What can you do in Hamburg in one day?
After Berlin, Hamburg is the largest city in Germany. Many of the attractions are near the harbor area, but some of the sites are a little further away. This makes it a challenge to explore the city in a single day.
Around every corner there is something new to discover and explore whilst taking in the stunning architecture, endless canals and delicious food. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a list of the five best activities you can do when visiting Hamburg for one day.
#1 Church of St. Michael
St. Michael’s Church (German: Hauptkirche Sankt Michaelis)–affectionately called Michel by the locals–is Hamburg’s largest church and a landmark of the city that you simply cannot miss. At 132-metre-high, the observation deck at the top of the church tower offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city and harbor. If you manage to climb the 452 steps, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most amazing views Hamburg has to offer. Children will be particularly thrilled to spot the cruise and container ships from up high. This stunning landmark can be easily reached by public transportation–either by taking the U3 line to Baumwall or buses 112 or 37. Thanks to its central location in the heart of Hamburg, you can easily reach all the main attractions on foot.
Address: Engl. Planke 1, 20459 Hamburg
#2 Warehouse District (Speicherstadt)
You can’t visit Hamburg without exploring the Speicherstadt (‘Warehouse City’)–the largest warehouse complex in the world and an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. The warehouse district was built into the Elbe river between 1883 and the late 1920s as part of Hamburg’s free port. Some of the buildings have been turned into museums, such as the German Customs Museum and Automuseum Prototyp.
If you are travelling with kids, have a look at the Miniatur Wunderland model railway or the Hamburg Dungeon, which offers brave visitors a spooky trip through Hamburg’s history.
#3 Hamburg Town Hall
Hamburg Town Hall is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city thanks to its beautiful combination of Italian and North German Renaissance elements. Today it houses the city’s parliament and senate, and it’s a popular attraction for visitors from all around the world. The Rathausmarkt square–where the city hall is located–hosts various concerts, fairs and events, as well as the famous Christmas markets every year.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a politician yourself to get a peek inside this neo-renaissance building. The City Hall is open to the public, and visitors can take guided tours or visit the many exhibitions.
Address: Rathausmarkt 1, 20095 Hamburg
Opening times: Mon-Fri (7AM-8PM)
#4 Alster Lake
The Alster Lake, also known as ‘the Alster’, consists of the Inner and Outer Alster and is a central part of Hamburg’s city life. The lakes offer everyone–locals and tourists alike–an opportunity to relax and reconnect with nature. In summer, the parks surrounding the lake are a great place to grill, absorb the sunshine or simply go for a walk. Surrounded by greenery, Alster Lake and its shores are used by locals for sports and recreational purposes, such as sailing, rowing and stand-up paddling. Boats, canoes and kayaks can be hired at many spots nearby. If you are in dire need of a break, you will find plenty of cafes and restaurants in the area that invite you in for a quick refreshment.
Address: 20148 Hamburg
Getting there: S1, S2, S3 and U1, U2, exit at ‘Jungfernstieg’
#5 St. Pauli Piers
Spectacular views, unique architecture and a major maritime transport hub–this is St. Pauli’s Piers (Landungsbrücken). One of Hamburg’s major tourist attractions, the St. Pauli Piers serve as one of the city’s main hubs for culture, commerce, and leisure. The area is bursting with life, and you will find an activity suitable for travelers of all ages. Perhaps you might want to visit the International Maritime Museum and learn more about the city’s maritime heritage. There’s also the option of renting out your own boat so you and your travel buddies can explore the harbor and enjoy a view of Hamburg from the water. Stop by for a cup of coffee and get a couple souvenirs along the way, it’s a breathtaking scene of Hamburg that never fails to amaze visitors.
Address: Port of Hamburg, 20359 Hamburg
Opening times: open 24 hours
The Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall) is a concert venue in the HafenCity district of Hamburg, Germany, and one of the largest of its kind worldwide. The stunning architectural piece resembles a variety of things – from a ship or a wave to an iceberg or a quartz crystal – resting on top of an old brick warehouse. Regardless of what your eyes discern, you will still be left speechless by the imposing building.
If you are travelling with kids, the Elbphilharmonie offers plenty of creative workshops and concerts for children of all ages, as well as for parents!
Address: Platz d. Deutschen Einheit 4, 20457 Hamburg
Opening times: Mon-Sun (10AM-11:45PM)