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.
Updated April 27, 2018
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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