Hamburg

Where will your dreams take you?

Hamburg is Germany’s second biggest city and it is located on the Elbe River which connects it to the North Sea. It’s history is closely linked to the maritime world and trade and it has been an important trading hub for centuries. Today, the port and harbor remain one of the busiest in Europe. Hamburg is a place for seafood lovers, of course, but foodies will delight at the culinary diversity to be found here. It is a city of art, music, architecture, shopping, and yes, even outdoor adventure.

Whether you are visiting for one day, two days, a week or more, the best way to begin your quest to find what to do in Hamburg is right here. Discover Hamburg with us through our photographs and stories.

Entry Requirements (Passports and Visas)PASSPORTS: Citizens of European Union countries simply need a valid identity card. Citizens of any other country seeking to enter Germany will need a passport that is valid for at least four months from the date of entry into Germany. VISAS: Citizens of many countries outside the European Union may need a visa to visit Germany; however, U.S. citizens for example do not since the United States falls under the Schengen Agreement. That agreement allows for certain countries, such as the United States, to visit EU countries for up to 90 days every 180 days (i.e. approximately three months within a six-month period). Before planning travel, use the iVisa search function below to verify requirements.

Arriving by plane – Flights to this northern city and its Fuhlsbuttel Airport (HAM) are frequent from international hubs such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt or London. Intra-European airlines, including budget carriers, do also fly to Fuhlsbuttel Airport. It is close to the center of town, taking only about 20-25 minutes by car or public transportation.

Arriving by train – Of course, Hamburg is well connected on train lines, including regular fast train connections from Berlin of less than two hours, making it ideal for a day or overnight trip. It is only about four hours from Frankfurt. If you use the train to arrive or depart, take a close look at your ticket. If it says “+City” after the arrival or departure city, you can also use public transportation at no cost going to and from the train station.

Getting to and from the airport – The easiest, quickest and cheapest way is to use the S1 line directly to town center in 25 minutes, or the U1 metro line. Couldn’t be easier.

Getting Around In Hamburg

Hamburg is spread far and wide, covering nearly 300 square miles in fact. On your visit to Hamburg you will likely spend most of your time downtown, at the Alster lakes, in the Historic Speicherstadt (Warehouse City) and neighboring areas, or at the Elbe riverfront, so you will want to take public transit, which is very efficient. Turn to the Hamburg Public Transit group to find your best way from Point A to B. For more detail on getting around Hamburg, turn to the tourism office’s information page.

However, do not forget to walk as you move through the list of what to do in Hamburg! The Alster lakes (inner and outer) are delightful, and many of the traditional city sights are nearby. Tip: They are also a runner’s or walker’s delight! Accessible greenways with paths take you around the nearly 5-mile circumference of the outer Alster, threading your through parks and over bridges. Little-known fact: Hamburg has more than 2,500 bridges – more than London, Amsterdam and Venice combined!

Renting a car – Travel by car is very easy in Germany and renting a car relatively uncomplicated. But there are a few things to keep top of mind. First, many German towns and cities have designated low emission zones, meaning only certain vehicles meeting established low emission standards and bearing a color-coded sticker are permitted. Learn more about the emission stickers here. Second, while the autobahn has only suggested speed limits in places, in other places and on most other roads speed limits are strictly enforced, often with cameras. And those speed limits can change in a blink of an eye, typically right before a speed-trap camera catches you flying by. If you rent a car, stay within the speed limits at all times and drive carefully!

Finding a toilet or WC

Not the easiest in Hamburg, be forewarned. You will find them in any museums you may visit, restaurants, or hotels. In many cities, we dash into department stores, but even in Hamburg, you will likely be given a stare-down by a cleaning person with a hand out for a tip. The going “price” is about 50 cents, but that is not mandatory. I in fact had to use a bathroom and didn’t have a spot of change, and the woman said, “That’s OK.” Remember, somebody loitering by the door with cleaning supplies and a dish set out does not mean you MUST pay, but it’s a nice gesture for what are usually very clean toilets.

Language – The main language in Germany is indeed German (Deutsch). Many Germans, especially younger ones and those living in larger cities speak English sufficiently well that tourists and visitors who do not speak German or only “nicht sehr gut” (not so good) will be able to communicate just fine. Still, it’s always a good idea to learn a few German language basics so that you feel more comfortable shopping and in a restaurant.

Learn to speak a bit of German so you can get around more easily and don’t stand out as a tourist! Read our story Start to learn languages – Top language learning apps and websites.

Health – Ticks are prevalent in many forested regions in Germany and carry Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Be sure to use insect repellent and wear insect repellent clothing when walking in forests and fields. Ask your doctor about needing a TBE vaccination if you plan to spend significant time walking in forested areas.

For over-the-counter medications and seeking minor health issue advice (sore muscles, cough, cold, etc.) you will go to an Apotheka. Should you need a doctor or emergency care while in Germany, be sure your health insurance will cover you internationally — and at what level. We strongly advise purchasing travel insurance that that has emergency medical coverage sufficient enough to cover you in the event of an emergency.

Vaccinations – It is very important you understand what vaccinations and immunization proof is required before travel. The CDC Traveler’s Health page is your best and most up-to-date source for finding what shots are recommended and which are required for any country in the world.

Travel Advisories – Before you travel, we would recommend checking to see if there are any travel advisories or warnings issued for your intended country of travel. Also, for U.S. citizens, we do recommend that you register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Emergencies – To reach the police, fire department or ambulance service, dial 112. Calling 112 is free from any landline or mobile phone. This is throughout Europe.

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Managing Money — The Euro is the currency in Germany. Use the calculator from Oanda below to help you manage your money exchanges and know how much something selling in Euro would cost in dollars.

Currency Converter by OANDA

 

The best time to visit Hamburg is during the months of May through September when temperatures hover in the 70s during the day. It is also when the city is the most crowded of course. Shoulder seasons in April and also the fall bring temperatures in the low 50s to the mid 60s, but less crowds. Winters can be quite raw.

To check the latest weather for any destination you are thinking of heading to in Germany, visit our weather page complete with weather radar and minute-by-minute forecasting.

Busy bee in Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen garden

Busy bee in Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen garden

A visit to the Planten un Blomen Garden on your Hamburg tour is a must, whether you are a flower and garden lover, adore open spaces, enjoy dancing water fountains, or just want a nice place for a stroll or picnic. Now, not many non-Germans head there – obvious in the fact that the official Hamburg tourism website doesn’t have the garden’s page translated into English!

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