For Hanseatic citizens, Hamburg is the most beautiful city in the world. No wonder, after all, the colourful harbour city does not only have more bridges than Venice, Amsterdam and London put together, but there is no city in which it rains as little as in Hamburg. Oh well…we have to admit – for Hanseatic citizens, it is only considered to be raining when herrings swim at the level of your eyes. But regardless of this, Hamburg is a hot candidate for the title of “Most Beautiful City in the World” thanks to attractions such as the harbour, the Speicherstadt, the incredible variety of museums, the sinful mile on the Reeperbahn and its musicals.
Once you arrive in Hamburg, you’ll find the Hanseatic city quite striking. Contrary to all stereotypes, Hamburg has great weather in the summer, with 40 days less rain than Munich. With the sun on your face, your next attraction of the Elbe Metropolis will be the 50-metre high Köhlbrand Bridge. Be careful, don’t postpone your trip to much, because in no more than 10 years, the landmark will most likely be demolished. Go now and you'll be envied by your grandchildren for having seen this fantastic view.
In your trip to the harbour, you can get right into the maritime turmoil by the river Elbe. You can either swap dry land for water with the amphibious RiverBus, sail trough the impressive gorges of the Speicherstadt district on an old-fashioned barge, or get in touching distance of the huge ships on board a pleasure boat in the Freeport - the choice is yours. Whatever you choose, any trip to Hamburg is incomplete without a boat trip around the harbour. Or as the locals say: "Wat mutt, dat mutt!"
And if the weather is "Schietwetter" (overcast and wet), you can take a miniature-sized sightseeing tour. We are talking about Miniatur Wunderland, the largest model railway in the world. 200 square metres of it are dedicated to Hamburg’s attractions such as the Speicherstadt, St. Michael's Church and the Harbour City. All of them are as worth seeing as the real ones, including the little sister of Berlin Brandenburg Airport and the captivating Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall with its stunning views.
Wanderlust amongst the fish market and the Museum harbour
As Germany's gateway to the world, Hamburg still emanates a lot of wanderlust and maritime charm. Not quite as charming, but rather entertaining is the fish auction that takes place in the halls of the fish market - an absolute must for all Hamburg visitors. But if you are a pretty lady, or you have one by your side be careful not to be too clumsy, as the rough sea bears love to shout very loudly in front of the whole crowd while referring to the pretty ladies as crabs. Men, on the other hand, will get their own titles such as "sprat", "herring" or "flounder". Don’t get offended, there are only having fun.
Significantly less exciting, but perhaps more fascinating, is the museum harbour of Övelgönne, whose extended sightseeing tours of 20 vintage ships will even interest the inveterate landlubbers. One of the most notable examples is the former South Atlantic freighter, "Cap San Diego", which from time to time also sets sail as a travelling museum with interested visitors onboard.
Another particularly special experience is the descent into the former Soviet submarine U-434. Whilst in the belly of the steel tube, film fans will inevitably get the theme tune of Wolfgang Petersen's classic movie "Das Boot" in their heads. The wind on the deck of the impressive windjammer "Rickmer Rickmers" seems to whistle the albums of the shanty rock band Santiano. Is this just a coincidence, or is it the spirit of freedom still alive in Hamburg?
Aside from all its maritime charm, the Hanseatic city has first-class entertainment to offer. Even though a trip to the Volksparkstadion doesn’t exactly count, the Hamburger SV stadium sports fan lounge is somehow still intrinsic to any holiday in Hamburg. Furthermore, Hamburg is impressive for its vast variety of museums, which will make culture buffs lick their fingers as if they were eating one of the famous Hamburg fish rolls with remoulade.
While young and old astronomers will get their money’s worth at the Planetarium in the city park, history fans, in their turn, will enjoy a trip to the spooky Hamburg Dungeon, which will present you the darker side of Hamburg's history, such as the storm tides, the plague, torture and the inquisition, but in a fun way. If you like it a little more classic, you can visit the German Customs Museum, Spicy's Spice Museum, the Speicherstadt Coffee Roastery and the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Absolute musts for animal lovers are the Hagenbeck animal park and the tropical aquarium. You can hear live a tradition which is 250-years-old – when the watchman starts playing his music in all directions from Hamburg's St Michel’s church.
"On the Reeperbahn at half past midnight"
"Nicht lang schnacken, Kopp in Nacken" ("Cut the chatting, get it down your neck") is the usual story on Germany’s most sinful street, the Reeperbahn. Once the place where Seiler manufactured shipping ropes, today it is the home of countless pubs, bars and night clubs. Just for the clash of cultures, a visit to the heart of St. Pauli is part of every trip. Thanks to the wide range of styles, from hip-hop discos such as "Docks", "Molotov" and "Blankenese Kiez Internat " to "Große Freiheit 36" (the venue where the Beatles got the party going), everyone will find what they are looking for.
Those who want to end their holiday in Hamburg on a more peaceful program, will perhaps prefer a trip to the world of musicals to drinking an Astra or a Küstennebel liqueur on the Reeperbahn. The musical capital attracts visitors with unforgettable performances of classics such as Aladdin, Mary Poppins and, of course, the Lion King. After the performance, the sea of lights reflected in the water ensures that Hamburg really is a candidate for the title of "The Most Beautiful City in the World".