The 29 Best Things to do in Hamburg, Germany [2021 Guide]

In this article, we’ll discover the best things to do and see while visiting Hamburg in Germany.

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany and it’s also one of the most populous. It has a rich cultural heritage that dates back to medieval times, but because its location on the Elbe River made it an important trade center, the city was heavily bombed during World War II.

Hamburg turns out to be one of the most interesting cities in Germany as well, whether you are an art lover, history fan, thrill-seeker, or shopping maven. This northern German city is also called “the gateway to the world”, due to its port and its position on the water (a river bordered by canals).

There are things Hamburg has become renowned for, like its beautiful German churches and cathedrals dating back to medieval times. Then there are things that made it famous around the world: Hamburg gave birth to legendary bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. It’s also where Nina Simone recorded her album I Put a Spell on You.

29. The Schanzenviertel

Schanzenviertel
Schanzenviertel (Reinhard Kraasch/Wikimedia)

The old working-class district of Schanzen is located between the former meat town Schlachthof and Schanzeparkis, and it’s a great place to experience the more creative side in Hamburg with i.a., designer stores that offer an alternative perspective on life and creativity. This colorful area has its own distinctive personality which cannot be found anywhere else!

The streets of the Schanzen district are lined with gable paintings, some of which you’ll find quite interesting. There’s also an abundance of ubiquitous graffiti that attracts attention as one walks through this area.

28. Volkspark stadium

Volkspark stadium

The Volksparkstadion is one of the biggest sports stadiums in Germany and it was originally constructed in 1925 and has since been renovated twice, most recently in 2005-2006. With an all-seated capacity of 57,000 people, it’s a great place for watching sports or other events.

It hosted some of the games during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and it also hosts home games of Hamburger SV, HSV’s professional football team. If you’re going to be visiting Hamburg between May and October, grab your tickets for one of the soccer games here; otherwise, you can enjoy watching a match on one of their big screens.

27. Hamburger Dom

The famous DOM is Northern Germany’s largest open-air event, which is held three times a year. Expect a blend of joy and excitement. It takes place in the spring, summer, and fall and you’ll find it just next to St. Pauli Stadium. 

There are things for all ages. From carnival games and sideshows to vintage carousels to thrilling rollercoasters, and music concerts by famous international artists. Among the best things to do at the Hamburg Dom are enjoying a meal from one of the many food stalls or “Dixie” kitchens, trying to win your spouse a prize from the big wheel!

Tourist Tip: Admission to Hamburg DOM is free!

26. Hamburgische Staatsoper

The Hamburg State Opera is a German opera company based in Hamburg. It was founded in 1678 as the Oper am Gänsemarkt, where the first performance took place.

This opera company is one of the most important German opera houses and it hosts a great number of operas, operettas, ballets, and concerts every year. It’s a very beautiful building with a wide range of seating options so you can choose your ideal seat depending on your budget and personal preference.

25. U-Boot Museum

U-Boot Museum
U-Boot Museum (Florian Adler/Wikimedia)

In the harbor of Hamburg, you’ll find one of the world’s largest non-nuclear submarines called the U434 – now being known as the U-Boot Museum. Novgorod, Russia is where the U-434 was originally constructed and it took only eight months to build and deploy with Soviet forces, remaining operational until April 2002.

After being put out of service, investors bought it to Hamburg, costing millions of euros, where further moderations were made to the submarine. Thus, larger holes were cut to make room for present entrances and exits for tourists. Thus the submarine can no longer be operated.

24. Rickmer Rickmers

Rickmer Rickmers
Rickmer Rickmers (Arnold Plesse/Wikimedia)

Rickmer Rickmers is a sailing ship permanently moored as a museum ship in Hamburg. It was built in 1896 and she is one of the last surviving iron-hulled ships in the world.

Below deck, exhibitions preserve memories from years ago, and large display boards tell stories of old ships that were once used for trade. The museum also houses lovingly restored crew quarters which offer an insight into life at sea during their time period when vessels had not yet been invented or perfected by modern technology making navigation more challenging than today’s boats do with radar systems.

Fun fact: Since 2006, the RICKMER RICKMERS has been the official ship mail office of Deutsche Post with its own distinct postmark. This post office is only available to the crew and embarked tourists.

23. Hamburg Stadtpark

Hamburg Stadtpark
Hamburg Stadtpark (Ajepbah/Wikimedia)

The Hamburg Stadtpark is one of the most popular things to do in Hamburg, and it’s a place that provides plenty of distraction for both adults and children. It’s a large urban park in Hamburg’s Winterhude district, and it’s the second-largest park in Hamburg, covering +350 acres.

Despite being located some 2 miles outside of the city center, it is regarded as the “green heart” of Hamburg because of its size and location.

22. Hamburg Dungeon

Hamburg Dungeon
Hamburg Dungeon (Gulp/Wikimedia)

The Hamburg Dungeon is a live theater that recreates the “dark side” of Hamburg’s history with actors and entertainment in the historic city center Speicherstadt. Eleven shows are available to depict Hamburg’s “evil side.”

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Among things to do in the dungeon are several torture chambers, where you’ll have a chance to witness historical executions of medieval merchants who were executed for their crimes. It’s a terrifying, but an incredible journey through history and ends in 18th century Hamburg where you can find yourself trapped on Plague-ravaged streets!

21. Deichtorhallen

Deichtorhallen
Deichtorhallen (Thomas Fries/Wikimedia)

The Deichtorhallen in Hamburg is one of Europe’s largest art centers for contemporary art and photography. The Deichtorhallen is located at one end of the Rathausmarkt, with direct access to the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. They were constructed between 1911 and 1914 on the site of the former railway station, but they became a venue for exhibiting modern art when it was re-opened after renovation in 1989.

Today’s exhibitions change every few months so there’s always something new for visitors to see!

20. Tropen-Aquarium Hagenbeck

The Tropen-Aquarium Hagenbeck is a zoo and aquarium. The journey into the world of Tropen-Aquarium begins with a stroll through an 8,000 square meter adventure aquarium. You will experience more than 14,300 exotic animals on land and in water as well! It’s the most popular paid tourist attraction in Hamburg, and it houses both exotic creatures from all over the world as well as many rare local species.

The spectacular highlight of your trip is the Great Shark Atoll, which is home to some of the world’s most ferocious sharks. Take a look at how sharks and rays move their tracks in one of Europe’s biggest sea facilities from the amazing perspective windows.

19. Chilehaus

The Chilehaus is a historic building and was built by the architect Fritz Schumacher for the Chilean government as its consulate general in 1921. The house has been converted into a museum and gallery. With its height of 85 meters, it’s one of the most iconic buildings in Hamburg.

You’ll meet a 23-story brick building which you can find in Speicherstadt. Today Chilehaus has been beautifully restored and was one of Germany’s first modern office buildings with a steel frame structure that allowed its windows to be wider than previous types of windows from earlier structures.

The sculptural ornamentation on the exterior is an example of Art Deco architecture style that can be found throughout Hamburg. One unique feature about this building is its facade which changes color with time to reflect sunrise and sunset.

Official website: www.chilehaus.de

18. Reeperbahn

You may have heard of the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, but do you know what it is? The Reeperbahn is a street with a history that dates back to the 16th century. It was once one of Europe’s most notorious red-light districts, and today it still has plenty of nightlife.

It’s a major tourist attraction and one of the most popular nightlife spots in all of Europe. The street runs for about half a mile along the north bank of the Elbe River, starting at Landungsbrücken near Große Freiheit (Great Freedom) square on its southern end running past Mönckebergstraße towards St. Pauli’s cathedral near Davidwache station on its northern end. There are clubs, bars and restaurants galore!

17. Kunsthalle

Kunsthalle Hamburg
Kunsthalle Hamburg (Chat W/Wikimedia)

Kunsthalle Hamburg is one of the oldest art galleries in Germany. It was opened in 1817 after it received an injection of public funds by Prince Augustus William of Prussia, who loved art and was very enthusiastic about having a museum for the people.

Today, the Kunsthalle houses different collections that span from Gothic to classicism. You’ll see art from Monet and Renoir as well as from Hamburg’s most famous artists F. Ch. Busch and Th. Ludwig.

Official website: www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de

16. St. Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church was constructed by the architect Jan Friedrich Ziebland in 1886 to commemorate the 1,200 victims who perished when a British steamship collided with another vessel and caused an explosion at St. Pauli’s docklands. It marks the spot where they were laid to rest after their death.

The memorial is made of white and gray limestone and has a height of 22 meters (72 feet). The interior features four bronze reliefs depicting scenes from the disaster.

15. Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg

Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg
Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg (Mbdortmund/Wikimedia)

The Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg is, as the words suggest, a nautical museum in the harbor city part of Hamburg, Germany with more than 100,000 annual visitors.

Peter Tamm’s (the original owner of the museum) collection contains over 40,000 items and one million photographs that document life at sea through models ships or other memorabilia dating back centuries ago to today’s modern technology like surveillance cameras on boats!

The museum features permanent installations as well as changing exhibitions, so if you’re looking for a unique museum in Hamburg then the Internationales Maritimes Museum is perfect. 

14. Wildpark Schwarze Berge

Wildpark Schwarze Berge
Wildpark Schwarze Berge (Wildpark Schwarze Berge/Wikimedia)

Wildpark Schwarze Berge is a wildlife park that’s located just south of Hamburg in the Harburg district (not to be confused with Harburg in the south of Germany. It was originally built as the hunting grounds of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg where they hosted hunts which later led to keeping deer, wild geese, and pheasants on the land. By the 1950s it had grown more into a type of forested park with an animal corner for children to pet some animals like rabbits, roosters, and goats.

Nowadays, things have changed quite a lot and today it houses most things that you’d find at any animal-themed amusement park including waterfalls, caves, and fountains!

Official website: www.wildpark-schwarze-berge.de

13. Treppenviertel

Treppenviertel
Treppenviertel (Kroppe/Wikimedia)

If the buzzing traffic and downtown Hamburg get too much, look no further than the Treppenviertel district.

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The name Treppenviertel literally translates to “the district of the stairs”, and it’s a wonderful place to visit if you’re looking for winding streets, beautiful houses with a southern-European vibe – just ask the rich and famous of Hamburg. And if you manage to take all the steps to the top of Süllberg, you’ll be granted a breathtaking view over the river Elbe and Hamburg city.

Visiting this area, you’ll access everything from grocery stores to public transportation stops, but there are also plenty of bars and restaurants if you’re looking for some nightlife or even an outdoor market every other Sunday.

12. Schmidt Theater in Hamburg

Schmidt Theater in Hamburg
Schmidt Theater in Hamburg (Wikimedia)

The Schmidt Theater is a traditional theater located in the heart of the famous St. Pauli district, and has been around for over 100 years and still stands today. Tourists come from all over Germany to experience wonderful variety shows, great guest performances, and top-class German-language music theater productions in one of the most beautiful theaters.

The theater was originally built as a circus and then taken over by the Schmidt family in 1920, who used it for traditional plays. The building remains like it was in its prime but behind closed doors, things changed when it went bankrupt and eventually reopened in 1991 as an opera house with little to no success until it became a musical theater where many successful shows play.

Official website: www.tivoli.de

11. Alster lakes

One of the most scenic places to visit in Hamburg is Alster lakes. Hundreds of years ago a dam on the Alster river was turned into an artificial lake in order to power mills operating along its banks.

Today the two lakes are known as an escape for the people of Hamburg, where you can come to relax with friends, have a picnic on the grass, or just enjoy a glass of wine at your local restaurant.

There are many things to do around Lake Alster, including taking boat tours with an authentic old-fashioned gondola or renting boats yourself so you can explore one of these beautiful German lakes in Hamburg.

10. Chocoversum

Did you know there’s a chocolate museum in Hamburg?

Chocoversum is the world’s first museum dedicated to telling the story of chocolate all around the world with permanent and changing exhibitions that tell stories with things like paintings, sculptures, photos, sounds, smells (like cocoa beans), videos, and interactive things to do. It’s all centered on tasting different things from every corner of the globe including Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam, Ghana – just to name a few!

The entrance fee costs €8 for adults but you can also purchase combined tickets if you’re looking to visit other museums as well.

Official website: chocoversum.de

9. Hamburg City Hall and market square

Hamburg City Hall and market square
The Hamburg Town Hall (Arnoldius/Wikimedia)

The Town Hall is one of Hamburg’s most famous landmarks and one of the things to do in Hamburg. The first town hall was built here back in 1815 but was destroyed by a great blaze during World War II, and that’s why today we see an exact replica (which took almost half a century to build) standing where it originally used to be.

There are things happening all around here such as traditional daily markets and art performances for tourists and locals alike, you can also stop at one of many cafes or restaurants nearby if you’d like to simply sit down with a cup of coffee after a long day of sightseeing.

Tourist Tip: If you’re visiting Hamburg during December, don’t miss the famous Christmas market held here!

8. Speicherstadt

Speicherstadt

The Speicherstadt is the world’s largest warehouse complex, built between 1883 and 1920s and currently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings stretch for almost 3 kilometers along the river Elbe. It was originally designed to store goods like coffee, tea, cocoa beans, or spices brought in by ships from all over the world. Nowadays it houses offices of companies like Google, Adidas, and Lufthansa Systems Center Europe (LSE). 

The Speicherstadt is an impressive sight with its high ceilings and its beautiful brickwork. For most people that visit Hamburg, it will be their first time seeing something this size in person, a truly remarkable experience!

7. Port of Hamburg

Port of Hamburg

The Port of Hamburg is the biggest container port in Germany and among the biggest in the world. Because of it’s size and location on the river Elbe, it’s strategically important for the country, and connects Eastern Europe with Central Europe with a deep coastal waterway that provides safe, efficient docking solutions from containerships and oil tankers to cruise ships, as well as being a hub for Europe’s inland waterways.  

A visit to Hamburg might not be complete without at least walking around the harbor area or even taking a boat tour so you can see things up close!

6. Old Elbe Tunnel

Old Elbe Tunnel

The Old Elbetunnel is an amazing feat of engineering that was completed in 1911 by digging beneath the river Elbe in order to connect the districts of St. Pauli and Steinwerder.

Despite being under extreme pressure, the workers managed to complete this treacherous tunnel. They did so by using 19th-century techniques that were popularized in large-scale excavation projects. However, working under pressure to build the tunnel was an extremely challenging task. The men who worked on the Elbe tunnel were at risk of decompression sickness when they got back outside without reducing pressure and there were occasional casualties.

Today, you’ll enjoy a walk through the tunnel (cars use the new Elbe Tunnel) or maybe even running through it during the Hamburg Marathon!

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Fun fact: The tunnel was used in a music video for Scooter (German techno band)

5. Hagenbeck Tierpark

Hagenbeck Tierpark

The Hagenbeck Zoo is a very popular zoo in Hamburg. It was opened in 1907 by Carl Hagenbeck as an exhibition for exotic animals. In the beginning, he used only 15 acres but later expanded to 20, and now it’s 25 acres in total with more than 300 different animal species from all over the world.

It’s a great stop if you’re in Hamburg with children or you want to simply see things like giraffes, lions, elephants, etc., up close! There are also things happening every day such as Dingo feeding times and crocodile shows.

4. Planten un Blomen Park

There’s a reason why Hamburg is called the “gateway to the world” – and it’s not just because of its international airport. In addition to being a major port city, Hamburg has been named the most livable city in Germany. From its many parks to its thriving arts scene, this northern German city offers something for everyone. One such park is Planten un Blomen Park, which features over 100 acres of greenery and flowers as well as a beautifully designed Japanese garden with a traditional bonsai tree collection.

So, if you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, then Planten un Blomen is the perfect spot. T

3. St. Michaels Church

Michaeliskirche
Michaeliskirche (Wikimedia)

The St. Michael’s Church is a Lutheran church in the center of Hamburg. This iconic building was first erected by a group of fishermen in 1189 and ever since it has been damaged or destroyed multiple times due to several wars including the Thirty Years’ War and bombing from World War II. The current version of the church was built between 1837-1840 after being designed by architect George Gilbert Scott who modeled it after Norwich Cathedral in England.

As you can see, this is an important landmark for people everywhere! Being able to stop here and take things in is an experience like no other!

2. Miniatur Wunderland

The Miniatur Wunderland is an impressive attraction that features miniature models of famous landmarks, buildings, and trains. The exhibit has the world’s largest model railway display with 1,200 square meters of track. It also features detailed models of Hamburg city center and New York City to give visitors an idea of what it might be like to live in these areas.

With more than a million lights and half a million tiny people, the Miniatur Wunderland is truly an amazing sight to behold. So if you’re looking for things to do in Hamburg with kids, then take them here first!

The Miniatur Wunderland is open seven days a week of things that you can enjoy from all over the world. This includes things like tiny people going about their daily lives as well as full-sized trains and ships.

1. Elbphilharmonie

Elbphilharmonie

The Elbphilharmonie is topping our list of things to see in Hamburg.

It’s been built on top of an old warehouse and was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron from Switzerland to resemble a ship’s hull with a roof that appears as if it’s floating on the water. The structure includes three performance venues – the Grand Hall for symphony orchestras, the Chamber Music Hall, and Elbphilharmonie Plaza which was created for open-air concerts and can hold up to 10,000 people.

It has acoustics created by Yasuhisa Toyota who once worked on projects such as Disney Hall (in Los Angeles) or Beijing Concert Hall which makes this feat even harder than ever before thought possible – what he did isn’t small after all!.

Common questions about visiting Hamburg

Is Hamburg a safe city?

Hamburg is a very safe city and in general things like pickpocketing and robbery are not things you need to really worry about. However, when in crowded areas such as inside the subway or train stations it’s always better to keep things close to your person and be aware of things that happen around you (e.g., someone bumping into you or things being dropped in front of you).

Is Hamburg worth visiting?

Hamburg is an important and entertaining city that isn’t always talked about as much as other European cities like Paris or London. But things to do in Hamburg will surely surprise you! And seeing things like the Miniatur Wunderland or great works of art such as those at St. Michael’s Church make things worth exploring for yourself.

Can I drink the water in Hamburg?

The drinking water in Hamburg is perfectly safe to drink and is just as clean as the bottled water you can buy in grocery stores.

What food is Hamburg famous for?

Hamburg is the perfect place to taste things like traditional German cuisine. You can enjoy things like schnitzel and sauerkraut. Hamburg is also known for its seafood (e.g., oysters) as well as things like coffee and cakes

Do they speak English in Hamburg?

Most things in Hamburg are available in both German and English. The people who work at restaurants or hotels for example usually speak enough English to help their guests. However, don’t expect locals to take it away in classy English sentences.