Hamburg is often overlooked by travellers who choose to visit Berlin, Munich or the Rhine Valley instead. We’re gonna go so far as to say that Hamburg is Germany‘s most underrated city. Yep, you heard.

But, with so much to offer, from foodie haunts (where else do you think the hamburger came from? 😉) to famous bars and clubs, Hamburg is pretty freaking great. Read our Hamburg travel guide for 5 reasons why Hamburg should be the next German city on your travel list.

1. There are photo ops on every street corner

As the second-largest city in Germany, the cosmopolitan streets of Hamburg are buzzing with atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to grab a coffee and people-watch!

If you feel like stretching your legs, the first thing you’ll notice as you wander around is the impressive mash-up of architectural styles. This city of contrasts shows off its modern glass structures (think: the wave-shaped Elbe Philharmonic Hall) that sit side by side with the historic port (dating back to the 12th century).

Hamburg travel guide view of harbour Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Germany

You can also hit up the Old Town to check out the architecture there. We’re talking baroque churches and street art. Oh, Hamburg… 😍

Hint: if you wanna take in the architecture from above, climb the 132-metre tower of St Michael’s Church for the most spectacular views over the city. No filter necessary.

Hamburg travel guide view from St Michael’s Church

2. You can feast on German food like Pannfisch and Hamburgers

So, you’ve tasted Berlin’s best currywurst, tried wayyy too many pretzels in Munich’s beer halls and now you want a taste of Hamburg’s cuisine. Go no further than the seafood restaurants surrounding the fish market. Don’t miss the trendy street of Deichstraße in the Old Town to order some pan fish (Pannfisch to the locals) – a fried fish fillet specialty served with mustard, herbs and fried potato. Yum!

And now for the most important question. If you live in Hamburg, does that make you a Hamburger? The short answer: YES!

Hamburger hamburg travel guide

Photo credit: Oliver Sjöström

We won’t get stuck into the German grammar rules, so here’s what you need to know about burgers in Hamburg.

  • Germans say the first ground beef patty was invented in Hamburg back in the 19th century
  • But… Americans claim the hamburger as their own (when they added bread on either side of the fried burger patties about 100 years later)
  • Today, you’ll find plenty of New York-style burger’n’bun joints dotted around Hamburg

Anyone else craving a burger now?

3. You can cruise along Hamburg’s harbour and canals

The star of the show in Hamburg is the port. In fact, it’s the third-busiest container port in Europe after Rotterdam and Antwerp. But how do you get around the harbour? By boat, of course!

Many Hamburgers head off to work on the public transport ferry. But the Hamburg ferry is also the best way for visitors to see the harbour. Bonus: tickets are cheap! In summer, you can hop on a ferry up the Elbe River to the station of Neumühlen/Övelgönne and go to the beach. Yep, there’s even sand 👀

Hamburg travel guide view from harbour water Elbphilharmonie Germany

Did we mention that the canal city of Hamburg has 2,500 bridges? That’s more bridges than any other city in the world, surpassing Venice and Amsterdam combined. There’s a fact for your next pub quiz. You can see all three cities on Topdeck’s The Continental trip.

To see Hamburg’s beautiful canals in their best light, take a wander through Speicherstadt. It’s the largest warehouse district in the world and perhaps the most picturesque. The UNESCO-listed buildings appear to float on the mirror-like canals.

Hamburg travel guide sunset Speicherstadt Germany

4. You can check out the Hamburg art scene: visit Hamburg’s Art Mile or a museum

Rainy day in Hamburg? No problem. There’s are 50+ museums to visit, including five art galleries on the street known as Museum Mile. Make a beeline for the Kunsthalle, home to Caspar David Friedrich’s iconic Wanderer painting (this is THE painting every traveller-at-heart needs to see).

If you want to swap art for something sweeter, try the Chocolate Museum. Once you’ve learnt the tricks of the trade, you can even create your own chocolate bar! You don’t have to tell us twice 😍

Another surprising crowd favourite is Miniature World (Miniatur Wunderland). It’s a small-scale model universe that captures the hearts of all who visit. The jaw-dropping attraction includes more than 260,000 figurines and 42 planes up in the air.

But the cherry on top is the world’s largest model railway with 1000+ model trains. Keep your eyes peeled for the mini versions of the Swiss Alps, Venetian canals, Las Vegas nightlife and oh, ya know, mini Harry Potter scenes. So. Flipping. Cool.

5. You can experience Hamburg’s nightlife

Hamburg has an impressive nightlife that lives up to the city’s cool reputation. Think: beer gardens, live music gigs and more hipster vibes than a Kreuzberg warehouse party. Berlin we still love you but we can’t deny how good those nights out in Hamburg are 😉

If a low-key night is your kinda style, get lost in the local’s favourite Schanze district. Here, you’ll find a brewery, an open-air cinema and lots of cosy bars to explore after you’re done with the delicious food

You won’t find many Hamburgers here, but most travellers to the city seek out Reeperbahn in St Pauli (if only for a photo of the iconic neon signs). The main street of the city’s red light district lights up eight days a week. Sorry, we just had to make a Beatles reference, ‘cause the Fab Four played gigs here hundreds of times in the early 1960s. Hamburg loves The Beatles so much, they even named a square after them: Beatles-Platz (it’s shaped like a vinyl record).

Has our Hamburg travel guide got you keen for a trip?

Browse Topdeck trips to Germany and take your pick. Don’t miss our NEW European Promenade trip either. 

Bianca Blades
Bianca is a lover of the written word and travelling the world. When she’s not catching high-speed trains and getting lost in art museums, she enjoys exploring new forms of storytelling.