Hamburg, Germany

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyEuro
Local languageGerman
Country Germany

Introduction

Hamburg lies in the North of Germany and is the country’s second largest city after the capital Berlin. It’s a city which really does have it all. Rich in history, beauty and vibrant night life we challenge anyone not to find Hamburg the perfect getaway or stop-off point during their European travels.

Hamburg can trace its more humble origins back over one thousand years. It began as a small settlement on the banks of the Alster which is a small tributary of the river Elbe. As a member of the Hanseatic League, Hamburg grew and prospered as a thriving port, warehousing and distribution center. The opening of the German Stock exchange in the sixteenth century and the Bank of Hamburg in the seventeenth century were the result of a greatly increasing flow of wealth.

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Things to do

Where do you start in a city packed with so much to see and do? We suggest you wander the streets to take in the impressive architecture, waters and atmosphere. Beginning at the Rathausmarkt the beautiful town hall will catch your eye. Destroyed in the great fire of 1842 it was been rebuilt in the splendor of the neo-Renaissance style in 1887 and forms a focal point for the city. Running alongside the square are the Alsterarkaden (Arcades) which form an elegant passage of shops and quaint cafes. Moving along to Jungfernstieg which borders the southern end of the Binnenalster (inner basin) this bustling street is a continuation of the sophistication of the arcades. Further around the Binnenalster you also come across imposing office blocks and the world-famous Four Seasons Hotel (Vier Jahreszeiten).

There remains a fierce debate amongst the locals as to which stretch of water is the more impressive; the banks of the River Elbe viewed from the wealthy Elbchausee, or the Aussenalster (Outer Basin) which has a circumference of around 7km and is home to boats, cafes and grand houses. We suggest you try both!

You can’t possibly visit Hamburg without experiencing the Reeperbahn (known locally as the Kiez). Although this is infamous due to the red life district, it is the nightlife and lively atmosphere which dominate rather than any real sleaze. Hans-Albers Platz is a small square surrounded by a variety of lovely pubs/bars and is the perfect starting point on a night out!

Local transport

As you would expect from Germany, the public transport system in Hamburg is excellent and provides comprehensive and reliable coverage at reasonable prices. The network is run by the Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (HVV) and their office in the main station is the first point of call for queries. You can purchase tickets for the U-bahn (Underground) and S-Bahn (Street-level trains) from vending machines at all stations and with bus tickets also available from bus drivers.

Look out for the many discounted cards available. The Hamburg Card for example provides unlimited travel for 3 days and discounted entry to local attractions. Another alternative is the family card which can provide up to 5 people with unlimited access to the HVV network.

Day Trips

The North Sea is within easy traveling distance from Hamburg and provides beautiful sandy beaches for bathing in the summer and romantic strolls in the chillier months.

For two of the most picturesque towns around, visit Luebeck or Lueneburg. Both can be reached via a short train journey from the main station. Luebeck is at its most splendid during the Christmas Market season when white dancing lights and warm, glowing candles provide a magical sheen over the town.

Recommended places and events to visit in Hamburg

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