On our recent whirlwind trip to Hamburg, we tried to squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible. Since we only had 2 full days there, we only cracked the surface of stuff to do and see in the city.
Here are some of my personal sightseeing recommendations in Hamburg, the ‘Door to the World’.
Sightseeing in Hamburg
The beautiful brick Speicherstadt (‘City of Warehouses’ in German) is the largest warehouse district in the world. It was built between 1883 and 1927 and is located in the port of Hamburg in HafenCity. The Speicherstadt was built as a custom-free zone to transfer goods like spices, coffee, tea, cocoa and more. Today, the Speicherstadt is no longer used for storing goods but is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to being one of the largest groups of port warehouses in the world. Several museums have now taken up residence inside the Speicherstadt warehouses, including Miniatur Wunderland, the German Customs Museums, and the Hamburg Dungeon.
HafenCity is a quarter of Hamburg located on the Elbe river islands. It’s the site of one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe. Old port warehouses are gradually being replaced by hotels, universities, office buildings, residence buildings and shops. The project is expected to be completed sometime between 2020 and 2030. HafenCity is also the site of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, the much anticipated (and hugely overbudget) new Hamburg landmark due to open in 2016/2017.
The Hamburg Rathaus (town hall) is the seat of the government of Hamburg and is located in the Altstadt (Old Town) of Hamburg, just off of the Binnenalster lake and the main train station. Constructed between 1886 and 1897, the Rathaus is made up of 7 different architectural styles, but is mainly neo-renaissance. This beautiful building is one of the main landmarks in the city. It contains 647 rooms (allegedly 6 more than Buckingham Palace, but my research shows that this might not be true) and offers regular guided tours to the public.
The St. Pauli Piers, called the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken or just Landungsbrücken for short, is one of the largest tourist attractions in Hamburg. The piers are located in the St. Pauli neighbourhood of Hamburg between the lower harbour and the fish market (Fischmarkt). It’s one of the main transportation hubs in the city where the S-bahn, U-bahn and ferry boats all join up. This is also the place where you can catch a ferry to see musicals at the Stage Theater im Hafen and the Stage Theater an der Elbe, such as Der König der Löwen (The Lion King) or Das Wunder von Bern.
Of course there are lovely parks, pedestrian/shopping areas and neighbourhoods all over Hamburg. Since we were only there for a few days, these were just some of the key sights I can recommend for anyone with only a short time to see Hamburg.
We saw most of these spots on the Sandemans New Europe Hamburg Free Tour. This 2-2.5 hour walking tour takes you to the main sights in the city and shares the history of Hamburg. The tour runs every day and departs from the Rathausplatz in the Altstadt.
P.S. Here are some restaurant recommendations in Hamburg when you’ve worked up an appetite after sightseeing.
What are your favourite Hamburg sights? What must I see next time I visit?