In my last post, I talked about how you can practically eat the world in Hamburg, as there are so many different cuisines thriving within the city. The same can also be said of the variety of things to do in Hamburg. While I managed to fit quite a lot into the space of two days, I think you’d need to allow at least four days to explore the breadth of Hamburg at a leisurely pace. It took me a little while to adjust to the U-Bahn system and bus network as I’ve never been to Germany before and I have a serious case of directional dyslexia, so it was a good thing I had a Hamburg card to cover the cost of all the wrong trains I ended up getting onto! I don’t think I could’ve coped without the Rome2Rio app, although there is no substitute for friendly, face-to-face interaction and luckily for me, the lovely people of Hamburg were more than willing to point me in the right direction – literally.
Despite getting a little lost a few times, I had a fantastic time and I’d love to go back sometime to continue exploring the city. Here are my favourite things to do in Hamburg:
When I heard there was a chocolate museum in Hamburg, I felt like a child who’d just been told they were off to Disneyland. In fact, this was one of the main reasons I was attracted to Hamburg in the first place.
Owned by German chocolatier, Hachez, CHOCOVERSUM traces the chocolate-making process from cacao beans to chocolate bar, in an interactive 90-minute guided tour with tasting opportunities.
From the beginning, the tour was fun and engaging. What better way to get our attention than by feeding us melted milk chocolate from a 90-litre chocolate fountain?
One of the highlights of the tour was seeing this conche machine, originally developed in Switzerland by Rudolph Lindt (the guy in the white hat on the Lindt adverts) in 1879. Each conch (that’s those big troughs you can see in the picture below) can hold 250 litres of chocolate, and the grinding mechanism serves to evenly distribute the cocoa butter in the chocolate.
We even got to make our own bar of chocolate. I made a milk chocolate bar topped with crumbled amaretto, hazelnut, roasted cocoa. It nearly lasted until I got back home to Cardiff, but then I got hungry on my way home and remembered I had it in my bag…
CHOCOVERSUM is open daily from 10am until 6pm, including public holidays. Entrance costs €15 for adults, €13.50 for concessions and €11 for children aged six to 17 years, while children under two go free. However, you can get a group ticket to cover two children and two adults for just €41. Tours are available in German, Danish and English. Book in advance to avoid disappointment, as this must be one of the most popular things to do in Hamburg.
Meßberg 1, 20095 Hamburg, Germany | +49 40 4191 2300 | https://www.chocoversum.de/en/
You can’t go to Hamburg without visiting the world’s largest model railway exhibition, Miniatur Wunderland.
See the world in miniature in this moving model railway complete with villages, airports, ski slopes, castles, landmark buildings, fun fairs, lakes, swimming pools and even an active volcano.
Miniatur Wunderland is great for kids. On the day of my visit, there were probably more children in there than adults, and they all seemed fascinated by the different displays and moving models. For more ideas on things to do in Hamburg with infants, check out Zena’s Suitcase‘s post about her time in Hamburg with her three-year-old daughter.
Miniatur Wunderland is open 365 days a year from 9.30am until 6pm. On Mondays and from Wednesday to Friday, it opens from 9.30am until 6pm, while it is open until 9pm on Tuesdays, from 8am until 9pm on Saturdays, and from 8.30am until 8pm on Sundays and public holidays. Admission costs €13 for adults and €6.50, with concessions priced at €9 or €5 for the disabled.
Kehrwieder 2-4/Block D, 20457 Hamburg, Speicherstadt, Germany | +49 40 3006800 | http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/
Rathaus – Hamburg Town Hall
The intricate, neo-renaissance architecture and pale green copper roof of Hamburg’s Rathaus (Town Hall) make it one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Built at some point between 1886 to 1897, this stunning sandstone building lies at the heart of the city centre in the town square (Rathausmarkt). To this day, the Rathaus is the meeting place of the Hamburg Parliament and Senate, and the Tower Hall accommodates celebrations on special occasions and receptions.
The interior is just as impressive, with elaborately decorated roofs, Sardinian marble staircases, ornate water fountains, and even a restaurant/cafe (shame I’d already had lunch!).
Meanwhile, the courtyard is dominated by an awe-inspiring water fountain dedicated to Greek goddess of health, Hygieia. The gentle trickling sound of the water made me very relaxed and at ease.
Almost opposite the Rathaus stands a poignant memorial statue dedicated to the 40,000 Hamburg men fwho lost their lives in the First World War (1914-18), against the backdrop of Alster Lake and Arcades.
Visiting the Rathaus is free of charge, although guided tours are available for a fee. More details are available on the Hamburg Tourism website or on the below telephone number.
Rathausmarkt 1, 20095 Hamburg, Germany | +49 (0) 40 428 31 24
Hamburg City Bus Tour – Die Roten Doppeldecker GmbH
If you’ve only got a short space of time in which to explore Hamburg, a city bus tour is a great way to see all the sights and attractions. The other advantage is that you can hop-on and hop-off at any time throughout the day, so it’s an easy and affordable way to travel across the city.
I went on a city bus tour with Die Roten Doppeldecker, which operates both English and German language tours throughout the day. I was given some headphones to plug in to the socket next to me to access an English audio guide.
The highlights of the tour included seeing the former Nazi parading ground (now used as a recreational area), a 1936 war memorial on the Dammtordam (below), Gustav-Mahler park, the 280-metre-tall TV Tower in Sternschanze (in the background of the above picture), the Kuntshalle museum in Glockengießerwall, the campuses of the University of Hamburg and Germany’s largest tennis stadium (below), Am Rothenbaum in Hallerstraße.
Tours depart from Hamburg Central Station between 9.30am and 5pm every 30 minutes from Monday to Thursday, and every 20 minutes from Friday to Sunday. Tickets cost €17.50 for adults (€15 with a Hamburg card), €7.50 for children aged up to 14 and €33 for a family ticket (two adults and two children).
Central Station/Kirchenallee or at St. Pauli Landungsbrücken 1-2 (times for St. Pauli will vary) | +49 40 792 89 79
Harbour Boat Tour with Barkassen Meyer
Hamburg is one of the biggest port cities in Northern Germany, connected to the North Sea by the River Elbe. If you head down to the Landungsbrücken (floating dock) at Hamburg Harbour, you can enjoy a one-hour boat ride along the river, spotting landmark buildings and passing enormous container ships as you go along.
I took a boat tour with Barkassen-Meyer, a family-run shipping company founded almost 100 years ago, although there are numerous different companies and boats to choose from.
The tour guide spoke in German, but I was given an English audio guide and a mobile app is also available. I recommend choosing a boat with open sides so you can take clear photos of the different sights you see during the tour.
Some of the attractions we passed included Hamburg Fish Market, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall (pictured below), the Old Elbe Tunnel (an underground river tunnel for vehicles and pedestrians, also pictured below), the Augustinium (a cooling centre for goods) and the Harbour Museum.
Barkassen-Meyer’s harbour boat tours run daily between 11am and 3pm, departing on the hour. Prices start at €18 for adults and €9 for children aged 14 and below, with children up to 4 years free of charge. Discounts are available for concessions and Hamburg card holders – please enquire directly for further information.
Brücke 6 (Bridge 6) at the Landungsbrücken Ticket Office Barkassen Meyer Bei den St.Pauli-Landungsbrücken, Bridge 6, 20359 Hamburg | +49 40 317 73 70
I was a little apprehensive about visiting St. Pauli alone in the evening but I went ahead and did it anyway, and I’m pleased to say I actually felt pretty safe. Perched on the banks of the River Elbe, west of central Hamburg, St. Pauli is hub of the city’s nightlife scene and the home of the red light district.
The main street leading through St. Pauli is known as the Reeperbahn or ‘Kiez’, and it is lined with neon-lit sex shops and strip clubs, pubs, bars and food outlets.
Another attraction of St. Pauli is the nachtmarkt, or night market, located at the Spielbudenplatz. This collection of traditional German food and drinks stalls opens from 4pm until 10-11pm daily, to give locals a chance to shop outside working hours. When I saw all the German cheeses, meats, salads, breads and fish on sale, I was gutted that I couldn’t buy any of it to bring home with me, as I had no checked-in baggage and I didn’t want to risk it being taken off me at the airport.
If you would prefer to take a guided tour of St. Pauli, visit the St. Pauli Tourist Office website for time tables and costs, or give them a call on +49 (0) 40 98 23 44 83.
If you’re looking for further inspiration on things to do in Hamburg, visit the Come to Hamburg website for plenty more ideas. Fellow bloggers, Melissa and Marcus from Fly Drive Explore also have some great ideas and their recent trip to Hamburg’s Christmas markets looked amazing!
Have you ever been to Hamburg? What kind of attractions do you enjoy visiting on your travels? Leave me a message in the comment box below 🙂