Exciting places to visit in Hamburg – words Alexa Wang
Located in the north of Germany, Hamburg is the nation’s second most populated city and one of the most visited places in all of EU. Thanks to the project “Come to Hamburg”, the EU Tourism Department magnetized millions of tourists in the last years who came to witness the beauty of its museums, wonderful art galleries, as well as its Red Light District – one of the most fun and intriguing spots of the continent.
In this extensive review of this German economic powerhouse, we will make a selection of the top 5 places to see in Hamburg that will surely remain lodged in your memory forever. Bear in mind that Hamburg is not a budget traveler’s dream but if you have the means and the will, this amazing city will be more than happy to welcome you with both arms.
1. Reeperbahn – St. Pauli district
The Reeperbahn is, without a doubt, a prime reason why so many men want to spend their Bachelor weekend in Hamburg. It is the cornerstone of all the naughty and lewd stuff that happens in the city.
You are probably not aware of this fact but Hamburg has one of the largest Red Light neighborhoods on the planet, even greater than that of the Dutch city of Amsterdam! In the streets of this district hooligan, you will find hip and urban clubs, discos, restaurants, night bars, brothels and gambling halls, as well as a large number of sex shops.
Prostitution is legal here, however, in streets like Herbertstrasse, where brothels display sex workers in shop windows, only persons over 18 are allowed to enter. This is the preferred nightlife area not just for young men but women, too. It is hailed as one of the most popular places to experience in Hamburg for apparent seductive reasons. Seeing is believing.
Reeperbahn is also where The Beatles played in several clubs during the early sixties before becoming a worldwide phenomenon. In honor of this famous British group, you will find Beatles Platz, a small square with the silhouettes of the extraordinary boys from Liverpool.
2. International Maritime Museum of Hamburg
Located in one of the biggest and oldest warehouses of Europe, the International Maritime Museum of Hamburg is famously declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This museum was created by the journalist, director, and German publisher Peter Tamm. The 16,000-square- meter complex is host to one of the largest collections of ships and objects that document more than 3,000 years of naval history.
It’s recommended that you start the visit from the top level. Some of the most prominent souvenir manufactories are on the level 9 where you can find Peter Tamm’s private collection of miniature ships of all nations, legendary ships from history’s naval battles, and other intriguing maritime peculiarities.
Even after the death of the collector, this world-renown collection never ceased to expand. New things are added regularly! In the center of one of the rooms, inside a glass case, you will find the origin of the entire collection, a miniature scale in dimensions of 1:1250 of a coastal motor boat that was the first collector’s acquisition.
In level 8, you will find the famous marine painting and the treasure chamber where the most valuable objects of the museum are exhibited: Scale models of ships made of gold, silver or amber. Although there are many breathtaking miniature representations made of pure gold, one particular ship stands out the most. It is the María, the largest of the three ships with which Christopher Columbus arrived in America. You will also find a collection of unusual bone ships, unique in the world and one of the most peculiar objects you will encounter during your Hamburg visit.
It’s funny how lots of people are not aware of the fact that Hamburg has more canals then Amsterdam and Venice combined! If anything makes this city captivating, it’s its ports and romantic canals.
Although Hamburg has no seashore, rivers including the Elbe, artificial canals and lakes have made it a seafaring city and the second largest port in Europe. No wonder the area of Speicherstadt stands out as a result. The port district called Hafen City, which served as an old area for unloading and storage has recently undergone a radical change thanks to a large urban makeover project. Now, it is a tourist hub, with plenty to explore and marvel.
In addition, this neighborhood is famous for having the largest department store area in the world. The prominent Hanseatic structure where Gothic red brick warehouses stand out was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This means that enjoying it will be even better if you travel by boat through its narrow canals that undoubtedly made this area one of the biggest tourist attractions in Hamburg.
4. Rathaus – Town Hall Square
One of the most important places to see in Hamburg is its beautiful Old Town. You can start your walk from the Town Hall Square where you will find the Rathaus, an impressive building from the 19th century with a beautiful baroque facade adorned with statues of emperors. A stunning example of neo-Renaissance architecture, indeed! Access to its lobby is free and you will notice classic portraits, lavish architectural windows, sandstone pillars, and an elegant marble staircase.
You will also have free access to the courtyard of the building where you will find one of Humburg’s most beautiful fountains representing Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health. It was erected in memory of the cholera epidemic that hit the city at the end of the XIX century.
Very close to the Town Hall is the Church of St. Peter, the oldest and one of the most beautiful attractions to visit in Hamburg. This temple was used by Napoleon as a powder keg storage and stable. The current building was built in 1849 after the previous structure was burned in the Great Fire of 1842.
Another nearby and very important place to see in Hamburg is the Church of St. Nicholas built in the neo-Gothic style, which was the tallest building in the world between 1874 and 1876. Sadly, this church, as well as many other famous landmarks, were significantly damaged during the bombing raids during World War II. The German government made many attempts to restore the magnificent historical look of the city before the horrors of the war – and since 1945, most of the old constructions are restored to their former glory.
5. Lake Alster and Surrounding Lush Paradises
The Alster River, a tributary of the river Elbe, is one of the iconic symbols of the city of Hamburg. This river forms two artificial lakes – the Binnenalster and the Außenalster, that together form the famous Alster Lake.
The Binnenalster is the smallest and for many foreign tourists one of the nicest places to see in Hamburg. This avian haven is teeming with ducks, geese, and swans that live isolated from the nearby urban bustle. The Außenalster is currently occupied by both tourists and locals for recreational purposes, such as boating and sailing, as well as other engaging outdoor activities.
With an area of 47 hectares, Plamtem un Blomen is the most beautiful park to see in Hamburg and ranking one of the top ten parks in Europe year after year. It is a wonderful leisurely space with a botanical garden, a tropical greenhouse, and the largest Japanese garden in Europe.
Over here, you can participate in one of the greatest water shows Hamburg has to offer. It is fascinating how a bustling economic powerhouse can maintain its green visage despite the level of commerce that runs through the city. Needless to say, the locals are very proud when pointing out that fact. That must be the reason why so many of them chose to spend their relaxing afternoon in one of the parks.
Honestly, who wouldn’t like to be in the company of different animals and plants inhabiting the artificial lakes? Hamburg truly is a remarkable representation of German ingenuity and their engineering capabilities. Just breathtaking!