Emigration Museum BallinStadt Hamburg

#9 in Best Things To Do in Hamburg
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www.mediaserver.hamburg.de / Christian Spahrbier

Key Info

Veddeler Bogen 2


Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Just as compelling and moving as Ellis Island, this museum and ancestral research center conveys the story of European emigration to the United States and elsewhere. The museum occupies the land originally used by the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Aktien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) shipping company for the city's Emigration Halls, which were built 120 years ago to accommodate people from all over Europe hoping to sail across the Atlantic. To lessen the likelihood of immigrants being sent back from the United States due to illness or other reasons (at the shipping company's cost), HAPAG offered medical examinations. Millions of people passed through the complex, which at one point included a hospital, a church, a music hall, housing and even hotels.

There are several halls that detail why people were emigrating, their journey across the ocean and what happened when they reached America, with interactive exhibits, displays, photos and artifacts. For an even more immersive experience, consider grabbing a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant Nach Amerika (or "To America"), which serves meals based on recipes used in the canteens of the former Emigration Halls. Visitors can also search complete passenger lists of all the ships that left the harbor in the family research area.

Recent visitors, especially those with relatives who passed through Hamburg on their way to America, found the museum moving and educational.

From Hamburg Central Station, take the S3 or S31 S-Bahn routes (heading to Harburg/Buxtehude/Stade). Museum admission costs 13 euros (around $14) for adults and 7 euros (about $8) for children ages 5 to 12. The museum is open from March to October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from November through February from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit the official website.

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A stunning architectural marvel often compared to Sydney's opera house, the Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall and performance space designed by the Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. As soon as it opened in 2016, it became an instant architectural icon thanks to its wave-like rooftop and glass façade. Luckily, you don't need tickets to a show to enjoy the striking space.

A public viewing platform is open to everyone and offers breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city and the harbor – a particular highlight for recent visitors. While admission to the viewing plaza is free, you do need a ticket to enter. Advance booking is available and recommended by recent visitors, though a booking fee of 2 euros (or about $2.25) applies. Reviewers also recommended taking a harbor cruise to admire the building from the water.

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www.mediaserver.hamburg.de / Ralf Brunner
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