The Hanseatic city on the Elbe with its rough harbour district, and right next to it the burgeoning HafenCity combined with the historic Speicherstadt (warehouse city).

Elegant suburbs adjoin alternative districts such as Altona and Ottensen, just a stone’s throw from the party and red light setting of St. Pauli and the «hip» Schanze quarter. Hamburg is fascinating for its contrasts. Apparently incompatible worlds respect each other – but at some point, every Hamburger decides whether he is a child of the Elbe or the Alster. To be beside the Elbe and experience Hamburg as the gateway to the world; to feel freedom and wanderlust when the huge ships sail by, or perhaps to linger on the Alster with its many dreamy canals, and enjoy the feeling of just being at home.

Despite all the dynamism and development, tradition is important in the Hanseatic city. The «Hamburger Pfeffersack» – a «bag of pepper», a reference to the times when pepper was used as a form of payment – still exists, the venerable merchant whose handshake counts as much as his signature. Summer doesn’t see the residents of Hamburg heading for the countryside. Instead, they prefer to stay in their city and enjoy an «Alsterwasser» (beer with Sprite) in the city park, in a beach club beside the Elbe, or on Bodo’s landing stage on the Alster.

In the Portuguese quarter at the foot of the Michel, life is lived mainly on the streets in summer, with Galao and croissants. And in case it rains or gets too windy, then there are museums, musicals, theatres and lots of shops in the city’s passages to escape to. Hamburg is «hip»; maybe a little conservative here and there, but above all it’s cosmopolitan and effortless. The lovely people on the «Waterkant» are invariably hospitable and charming.

City Facts

  • Location

    Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg; city state in northern Germany.

  • Population

    1.8 million

  • Size

    755 km²

  • Public transport

    Very well-developed bus, city train and underground network.

  • Climate

    Moderate-warm climate zone with maritime influences.

  • Best time to visit

    May to September. It can be very windy and wet in autumn and winter; January is usually the coldest month.

  • Good to know

    Hamburg has 2500 bridges – more than Venice, Amsterdam and London combined – and so has more bridges than any other city in Europe.

  • Nice to know

    Not available anywhere else in Germany: «Franzbrötchen» – sweet pastries made from a soft yeast dough with lots of butter, cinnamon and sugar.

  • Airport

    Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, approx. 10 km north of the city centre.

  • Bus

    There are several bus lines from the airport, but the S-Bahn (interurban train) is the quickest option.

  • Railway

    The S-Bahn (interurban train) takes approx. 30 minutes to the city centre.

  • Taxi

    There are lots of taxis outside the terminals, but it is advisable to book a taxi in advance, e.g. through Hansa-Taxi