Credit

Courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Hamburg

Most of Hamburg's attractions, such as the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Miniatur Wunderland and the trendy HafenCity neighborhood, are clustered in the city center and Harbour districts. But you should explore Hamburg's other neighborhoods to experience authentic German life. Travelers cite the nightlife along the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli, as well as the after-nightlife at the Fish Auction Hall and Market as some of the highlights.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated April 27, 2018

  • #1
    Things to do in Hamburg
    View all Photos
    #1 in Hamburg
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Alter Elbtunnel (also Old Elbe Tunnel, St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel) is a pedestrian, bike and motorist tunnel, which travels underneath the River Elbe and connects central Hamburg to the southern side of the river. While walking, be sure to look at the artworks that line the tiled walls. Travelers enjoyed the experience of walking beneath the river and taking in the great view from the opposing side. Free of charge for pedestrians and bikers, motorists are charged a small fee. You'll find the Elbe Tunnel open 24 hours a day (for pedrestrians/bikers) off the Landungsbrücken U-bahn stop.

  • #2
    Planten un Blomen
    View all Photos
    #2 in Hamburg
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Planten un Blomen (translates as the very imaginative Plants and Flowers), but creative name or not, this park is a favorite among travelers. In the summers it features a light, water and music show; in winters, the park unveils an ice skating rink. And amongst the many different flowers, trees and plants to enjoy, kids can also play at the playground. You can get here off the Stephanspl U-bahn stop, and enjoy Planten un Blomen for free.

  • #3
    Fish Auction Hall and Market
    View all Photos
    #3 in Hamburg
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    All-night revelers finish up their partying at the Sunday morning St. Pauli Fischmarkt (Fish Auction Hall and Market). Not only are there stalls brimming with fresh fish and other goods, but there's also steaming hot bratwursts, free flowing beer and even an energetic band to keep the jovial atmosphere alive. If you sleep in (or you're just getting to bed after bar hopping), you'll miss out on the Fischmarkt; it's open on early Sunday mornings only.

    Travelers really enjoyed the Fischmarkt, saying it was a one-of-a-kind, colorful and rambunctious experience. It's also one of those uniquely Hamburg attractions.

  • #4
    Town Hall (Rathaus)
    View all Photos
    #4 in Hamburg
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Rathaus (Town Hall) is big -- bigger than London's immense Buckingham Palace -- and travelers also say it's one of the best sights in Hamburg. Resting on a square, inspired by Venice's Piazza San Marco, the Rathaus' formidable exterior opens into a lavish interior, which is peopled by Hamburg's city council and state government officials. English-language tours take about 45 minutes and wind past the opulent state rooms, a mere fraction of those on site. Hop of the U-bahn at Mönckebergstr to get to this town hall.

  • #5 in Hamburg
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Miniatur Wunderland, according it its website, is the world's largest model railway. The museum is broken up into five sections — Southern Germany, Hamburg and the Coast, America, Scandinavia and Switzerland. And across these different regions are about 900 trains, 200,000 each of trees and people and 300,000 lights.

    Visitors had rave reviews for Miniatur Wunderland, saying it was appealing to both kids and adults alike. Find it off the Baumwall U-bahn station.

  • #6
    Hamburg Zoo (Tierpark Hagenbeck)
    View all Photos
    #6 in Hamburg
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Hagenbecks Tierpark (or Hamburg Zoo) is owned by the Hagenbeck family; Carl Hagenbeck, Jr. (who founded the zoo in 1907) was a wild animal trader and merchant. Of special note is the Troparium, an artificial habitat comprised of a rain forest, a desert and a sea, with animals in each. Travelers' opinions are mixed: Some say that the Hamburg Zoo wasn't a standout and that the lack of English signage was frustrating. Others delight in the zoo's many offerings -- several restaurants, playgrounds for kids, a dolphin show, a recreation park, among other attractions.

    If you're budgeting out which attractions to do and not do, keep in mind the zoo charges a pretty steep admission fee though its exhibits could fill an entire day. You can find if off the Hagenbecks Tierpark U-bahn station.

  • #7
    Hamburger Kunsthalle
    View all Photos
    #7 in Hamburg
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    One of Germany's great art museums, the Hamburger Kunsthalle has a pretty extensive collection of painting and sculpture -- both old and new. In the modern and contemporary sections, artists like Andy Warhol, Max Beckmann and Pablo Picasso are represented; in the older sections, you'll find everyone from Rembrandt to Renoir, as well as a noted collection of works by German Romantic painters. Closed on Mondays, the Kunsthalle is open extended hours on Thursdays. Tour the museum off the Hauptbahnhof U-bahn station.

  • #8
    Speicherstadt
    View all Photos
    #8 in Hamburg
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    The red-brown buildings of the Speicherstadt (Warehouse District) used to shelter the city's imports -- coffee, spices, silks -- which were carried fresh off the boats in the harbor. Although these buildings aren't open for tours, travelers are fond of snapping pictures of this historic area. You'll find it off the Meßberg U-bahn stop.

  • #9 in Hamburg
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Hamburg's Reeperbahn rivals Amsterdam's Red Light District for its magnitude. Located in St. Pauli, the Reeperbahn is a corridor of sex shops, strip shows and brothels. And although the street is free to tour, any of its shows and "services" are very expensive. Some TripAdvisor users specifically note the Reeperbahn's seediness, drunks and even street fights.

    But the area in and around the Reeperbahn is also the site of much of Hamburg's nightlife, from pubs to clubs and theaters too. You can tour this area by hopping off the St. Pauli U-bahn or the Reeperbahn S-bahn stations. 

Explore More of Hamburg

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

Lyn MettlerOctober 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

Gwen PratesiOctober 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

Holly JohnsonOctober 10, 2019

The Best Chicago Segway Tours

See all the top sights in the Windy City without breaking a sweat.

Marisa MéndezOctober 3, 2019