Planning a solo trip to Hamburg? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The second largest city in Germany, with a population of 1.8 million.
- The Free and Hanseatic City holds one of the most important ports in the world.
- Wrapped along the river Elbe, the city contains 2,302 bridges (more than Venice and Amsterdam put together!)
- One of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in Europe.
- Nickname: Gateway to the World
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: German and English as a second language.
- Best time to visit: from May to September for warm, sunny weather.
- Arriving via airport: Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport (HAM) is well-serviced by bus routes, including a night service that departs from the arrivals area. The S-Bahn rail line S1 operates every 10 minutes to the central rail station Hauptbahnhof for €2.95. Taxi rides to the city centre cost around €20-€25.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: MEININGER Hamburg City Center. Basically a hotel at hostel prices – very clean, friendly staff, and modern facilities. Just a 2 minute walk to the train station, and easy access to the S-Bahn for popping into the major sightseeing areas.
- Ottensen (in the district of Altona) is a leafy, well-appointed quarter with plenty of accommodation, dining options on top of easy access to the city centre through the efficient public transportation system.
- Harvestehude is a quiet, residential neighborhood favoured for its proximity to the main sights much like Hohenfelde, while over in HafenCity visitors can find a generous variety of hostels, guesthouses and apart-hotels.
- HVV operates Hamburg’s public transportation network, from the Schnellbahn rapid rail service to the bus routes and the ferry lines. Tickets are based on a zonal fare system (click here for the latest prices).
- The Hamburg Card is a practical, convenient pass that allows unlimited travel within the Greater Hamburg area plus comes loaded with discounts at 130 participating outlets, including major attractions, restaurants and even river cruises. The 1-day pass costs €8.90 while the 3-day pass costs €21.90 and the 5-day pass €37.50.
- Taxis run on meters with starting fare at €2.90 plus €2.00 for the subsequent 4 kilometres and €1.90 for kilometre 5 to 10. Dial 211 211 for Hansa-Taxi or 210 070 020 for City Taxi.
- It’s easy to rent bikes in Hamburg through Stadtrad (official website). Registration is only €5 (use a bike from any rental station for up to 30 minutes with no additional fees!)
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is at 5 AM.
- Saint Pauli, and in particular its world-renowned Reeperbahn, is the premier nightlife destination, famous for its cabaret shows, all-night drinking and excessive nightclubs.
- Rotherbaum is kept busy and alive till morning by the student population who frequent the casual pubs and bars.
- Saint Georg is a flourishing neighborhood known for its hip cafés and late-dining.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Kunsthalle mounts rich exhibits with the most impressive collection of German art, from medieval altars to modern paintwork.
- Take a stroll through historic Fabrique im Gängeviertel, a site that was once marked for demolition. It has been saved, and is now replete with unique art and exhibitions.
- Ballinstadt tells the story of 5 million people from all over Europe who fled from Hamburg in search of the New World between 1850 and 1934.
- St. Michaelis is the symbol of the city and its most famous church. Colloquially known as Michel, the Lutheran church features a large bronze statue of the archangel Michael fighting the devil.
- Deichtorhallen is one of Europe’s largest and most important art centres for contemporary art and photography. Rising on the former site of a railway station, the two main halls combine to showcase the best current exhibits.
- Even if you’re not into trains or airplanes, you owe it to yourself to pop by Miniaturwunderland. Impressive, intricate scale models await.
- Walk the “sinful mile” of Reeperbahn. The red light district is also home to Schmidts Tivoli, a theatre famous for its midnight cabaret musicals.
- Dominated by big international names and upmarket restaurants, Neuen Wall is the city’s shopping mecca.
- Park Planten un Blomen is a wonderful park featuring botanic gardens, fountains and playgrounds including a skating rink.
- Explore the beautiful Treppenviertel district. Take the S1 to Blankenese and take a stroll by the river.
- The Alter Elbtunnel is an underground tunnel open to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists traveling between the city centre and the southern end of the river. The passage is lined with glazed terra-cotta ornaments and is part of an on-going art exhibition.
- Using a HVV transport ticket, board a ferry for a ride along Hamburg’s harbour. The charming, relaxing ride is free for day-pass holders.
- The Sunday Fischmarkt opens at 5AM and is an excellent way to see the locals in action. Located next to the port, the market is also popular among party-goers floating in from Reeperbahn and the nightlife spots.
- Great restaurants to try in Hamburg: Ti Breizh (delicious French crepes), Dionysos Hamburg (Greek), The Bird (burgers), Delta Bistro ($$$ – steakhouse), Tassajara (vegetarian), Maharaja (Indian), Nil ($$$ – unpretentious fine dining).
- Where to find good cheap eats: Lange Reihe has a wide variety of economic dining options, from Chinese to Mexican cuisine, while the cafés along Ottensen are popular for their set menus (often costing a fraction of a dish in a restaurant).
- Dangerous areas: while the city is generally safe during the day, the area near the central station is best avoided at night.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days