The first city Backpacker and Travellers from abroad pick if they visit Germany is the capital – Berlin. Hamburg, the 2nd largest city of Germany is just a 1,5h train ride away and offers a lot: from the harbour, the historic buildings in the innercity and the Alster lakes to the popular nightlife at the Reeperbahn you can find a lot of things that keep you busy for a few days.[box type=”info”]This article is part of the free Backpacking in Europe Guide where you find more great information, resources and destination guides to plan & organize your trip to Europe! Checkout the Packing List for City Breaks – a great tool to save some time while preparing for your trip![/box]
I remember the day when the cruising ship “Queen Mary 2” moored the first time in hamburg, full with tourists from the U.S.. These people came off the ship, jumped into big busses and drove directly to Berlin without visiting Hamburg. Believe me, they missed a lot of things!
Let's start with the harbour: it is the economic centre and therefore the heart of the seventh largest town in the Euopean Union. Did you know that this port is the fourth largest in Europe and with this the number 8 in the world? Beside the oversea trade it is also responsible for the rich culture, population growth, the nightlife (with the red light district) and a unique architecture (both in former times and nowadays).
Use your chance to see cranes of big portainers loading off huge container ships, visit the Landungsbrücken or Övelgönne to see floating museums on historic ships, wave to incoming cruising ships or watch ships getting repaired in the floating dock 10 or in one of europes biggest drydocks (dock 17).
The InnercityLet's move over to the city centre, just a small 10-15mins walk away from the port. A lot of churches characterize the skyline – the most popular is the so called “Michel”. The St.Michaelis church is more than just a chruch, it is a symbol and a landmark for Hamburg and the inhabitants. The church was destroyed twice and was reconstructed twice – the people of Hamburg fell in love with this building and campaigned for the reconstruction every time. Today it is one of the most impressive ones and you can go to the top to enjoy a beautiful panoramaview.
But there are a lot more buildings to visit – the St. Nikolai church, St. Katherinen and of course the town hall to name only a few. The town hall with the town hall square is located in the centre of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg directly next to the Alster and the shopping area.
NightlifeThere are a few hotspots if you like to go out for partying in Hamburg. The most popular is the Reeperbahn with it's world famous red light district. The Reeperbahn area is located in a quarter called St.Pauli where you can find a lot of bars, clubs, restaurants and pubs to turn night into day.
Much better restaurants but also bars and clubs can be found in the area called the “Schanze”, just a 10 min walk from the Reeperbahn. Or the third option – pubcrwaling in Altona, a quarter that was a part of Denmark(!) in former times.
ParksHamburg is europe's green capital 2011 – for good reasons: there are parks and recreation areas everywhere. The combination of water and green areas is typical for Hamburg: the whole city is covered with canals and parks at the water's edge. Did you know that Hamburg has more bridges inside its city limits than any other city in the world?
If you are in need of relaxation: chill out on the big grasslands of the Stadtpark (central park) or rent a boat and paddle through the whole city to the big alster lakes. [divider_top]
CultureI already dropped some words about the nightlife – there are also a lot of live concerts all over the place every night. A lot of careers started in the clubs of Hamburg – the most popular example are for sure the Beatles: they lived and performed here from 1960-1962. Currently Hamburg offers a wide variety of music – from german hip-hop (most famous artists are coming fom hamburg) to indierock and hard-rock.
Festivals in and around the city like the MS Dockville (August 2011) or the Reeperbahnfestival (September 2011) could be your chance to enjoy good music.
Many tourists are coming also because of the musicals: the Lion King, Tarzan and Sister Act are booked out nearly every evening. You are more into theater or art? Then visit one of the museums and stages around the central station!
SportFootball is the number one Sport in Germany – in Hamburg you'll find 2 clubs playing: the Hamburger SV (1.Bundesliga = 1st league) and the FC St.Pauli (2.Bundesliga = 2nd league). Both have their own, very modern stadium where you can watch the matches, enjoy a beer together with a great atmosphere – but: be sure to organize tickets in advance because mostly the games a sold out!
Next to the Arena of the Hamburger SV you'll find a multi-purpose arena where you can watch ice hockey (club: Hamburg Freezers, 1st league) or handball (club: Hamburger SV, 1st league). National and international tennis tournaments can be watched in the stadium “am Rothenbaum”.