Hamburg was not a city we had in mind when visiting Germany. Our goal was actually to visit Berlin, but when we were checking flights from/to Madrid we discovered we had super cheap flights if flying from Madrid to Hamburg and then return from Berlin to Madrid. We just add the cost of the train from Hamburg to Berlin (€28/person) and we could enjoy 2 days in Hamburg.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with almost 2 million people. It is a major port city (the 2nd largest port in Europe) located in the northern Germany. It is crossed by hundreds of canals and it is a very green but also cultural city. The Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel areas were declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2015.
We spent 2 nights and 2 days in the city and we had time to visit most of the main attractions and also walking around enjoying the sunny weather (we were there in June!). The city is not small but most of the places to visit can be reached walking. We just used the metro to go from the airport to the city (in our arrival) and to reach the train station from the city center (to catch the train to Berlin).
Our recommendations for 2 days visiting the city are:
- Reeperbahn (St. Pauli) - This is the area where we stayed in Hamburg and well known for its nightlife, street entertainment, bars, coffees and restaurants. It is also famous for having the city's major red light district. It is a trendy area with plenty of young people and not too touristic (for us, the right place to stay!). Don't forget to take a picture with the Beatles at the Beatles Platz and to enjoy the seafood at the Fischmarkt. On the way to the Fischmarkt from Reeperbahn one can enjoy a nice walk through the docks, seat for a while for a coffee and admire the huge boats at the river.
- Elbe Tunnel - It is a pedestrian and vehicle tunnel (opened in 1911) that allows you to cross the river to the other side of the city. The tunnel is decorated with several ornaments related to the Elbe river. The views of the city after crossing the tunnel are great.
- St. Michael's Church - This is the most famous church in the city and original due to the fact that it was purposely built Protestant (the majority of the churches in Hamburg were Roman Catholics and then converted). The 132 meter high baroque spire is one of the most famous landmarks of Hamburg. You can go upstairs which we totally recommend. The views were incredible since we could see all the city from above in 360 degrees.
- St. Nicholas Church - Built in the 12th century this church was erected and reconstructed several times. It was the tallest building in the world from 1874 and 1876 and it is actually the second tallest structure in Hamburg.
- Speicherstadt - The largest warehouse district in the world where the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations. Built betweern 1883 and 1927, this area was built as a free tax zone and awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. It was one of our favorite areas in Hamburg, where we wonder around and stopped in one of the many terraces to drink coffee. A must visit in Hamburg!
- Miniatur Wunderland - This is one of the most visited places in Hamburg and it is incredible full of people (we recommend to buy the tickets in advance, although we didn't do it and had to wait around 45m to enter). The Miniatur Wunderland is the world's largest model railway with miniatures of cities around the world, including trains, houses, people, landmarks, nature, etc. It is huge and very entertaining, not only for children but specially for adults! We recommend to save at least 2h for the visit.
- Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus) - The city hall is the seat of the local government and we only visited the outside of the building. Apparently there is a tour guide that is well worth it, but we didn't take it. Since it was a sunny day we spent a few hours walking around the city center and the canals.
- Main costs: Centro Hotel West (€136/2 nights / 2 people private bedroom & bathroom), direct flights to Hamburg with Ryanair (€71.38 for 2 people - return through Berlin = €50.98 for 2 people from/for Madrid), metro for 3 days (€16/2 people)
- Main attraction costs: Miniatur Wunderland (€13/person), St. Michaelis (€5/person)
- Great city to visit in the summer! We went in June and it was sunny all the time!
- You can visit other cities in Germany all by train (very efficient railway infrastructures in the country!). We caught the train to Berlin (2h for 28€/person) - see our blog post about Berlin & Potsdam in 6 days here