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What to do in Hamburg in a few hours: itinerary to discover in a few hours the city with the largest port of Germany.
Since Hamburg is one of the main stopover airports but above all one of the busiest ports, many travelers use some of their time to explore Hamburg in a few hours in between their journey.
In my case, Bremerhaven was the last port of call of a Faroe Islands cruise from Reykjavik. So from Bremerhaven I took a train to see Hamburg in a few hours before taking my flight back to Rome.
Obviously since I could only visit Hamburg in a few hours, I had to make a ruthless selection of the city’s points of interest.
All right, quick overview: I was completely exhausted! I was coming off my last night on board. I had a great time with my awesome cruise buddies watching an amazing sky full of stars from the bow of the ship. We were so excited to finally “see” the darkness after sailing for days where the sun never sets.
Another point I have to make is that I ended up in Hamburg on a very hot day. The unbearable heat took me completely by surprise after spending more than a week in the bitter cold of the North Atlantic Ocean. I never thought that I would miss Iceland’s weather so quickly!
Actually I never thought that I would miss Iceland’s weather at all!
But I sucked it up and started my walk pretending that I wasn’t either hot or sleepy.
If you like walking, then visiting Hamburg in a few hours is totally possible without using any transportation.
So if you are ready (I’m pretty sure that in most cases the heat won’t be your problem in Hamburg) then follow my walking tour.
Let’s start with the most important building of the city: Hamburg City Hall, or Rathaus.
HAMBURG CITY HALL.
Hamburg is a city-state with its own government. The city hall is the seat of Hamburg’s senate and parliament.
The Rathaus is a beautiful palace built in 1897 in the big square of Rathausmarkt.
You can go on your own into the city hall’s lobby and the beautiful courtyard with the fountain of Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health.
However to visit its 647 rooms (which are more than the rooms of the Buckingham Palace of London) you have to book a guided tour (one hour).
The City Hall is open every day from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and you can book your guided tour on site.
A WALK AROUND BINNENALSTER LAKE.
A few steps from the City Hall we find Binnenalster lake.
Take a nice walk around the lake to get the very good vibe of the area. It’s the typical vibe of a cute European city around lakes and canals.
From Lombardsbrücke bridge you can take good photos of the lake with the skyline of Hamburg.
Once you walked around the lake, take Bergstraße and go straight ahead until you reach Elbe river.
WANDERING AROUND THE CANALS OF ELBE RIVER.
Elbe river feeds many watercourses in Hamburg giving the city its peculiar skyline with bridges and canals.
Zippelhaus, Katharinenkirchhof and Bei den Mühren are three adjacent streets along the river that offer a great view of the distinctive skyline of Hamburg: red bricks warehouses overlooking the canals of Elbe river.
The warehouses form a complex called Speicherstadt (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and most of them are no longer in use.
Cross one of the bridges to reach the other bank of the canal to find Miniatur Wunderland, the museum with the largest model railway system.
Unfortunately I have to skip the visit of Miniatur Wunderland in my quick tour of Hamburg in a few hours and I continue my walk crossing another bridge towards the Elbphilharmonie.
The Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic) is a concert hall opened in 2017.
The auditorium fits perfectly well in its port background: it looks like a big cruise ship ready to set sail!
The big glass structure sits on top of the remainings of an old cocoa warehouse building.
We are now in the area of the great port of Hamburg.
PORT OF HAMBURG.
The port of Hamburg is the largest port in Germany and the second busiest port in Europe, after Rotterdam.
Maritime traffic here is impressive: every year Hamburg is the port of call of more than 13000 vessels, including cruise ships, boats for harbor tours, but above all cargo ships. In fact Hamburg is the first port in the world in terms of traffic of container ships.
The port is for Hamburg what the Tour Eiffel is for Paris or the pyramids for Egypt!
If you want to know the real essence of Hamburg gaze at its port for a while.
But if you are looking for the sea you won’t find it, no matter how deep your gaze is. In fact Elbe river flows over 100 km before entering the Northern Sea.
Let’s leave now the port behind us, cross a few bridges and walk towards St. Michaelis’ Church.
ST. MICHAELIS’ CHURCH.
St. Michaelis’ Church is one of the main landmarks of Hamburg. In fact you can see its bell tower (132 meters tall) throughout the city.
“Der Michel”, as locals call it, is the main Protestant church of the city. It’s dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
The church has been rebuilt a couple of times. It was first destroyed by a fire in 1906 and damaged again by the Second World War bombings.
Der Michel is in a very nice part of the town. So take a little time to wander around the area.
The church is very close to St. Pauli, the Red Light District, where you can walk on Große Freiheit, the street of clubs where the Beatles used to perform.
We are now at the end of our little tour of Hamburg in a few hours.
If you still have some time finish your day with a nice walk (or, why not, a little run) in Planten un Blomen Park.
Or if it’s already dark go back to the area of the City Hall and Binnenalster. Have a good German beer and enjoy the reflection of the city lights in the water of the canals.
34 Replies to “HAMBURG IN A FEW HOURS”
Looks amazing! It definitely looks like you could spend days here but you managed to pack a lot in during such a short time!
What an amazing city! I’ve never thought you can get to know it in just a few hours. I’ll add it to my bucket list then, for my next trip to Europe!
Thanks for sharing such a great guide 🙂
I’ve never had a layover in Hamburg, but if I will – that’s a great set of tips to help me plan my time! 🙂 Only been to Hamburg once, for work, and it seems like there’s quite a bit to explore. Thank you! 🙂
This is such a beautiful city and clearly a great place to spend some time. Thanks for sharing your great tips on this city!
I am based in Hamburg so I can confirm that this is a really good itinerary if you have only a couple of hours to visit. It’s amazing, though, how much you managed to see.
I wi really like to explore Hamburg .I am really fascinated by the vintage European architecture. Also these ports in many towns sound really interesting.
I’ll be in Hamburg for more days in February so I will make sure to see all you recommend and more!
Having just a stopover makes you really have to squish the activities you are interested in into the limited time you have, but you managed quite well. Maybe next time you’ll get to visit Hamburg at a more moderate pace and also visit the Reeperbahn, There are many bars and they are all packed, yet different, unique and loud – sometimes with live music, sometimes more club-like with electronic music. 🙂
Thank you for your recommendation! Next time I hope I’ll have more time and I will check out this place!
You were tired and sleepy but beautifully explored Hamburg. Sure you are an active traveller. What is more interesting is your capability to explore in a few hours. You have beautifully expressed your experiences. Great work.
That city hall is stunning. Thanks for the info on Hamburg 😍
I will take note of this one when I happen to be in Hamburg with few hours, so no time will be wasted. Great experience.
Beautiful walking tour of Hamburg, it is great to know that you can still get in a good tour with only a few hours at your disposal!
That’s actually a lot to see in just a few hours! How many hours did you spend in Hamburg?
I spent around 6 hours walking around but I did it at a very slow pace! 🙂
Oh wow, i did the same thing in berlin and it nearly killed me, walking 6 hours. Walking was still good but i was so tired the entire day that i didn’t enjoy the night out with my friends. do they have a hop on and hop on bus?
Yes they do but they are quite expensive. If you don’t want to walk you can use the public buses that do pretty much the same itinerary of the sightseeing ones and are pretty frequent!
I love exploring cities on cycle as well as on foot – Thanks for sharing your great tips on this beautiful city
Thanks for sharing – really great tips in here for those short on time. Ive never seen a lobby of a city hall look so spectacular …and the Elbe Philharmonic….just wow.
I enjoyed reading this post. In few hours, you get a good tour. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.
I enjoyed reading this post. In few hours, you get a good tour. Thanks for sharing this valuable information😄
It is great that you have done many things in Hamburg that too in few hours. I would love to wander around the canals of Elbee river as it looks so photogenic. Thanks for sharing great tips on how to spend time in Hamburg within few hours.
Great guide – ive had a few layovers there but not long enough to venture out
I’m always skeptical when I see a post about visiting a city in a day or in a few hours. But you did a really good job with this Hamburg post. You seem to have covered as much as one can cover in a few hours. Thank you for sharing.
In couple of hours, you made great job! And brought everything together so that we can benefit from! Thank you
You covered a lot of ground in a few hours, bravo! I should try this. Now, if I have a longer layover, I look for couchsurfers who want to grab a drink or eat something, then I go back to the airport.
Beautiful city and a great helpful guide for people who dont have much time to spend there. stunning photgraphs
Seems like a lot can be explored in Hamburg in a few hours. I love to explore any place walking and that is one the best way to absorb everything around and hence I love the ideas shared here. Being around Binnenalster lake sounds so refreshing and relaxing. The port is for Hamburg from the description comes across as a must visit place. Thanks for this quick guide.
We recently spent a few months travelling in Germany and I was surprised at it’s beauty and charm. hamburg was one place we couldn’t see, will keep your post as a guide for the future!
I love Germany but I’ve never been in Hamburg. I’m now considering it as a new layover place instead of using Frankfurt all the time as it looks cool based on your pics.
love the gorgeous architecture of the older buildings. Sounds like a great place to spend a day!
As part-time travellers we appreciate the importance of day trips. You have planned a wonderful day trip itinerary for Hamburg. It seems that you have included a little bit of everything just like the way we do on our day trips. Thanks for all the suggestions!
I spent stayed in Hamburg overnight many years ago and didn’t have a chance to explore the city – been thinking about going back for a long time. As a big Beatles fan it has a lot of appeal to me! Very interesting to read these itinerary ideas, and it will be very helpful when I do visit. Thank you!
This place looks like so much fun! We will be visiting this area next summer and your post got me so excited!