What are the top sights to see in Hamburg? I’ve lived in Hamburg for about 18 years, so this is a very tough one. But if you want to see Hamburg in just one day, this is my recommendation.
First of all there is the harbour. You have to go on one of the harbour boat trips and explore the container harbour, which is, the second largest container harbour in Europe, right after Rotterdam. In 2015 alone it had 8735 ships arriving being the trans-shipment center for 137.8 mio tons. There are different tours available, some go into the Speicherstadt as well, some do only the container part, I’d say pick whatever you feel like and what the tide allows.
For more information: https://www.hafen-hamburg.de/en/sights
The cheap alternative is to use your HVV ticket (the ticket for public transport) and catch the ferry to Finkenwerder. You won’t go deeply into the container part of the harbour and won’t get any information. But it is a lot cheaper and you do get to see a part of the harbour as well. You might even get off at Neumühlen and watch the ships pass in one of the restaurants close by.
The old Elbe-tunnel / Der alte Elbtunnel
While you are at the harbour, take a stroll to the right, leaving the water to your left. After passing the parking lot for all busses and taxis, you’ll find a lift that takes you down through the old part of the tunnel connecting both sides of the city. Since this part is only for pedestrians and cyclists on the weekends, it is definitely worth the walk. When you get out of the tunnel, you can enjoy Hamburg and its landmark, the Michel from the other side of the water.
The Sankt Michaelis church or simply “Michel”
If you ask people for direction to the Sankt Michaelis church you might not get a helpful answer at all. If you ask for the Michel, this will be much more leading to your target.
Have a look inside and take the elevator or stairs up to the top to have a look around and see the harbour, the red-light district St. Pauli and other churches, the townhall and sights close by.
Every day at 10am and 9pm there is a person playing chorals on a trumpet in all 4 directions. Not only a the top, but also at the very bottom the Michel has intesting things to offer. In the cellar there is the Krypta, which has an exhibition about the 1000-year-old history of Hamburg.
Opening hours: Nov.-April: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm, May- October 09:00am-08:00pm
„Krameramtsstuben“ (not a must see, but it is right in front of you anyway)
If you got up early for your sightseeing trip, you will be starving by now.
Now you saw the town hall from top, you should make a 10 minute detour and walk through the „Krameramtsstuben“. This part of the city is right below the Michel and used to be the part where widows would live in a community. It is tiny, but you’ll find a very good traditional restaurant. The restaurant also offers midnight dinner events with sparkling wine served at the top of the Michel for midnight.
So, either have lunch here or continue another 20-25 minutes to the city. Pass the town hall, continue first on Mönckebergstraße. Leave Starbucks and Görtz on your right and find a small shop called “Daniel Wischer” at Spitalerstraße 12. This is also a traditional place as, Mr. Wischer opened his very first restaurant in 1924 in Cuxhaven. But it is not as high end, as the Krameramtsstuben. Not only the English serve delicious Fish ‘n’ Chips. We do too!
Hamburg’s Town hall / Hamburger Rathaus
Now make your way back to the town hall and have a tour through it.
The entrance fee is about 4€ and definitely worth it, as this is our castle. The Hammerburg unfortunately no longer exists. However, this is where the name Hamburg originates from, literally translates into „Castle Hammer“. There are guided tours in German every half hour. For tours in English and French, tours are available upon request.
For more info call +49 (0)40 428 31 2064 (from 09:00am-5:00pm).
After all these new impressions and being on the move all day long you might be exhausted. So how about a nice coffee, while enjoying the water again?
There is a café / restaurant / cocktail bar right at the Jungernstieg, just a 5 minute walk away from the town hall, the ALEX. Leave the town hall behind you and continue slightly to the left. You’ll find a big lake, the Alster. Cross the street and find it right in front of you. You can’t miss it. In summer this is a great place to sit, because you can see the big fountain in the middle of the lake Alster. In winter there is a big Christmas tree instead replacing the fountain.
Now I’d say you have seen the most important sights. Next time around I am going to take you a little deeper into the city sights and of course to explore Hamburg’s famous night life.