Water flows through the very heart of Hamburg in the shape of the Elbe river, the Alster lake and the canals that criss-cross the city. This is a place where tradition meets modernity, a place of cosy retreats and bustling streets.
The leafy waterside city is justifiably considered one of the most beautiful in Germany.
Anyone who has ever visited Hamburg is struck by its maritime flair. There's always something to discover and experience in Hamburg, whether it's the hubbub of the Elbe river, a quiet spot by the Alster lake or the ultra-modern HafenCity development near the historical warehouse district.With a population of 1.8 million, it is Germany's second largest city and offers a host of attractions for visitors: fine art and culture, places of historical interest, exhilarating nightlife, excellent restaurants and shopping opportunities ranging from designer luxury to boho chic. Hamburg's port, at the heart of the city, welcomes ships from all over the world and hosts maritime events that attract visitors in their thousands. It is Hamburg's distinctive attitude to life that marks it out from other cities – why not discover it for yourself?
Having survived the years without damage or alteration, the Speicherstadt and the Kontorhaus district with the Chilehaus office building were granted UNESCO World Heritage status in July 2015. The famous Speicherstadt district is a city in itself – a unique ensemble of historical warehouse blocks where the red-brick architecture of the Wilhelmine era bears witness to the wealth of the Hanseatic traders and dock workers.read more »
Not far from the city centre, up river along the fashionable Grosse Elbstrasse, lies a fascinating ensemble of simple industrial structures and beautiful contemporary buildings. Here visitors can enjoy views of the river and the huge container ships from the futuristic-looking Dockland, an office block shaped like the bow of a ship that juts out over the Elbe at a height of 40 metres.read more »
There's water everywhere you look in Hamburg. The port, the trademark canals and the Alster lakes all help to give the city its unique atmosphere. The port of Hamburg is the third largest sea port in Europe and one of the fourteen biggest container ports in the world: some 13,000 sea-going vessels from all over the world pass through here every year.read more »
Hamburg's vibrant port regularly welcomes more than just container ships and special-purpose vessels from all over the world. With each passing year, more and more international cruise liners call in at the city.read more »
Can you fall head over heels in love with a city? Of course you can! After all, they say the quickest way to the heart is through the stomach... and when it comes to the art of culinary seduction, the Hanseatic city of Hamburg is a genuine femme fatale.read more »
The 160-hectare lake, split into the Inner and Outer Alster is popular with locals and visitors alike, who come in search of peace and quiet on and beside the water. Hire a sailing boat or a kayak from the companies right on the water's edge and drift away – past the luxurious mansions by the Outer Alster, past grand boulevards and past oases of green.read more »
The past, present, modern and maritime combine to sensational effect in the mesmerising architecture of Hamburg's emerging HafenCity, which is connected to the city centre via the unique warehouse district. Excavators and cranes can still be seen in many places, alongside the futuristic, steel-and-glass office towers that have already been completed – there's a definite sense of excitement in the air.read more »
Post-modern glass and steel facades, elegant villas from centuries gone by, streets lined with beautiful Art Nouveau-style buildings, Baroque churches, historic residential districts and outstanding single buildings define the face of the city of Hamburg.
The first large shopping arcades were developed in the city centre in the 1970s, continuing today with the new Europa Passage and the redesigned Jungfernstieg.
Situated in the south of Hamburg's Old Town, the Kontorhaus Quarter was the first purely office district in Europe to write architectural history. It was built in the 1920s and 1930s and is also home to the Chilehaus, the Meßberghof and the Sprinkenhof. The Chilehaus, with its distinctive ship's bow-shaped top section, represents the most significant architectonic work of German Brick Expressionism and had a lasting influence on brick architecture in the 1920s and 1930s in northern Europe. It was also one of the first skyscrapers in Germany. On 5 July 2015, the "Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus" ensemble was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, becoming one of around 1,200 "masterpieces of human creative genius of universal value" in the world.
A bold, wave-shaped glass construction rises up above the Kaispeicher A, a historic brick monument on the western tip of HafenCity. This is the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg's new cultural landmark. It combines tradition with modernity in the place where Hamburg is at its most authentic, directly on the water in the heart of the Hanseatic city.
Hamburg is shaped by the rivers Alster and Elbe – and a trip along their banks illustrates the city's many contrasting facets. Hamburg's affluence is clearly visible in elegant residential districts, such as Harvestehude and Blankenese, as well as in the prestigious buildings in HafenCity.
However, as well as this luxurious side of Hamburg, visitors can also explore many other neighbourhoods, such as the Schanze and St. Pauli districts. These are the areas where urban trends evolve and come to life. Hamburg's former red-light district, the Reeperbahn, has long been an attractive leisure area lined with theatres, restaurants, art galleries, nightclubs and bars. Many art galleries, young designers and exciting dining venues have also taken up residence in neighbouring streets.
The city's trends are set in the Karolinen, Schanze, Ottensen and St. Georg districts and in the beach clubs by the harbour. These areas are brimming with stylish bars and relaxed cafes, charming boutiques and creative start-ups.
Cultural and music festivals take place all year round, including the Reeperbahn Festival and the International Summer Festival at the Kampnagel theatre.
Saturday morning is the perfect time for bargain hunting at second-hand markets. You can find trendy vintage furniture and all kinds of home decoration items at the flea markets around the old slaughterhouse in the Schanze quarter. One of the city's most famous fashion designers, Bent Angelo Jensen, has his studio here, designing suits for Hamburg musicians such as Jan Delay under the "Herr von Eden" label. Or you can browse vinyl collections in record stores such as Selekta Reggae Record Shop and Slam Records. Rather than serving simple espressos, the Café Public Coffee Roasters celebrates the renaissance of brewed coffee.
With its elegant shopping arcades, famous retail streets and some of the best hotels in Germany, Hamburg offers visitors an all-round experience with a luxury feel.
The entire city centre is criss-crossed with a network of shopping arcades, each more beautifully designed than the other. Hamburg's smallest and most historic arcades are the Alsterarkaden which, together with the Mellin Passage, provide a link to the Neuer Wall and are decorated with beautiful stucco and ceiling frescoes. The Neuer Wall is Hamburg's top designer street. From Armani to Joop and Jil Sander, Cartier jewellery and Hermès or Louis Vuitton accessories, you can find all these famous names and many more international fashion brands here. The Neuer Wall is also home to a wide range of traditional specialist stores, such as the Unger fashion boutique.
Mönckebergstraße is also the location of the Levantehaus shopping arcade with over 40 stylish stores. After a long day of shopping, there is nothing like a pampering treatment to help you relax and unwind. You can indulge in a selection of treatments in all five-star hotels and in independent spas, for example the Cocon Day Spa on Rothenbaumchaussee.
Foodies with a penchant for a maritime harbour atmosphere should head to Große Elbstraße, where they can find a host of restaurants, including the famous Fischereihafen Restaurant, Au Quai, La Vela and Henssler & Henssler. Hamburg is the only German city to boast a three Michelin-starred restaurant: "The Table" in the HafenCity area. Watch the setting sun as you sip a cocktail 90 metres above the harbour, a luxurious experience to be savoured in the "20up" skyline bar in the Empire Riverside Hotel. Situated on the 23rd floor of the "Tanzende Türme" (Dancing Towers) on the Reeperbahn, 105 metres above the Elbe, the "Clouds" is Hamburg's loftiest dining venue.
From elegant and extravagant cuisine to flavoursome down-to-earth fare, prepared by a Michelin-starred chef or from a rather more simple kitchen, Hamburg has something to suit every taste. Fish is one of the local specialities.
Classic Hamburg dishes such as "Hamburger Aalsuppe" (traditional soup with meat and eel) and "Pannfisch" (pan-fried fish) are served at the long-established "Fischerhaus" on St. Pauli Fischmarkt street. If you have a hankering for Japanese-style fish, try "Henssler & Henssler", a sushi restaurant managed by television chef Steffen Henssler. The "Jellyfish" in the Schanzenviertel (Schanze district) uses only line-caught and wild-caught fish and seafood in its original and creative dishes. The one Michelin-starred "Se7en Oceans" restaurant serves exclusive French and Mediterranean-style fish specialities, accompanied by an amazing view over the Inner Alster Lake.
The trend towards regional ingredients and high-quality organic produce can be seen all over Hamburg. Between the halls of the "Hamburg Messe" exhibition centre, the central meat market and the Schanze district, Tim Mälzer conjures up first-class fare in his "Bullerei" restaurant. The "Nil", between the Schanze district and St. Pauli, also uses regional produce and became a Bib-Gourmand restaurant in 2014.
For a relaxed atmosphere and good food, check out the following venues: "Café Paris", housed in a striking Art Nouveau-style vault and the "Vlet" in the historic Speicherstadt area. In the two Michelin-starred restaurant at the "Hotel Louis C. Jacob", Thomas Martin prepares his clear, contemporarily light and fresh creations. With "The Table", Hamburg is the only German city to boast a restaurant with three Michelin stars.