With just under two million inhabitants, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city. Unlike Berliners, however, most Hamburgers would probably not claim to live in a cosmopolitan city. With Hanseatic understatement, they are content to be northern Germany’s No. 1 and, after all, the “gateway to the world.” This mixture of relaxed cosmopolitanism, diverse attractions and provincial manageability, which combines both modest and pompous elements, is what gives Hamburg its special charm for many visitors. In any case, there is much to see and experience on the Elbe and Alster, and for every taste.
Tip 1: Speicherstadt
The Speicherstadt in the Port of Hamburg is the world’s largest historic complex of old warehouses and is located between Baumwall and Oberhafen. Anyone visiting Hamburg should not miss this unique world of warehouses. Even during the day it is a real experience to walk through the Speicherstadt and at night the Speicherstadt seems almost like a fairy tale due to light illuminations.
By the way, the Speicherstadt is not as old as one might think at first glance, because the first sections were completed in 1833 and the last only in 1927. It is hard to imagine that the warehouses were built on a wooden foundation of thousands of oak piles at that time and are still standing today. Due to the large container terminals and the associated expansion of the port areas, only a fraction of the space in the Speicherstadt is now used for storage purposes.
The Speicherstadt not only fascinates several million tourists and day visitors every year. For Hamburgers, too, the Speicherstadt has a very special magic that draws us to the canals and warehouses again and again. Since 1991, Hamburg’s Speicherstadt has been a listed building and since 2015 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tip 2: Miniatur Wunderland
The Miniatur Wunderland is located directly in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt and is one of the top attractions in Hamburg and displays the largest model railway layout in the world. So far, the creators have been able to inspire more than 15 million visitors, which is an impressive tribute to the fascinatingly implemented ideas and artfully designed miniature landscapes.
Visitors can move through several sections in Miniatur Wunderland, where, for example, America, Central Germany, the fictitious town of Knuffingen, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are shown in miniature landscapes. The city of Hamburg itself is given its own section with fascinating attention to detail.
The simulated daily routine is very effective, with day, night and twilight times repeating every quarter of an hour. Here it is worthwhile to linger a bit longer at the mountain landscapes, at Knuffingen airport, at the fair and America section.
Tip 3: City Hall
The City Hall in Hamburg is the landmark of the city. It was built in 1886-1897 and dominates the center of Hamburg. The City Hall is the seat of the Hamburg Senate and the Parliament.
The mighty city hall in the north of Germany is a sandstone building, which was built in the years 1886-1897 and is the landmark of Hamburg. The new building had to be erected because the old city hall was destroyed down to the foundation walls in the great fire of 1842.
It dominates the center of Hamburg with its magnificent appearance and elaborately decorated facade and is a focal point of Hamburg life. The City Hall is the seat of the political organs of the Hamburg Senate and the Parliament.
Tip 4: Kunsthalle
A tour through eight centuries of art history is offered by the Hamburger Kunsthalle, one of the most important and largest art museums in Germany. Around 700 works are permanently on display.
In addition, there are numerous special exhibitions at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, which show developments in art from the Middle Ages to the present and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. Founded in 1869, the Kunsthalle is already over 150 years old. Almost 800 years of art history are shown there.
The permanent exhibition focuses on North German medieval painting with the altars of Master Bertram and Master Francke, 17th-century Dutch painting, 19th-century German painting with works by Caspar David Friedrich and Max Liebermann, for example, Classical Modernism with works by Max Beckmann, Edvard Munch or Paul Klee, and contemporary art. The Kunsthalle also has a copperplate engraving cabinet with more than 130,000 drawings and prints.
Tip 5: Reeperbahn
Even today, the Reeperbahn is often referred to as the most sinful mile in the world, although Hamburg’s neighborhood has long since undergone a profound transformation. Of course, there are still many brothels and nightclubs, but the theme of sex is no longer nearly as dominant as it was in earlier decades.
In the meantime, many other clubs, establishments and party places have secured permanent places in the center of the wild nights and the Reeperbahn has developed into a kind of all-in-one experience mile.
Numerous new buildings have significantly changed the neighborhood and especially the Reeperbahn in recent times and are not entirely uncontroversial, because many residents fear a gentrification of the district.
The charm of the old days can still be found in some side streets, where you can find cult Kiez pubs, but also quintessential dive bars and small stores with a real grungy flair. In some corners you can very well guess how life played here many decades ago.