The gateway to the world, a beautiful seafaring hub, the maritime capital of the north – even the normally reserved locals find it hard to conceal their pride in their home city, its ambiance and its cosmopolitan charm.

A boat trip around one of the world's most powerful universal ports is at the heart of any successful trip to Hamburg. Followed by a stroll through the Old Town, with its beautiful angular buildings and 17th-century town houses, original restaurants and bars. The Speicherstadt district in the HafenCity inner-city development project is typical of Hamburg and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings of the world's largest single complex of traditional brick warehouses rest on thousands of oak supports and are intersected by narrow waterways. Just a stone's throw away is the famous Elbe Philharmonic Hall, the city's striking landmark and concert hall.

A very different kind of charm is on offer in the alternative quarter of St. Pauli with the Reeperbahn, its famous red light district. Or there's the fish market in Altona, where fresh fish is auctioned every Sunday at the crack of dawn. The Jungfernstieg is Hamburg's chic shopping and finance hub that begins at the Inner Alster Lake. Even here, at the heart of the city, you can take a stroll along the scenic waterside promenades. In the Blankenese district you will come upon the picturesque Treppenviertel quarter with its winding alleyways, beautiful buildings and many steps that take you straight to the Elbe 'beach'. And if you're thinking that the locals probably can't get enough of the water, you're spot on.

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