/334-4110 | | 226 rooms, 10 suites | No meals | Station: Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).


The George Hotel.
$$$ | HOTEL | At the end of a strip of funky cafés and bars that stretches down from the central station, the George, with its groovy New British styling and renowned gin and whisky bar, fits right in. Champagnes, grays, and browns mix throughout guest rooms, and large arty photographs add life throughout the hotel. In the small lobby, wingback chairs and textured wallpaper, both covered in shades of black, are illuminated by soft lighting. The hotel has a rooftop bar with views of the Alster and the setting sun. Despite the sleek look and the hip guests, the staff is eager to please and, in keeping with the British theme, afternoon tea is served in the bar at 3 pm. Pros: bar serves some of the best G&Ts in town; DJs play in the hotel on weekends; a stone’s throw from the Alster. Cons: can be noisy, particularly for guests on the first floor; rooftop bar’s lounge music won’t be to everyone’s taste; no gym. | Rooms from: €185 | Barcastr. 3, St. Georg | 040/280-0300 | | 118 rooms, 7 suites | No meals | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn), AK St. Georg (Bus No. 6).

Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg.
$$$$ | HOTEL | There are few hotels in Germany more sumptuous than this gracious Edwardian palace facing the Aussenalster, which draws both celebrities and the not-so-famous searching for a luxe retreat. Built in 1909 for first-class passengers about to travel across the Atlantic, the hotel still exudes class. Tasteful desert hues mingle with deep-color furnishings in guest rooms, and Murano crystal chandeliers light belle-epoque interiors. The marble-covered bathrooms have heated floors, and there are Bose sound systems and iPod docking stations in the large rooms. Guests can relax in the stately elegance of the lobby or in the outdoor courtyard, with only a gurgling fountain to disturb the peace. Pros: large rooms; great views of lakeside skyline; impeccable service; historic flair. Cons: public areas can be crowded; faces onto a busy thoroughfare. | Rooms from: €229 | An der Alster 72-79, St. Georg | 040/28880 | | 188 rooms, 33 suites | No meals | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Hotel Village.
$ | HOTEL | Near the central train station and once a thriving brothel, this hotel and its red-and-black carpets, glossy wallpaper, and dinky chandeliers still exudes lasciviousness. In keeping with the hotel’s sordid past, some rooms even have replicas of the old large beds, complete with a canopy and revolving mirror. It’s a popular location for magazine shoots. Pros: in the heart of downtown; individually designed rooms; fun interior design; free coffee at reception. Cons: sometimes casual service; although it’s slowly being gentrified, the neighborhood remains a little seedy. | Rooms from: €90 | Steindamm 4, St. Georg | 040/480-6490 | | 20 rooms, 3 suites, 4 apartments | No meals | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn/S-bahn).

Le Royal Méridien Hamburg.
$$$ | HOTEL | This luxury hotel along the Alster oozes beauty inside and out, with contemporary art on view throughout—including the elevator. The sleek but unassuming facade and ultramodern interior might border on cold, but the outstanding spa and wellness area (complete with an indoor lap pool) and the impeccable service make you feel quickly at ease. The staff is the perfect blend of helpful and friendly. The hotel offers guests complimentary entry to the nearby Deichtorhallen art galleries and, in warm weather, a free ferry takes you across the Aussenalster to Jungfernstieg. Pros: great location with views of the Alster; smartly designed, large rooms; more than 650 art works decorate the hotel. Cons: basic gym facilities; top-floor bar and restaurant can be crowded. | Rooms from: €189 | An der Alster 52-56, St. Georg | 040/21000 | | 265 rooms, 19 suites | No meals | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Steen’s Hotel.
$ | HOTEL | This small, family-run hotel in a four-story town house near the central train station provides modest but congenial service. The rooms have enough space but lack atmosphere, and bathrooms are tiny. A great plus are the comfortable beds with reclining head- and footrests. The breakfasts amply make up for the uninspired rooms, and the hotel’s garage is a blessing, because there’s never a parking space in this neighborhood. Pros: highly competitive prices; good breakfast; friendly service. Cons: rooms fairly plain; few amenities and hotel services; no elevator. | Rooms from: €95 | Holzdamm 43, St. Georg | 040/244-642 | | 15 rooms | Breakfast | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Fodor’s Choice | Wedina.
$$ | HOTEL | A laid-back oasis in the bustling neighborhood of St. Georg, this unique small hotel is spread over four different buildings a short amble from the outer Alster. The Wedina’s red, blue, green, pink, and yellow houses have themes that include “Tuscany” and “Literature.” It’s renowned for the famous authors, including J. K. Rowling and Jonathan Safran Foer, who have stayed here while giving readings at the nearby Literaturhaus. The red house has a small library of books signed by the hotel’s literary guests, while the green “architecture” house is distinguished by smooth concrete and natural wood and looks out onto a peaceful “Swiss Zen” garden. All lodgings are a half block from the Aussenalster and a brisk 10-minute walk from the train station. Rent a bike from the hotel to tour the Alster. Pros: cozy, comfortable, and quiet rooms; very accommodating; knowledgeable staff; great breakfast. Cons: hotel spread over several buildings; smallish rooms. | Rooms from: €145 | Gurlittstr. 23, St. Georg | 040/280-8900 | | 46 rooms, 13 apartments | Breakfast | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn), Gurlittstrasse (Bus No. 6).


Fodor’s Choice | 25Hours Hotel HafenCity.
$$ | HOTEL | Despite its bland, modern office block exterior, this trendy HafenCity hotel is full of fun, from guest rooms that resemble designer ship cabins to a chill-out room with retro couches and a record player for guests to use. In obvious nods to the area’s maritime and trade heritage, there are chests converted into writing desks in guest rooms, oriental carpets stacked to form couches in the restaurant, and a container repurposed as a conference room. Throw in the groovy bar, excellent fish and chips served in its restaurant, and free use of a MINI or BMW car, and it’s understandable why this welcoming hotel buzzes with city-trippers, businesspeople, and young families almost every night of the week. Pros: has a little shop selling magazines and souvenirs; up-and-coming part of town; something outside the norm. Cons: quiet, but directly across from a construction site; not a lot of other nightlife options within walking distance. | Rooms from: €135 | Überseeallee 5, Speicherstadt | 040/257-7770 | | 170 rooms | No meals | Station: Überseequartier (U-bahn).


Gastwerk Hotel Hamburg.
$$ | HOTEL | Proudly dubbing itself Hamburg’s first design hotel, the Gastwerk, named after the 120-year-old gasworks it’s housed inside, is certainly one of the most stylish places to stay in town. Incredibly chic furnishings, warm woods, and thick carpets and drapes complement the industrial grandeur of the hotel, and its large, modern guest rooms all have renovated bathrooms, docking stations, and satelitte TVs. The loft rooms, with large windows, exposed brick walls, and tons of space, are well worth the extra cost. Pros: free English-language newspapers; free use of a MINI car. Cons: removed from downtown area and most sightseeing spots; breakfast room, bar, and other public spaces can get crowded. | Rooms from: €160 | Beim Alten Gaswerk 3, Altona | 040/890-620 | | 127 rooms, 14 suites | No meals | Station: Bahrenfeld (S-bahn).

25hours Hotel Number One.
$$ | HOTEL | Packing fun and retro design into a relaxed package that includes beanbag chairs, shag carpets, and bold wallpapers, this is the type of place for travelers seeking something a bit different. Happily for those who decide to stay here, there’s a load of freebies that come on top. Guests get a free bottle of beer at check-in, free ice cream in summer, free high-speed Wi-Fi, and free use of a MINI car or bikes during the day. There’s also a 15% discount for those under 26, but given all the extras and the hotel’s friendly staff, it’s unsurprising that it’s popular with families and business travelers as well. Pros:’60s and ‘70s retro style sets it apart; shopping center and supermarket nearby. Cons: removed from the city center; a 10-minute walk to the nearest train station. | Rooms from: €135 | 2 Paul-Dessau-Str., Altona | 040/855-070 | | 128 rooms | No meals | Station: Bahrenfeld (S-bahn).


Fodor’s Choice | Hotel Louis C. Jacob.
$$$$ | HOTEL | Those who make the effort to travel 20 minutes from the center of town to this small yet luxurious hotel perched above Elbe will gain a mixture of sophistication, Michelin-starred dining, and fine Hanseatic hospitality. Founded in 1791, the hotel has drawn plenty of famous names to its chandeliered dining room and oak floored guest rooms over the years. Artist Max Liebermann stayed here and painted its leafy terrace with linden trees, and a suite still bears his name. From one of the hotel’s tastefully appointed, river-view rooms you can watch passing ships, while the spacious rooms of the hotel’s more modern wing across the road look onto manicured little courtyards. Pros: outstanding service with attention to personal requests; quiet, serene setting; historic building; extremely comfortable beds. Cons: lounge is a little stuffy; away from downtown area and most nightlife, restaurants, and shopping; expensive. | Rooms from: €275 | Elbchaussee 401-403, Blankenese | 040/822-550 | | 66 rooms, 19 suites | No meals | Station: Hochkamp (S-bahn).

Lindner Park-Hotel Hagenbeck.
$$ | HOTEL | Everything at this hotel is aimed at transporting you from metropolitan Hamburg to the wilds of Asia and Africa. Inspired by its location right next to the zoo, the hotel features artwork, furnishings, and even aromas from these continents to create spaces reminiscent of 19th-century safari outposts. The hotel also has every modern amenity, and the staff is friendly and competent. Because it is not in the heart of Hamburg, rooms are generous in size and many have balconies. Restaurant Augila produces an eclectic array of Indian and African dishes, which taste great but are not overly spicy. You can buy tickets to Tierpark Hagenbeck and the Tropen Aquarium at a 25% discount from the concierge. Pros: smartly designed Africa and Asia theme carried throughout hotel; a/c in guest rooms; good restaurant. Cons: removed from the city center; not much else going on in the immediate area. | Rooms from: €149 | Hagenbeckstr. 150, Stellingen | 040/8008-08100 | | 151 rooms, 7 suites | No meals | Station: Hagenbecks Tierpark (U-bahn).

Nippon Hotel.
$$ | HOTEL | You’ll be asked to remove your shoes before entering your room at this small but welcoming Japanese-style hotel, where tatami mats line the floor and shoji blinds cover the windows. The authenticity might make things a bit too spartan for some, but by cutting some Western-style comforts without skimping on service, the hotel offers good value in the attractive lakeside neighborhood of Uhlenhorst. Pros: quiet, residential neighborhood; a/c in guest rooms; unique experience. Cons: location removed from major sightseeing attractions; limited parking. | Rooms from: €138 | Hofweg 75,Uhlenhorst | 040/227-1140 | | 41 rooms, 1 suite | No meals | Station: Mundsburg (U-bahn), Zimmerstrasse (Bus No. M6).

$ | HOTEL | Housed in a historic villa that’s an easy walk from the Schanzenviertel, this friendly, modern little hotel was originally designed and priced to attract a young, cosmopolitan crowd, but has also found favor among families and business travelers. Guest rooms can sometimes be on the small side, but they are all tastefully outfitted with wooden shutters on the windows and black slate in the bathrooms. Despite the minimal style, the hotel has an obvious warmth; staffers are helpful, and if you find yourself wanting a quiet night in, there’s a good Middle Eastern restaurant, Mazza, on the ground floor, as well as DVDs you can borrow from reception. Pros: quiet neighborhood; reasonable prices without skimping on quality; free parking. Cons: sometimes noisy due to young travelers; removed from all major sights. | Rooms from: €99 | Moorkamp 5, Eimsbüttel | 040/284-1910 | | 30 rooms | No meals | Station: Christuskirche (U-bahn), Schlump (U-bahn).

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Nightlife and Performing Arts

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Nightlife | Performing Arts



Jazz and Live Music

Cotton Club.
A visit to the Cotton Club, Hamburg’s oldest jazz club, is worth it for the house beer alone. Throw in the club’s relaxed vibe and nights devoted to jazz, blues, soul, and Dixieland, and it’s not difficult to find a reason to drop in. | Alter Steinweg 10, Neustadt | 040/343-878 | | Station: Stadthausbrücke (S-bahn).


Whether you think it sexy or seedy, the Reeperbahn and its nightlife defines Hamburg as much as as the upscale department stores and boutiques on Jungfernstiegasse. St Pauli’s main drag is peppered with bars and clubs, while its most famous side street, Grosse Freiheit, heaves with dance clubs every night of the week. Hans-Elber-Platz also has a cluster of bars, some with live music.


Unsurprisingly for an area known as an entertainment district, St. Pauli has an enormous spectrum of places to get a drink, from cheap beer-and-shots dive bars to high-rise cocktail joints and everything in between.

Discreetly positioned on a quiet corner an easy meander down from the Reeperbahn is one of St Pauli’s coziest cocktail bars. Inside, red leather stools flank an enormously well-stocked bar staffed by knowledgeable and friendly bartenders. | Pinnasberg 60, St. Pauli | 040/317-2863 | | Closed Sun. | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

With its fancy cocktails and “reservations recommended” exclusivitiy, the Mandalay verges on being out of place among the shabby-chic pubs and bars typical of the Schanzenviertel, but its sleek styling and eclectic mix of swing, ambient, and disco nights ensures its enduring popularity. | Neuer Pferdemarkt 13, Schanzenviertel | 040/4321-4922 | | Closed Sun.-Tues. | Station:Feldstrasse (U-bahn).

Tower Bar at Hotel Hafen Hamburg.
Facing stiff competition from a number of newly opened and similarly loftily perched cocktail joints, the Tower Bar may have aged a tad since its opening in 1987, but its service, reasonably priced drinks, and views over the harbor and city all remain good reasons to reserve a window table for a sundowner or two. | Seewartenstr. 9, St. Pauli | 040/31113-70450 | | Station:Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

20up at the Empire Riverside Hotel.
For a smooth cocktail, cool lounge music, and jaw-droppingly good views over the city and harbor, try this bar, which is one of the most popular nightspots in town. It’s best to book ahead, particularly on weekends. | Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 97, St. Pauli | 040/31119-70470 | | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

Yakshi’s Bar at the east Hotel.
With its combination of exposed brickwork, soft lighting, and soothing, curvy shapes—not to mention a drinks menu that runs to more than 250 different drinks, shots, and cocktails—it’s little wonder that this popular cocktail bar draws fashionable people of all ages. | Simon-von-Utrecht-Str. 31, St. Pauli | 040/309-930 | | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn).

Cabaret Theater

Schmidts Theater and Schmidts Tivoli.
The quirky Schmidt Theater and Schmidts Tivoli has become Germany’s most popular variety theater, presenting a classy repertoire of live music, vaudeville, and cabaret. | Spielbudenpl. 24-28, St. Pauli | 040/3177-8899 | | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn), St. Pauli (U-bahn).

Nightlife in Hamburg

People flock to Hamburg for shopping, but there’s much more to experience come nightfall. The city has plenty of places where you can hop from bar to bar or lounge to lounge. Here are some of the most fun streets in Hamburg:

Grindelallee and side streets in the Univiertel: Home to the Universität der Hamburg, the quarter, with its mix of affordable cafés and Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants, is popular with students and townies alike.

Grosse Elbstrasse in Altona: This is the home of the Altona Fischmarkt and a variety of popular riverside restaurants and bars.

Grossneumarkt: This square is packed with comfortable, relaxing pubs and German restaurants. In summer it’s a popular meeting point for Hamburgers who want to sit outside and eat and drink in relaxed surroundings.

Reeperbahn, Grosse Freiheit, and the streets around Spielbudenplatz in St. Pauli: This sinful mile has everything—strip clubs, pubs, live music, dive bars, and nightclubs. It’s loud and crazy and fun just to walk up and down the streets.

Schanzenstrasse in Sternschanze: Hipsters flock to this compact row of buzzing bars and laid-back lounges that pour onto the sidewalk when the weather is warm.

Dance Clubs

Mojo Club.
After changing locations, the storied Mojo Club has been reborn and is now located beneath a spaceship-like hatch, which rises out of the sidewalk to allow in revelers who come to see live local and international acts, as well as DJs spinning jazz, funk, soul, and electronic beats. | Reeperbahn 1, St. Pauli | 040/319-1999 | | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn), Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

Stage Club.
On the first floor of the Theater Neue Flora, the Stage Club is a popular spot with a mostly older crowd, who turn up to see acts as diverse as Adele, Nigel Kennedy, and Right Said Fred, and dance to Latin and ‘80s sounds. | Stresemannstr. 163, Schanzenviertel | 040/4316-5460 | | Station: Holstenstr. (S-bahn).

Jazz and Live Music

There’s a stylish bar here, as well as one of Hamburg’s largest venues for live music acts from around the world. Once the stage has been cleared, techno and house parties keep Docks rocking late into the night. | Spielbudenpl. 19, St. Pauli | 040/317-8830 | | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn), Reeperbahn (S-bahn).

Grosse Freiheit 36.
One of the best-known nightspots in town, Grosse Freiheit 36 has made its name as both a popular venue for big names from around the world and as the location of the Kaiserkeller, a nightclub where the Beatles once played that’s still going strong. | Grosse Freiheit 36, St. Pauli | 040/317-7780 | | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn), St. Pauli (U-bahn).

Indra Club.
The Beatles’ first stop on the road to fame was the Indra Club. The club’s owner, Bruno Koschmider, asked for one thing, and that was a wild show. These days, the Indra is still a nightclub, with live music acts nearly every night. | Grosse Freiheit 64, St. Pauli | | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn), St. Pauli (U-bahn).


Altes Mädchen.
Beer fans will be hard-pressed to find a better spot in town to sample that amber nectar. With a number of local beers on tap and more than 60 craft beers to order from, plus a decent selection of German pub food, it’s unsurprising that this gastropub has maintained a glowing reputation since opening in early 2013. | Lagerstr. 28b, Schanzenviertel | 040/8000-77750 | | Station:Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Gretel und Alfons.
Northern Germans are not best known for mingling, but at this small pub in the middle of Grosse Freiheit, you can strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Perhaps that’s why it was a firm favorite with the Beatles, who could often be found here when not performing at a number of clubs on the street. | Grosse Freiheit 29, St. Pauli | 040/313-491 | | Station: Reeperbahn (S-bahn), St. Pauli (U-bahn).



Bar DaCaio at the George Hotel.
This bar has a black-on-black design, good looks all over, great service, and endless drink options. It’s also within one of the hottest hotels in town. | Barcastr. 3, St. Georg | 040/280-0300 | | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn and S-bahn), AK St. Georg (Bus No. 6).

Dance Clubs

Golden Cut.
Just across from the main train station, this place swells on weekends with a fairly chic crowd who party to DJs pumping out house, hip-hop, and electronic sounds. | Holzdamm 61, St. Georg | 040/8510-3532 | | Station: Hauptbahnhof (U-bahn).


The arts flourish in this cosmopolitan city. Hamburg’s ballet company is one of the finest in Europe, and the Hamburger Ballett-Tage, its annual festival, brings the best from around the world to the city.

At the end of September, the city comes alive with movie showings. The Hamburg Film Festival features the best feature films, documentaries, short films, and children’s movies. About 80% of the films are in English or have English subtitles. For two weeks, thousands of people watch mainstream and quirky films in various theaters around town.

Information on all major events is available on the Hamburg Tourism Office website. TIP The best way to order tickets for all major Hamburg theaters, musicals, and most cultural events is through the Hamburg-Hotline (040/3005-1300).


Funke Konzertkassen.
Hamburg’s largest ticket seller has box offices throughout Hamburg, including one at Dammtor train station with English-speaking agents. The website is only in German, but a ticket hotline will connect you with English-speaking representatives. | Dammtorbahnhof, Dag-Hammarskjöldpl. 15, Neustadt | 040/4501-18676 | | Station: Stephansplatz (U-bahn).
The city’s official website is a good source for information about cultural and arts events in the city. Just click on the “What’s on” tab. | Hamburg |

A number of agencies, including the Hamburg tourist office at Landungsbrücken, sell tickets for plays, concerts, and the ballet. Tickets can also be booked online or via the hotline in English. | Between Brücke (Piers) 4 and 5, St. Pauli | 040/3005-1701 | | Station: Landungsbrücken (S-bahn).

Stage Entertainment.
Tickets and information about musicals currently running in Hamburg are available online or by calling the pay-per-minute hotline. | 01805/4444 |


Hamburgische Staatsoper.
One of the most beautiful theaters in the country, the Hamburgische Staatsoper is the leading northern German venue for opera and ballet. The Hamburg Ballet has been directed by the renowned American choreographer John Neumeier since 1973. | Grosse Theaterstr. 25, Neustadt | 040/356-868 | | Station: Stephansplatz (U-bahn), Gänsemarkt (U-bahn).

Stage Operettenhaus.
The Stage Operettenhaus stages productions of top musicals including the musical adaptation of Rocky, and Love Never Die s, the follow-up to The Phantom of the Opera. Tours of the theater are also available. | Spielbudenpl. 1, St. Pauli | 01805/4444 ticket hotline (pay per minute), 040/311-170 theater | | Station: St. Pauli (U-bahn), Reeperbahn (S-bahn).


Both the Philharmoniker Hamburg (Hamburg Philharmonic) and the Hamburger Symphoniker (Hamburg Symphony) appear regularly in the magnificent neo-baroque interior of the Laeiszhalle, which also hosts international orchestras and some of the biggest names in contemporary music. | Johannes-Brahms-Pl., Neustadt | 040/3576-6666 | | Station: Messehallen (U-bahn), Gänsemarkt (U-bahn).


Both dubbed into German and in the original language with subtitles, mainstream, art-house, and independent films are shown at this comfy, three-screen movie theater next to the University of Hamburg. | Allendepl. 3, Neustadt | 040/320-320 | | Station: Hallerstrasse (U-bahn).

Savoy Filmtheater.
The Savoy’s a fantastic, old-school movie theater with impressive modern features that include high-quality sound and enormous, reclinable leather seats. It shows mainstream and independent movies in English. | Steindamm 54, St. Georg | 040/2840-93628 | | Station: Lohmühlenstrasse (U-bahn), Hauptbahnhof Sud (U-bahn and S-bahn).


Deutsches Schauspielhaus.
One of Germany’s leading drama stages, Deutsches Schauspielhaus has been lavishly restored to its full 19th-century opulence. It’s the most important venue in town for classical and modern theater. | Kirchenallee 39, St. Georg | 040/248-710 | | Station: Huptbahnhof (U-bahn).

English Theatre of Hamburg.
The name says it all: the English Theatre, first opened in 1976, is the city’s premier theater for works in English. Actors from near and far bring contemporary and classic drama to life on the small stage of this historic building. | Lerchenfeld 14, Uhlenhorst | 040/227-7089 | | Station: Mundsburg (U-bahn).

Neue Flora Theater.
Handily located just across the street from the Holstenstrasse S-bahn, the 2,000-seat Neue Flora attracts big crowds, who come for popular, long-running musicals such as Tarzan and The Phantom of the Opera. | Stresemannstr. 159a at Alsenstr., Schanzenviertel | 01805/4444 ticket hotline (pay per minute), 040/4316-5133 theater | | Station: Holstenstrasse (S-bahn).

Theater im Hamburger Hafen.
Theater im Hamburger Hafen is home to Der König der Löwen, a German version of the hit musical The Lion King. The easiest way to reach the theater, which is on the south side of the Elbe, is by ferry from St. Pauli Landungsbrücken. | Rohrweg 13, St. Pauli | 01805/4444 (pay-per-minute hotline) | | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn), then ferry.

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Sports and the Outdoors

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Bicycling | Jogging | Sailing


More or less flat as a pancake, and with dedicated cycle paths running parallel to sidewalks throughout the city, Hamburg’s an incredibly bike-friendly place. A number of hotels let their guests borrow bikes, but perhaps the most convenient option is to hire a “Stadtrad”—a city bike. Chunky and red framed, and outfitted with locks and lights, they can be picked up and dropped off at a multitude of locations around the city, including at the Hauptbahnhof, at larger U-bahn and S-bahn stations, and near popular tourist spots. Bikes are free for the first 30 minutes, and then cost 8¢ per minute up to a maximum daily rate of €12. For more information and to register, visit

Hamburg City Cycles.
From a central location, this friendly little outfit rents bikes and also offers guided tours around the city and day trips to destinations that are farther afield, such as Lüneburg and Kiel. | Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 89-91, St. Pauli | 040/7421-4420 | | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn).


The best places for going for a run are the Planten un Blomen and Alter Botanischer Garten parks and along the leafy promenade around the Alster. The latter route is about 7 km (4 miles) long.


A lovely way to see Hamburg is from the water, and visitors to the city can rent paddleboats, canoes, rowboats, and sailboats on the Outer Alster in summer between 10 am and 9 pm. Rowboats cost around €18 an hour, and sailboats about €26 an hour assuming you have a sailing license. A list of various operators around the lake and farther afield can be found on the Hamburg Tourismus website (

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Shopping Districts | Altstadt and Neustadt | St. Pauli and Schanzenviertel | Altona and Ottensen | Blankenese and Elsewhere

Although not appearing as rich or sumptuous as Düsseldorf or Munich, Hamburg is nevertheless expensive, and ranks first among Germany’s shopping experiences. Some of the country’s premier designers, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Jil Sander, and Wolfgang Joop, are native Hamburgers, or at least worked here for quite some time. Hamburg has the greatest number of shopping malls in the country—they’re mostly small, elegant downtown arcades offering entertainment, fashion, and fine food.

All the big luxury names—Chanel, Versace, Armani, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany—are found in the warren of streets bounded by Jungferstieg, the Rathaus, and Neue ABC-Strasse. International chain stores, like Fossil, Adidas, and MAC, and European chains, such as Görtz shoe stores, Zara clothing stores, and Christ jewelry stores, and German department stores mingle on Mönckebergstrasse. Independent boutiques sell primarily distinguished and somewhat conservative fashion; understatement is the style here. Eppendorf offers miles of unique shops for shoes, clothes, home design, and housewares with quaint cafés sprinkled among them. Sternschanze offers a funky mix of stores selling cool home accessories and fashion, with dive bars and small restaurants for pit stops.


Hamburg’s shopping districts are among the most elegant on the continent, and the city has Europe’s largest expanse of covered shopping arcades, most of them packed with small, exclusive boutiques. The streets Grosse Bleichen and Neuer Wall, which lead off Jungfernstieg, are a big-ticket zone. The Grosse Bleichen holds four malls with the most sought-after labels, and several of these shopping centers are connected. The marble-clad Galleria is reminiscent of London’s Burlington Arcade. Daylight streams through the immense glass ceilings of the Hanse-Viertel, an otherwise ordinary reddish-brown brick building. At 101, Kaufmannshaus is one of the oldest malls in Hamburg. Steps away from these retail giants are the fashionable Hamburger Hof, the historic Alte Post with a beautiful, waterfront promenade, the posh Bleichenhof, and the stunningly designed, larger Europa Passage mall.

In the fashionable Rotherbaum district, take a look at Milchstrasse and Mittelweg. Both are filled with small boutiques, restaurants, and cafés.

Walk down Susannenstrasse and Schanzestrasse in Sternschanze to find unique clothes, things for the home, and even LPs. Eppendorfer Landstrasse and Eppendorfer Weg are brimming with stores that sell clothing in every flavor—high-end labels, casual wear, sportswear, German designers—and elegant and fun home decor.

Running from the main train station to Gerhard-Hauptmann-Platz, the boulevard Spitalerstrasse is a pedestrian-only street lined with stores. TIP Prices here are noticeably lower than those on Jungfernstieg.



Neustadt and St. Georg.
ABC-Strasse in the Neustadt is a happy hunting ground for antiques lovers, as are the shops in the St. Georg district behind the train station, especially those along Lange Reihe and Koppel. You’ll find a mixture of genuine antiques (Antiquitäten) and junk (Trödel) there. You’ll also be lucky if you find many bargains, however. | Hamburg.


Hamburg’s large and high-end department store is a favorite with locals, as well as an elegant landmark. A food hall and a champagne bar on the top level are both worth a stop. | Jungfernstieg 16-20, Neustadt | 040/3590-1218 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn).

Europa Passage.
With 120 shops over five stories, a food hall, an ice-cream stand and even a Michelin-star restaurant, this shopping mall slap-bang in the middle of town almost literally has something for everyone. | Ballindamm 40, Altstadt | 040/3009-2640 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn).

Hamburger Hof.
The historic Hamburger Hof is one of the most beautiful, upscale shopping complexes in town, with a wide variety of designer clothing, jewelry, and gift stores that cater primarily to women. | Jungfernstieg 26-30/Grosse Bleichen, Neustadt | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Germany’s leading department-store chain isn’t as posh as the Alsterhaus, but it still has a good and varied selection of clothing, perfume, watches, household goods, and food. Hamburg’s downtown Karstadt Sports, which is up the street from the main store at Lange Mührn 14, is the city’s best place to shop for sports clothing and gear. | Mönckebergstr. 16, Altstadt | 040/30940 | | Station:Mönckebergstrasse (U-bahn), Rathaus (U-bahn).


Germany’s largest seller of fine jewelry has two locations in Hamburg, and this is its flagship. The selection of watches here is particularly outstanding. | Jungfernstieg 8, Neustadt | 040/3344-8824 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).


Occupying the entire five floors of a handsome Dutch Renaissance building in the middle of town, Thomas-I-Punkt has long been supplying the fashion-conscious with trendy brand and private label clothes and shoes. | Mönckebergstr. 21, Altstadt | 040/327-172 | | Station: Rathaus (U-bahn), Mönckebergstrasse (U-bahn).

The Hamburg outlet of the chain store is the city’s largest store for men’s clothes. Wormland offers both affordable yet very fashionable clothes, as well as (much more expensive) top designer wear. | Europa Passage, Ballindamm 40, Altstadt | 040/4689-92700 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).


& other stories.
A part of the ever-expanding H&M empire, this recent addition to Neuer Wall specializes in premium brand yet alternative clothes, bags, jewelry, and cosmetics, designed to be mixed and matched. | Neuer Wall 20, Neustadt | 040/5003-2251 | | Station: Jungfernstieg (U-bahn and S-bahn).



Germans in search of a great deal love a good Flohmarkt (Flea market). These markets unfold every weekend throughout Hamburg, and the best of the lot may be the one at Flohschanze. With acres of clothes, furniture, books, CDs, records, home accessories, jewelry, and art, the market attracts both collectors and bargain hunters every Saturday from 8 until 4. | Neuer Kamp 30, Schanzenviertel | 040/270-2766 | | Station: Feldstrasse (U-bahn).


The two storefronts here are filled with wacky knickknacks, useful home appliances, and modern home accessories, all at reasonable prices. | Susannenstr. 39, Schanzenviertel | 040/433-814 | Station:Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Captain’s Cabin.
Don’t miss this Hamburg institution, which is the best place for all of the city’s specialty maritime goods, including elaborate model ships and brass telescopes. | Landungsbrücken 3, St. Pauli | 040/316-373 | | Station: Landungsbrücken (U-bahn and S-bahn).

At this funky little shop, many of the quirky notebooks, earrings, handbags, and postcards are made by local designers, who rent shelves in the shop to sell their products. It’s a great place for creative gift ideas. | Weidenallee 17, Schanzenviertel | 040/3199-3729 | | Station: Schlump (U-bahn), Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn), Christuskirche (U-bahn).


Herr von Eden.
Fine tailored suits and everything else you need to look like a true gentleman are sold at this elegant and ultrahip store on the vintage-clothing paradise of Marktstrasse. | Marktstr. 33, Schanzenviertel | 040/439-0057 | | Station: Feldstrasse (U-bahn).


Mimulus Naturkosmetik.
The all-natural cosmetics and toiletries here, as well as the facial and body treatments, are available at surprisingly reasonable prices. | Schanzenstr. 39a, Schanzenviertel | 040/430-8037 | | Station: Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).


This small emporium sells trendy sportswear, shoes, accessories, and jewelry for women. There’s also a small selection of casual clothing for men. | Susannenstr. 13, Schanzenviertel | 40/3619-3329 | Station:Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Kauf dich glücklich.
With a name that translates to “Shop yourself happy,” this inviting store—one of two in the Schanzenviertel—sells clothes and shoes for men and women, as well as sunglasses, jewelry, scarves, hats, and other accessories. | Susannenstr. 4, Schanzenviertel | 040/4922-2221 | | Station: Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Head here for a mix of casual clothes, shoes, colorful items for the home, and small jewelry. | Schanzenstr. 97, Schanzenviertel | 040/343-741 | | Station: Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn).

Purple Pink.
The tiny shop sells a good selection of cool Scandinavian labels, such as Stine Goya, Carin Wester, and Minimarket. It’s also great for jewelry and bags. | Weidenallee 21, Schanzenviertel | 040/4321-5379 | | Station: Schlump (U-bahn), Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn), Christuskirche (U-bahn).

Primarily known for its funky wallpapers, handmade lamps, and retro-style furniture, this great little design store on the increasingly trendy Weidenallee also sells stylish modern clothes and accessories. | Weidenallee 23, Schanzenviertel | 040/2878-1227 | | Station: Schlump (U-bahn), Sternschanze (U-bahn and S-bahn), Christuskirche (U-bahn).



Pick N Weight.
The concept here is fairly simple: paying for vintage clothes and accessories by how much they weigh rather than a fixed price per item. The store has a huge collection of pre-loved jeans, jackets, bags, and belts, which cost between €25 and €85 per kilo, depending on their label and quality. | Grosse Bergstr. 167, Altona | 040/4319-3334 | | Station: Altona (S-bahn).


This ultra-stylish shopping center next to the fish market is a one-stop source for contemporary furniture and home accessories. | Grosse Elbstr. 68, Altona | 040/3062-1100 | | Station:Königstrasse (S-bahn).



Wochenmarkt Blankenese.
This small but top-class food market in the heart of Blankenese manages to preserve the charm of a small village. It sells only fresh produce from what it considers environmentally-friendly farms. | Blankeneser Bahnhofstr., Blankenese | Tues. 8-2, Fri. 8-6, Sat. 8-1 | Station: Blankenese (S-bahn).


WohnDesign Così.
The most interesting pieces of contemporary design from around the world are on view at this home-furnishings store. | Eppendorfer Landstr. 48, Eppendorf | 040/470-670 | | Station: Kellinghusenstrasse (U-bahn), Eppendorfer Baum (U-bahn).


Anita Hass.
This impressive store covers several storefronts and carries the newest apparel, shoes, jewelry, handbags, and accessories, such as iPhone covers. It’s a Hamburg classic that carries both international brands and several German designers. | Eppendorfer Landstr. 60, Eppendorf | 040/465-909 | | Station: Kellinghusenstrasse (U-bahn).

The upscale shop on the handsome suburban thoroughfare of Isestrasse carries mostly clothing and accessories for women. | Isestr. 74, Harvestehude | 040/477-154 | | Station:Eppendorfer Baum (U-bahn).