My 27 top things to do in Hamburg
This time, I’m writing about the city, where I live. Hamburg. Some locals call it the most beautiful city in the world. You can argue about that. But one thing is for sure. There is a unique vibe in Hamburg. It’s about the smell of freedom at the harbor, the doves crying, the Elbe river floating, the ships moving, the street art fascinating and the local beer flowing. It’s about mingling with locals, tourists, travelers, pimps and prostitutes in the St.Pauli red-light-district, the bizarre existing, the bars inviting and the live vibrating.
I like to point out my 27 favorite things to do in Hamburg and places to visit in Hamburg, that travelers and backpackers on a budget trip might enjoy. If you stay for a weekend or a few days in Hamburg, you can discover the beauty of the city by foot or public transport.
One thing is for sure: Hamburg is the German city with the highest number of resident millionaires. But don’t worry too much. As long as you don’t need to compete for a flat and settle down here, you can find great tips for budget holidays in Hamburg. There are a lot of things to do in Hamburg – sometimes even for free. Let’s see, if Hamburg also becomes the most beautiful city for you in the end – or at least a cool flirt to remember.
1. Feel freedom at the harbor of Hamburg
One of my favorite places in Hamburg is the harbor. Go for a walk in the sun. Watch majestic ships floating by. Eat one of the overpriced bread rolls filled with fish – just don’t ask, where the fish got caught. For sure not in Hamburg. Take pictures of the sneaky doves. Have a look at some cheesy souvenirs and listen to old sailors or Eastern European immigrants playing accordion (different songs, same quality). With a bit of luck, you will also hear some young talented street musicians.
If the sun is shining, Hamburg harbor will put you in a very good mood! That’s why it is definitely on my list of top things to do in Hamburg on a weekend trip. Check out the area around the metro station Landungsbrücken.
- For a harbor beach bar feeling with a view on the Elbe, try Strand Pauli.
- Check out the free walking tours around the harbor here. The tours are based on tips. You can decide, what amount is considered fair for the performance. Tours are availbale in English, German and Spanish.
2. Have a break in Park Fiction
Chill next to mobile palm trees in a cool social art project at the harbor. The park has been set up in the 1990s. The idea behind it: More space for neighbors to chat and chill instead of building new complexes of flats and offices. Inhabitants of the area took part in creating the concept of the park including an open air solarium, a flying carpet and a fountain. No matter, if you recognize any of the ideas: Take a drink, sit down and enjoy the sunset.
3. Take a cheap Harbor round trip on public ferry No. 62
Whenever I need a bit of good vibes and fresh air in Hamburg, I hop on a public ferry. Boat No.62 takes you from the Landungsbrücken on an Elbe trip around the harbor. The ferry can be used with a normal public transport ticket – single ride or day ticket. There is a ticket machine on the boat and on most ferries a kiosk, where you can get yourself a soft drink or a beer.
Relax and enjoy the view from the top deck. You can hop on and off at each stop. The public ferry will take you along a few sights like the fish market in Altona, the Dockland with a great viewing platform, the museum harbor and the river beach at the stop Neumühlen. The round trip takes one hour. For budget travelers in Hamburg, it is a good alternative to the professional harbor cruises, which can cost up to 20 Euros per person for one hour. Just be aware, that the popular public ferry can be packed with tourists in summer and on weekends.
- Get information about the public ferry lines in Hamburg here.
4. Hop on a party boat to feel the Elbe waves
Another fun way to discover the Hamburg harbor in summer is a party boat tour. Different DJs will make you feel the sweet rythm on the water. I just love it. Get ready to swing your heels in the sunset. I like the afternoon tours even better, because the boat is not as packed. It might be cheesy. But don’t worry: None of your friends at home sees you going crazy on the party deck.
- Check out ticket prices here.
5. Start a gloomy trip into the Old Elbe Tunnel
Ready to start a gloomy 426,5 meters long walk underneath the river Elbe? It’s cold, gloomy and slightly bizarre. But when you are at the harbor already, take a look into the Old Elbe Tunnel. It’s for free. And it’s a fascinating sight. Get down with a lift (yes, there are lifts on each side of the tunnel, that many tourists just don’t see) or take the stairs.
The reward on the other side is a great view from a viewing platform on Hamburg’s Landungsbrücken. The tunnel has been built in 1911 to get the dock workers to work quickly. You can also use it for free by bicycle. If you want to take down a car, you need to pay 2 Euros for a one-way-ride. Just be aware, that you cannot go by car any time.
- Check out details, opening Times and prices here.
6. Chill at the Elbstrand till late
The Elbe beach called Elbstrand is a cool spot in spring or summer to chill in the sand till late, have a picnic or a drink and a snack in one of the beach cafés. On summer days, it’s one of Hamburg’s main attractions for locals. If you are unlucky, hundreds of people chill in the sand, and watch the big impressive container ships passing by. But no worries, the picture below has been taken on a public holiday in Hamburg.
Experiencing the Elbstrand is a cool thing to do in Hamburg all year round. In spring, autumn and winter, you might feel the melancholia of the sea and the travel bug biting you. And the Elbstrand is also a great spot to start a little walking tour around the beautiful old houses and villas with their sea views – or long walks at the river bench. And don’t worry: If you miss the last ferry back to the city center at night, you can still catch the bus!
- You will reach the Elbstrand in Hamburg by public ferry No. 62 from Landungsbrücken. Stop at Neumühlen/Oevelgönne
7. Go for Tapas and wine to the Portuguese Quarter
When Portuguese people left their home country, they always tried to settle close to the sea. In Hamburg, they choose the harbor area. What was once one of the poor districts of Hamburg attracts today lots of tourists. The Portuguese restaurants, bars, cafés and souvenir shops all located in beautiful 19th century buildings with outside sitting areas are usually filled with people in summer.
It’s not the cheapest area, but popular with seafood and tapas fans. Seeking for grilled fish? You will get it here. If you need a little break on your sightseeing trip across Hamburg, it is a cool place to have a coffee or a glass of wine – or shop some souvenirs. You find the Portuguese quarter close to the metro station Landungsbrücken – a few meters away from the harbor.
8. Meet pimps and prostitutes on the Reeperbahn
The Reeperbahn in St. Pauli is where Hamburg’s party heart is beating strong. It’s the place, where party people, tourists, homeless men and women, prostitutes, pimps, policemen and locals mingle between fast food restaurants, sex shops, bars, pubs, clubs, strip bars, theaters, concert halls, apartment buildings, hotels and souvenir shops. To experience the red-light-district with all its positive and negative side effects to its full extend, I would go there at nighttime.
Be ready for a mixture of flashing lights, cheesy bumping sounds, traffic noises, smells of food and alcohol, fun atmosphere, drunken party people dancing on tables and bizarre encounters. Even if you just want to go for a walk to get impressions, try the side streets Große Freiheit, Hamburger Berg and Hans-Albers-Platz. Many bars and pubs are free to get in, even if they have dance floors.
Hard to understand: You have streets like the „Herbertstraße“, where prostitutes offer their services. This street can just be entered by men. If you are a female, don’t even dare to go in there. Even if it is of course legally allowed to walk on all public streets, you won’t have much fun. It was the city of Hamburg, who set up the street as a closed complex for prostitutes around 1900.
But the red-light-district in general is also an area, where locals and tourists go for a drink and entertainment. Some locals at least. Even if you are a woman traveling alone, you don’t have to worry too much when going for a walk at nighttime. The atmosphere always reminds me of ta giant fairground. Be aware of drunk people late at night. Just use common sense, take care of your personal belongings and yourself. It is a must-see, even if you normally prefer other ways of amusements.
9. Take a roller coaster ride at the Dom Festival
If you like thrilling high-tech roller coaster, carousels, German sausages, fries and big fairground atmosphere, you should also visit the Hamburg Dom. It’s the biggest public festival in Northern Germany held three times a year. The entrance to the fairground is free. You will pay for each ride. Discounts for visitors are available on Wednesdays.
- Get information about dates and opening times here.
10. Discover the hip Schanzenviertel
In the quarter Schanzenviertel in Hamburg, you will meet young couples, groups of friends and young families looking for lunch deals at weekdays, breakfast or brunch offers at weekends or happy hour cocktails early in the evenings. No matter, if you look for Japanese, Arab, Turkish, Pakistani, Indian, Portuguese, Italian, French or American cuisine, you will find it here.
The Schanzenviertel offers a relaxed atmosphere with many outside sitting areas in the streets “Schulterblatt” or “Susannenstraße” between street art and shops. Relaxing here can be a great way to start a weekend in Hamburg.
Once, the Schanzenviertel in Hamburg had been an area attracting mainly artists, students and free spirits to settle and to shape the quarter. One symbol, that clearly points out the original character of the quarter is the “Rote Flora”, a non-commercial autonomous cultural center with a clear statement against right tendencies and fascist actions, where events and concerts take place.
The flair of the quarter attracts people of all parts of society. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular areas for young people to live. Prices for flats have risen. And you slowly see more expensive shops and chains opening their stores in the Schanzenviertel changing it slowly into a yuppie paradise. Still, it is a place to gather and to catch up. At least until new hip quarters will develop. Don’t get me wrong: The Schanzenviertel is really still worth hanging out there for a bit.
If you stay in the Schanzenviertel at 1st of May, you might witness the traditional “revolutionary” 1st of May demonstrations. In the past, next to peaceful colorful gatherings, Hamburg has often experienced also violent riots of the radical left. On that day, you will probably see an unusual high number of policemen around. Don’t worry too much. No one is interested in harming tourists or travelers during that day.
- If you are there in summer, also try the bar Central Park to get an urban city beach feeling on a chair in the white sand.
- Ever been on a Singer Songwriter Slam? It’s best entertainment in the bar Haus 73. The audience decides, who is winning the contest. It usually takes place on the last Friday of each month. Start is 9.30 pm. You are allowed to get in at 9pm. Be there at least at 8.30pm. The event is extremely popular and seats are limited. Entry: 7 Euros.
- My top tips for a good deal for a quick quality lunch: Falaffelstern or Balutschistan.
- For a cinema experience beyond the mainstream, check out the small cinema 3001. You will find many films in original language with German subtitles.
11. Open your eyes for street art in St. Pauli
Hamburg is colorful. Street art lovers won’t get disappointed. Just open your eyes. Taking pictures of street art is one of the cool things to do in Hamburg. If you go on a street art discovery tour by yourself, you can start in the Schanzenviertel around the main streets Susannenstraße and Schulterblatt (metro stop Sternschanze). Make you way by foot to the nearby Karoviertel (metro stop Feldstraße). And follow the flow along Wohlwillstraße and surrounding streets into the direction of the Reeperbahn and harbor.
- Find some secret tipps and explanations of Hamburg street art here.
12. Smell underground culture: Karo-Viertel
Just a few streets away at the metro stop Feldstraße, you can find the quarter Karo-Viertel. Same story. Cool place with a lot of cafés and small clothes shops around. As a teenager in the late 1990s, I often went there from my small hometown in the countryside to have a look in the vintage second hand shops, to buy Indian incense sticks and breathe a smell of underground culture and rebellion. You can still buy the insence sticks, get an impression of a pretty cool area to live in Hamburg. But the second-hand shops are unfortunately gone and replaced by designer stores.
- One tip for flea market lovers: Every Saturday, there is a lively flea market right at the metro stop Feldstraße called Flohschanze. Don’t expect to find the usual mix of second hand goods and rubbish. If you like to go for a little stroll, see quality flea market stuff and look for some entertainment, visiting the Karo-Viertel is clearly one of the things to do in Hamburg. It’s open every Saturday from 8am to 4pm.
- And if you are a musician searching for new instruments, equipment or inspiration, check out the store „Just music“ in an old bunker just right at the metro stop “Feldstraße”.
- The bunker at the metro stop Feldstraße also hosts one of Hamburgs most popular clubs and small concert hall Uebel & Gefährlich.
13. Jump into German oriental life: Steindamm
If you don’t have the money for a holiday trip to the orient, but like to taste for example mainly Turkish or Afghan kitchen, need fresh herbs or veggies, discover Turkish or Indian grocery shops or want to get shaved in a Turkish barber shop, the Steindamm is the closest place to the city center to be. It’s a lively street just east of the central station. Especially, if you go on a Friday, you will feel, that the Mosque is close. At the same time, you will pass sex shops and gambling halls.
Watching the people and shops around you, you might even forget for a few seconds, that you are in Germany. This all happens just a few meters away from the hanseatic city center with its main shopping street.
Walking along the Steindamm is clearly one thing to do in Hamburg, if you like meeting people from a lot of different cultural backgrounds and want to feel the contrast of the neighboring parts of the city. From Steindamm, you can also walk further into St. Georg to the Hansaplatz square. In this area, you will notice some rather scruffy bars, hotels and sometimes a slightly strange atmosphere. But don’t expect flats in this area to be especially cheap. They are not.
- One special tip: If you love authentic Indian food, try the small Indian street food kitchen Badshah in the street Bremer Reihe, just a short walk away from the Steindamm. It’s always busy. Especially the vegetarian Thali dishes are very good, filling and start at 5,90 Euros.
14. Enjoy Happy hours under rainbow flags: Lange Reihe
Lange Reihe is a street close to the central station, where you will see a lot of rainbow flags at shops, cafés and windows. This gay and lesbian friendly environment is also home to a small Christmas market called gay winter pride.
What I really like about the Lange Reihe is, that you can find a lot of interesting shops. Have you ever been in the need of Indian furniture and clothes? Maybe rather some Persian sweets or wooden Buddha statues? Or just some classy kitchen equipment? If you are fed up with the same big clothes chains or want to shop some stylish decoration for your home, you can try Lange Reihe.
The street is also popular for Happy Hour cocktails after 5 pm, lunch deals and small international restaurants, cafés and Bistros for all budgets. Try Italian, Greek, Portuguese, French croques or stylish Burgers. Have a seat just at the outside tables right at the street or in nice gardens and backyards. If you arrive in Hamburg by train and just need a place for a small stopover before traveling on, Lange Reihe can be a good option to spend a couple of hours in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Find the right bar or café for you in this list of the most popular locations in the Lange Reihe.
- And if you are interested in some colorful street action, don’t miss the Pride week in Hamburg from 27th of July till 5th of August 2018. You can look forward to a colorful move across the city center and the whole city celebrating the Christopher Street Day (CSD).
15. Visit an art space for everyone: The Gängeviertel
The quarter Gängeviertel is supposed to be a free and arty space for everyone right in the city center. Art, music, ateliers, flats, social projects, exhibitions, concerts, lectures: You will be surprised to find a hip cultural space in the back lanes of some impressive houses, that form the established Hamburg city center. If you look for free things to do in Hamburg, the Gängeviertel is worth a visit. It’s worth to walk around the shops and free small galleries, get a vegan dish in an alternative café, chill in the sun and wait for surprises.
- See some impressions of the quarter Gängeviertel.
- Get an overview about the whole project Gängeviertel.
- No money for museums? Check out the art exhibitions in the Gängeviertel – some free things to do in Hamburg.
- Check out the gallery Raum linksrechts.
16. Travel back in time to the old Hamburg: Deichstraße
They are some of the last witnesses of the times before the years 1842: The houses of the street Deichstraße. The fire, that destroyed most of Hamburg in that year, didn’t reach the Deichstraße. That’s why you can eat nowadays French crépes and galettes, German potato dishes and fish with a a view on history.
17. Get up to the free viewing platform Elbphilharmonie
It’s one of the cool things to do for free in Hamburg: Visit the Elbphilharmonie Plaza. The concert hall got finished in 2016 and hosts world class musicians in a world class acoustic environment. And from the viewing platform on the 8th floor 37 meters above ground level, you can enjoy a great 360 ° panorama view of the harbor and the city. Get up with a magic escalator.
The plaza is open daily from 9am to midnight. You might have to queue for a free ticket on weekends or public holidays. The number of people on the platform at the same time is limited. That is why you need to get a ticket. You can take the escalator or lift to get up.
At least, it is affordable for everyone to visit the viewing platform. The concert tickets are not. The Elbphilharmonie project had been criticized a lot during the past years. The costs to built the Elbphilharmomie were much higher than expected. The city and its citizens had to pay around 800 Million Euros in the end.
The Elbphilharmonie was meant to become a symbol of Hamburg for every citizen. But it just reminds a lot of people also of their own financial struggle to be able to take part in the cultural life of the city. It’s not affordable for everyone. Expect to pay for every bit of world class art in Hamburg – every day.
- Plan your visit of the Elbphilharmonie.
18. Watch a new quarter in constant progress: Hafencity
It’s a mix of modern architecture, concrete, harbor and parks – all absolutely following a strict structure. You will find trees and green spaces, but no nature. But you will find the history and charm of the harbor combined with progress of the present. You will find luxury flats surrounded by restaurants, cafés, bars, souvenir and clothes shops.
The Hafencity is worth a visit and a nice challenge for your eyes and imagination. There is space to walk along the seaside promenade, sit down in summer at one of the outside tables to have a coffee or a meal – if you are happy to pay a little extra for the “Hafencity” vibe. The “Hafencity” is a quarter still in progress. Expect a few surprises. A walk around the Hafencity including a visit of the viewing platform of the Elbphilharmonie is one of the free things to do in Hamburg.
19. Embrace Hamburg’s Speicherstadt
The meaning of the Speicherstadt is “City of Warehouses”. In Hamburg, you find the largest still existing complex of warehouse buildings standing on timber-pile foundations and oak logs located close to the harbor. It has been built from 1883 to 1927 and got the status of a Unesco World Heritage in 2015.
Small channels crisscross the area. Small bridges invite for excursions. The Speicherstadt attracts a lot of photographers catching impressive pictures of the combination of architecture, light, water and reflections in sun set and sun dawn. It also houses a few private entertaining museums like the Miniatur Wunderland and the legendary Dungeon.
20. Find Art Nouveau and Jewish traditions: Grindelviertel
Close to the university, you find some amazing art nouveau architecture housing elegant shops. On a walk along the street Grindelhof, you will find cafés, interesting restaurants, the great Abaton cinema with films away from mainstream blockbusters, where you can see English films with German subtitles.
And from the Grindelviertel, it will just be a short walk to the “Museum für Völkerkunde”. This ethnological museum offers free entry for everyone every Friday from 2pm to 6 pm. There are changing exhibitions. You will get some exiting insights of cultures and art of the world. If you have some spare time on a Friday, check it out.
In General, the Grindelviertel had been the center of the Jewish community in the 19th century. Today some monuments and the remaining Jewish Talmut-Thora-School still remind of the rich Jewish history of Hamburg. For the 4000 Jews in Hamburg, it is still a popular area with a close by Synagogue, a popular Jewish café and restaurant and the Jewish Saloon hosting regular events and supporting Jewish tradition. You will also find shops like the Edeka supermarket in the street Grindelallee offering kosher products.
21. Flirt among palm trees and fountains: Planten & Bloomen
You are surprised, that you visit Hamburg in summer and are surrounded by rainy grey colors? Welcome to reality. Hamburg is clearly not attracting more than 10 million tourists every year (13,3 million in 2017), because of the great climate. Whenever I get sick of the rain, I love to go for a walk into the subtropical palm house, which is centrally located in the really cool park Planten & Bloomen. You can visit the hothouse for free and hang out between palm trees and all kinds of exotic plants in warm humid temperatures.
If the sun is shining, Planten & Bloomen is a great Park to stopover and chill, get an ice cream or enjoy some cultural events. Really popular: The free water fountains in one of the lakes at night. Take a blanket, some drinks and snacks and try to get a spot on the grass to watch the illuminated fountains in the park at night dancing perfectly to the music. A popular spectacle in summer. It’s one of the free things to do in Hamburg.
- The palm house botanical garden is open from March to October weekdays from 9 am to 4.45 pm and weekends and on public holidays from 10 to 5.45 pm. From November to February, you can visit the hothouse Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 3.45 pm and Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 3.45 pm. The entrance is for free.
- The public Water fountain concerts start from May to August every night at 10 pm, in September at 9 pm. During the daytime, you can enjoy the water fountains playing at 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm.
22. Meet poor and rich hipsters for drinks: Ottensen
If you want to feel a good vibe, go shopping, discover small alternative shops, enjoy Thai cuisine, eat modern Greek dishes, excellent fish, Indian curries or start a tour from interesting bar to more interesting bars, then it is time to visit Ottensen. From the train station in Altona, you can walk into the beautiful quarter with old architecture.
You will probably meet a lot poor and rich hipsters in trendy dresses, some cool locals and a lot of people, that pay expensive rents to live in that popular residential part of Hamburg. I always felt the big contrast of Hamburg different quarters by traveling in one evening from Wilhelmsburg to Ottensen. I felt overdressed hopping into the bus in Wilhelmsburg just to feel underdressed getting out of the train in Ottensen.
- If you want to experience great concerts or indoor flea markets on rainy days, check out one of the most famous cultural meeting points in Hamburg called “Fabrik”.
- If you want to see English, Spanish and French films, visit the Zeise cinema on Tuesdays. All films will be screened in original version with German subtitles. If you speak German, and like films away from the mainstream, the cinema can be also interesting for you any other day. http://www.zeise.de/original
- My tipps for a nice lunch or dinner: Roots – Fusion Street Food, one oft he coolest relaxed Greek restaurants Taverna Sotiris or for fish fans the restaurant Elbfisch. Moreover, there are a number of fast food opportunities like Kumpir, Döner or Fallafel. Real budget travelers can also get cheap snacks at nearby Ikea store close tot he train station in Altona.
- One oft he most relaxed bars in Ottensen: The Laundrette.
23. See the other side of Hamburg: Wilhelmsburg
Okay, imagine, you have seen all the must sees of Hamburg and done all the classical things to do. A trip to Wilhelmsburg will offer you to catch an authentic glimpse of daily life on the other side of Hamburg. It is the quarter with a clearly very multicultural flavor.
Exit at the Veddel station and catch the bus No. 13 (called wild 13). Have a seat next to people from all over the world on your way to Wilhelmsburg center. Find Turkish shops and bakeries, get fruits on the fresh market, discover some hip burger restaurants, stylish bars and cafés in between. Meet some students, greet some salafis on the way to a backyard mosque and be happy to have escaped the city stress.
But don’t expect too much action. Not too many of Hamburg’s other citizens make it to Wilhelmsburg without an urgent reason.
I’ve been living in Wilhelmsburg for a while and really started to love the quarter of contrasts. It’s amazing, how much you can discover away from Hamburg city center.
Wilhelmsburg once had the reputation of being a rough place with countless social problems. Today, prices for flats have risen – and will probably rise further. Young people have discovered the quarter, found space for art projects, alternative lifestyle and nice walks close by the rivers. Yes, it in an Island. And I always feel, that the different cultural groups and different parts of society are not really mingling a lot. Old Turkish men are hanging out in several Turkish cafés while students and hippsters meet in cool bars next door. But in this field of cultural flowers, there is some cool stuff to do:
- Go climbing or bouldering in the Nordwandhalle.
- Visit the really good and interactive emmigration museum and dive into Hamburgs past.
- Check out the cultural and concert program of the Honigfabrik with free jam sessions and concerts.
- Bargain at the local flea market FlohZinn in Wilhelmsburg in the street “Am Veringhof 7” every first Sunday of each month.
- Have a coffee with a perfect view over Wilhelmsburg on the bunker in the Café vju with a cool viewing platform in the street “Neuhöfer Straße 7”.
- Enjoy parties and concerts in the turtur club.
- Take the public ferry line 73 to get back directly from the stop Ernst-August-Schleuse in Wilhelmsburg to the Landungsbrücken and enjoy great views over the backsides of Hamburg Harbor. Check out the timetable of Line 73.
- Street festivals like 48h Wilhelmsburg are great opportunities to visit Wilhelmsburg. You will find exiting concerts in many public spaces of the area.
- Find your new favorite café in Wilhelmsburg.
24. Discover elegance and canoe trips: Winterhude
One of the really cool things to do in Hamburg in spring and summer is a canoe trip or paddle boat on the canals and the Alster. This way, you will be able to look into the gardens of some Hamburg millionaires, feel the water and the sun close to you. You will make your way through Winterhude, one of the most beautiful residential city areas in Hamburg, where you can eat at some elegant Tavernas, wine bars, bistros and have some of the nicest views on the Alster?
I would call it the quarter with some of the nicest cars on the streets and least culturally mixed population. That was my impression while I lived in Winterhude for more than a year in a shared flat. On the other hand, the big nicely set up public park Stadtpark attracts people from all over the city for summer picnics and walks in spring and autumn.
- For the paddling, there are several places to rent boats. They usually open in spring (March or April depending on the weather). Expect to pay between 9,50 and 12 Euros for a boat per hour, that fits two to three people. I tried the rental boat place Dornheim, which also has a restaurant.
- Check out the list of websites of boats rental places. Most of them are in German only, but you will find opening times, addresses and phone numbers.
- The city park attracts lot’s of locals and visitors in summertime to chill and grill.
- Check out the
25. Hide away between sand dunes and bathing lake: Boberg
Ever seen some city sand dunes? No, so check out the Nature Park of Boberg. If you spend a few days in Hamburg and like to go for a quiet walk or dip into the fresh water of a lake in a mystic surrounding: This is the place, where you can meet some locals, read a book, chill and relax in a natural space surrounded by the city. What most travelers don’t know: There are quite a few bathing lakes in Hamburg. But this is my favorite one. It’s one of the free things to do in Hamburg in summer.
- Even if it is more convenient and quicker to get there by car, you are able to get there by public transport: Take subway line U2/U4 to Mümmelmannsberg, then take bus M12 or 609 to the stops “Schulredder” or “Boberger Furt”. From here, it is a 15 minute walk to the sand dunes and probably a 30 minute walk to the lake. Ask locals for directions to the sand dunes and the lake. If you plan to spend the day swimming and chilling: Bring water and food with you. No shops around!
- Find a list of all bathing lakes in Hamburg here.
26. Walk around the heart of Hamburg, the Alster
The river Alster is something like the heart of Hamburg. Water is life. The Alster gives you space to breathe in and out. It will take you a few hours to walk around the Alster in a big circle. Find Cafés on the way, people jogging and cycling. Pass by some embassies and fascinating residential houses. You can also rent a boat for a couple of hours. It’s a cool place for long conversations, romantic moments in sunset or sundawn and a way to get to know Hamburg with a lot of details and little surprises.
- If you don’t have time to walk: Take a boat ride. The Alster sightseeing boats are waiting at the Jungfernstieg.
27. Go sightseeing in the city center of Hamburg
Okay, it is not possible to visit Hamburg and to ignore the city center. Sightseeing in the center is one of the things to do in Hamburg. Take a walk from the central station along the main shopping street Mönckebergstraße to the main city hall Rathaus and the Jungfernstieg with a nice view over the river Alster.
Open your eyes and ears for street musicians on the way and enjoy the rich impression of hanseatic architecture of Hamburg. The beggers and homeless people will remind you constantly of being in a multicultural city of contrasts. If you want to get deeper into history, get on a free walking tour, even available in English, German and Spanish.
Otherwise be curious enough to check out the city hall’s backyard, discover the luxurious traditional department store Alsterhaus right on the Jungfernstieg, discover passages and shops, walk along the historic Colonades, take an Alster boat trip and get a feeling for a unique city.
- A cool thing to do in the city center: Check out the Underworld of Hamburg and travel back into the past. You can visit a former nuclear shelter directly under the central station. English tours are rare, but you might be lucky while being in town.
- Check out Hamburg’s Museums. Be aware: While you have at least some free museum days in many cities around the planet, Hamburg offers very limited options for poor budget travelers. That is why I love the long Night of the Museums. One single ticket gives you once a year access to most of the museums in town. It’s amazing. Good vibes, concerts, events and many specials make this night one of my favorite cultural experiences. The next Long Night of the Museums in Hamburg in 2018 is on April 21.
- Check out the different Hamburg free walking tours. The tours are based on tips. You can decide, what amount is considered fair for the performance. Tours are available in English, German and Spanish.
- For general daily free things to do in Hamburg like concerts, exhibitions, lectures check out the webpage kulturlotse.de
Find cheap hostels in Hamburg
- If you really just need a cheap bed in a hostel dormitory and don’t mind 11 other people snoring in the same room, in the hostel Instantsleep located in the Schanzenviertel, beds start during the winter months from 10 Euros.
- Plan ahead to get cheap hostel beds and double rooms. You might find sometimes good deals on booking plattforms like budgetplaces.com, trivago.com or booking.com. Don’t expect to find a nice centrally located double room for a lot less than 60 Euros and be happy, if you are lucky to find something. Be aware: Hamburg is not the cheapest destination in Germany. So Air BnB can be a fantastic option in Hamburg. Even couchsurfing can be an option. But if you travel to Hamburg during holidays or at popular dates like port anniversary in Mai or New Year’s Eve, be ready to spend a lot for a room and plan ahead!!