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Hamburg Area Travel Guide

Planning to visit Hamburg and surrounding region? Start your trip planning here!

Keep reading this page for an overview of what to do and see in the Hamburg area. Or check out one of our more in-depth guides:

Ok, let’s a take a look at the beautiful Hamburg area and everything you can do and see here!

Located on the Elbe river in northern Germany, there are countless attractions in and around Hamburg and so much to love about this beautiful and bustling hanseatic city.

In addition to the usual museums and shopping, Hamburg has a huge lake in the middle of its city center (the Alster), a TV tower for excellent views, lush parks and botanical gardens, a famous fish market with delicious food, an historic harbor, and so much more.

Northern Germany looks and feels different than southern Germany, and I highly recommend visiting. I used to live in Hamburg and it’s one of my favorite cities in Germany!


What to Do and See in Hamburg

Whether you’re into food, history, architecture, nature, art, or spontaneous adventures, you’ll find plenty to see and experience in and around Hamburg! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

READ our guide on what to do in Hamburg.

  • Port of Hamburg
  • Fischmarkt
  • Alster Lake Cruise
  • U-boat Museum
  • Planten un Blomen
  • Ride the U-3 from Rathaus to Kellinghusenstrasse
  • Miniature Wunderland
  • Elbphilharmonie
  • Hamburg Zoo
  • Maritime Museum
  • Knusthalle Hamburg (art gallery)
  • Hamburger Dom (festival)
  • Evening Harbor Cruise
  • Blankenese Treppenviertel
  • Ohlsdorf Cemetery
  • Harvestehude Neighborhood
  • Alster Arkaden
  • Eat a Franzbrötchen
  • Stadtpark

Hamburg Accommodations

Hamburg offers a ton of comfortable places to lay your head at the end of a busy day of sightseeing! It just depends on which part of the city you’d like to stay in. Here are some hotel options organized by city location to get you started:


Hamburg Tours & Tickets

Hamburg has so many tours and special tickets to make your visit extra special, not to mention extra easy by booking in advance. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Find the best deals on Hamburg tours & tickets here!


Hamburg Day Trips

One of the best things about making Hamburg your home base while visiting northern Germany is that you have countless day trip options! You can plan your own day trips for maximum flexibility or book a guided tour for maximum relaxation and convenience. Here are some ideas to get your planning started!

READ our Hamburg Day Trips Guide!

Baltic Sea

North Sea


Getting to Hamburg

Hamburg is the largest city in northern Germany and is a city-state, meaning that Hamburg is both a city and Bundesland (state).

Hamburg is easy to reach via train, bus, car or plane. If arriving from the US, consider flying directly into Hamburg’s international airport. We’ve started doing this and usually transfer in London or Frankfurt after flying from the US. You can take an U-bahn (metro) from the airport into the city in about 40 minutes or arrange an easy airport transfer here.

If you want to visit several cities in Germany, consider flying into Hamburg and out of another city like BerlinStuttgartCologne/Düsseldorf or Munich (we do this all the time now). To travel between cities, consider the train or renting a car. Taking a bus or flying are also options, although we personally prefer the ease and comfort of German trains (even if they’re not as punctual as they used to be)!


Getting Around Hamburg

If you’re flying into Hamburg you can easily take the U-bahn into the city center from the airport or arrange an easy airport transfer to your lodging.

If arriving via the main train station or bus station, you can walk to many hotels, catch a bus, U-bahn or S-bahn or grab a taxi. Hamburg’s public transportation is excellent and will easily get you where you want to go. If you use public transportation during your visit, I highly recommend getting a day pass over continually buying individual tickets.

Another way to get around Hamburg, at least for part of your visit, is the Hop On Hop Off bus! We did this one day and actually had a lot of fun.

If you drive to Hamburg make sure your lodging has parking! It is possible to find on street parking but it’s not always easy. The last time we were in Hamburg we spent about 40 minutes looking for a place to park our car and then another 20 minutes walking to our AirBnB. It wasn’t a big deal for us on that trip but it’s something to be aware of!


Best Hamburg Travel Guides

These are our two favorite travel guides. We typically buy a Rick Steves guide whenever there’s one available. His Germany guide now includes Hamburg!

We also highly recommend the Culture Smart books. I always read one before visiting a new country because they have so much useful cultural information (I usually read it on the plane) that gives me much-appreciated insight into what I’m doing, seeing, eating, and experiencing.


Hamburg Basics

Population
1.8 million (city)
5.1 million (metro)

Airport
International Hamburg Airport Helmut Schmidt

Bundesland
Hamburg (it’s one of 3 “city-states” in Germany)

Schleswig-Holstein is the state north of city

Lower-Saxony is the state south of city

Train Travel Times to Hamburg
Berlin > Hamburg = 2 hrs
Frankfurt > Hamburg = 4 hrs
Munich > Hamburg = 5.5 hrs
Salzburg > Hamburg = 8 hrs
Paris > Hamburg = 8 hrs
Rome > Hamburg = 20 hrs
Prague > Hamburg = 7 hrs

Fun Facts
The greater Hamburg area has as many inhabitants as Norway!

Hamburg has more bridges in its city limits than any other in the world and more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined!

Hamburg is often shortened to HH, which is what you’ll see on Hamburg license plates


ULTIMATE GERMANY TRAVEL RESOURCES
We’ve gathered some of our essential travel guides, websites, and other information to help you plan the best vacation! We use these resources ourselves and share them to save you money, time, and stress so you can focus on enjoying and making the most out of your time in Germany.

GERMANY TRAVEL BUNDLE: Our Ultimate Germany Travel Bundle gives you the best tools, up-to-date tips, and expert insights to easily and efficiently tackle the travel planning process. You’ll get our custom Trip Planning Map, which shows you the best sights, hotels, castles, and more – because seeing where things are in relation to each other makes trip planning SO much easier! You also get our Trip Planning Spreadsheet, City Cheatsheets, How-to Videos, Germany Trip Planning Guide, and Trip Planning Spreadsheet!

BOOKING FLIGHTS: To find the the best flights deals, we recommend checking Kayak, Skyscanner, Expedia, Travelocity. These websites are also great for getting rental cars.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We recommend using Booking.com since they have widest range of accommodations available from hostels, boutique hotels, luxury chains, aparthotels, at the best prices. For vacation homes, we suggest checking VRBO. We also have accommodation guides on different destinations (Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart, and more to come!) in our website.

TRAINS & BUSES: For point-to-point or regional train tickets (great for day trips or groups) within Germany, or tickets originating in Germany to other European destinations, we recommend buying them on the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail System) website. If you want to buy a rail pass for Germany (or elsewhere in Europe), buy them on Rail Europe. For buses, FlixBus offers tickets for routes within Germany and to other European countries. FlixBus is often cheaper than trains but can take longer.

TRAVEL CREDIT CARD: One of the best ways to make travel to Germany more affordable is by booking free flights. Using the points accrued with our Chase Ink credit card (and a few others), we haven’t had to pay for flights to Europe in the past 10 years!

TICKETS AND TOURS: We always recommend exploring a new city for the first time with a Hop On Hop Off Bus tour (ride it all the way around for the entire 1.5-2 hour tour). Here is our guide on the best Hop On Hop Off Bus tours for different German cities. For guided walking tours, day trips, private tours, and skip-the-line tickets, Get Your Guide is our go to!

WHAT TO PACK: Not sure what to bring to Germany? Check out our 2-week minimalist packing guide for tips on traveling light, and our Germany packing list for our must-pack items. Bonus: check out our guides on finding the best travel purse and best travel scarf with a hidden security pocket.

TRAVEL CONSULT: If you feel like you need more help and guidance beyond these resources, book a travel consult with us! We offer personal live sessions where we’ll help you with things like planning your itinerary, showing you how to book train or skip-the-line tickets, and answer any other questions you have about traveling to Germany.