Hamburg Travel Guide

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Located on the Elbe River in northern Germany, there’s so much to love about this beautiful and bustling Hanseatic city – one of Cate’s top 3 favorite cities in Germany (she used to live there).

There are countless attractions in and around Hamburg, lush parks and botanical gardens, a famous fish market with delicious food, an historic harbor, canals and gorgeous neighborhoods to explore by boat or canoe, and so much more.

This guide will help you start planning what to do and see in the Hamburg area, where to stay, best tours, day trip ideas, and more.

Map of Hamburg location in Germany

What to Do and See in Hamburg

Northern Germany looks and feels different than southern Germany, and we highly recommend visiting. Cate used to live in Hamburg and it’s one of her favorite cities in Germany. Whether you’re into food, history, architecture, nature, art, or spontaneous adventures, you’ll find plenty to see and experience in and around Hamburg!

Tip: if you have our Germany Travel Planner, be sure to check out our city cheatsheets and our digital planning map so you can see where the top sights, hotels, and day trips are in relation to each other. It makes planning your visit SO much easier!

Hamburg Elbphilharmonie
Things to see and do in Hamburg

View our top recommendations!

Hamburg Accommodations

You’ll find a wide variety of accommodation options in Hamburg, including hotels and apartments, from budget to luxury, city center to beautiful neighborhoods on the Elbe River. If you’re looking for an apartment in Hamburg, do a search on We’ve found several great apartments there (less than what we saw on Airbnb for the same apartment) and it’s SO nice to have all hotel and apartment reservations in one place.

Book your Hamburg accommodations in advance! They tend to fill quickly during peak travel times (summer, Christmas, etc.) so we recommend seeing what’s open for your travel dates ASAP.


If you have our Germany Travel Planner you’ll find recommended hotels on our interactive planning map. Seeing where these hotels are in relation to the top sights makes it a lot easier to find the perfect place to stay. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access.

Hamburg skyline
Best Hotels in Hamburg, Germany

Book from a list of our top recommendations!

Hamburg Tours and Tickets

Hamburg waterfront and Elbphilharmonie
Hamburg waterfront
Hamburg arcades
Hamburg Arcade
Hamburg St. Nikolai Church
St. Nikolai Church

Know Before You Go

Airport: Hamburg International Airport (HAM)
Language:  The official language of Germany is German (Deutsch)
Time zone: Central European Time (CET / GMT+ 2 / 6 hours ahead of US EST)
Germany Visa: tourists from the US, Canada, and several other countries do not need a visa to visit Germany for under 90 days.
Germany Electricity Socket: Germany uses different voltage and sockets than in North America, the UK, and other parts of the world. Read our guide to adapters and converters so you can safely use your tech in Germany.
Germany SIM card: Read our guide here to SIM cards and other ways to use your phone in Germany.
Germany Car Rentals: We find great deals on rental cars here. You can also check out our scenic Germany road trips article here.

Recommended Day Trips from Hamburg

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.

Hamburg Speicherstadt
Hamburg Speicherstadt
Hamburg Speicherstadt boat tour
Hamburg Speicherstadt boat tour

Hamburg Travel FAQ

Where is Hamburg Located?

Hamburg is located on the Elbe River in northern Germany, north of Bremen, south of Lübeck, and west of Berlin.

Germany map with Hamburg circled

Where do I Get That Map?

If you have our Germany Travel Planner, you’ll find recommended hotels on our interactive planning map. Seeing where these hotels are in relation to the top sights makes it a lot easier to find the perfect place to stay. If you don’t have it yet, click here to get access.

Does Hamburg Have an Airport?

Yes! Hamburg has a good-sized international airport that you can easily reach from the city with flights all over Germany, Europe, and beyond. I’ve flown in and out of this airport several times.

How to Get to Hamburg?

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 an international flight from the US. You can take an U-bahn (metro) from the airport into the city in about 40 minutes, hop in a taxi or book an easy airport transfer here.

How to Get Around Hamburg?

Hamburg has an excellent public transport system that you can use to go all over the city. 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 seeing a lot of the city in a short amount of time.

You don’t need a car to explore Hamburg. It’s better to take the S-bahn, U-bahn, bus, and ferry to get everywhere you want to go in Hamburg. There are also taxis, Uber, and the HOHO bus.

If you drive to Hamburg make sure your lodging has parking. It’s often possible to find on street parking but it’s not always easy, especially in some parts of the city. 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.

Does Hamburg Have Uber?

Yes, you can use Uber in Hamburg. FreeNow is another good option.

Is Hamburg Worth Going To?

Yes! Hamburg is the largest city in northern Germany and is unique because it’s a city-state, meaning that Hamburg is both a city and Bundesland (state). There’s a lot to do and see in this beautiful maritime city, plus there are several options for day trips to cute town full of gothic brick, as well as beaches on the North and Baltic seas. You can even visit the islands of Sylt and Heligoland from Hamburg

Hamburg Miniature Museum
Miniature Museum
Hamburg Miniature Museum
Hamburg Miniature Museum

Hamburg Basics

1.9 million (city)
5.1 million (metro)

International Hamburg Airport Helmut Schmidt

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.

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The Easy Way to Enjoy the BEST of Germany.

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Image of Hamburg, Germany guide