Difference between revisions of "Hamburg"
Revision as of 11:44, 25 September 2013
The city of Hamburg has a well-deserved reputation as Germany's Gateway to the World. It is the country's biggest port and the second-busiest in Europe, despite being located astride the River Elbe, some 100 kilometres from the North Sea. It is also Germany's second largest city with a population of over 1.8 million and the Greater Hamburg Metropolitan Region has a population of over four million. Hamburg is proud of its status as a "Free and Hanseatic City" and thus shares the same status as a province, making up one of Germany's 16 federal-states or Bundesländer.
Hamburg is a city-state. It values its status as a city, being as independent as possible of other states that have existed or currently exist in Germany. Over the centuries, Hamburg has always been an international city. This is not only because of its position in international trade, but also in political dimensions.
One of the most important harbours in Europe and the world, Hamburg takes great pride in its mercantile background, which built the city's wealth in the past centuries. From 1241 on, it was member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval trade monopoly across Northern Europe. In the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, millions left Europe on their way to the new world through the Hamburg harbour. Today, the harbour ranks second in Europe and eleventh world-wide. Consequently, one of Hamburg's tag lines is "The Gateway to the World" (derived from the city’s coat of arms, showing a white city wall with a gate and crowned by three towers on a red background). Hamburg is known to be one of the richest metropolitan area in the European Union, in the company of Brussels and London.
The harbour is the heart of the city, however, Hamburg is also one of the most important media hubs in Germany. Half of the nation's newspapers and magazines have their roots in Hamburg. And, unknown even to some locals, is the fact that, with one of the Airbus aircraft assembly plants, Hamburg is a major location of the world's aerospace industry, right after Seattle (USA) and Toulouse (France).
The mercantile background reflects in the city's architecture. The only palace in Hamburg is the town hall, which houses the citizen's parliament and the senate. Apart from that, the city still has large quarters with expensive houses and villas. These residences were home to merchants and captains, surrounded by lots of greenery. Large parts of the city were destroyed during the devastating air raids of World War II, particularly the port and some residential areas, killing tens of thousands and leaving more than a million homeless, yet much of historic value has been preserved, although not as much as people would have wished for, as like many German cities,it's cursed by horrible post war buildings and disgusting office blocks.
Hamburg still keeps its tradition of being an open, yet discreet city. Citizens of Hamburg, just like most Northern Germans, may appear to be quite reserved at first. Once they get to know with whom they are dealing, they'll be as warm and friendly as you'd wish.
The people of Hamburg are known as "Hamburger" (pronounce the a like you're saying "ah", and it won't sound as silly). The beef patties on a bun were named after this city, where presumably they were invented. See also "frankfurter" (Frankfurt) and "wiener" (Wien, aka Vienna).
Hamburg  has the fifth largest international airport in Germany, so arrival by plane is an obvious choice for those visiting from far away. There are plenty of connections within Europe, although only a few intercontinental direct services are offered. 
The airport has been thoroughly modernized with new terminals, airport hotel, streamlined infrastructure, and facilities that are by and large adequate, so you won't get lost. Depending on the gate your flight arrives at or leaves from, walking longer distances might be neccessary as on any other airport too.
Hamburg Airport is connected to the city by the S-Bahn S1 commuter train line, which connects to the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and the city centre in about 30 minutes. There are trains every 10-20 minutes, and a single fare is €2.85. Beware on the way back from the city centre to the airport: All trains are divided at Ohlsdorf, with only the first three cars going to the airport, and the rest going to the suburb of Poppenbüttel. There are no trains between midnight and 4 AM, but a bus runs along the same route. As there aren't any flights between 11PM and 6AM this may not affect your journey at all. Train timetable S1: 
The airport, which is hugely popular with plane-spotters, is surrounded by Schrebergärten (meticulously maintained allotments), park lands, and open green spaces, crisscrossed by bicycle and walking trails. The popularity of this area is not only due to the many viewpoints, but also because Lufthansa Technik (Lufthansa's maintenance service) operates some large hangars on the airport, which means that the site is visited by a variety of rare and interesting aircraft (including VVIP).
As with many other destinations, the discount airline Ryan Air  does not operate from Hamburg, as their naming scheme might indicate. Instead, it operates from Lübeck-Blankensee airport  (not to confuse with Hamburg's suburb Blankensee), which is 65 km from Hamburg via motorway A1. The second airline that offers flights to Lübeck is Wizz Air . Flights go to London Stansted (England), Shannon and Dublin (Ireland), Glasgow Prestwick (Scotland), Stockholm Skavsta (Sweden), Milan Bergamo (Italy), Pisa (Italy), Kiev (Ukraine), and Gdansk (Poland).
Buses connecting to the flights go from Hamburg's central bus station ("ZOB", adjacent to the main train station). They cost €12 for single way and take about one hour and 10 minutes. The buses depart about two hours and 50 minutes before every Ryanair departure, meet every arrival, and wait for delayed flights.
Situated just across the Elbe river, Finkenwerder Airport would undeniably be the most convenient airport for travellers visiting Hamburg. But unfortunately, due to being associated with an Airbus aircraft plant, for security concerns, usage is restricted to Airbus employees only. For them, two daily flights are available to/from Toulouse, but most of the time the runway is used for freight (up to complete sections of passenger planes using the Beluga aircraft ) or the delivery of new planes.
The runway, as well as the aircraft parking lot, can be observed from the public street Neß-Hauptdeich. The parking lot is on the other side of the street, so a few times a day planes actually cross the street, including the world's largest passenger aircraft A380.
There are public tours of the Finkenwerder plant  of about 2½ hours. Tickets cost € 13, reservations are required at least four weeks in advance, payment has to arrive 14 days in advance. You must bring your passport, leave cameras and mobiles at your hotel. Visitors have to be at least 14 years old. Be warned, security is tight, strictly follow the rules.
The plant is located not far from the centre, however, it's on the other side of the Elbe. Using public transport, Airbus is accessible by harbour ferry 68 from Teufelsbrück. Ferry 62 from Landungsbrücken 3 will bring you to the town of Finkenwerder, from there take the number 150 bus to the Airbus bus stop. Bus 150 starts at Altona's train station and uses the Elbe tunnel (not spectacular, but still one of the longest river tunnels in the world), that'd be your third option. To observe the runway, exit bus 150 at stop Neuenfelde, Rosengarten (next one after stop Airbus).
Hamburg-Uetersen Airport (ICAO: EDHE)
Air Hamburg  serves several German islands from this airport. The only way to reach it is by taxi, the nearest railway station being Tornesch.
Hamburg has five major stations: Hauptbahnhof (central station), Altona, Dammtor, Harburg, Bergedorf. Various types of train service are available.
Use the German railway's online trip planner  to find connections to/from Hamburg and buy tickets.
via the Autobahn:
Be prepared to pay for parking. Hamburg has a wide selection of P+R (Park+Ride) parking areas outside the city centre, where you can park for free and very easily use public transport to get into the city.
Buses serving other cities (regional, national, and European destinations) arrive at or depart from Hamburg's central bus station ("ZOB") , which is located near the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof) (two minute walk). Destinations include Berlin (several times a day).
Buses to Lübeck depart from Wandsbek.
Buses to Bosnia are eg. run by Salinea, 
Throughout Germany and Europe, there is a broad culture of carpooling. Drivers save on fuel costs by sharing the ride with passengers who usually pay around 5€/100km. Several hundred thousand direct lifts to/from Hamburg and other European cities are offered on carpooling platforms like carpooling.com  at any time.
Lübeck, about an hour away by train, is a major Baltic ferry port.
You can leave Hamburg to the south (A7-Hannover/Frankfurt/Munich) and southwest (A1-Bremen/Cologne/Netherlands) from the filling station known as "HH-Stillhorn" you can get there with the number 13 bus from suburbanstation S-Wilhelmsburg.
To Berlin you can start at the "Horner-Kreisel" and take the number 161 bus from S-Berliner Tor or walk from U3-Rauhes Haus.
You can find cars  driving to most German cities for €10-20.
From the UK, it may be an idea to take a ferry to Denmark and then hitch down rather than going via Holland.
Hamburg has a well-developed public transport system. Buses go around the clock. At night, a special "Nachtbus" (night bus) service connects the outlying districts and the city center. The buses depart and arrive at "Rathausmarkt", near the town hall and operate all through the night. The Intracity train service (underground and overground) runs from approximately 5AM until 1AM in the central city, but there is often no service past 11PM in outlying districts. On weekends, it runs all night.
Vending machines in the rail stations (and at some bus stops) sell short distance, single ride, and day tickets. Group tickets are also available. On the buses, the driver will sell you what you need. To buy week or longer tickets, go to Hauptbanhof or Bahnof Altona, get passport photos in the automated photo booth, and buy your pass in the information office. You can also buy a Hamburg Card, which includes the public transport system, museums, and other things. You can get the Hamburg Card at all ticket offices and from the bus drivers.
Hamburg's public transit operates on a proof-of-payment system. Officials in red waistcoats make spot checks, but aside from that, you simply get on and off as you wish with no turnstiles or gates. From 2012 on you are required to show your ticket while entering a bus to the driver. The exception are the crowded bus lines 4, 5 and 6, except after 21h and on Sundays.
Try to avoid rush-hour before 9AM and between 4-7PM. If you start your travel after 9AM, buy a "9 Uhr Tageskarte". You are not allowed to take bicycles into subways before 9AM and between 4-6PM, unless it is a folding bike like a Dahon, Brompton, Bike Friday, etc. Folders are allowed on Hamburg public transit at any time of the day.
Six ferry services operate in the harbour and along the River Elbe as part of the regular public transport system. (Tip: take ferry line 62 from Landungsbrücken to Finkenwerder and back to enjoy a scenic trip through the harbour on a day ticket.)
On the two Alster lakes, a ferry boat travels once every hour from Jungfernstieg in the city centre to Winterhuder Fährhaus. These boats are not in the general HVV ticket system, thus more expensive, however, they offer a splendid view to some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Hamburg.
If you are traveling to Hamburg using a Niedersachsen ticket or Schleswig Holstein ticket, you have access to all the HVV lines.
There is a good supply of taxis in Hamburg 24 hours a day, both at taxi stands and in the streets. You can identify a taxi rank by a green box on a post somewhat like an oversized parking meter or alarm post. You will have to wait there or phone one of the numbers below, since the boxes can not be used to call a cab. Almost all vehicles are still in the traditional ivory white colour, but even if not, a yellow and black sign on the roof reading "Taxi" indicates a licensed cab. As usual, the sign is switched on to indicate vacancies. The meter starts at €2.20. A trip in the city area will be between €6-12. For a trip from the city to the airport, expect to pay roughly €25. Most taxis accept credit card payments.
Hamburg has six S-Bahn (commuter railway) lines and four U-Bahn (subway) lines, including the line U4. This line has been introduced in 2012 and it links the Jungfernstieg and Main Station (the city centre) with the new developments in the Hafencity. All lines run partly over and underground, in the city, and in the outskirts. The only difference is that these are two companies, but there is a unified fare system.
All train platforms have signs showing the next train, where it is headed, and how many minutes until it arrives. Trains are described by a number and the final station. Note that the final station may vary. For example, half of the S1 trains heading west go all the way to Wedel, but the other half go only as far as Blankenese. Also, all S-Bahn trains with one-digit numbers go via Landungsbrücken and Jungfernstieg and all S-Bahn trains with two-digit numbers go via Dammtor.
Note that train doors do not open automatically. You have to press a button or pull a handle on the door. Wait for the passengers to get off first before you enter. In the cold season, close the door after getting on the train if it looks like a longer stop. Either push the handle or press the closing buttons on the inside until the door is closed. All signs and notifications at staions and in trains are shown in at least two languages (German and English).
Hamburg is an extremely bicycle-friendly city and during the warmer months, many of the cities residents will use bicycles as their normal form of transportation. Several hotels within Hamburg provide residents with access to hotel bicycles.
The city itself also offers bike rental services. This service is called StadtRad , and there are several kiosks located around the city. To use this service, customers must register On the Stadtrad website and create an account with a credit card or e-mail and telefon. Once the account has been created, you can go to any one of these terminals and use one of their bikes as long as you want. The first 30 minutes are free, the next time coast 8 Cent/min. and the maximum charge is € 12 per day.
Alternatively, Hamburg City Cycles  (working with the bicycle store next door) rents bicycles for €23 for 2 days and €7 for each additional day. Hourly rates are also available. The bicycles are large "cruiser" style bikes and the rental includes a lock, air pump, and toolkit if desired.
There are generally 2 options:
The area west of Hamburg's central railway station is mainly a shopping area with the streets Spitaler Straße and Mönckebergstraße, leading to Hamburg's town hall. Close to the Mönckebergstraße you find the churches St. Jacobi (at road Jakobikirchhof) and St. Petri (at road Bergstraße), two of Hamburg's five main churches. Directly beside St. Petri there is the Hubelhaus dating from the beginning of the 20th century as most buildings around, but looking much older.
Behind the Hubelhaus under the building of "Radio Hamburg", you can visit the remains of the bishops tower, from the 11th century. On the other side of the road, you can currently see excavations in progress, seeking the remains of the small fortress Hammaburg, which was erected in the 9th century giving Hamburg its name.
Around city hall
The Mönckebergstraße ends at Hamburg's impressive city hall ("Rathaus"). It was built in 1897 out of sandstone in neo-Renaissance style, including a 112 m tower. Inside there are several magnificent halls used for representative purposes and sittings of government and parliament. These can be visited in guided tours (M-Th 10AM-3:15PM, F-Su 10AM-1:15PM, half-hourly in German, hourly in English and French. Closed during official events. Admission is €3 for adults, €2 for Hamburg Card holders and €0.50 for children).
The building behind the city hall is Hamburg's House of Commerce ("Börse"). Between the buildings, there is a little place called Rathaushof with its fountain Hygieia-Brunnen. The place in front of the city hall is the Rathausmarkt, hosting many events especially in summer.
North of the Rathausmarkt, you find white arches at a canal called Alsterarkaden. The whole area behind is full of indoor shopping arcades. The most well-known one is the Hanse Viertel.
Following the canal to the right and crossing the traditional shopping road, Jungfernstieg, you quickly get to the artificial lake Binnenalster. Boat tours take you to the even bigger artificial lake, Außenalster, directly behind the Binnenalster with lots of sailing boats in summer.
Around St. Nikolai
From the House of Commerce into the road Börsenbrücke, you get to the house of the Patriotische Gesellschaft. Behind the building to the right, you'll find the bridge Trostbrücke with the statues of Graf Adolf III and Bishop Ansgar on both sides. Following the water to left, there is Hamburg's oldest remaining bridge, Zollenbrücke, from the 17th century.
At the other side of the Trostbrücke, there is the ruin of the church, St. Nikolai. All five main churches of Hamburg were damaged in World War II. But in contrast to the other four, St. Nikolai has not been re-erected making it a memorial against war. The steeple is still standing and visitors can take an elevator to the top for a view of the city. The price to take the elevator is €3.70. At the side of St. Nikolai, there is the hop market ("Hopfenmarkt") with its fountain Vierländerinbrunnen.
Following the bridge over the huge street Willy-Brandt-Straße and keeping right takes you into the road "Alte Deichstraße" with its ensemble of traditional half timbered merchant houses and the canal Nicolai Fleet at the rear. This is the site where Hamburg's harbour was some centuries ago.
At the southern end of the Alte Deichstraße, you see where the harbour moved afterwards. There is a canal called Zollkanal. Looking to the left, you see the Speicherstadt, a large district of warehouses from around 1900. Some are still in use, but others have been converted to apartments. It's a 'typical' location and worth a visit. It houses museums (International Maritime Museum, Speicherstadtmuseum, Spice Museum, Automuseum Prototyp) and also attractions, such as the "Hamburg Dungeon" and the "Miniatur Wunderland".
Behind the warehouse district Speicherstadt a totally new quarter, the HafenCity , is being shaped and erected on unused industrial ground, nerved by channel, docks and basins. It is Europe's largest project of city development, creating a whole new quarter from scratch in a former harbour region. Outstanding architecture of, among others, shipyard museum, concert hall - the Elbphilharmonie, new 'architectural lighthouse' of Hamburg by 2012. On the top of a huge old warehouse a 110 metres tall modern philharmonic hall with glass facade and waveshaped roof is being built.  You can find information about the new buildings and whole district in the HafenCity Kesselhaus InfoCenter (Sandtorkai 30, open Tu-Su 10AM-6PM they provide free guided tours), Elbphilharmonie Information Pavilion (guided tours around 5 EUR, 3 EUR discounted) and look at the erecting process from an orange observation tower called HafenCity View Point, which allows nice views on the HafenCity, the harbour, and the river (free admission).
Looking from Alte Deichstraße over the Zollkanal to the right, you can see the modern buildings belonging to the Hanseatic Trade Centre ending to the right at the Kehrwiederspitze. Looking further right, you already see the modern harbour.
Walking in this direction takes you to the river, Elbe. At the opposite of the metro station "Baumwall", there's Hamburg's city and yacht harbour ("City und Sportboothafen"). The big red lighthouse ship ("Feuerschiff") hosts a restaurant today. Some yards further down the Elbe, you get to the Überseebrücke where formerly big cruise liners docked when coming to Hamburg. Permanently docked is the museum ship Cap San Diego, which is said to be last classic cargo ship.
Leaving the water, passing by the hyper-modern building of the Gruner + Jahr publishers, you get to the church St. Michaelis (called "Michel", from the tower you'll have a great view over the city), Hamburg's well-known landmark. Close to the Michel off the road Krayenkamp the shopkeeper-office-flats ("Krameramtswohnungen") are the last example of a typical 17th century housing estate.
Continuing down the river Elbe, you get to Landungsbrücken ("landing bridges"), the most touristy part of Hamburg's harbour, close to the metro station with the same name. Piers connected with several bridges swim on the water adapting to the tide. There tourism boats land and you will find tourist shops, restaurants, and snack bars. The sailing ship Rickmer Rickmers can be visited.
From Landungsbrücken, you can make boat tours into the harbour. These Hafenrundfahrten are available from various companies and take around an hour. Big ships provide more comfort, but smaller ships also go through the Speicherstadt. Both are well worth the money. Inquire about English language tours.
As a low-budget alternative for a boat tour on the river Elbe take a HADAG Ferry that is part of Hamburg's public transport system (HVV, see "Get around"). If you have already bought a HVV day ticket, the ride is free. Most tourists take the number 62 to Finkenwerder, via the museum harbour Oevelgönne. The whole ride to Finkenwerder and return takes about an hour. In Finkenwerder, you can continue with another ferry to Teufelsbrück (Line 64 which is also part of the HVV).
You can also walk through the tunnel Alter Elbtunnel from 1911 to the other side of the river Elbe and have great views from there. A lift or stairs bring you the 24 metres down into the tunnel. You then walk through one of its two 427 metre long pipes having 12 metres of water over your head. The tunnel is decorated with ceramic arts of maritime motifs (e.g. fish, mussels, seals, old boots). At the other side, you again walk up the stairs or take a lift. Go out and back to the river to "Aussichtspunkt Steinwerder" for great views on Landungsbrücken and the sights behind. Even cars can pass though the tunnel (only M-F, 5:30AM-8PM for €2) being brought down with four lifts. You find the tunnel at Landungsbrücken in the building having the biggest green dome. Signs to "Aussichtspunkt Steinwerder" also point to it. For pedestrians and bicycles it is free and open all day and night, every day.
Walking from Landungsbrücken down the river Elbe takes you to St. Pauli Fischmarkt, walking further you'll reach Övelgönne and Blankenese.
Another Hamburg landmark is the Reeperbahn in Sankt Pauli. It's probably one of the most famous red-light districts in the world. From vaudeville to prostitutes, from bars to sex-shops, you can find an assortment of attractions. Plus, it is frequently visited by a lot of travelers to go shopping for a huge variety of sex-related articles and toys. This is probably one of very few places worldwide where all shopkeepers give you serious and open advice on all kinds of sex-related articles. Commonsense and caution are advised here, as in any such area. It's relatively safe and a definite touristy place to see. A lot of people go there for dinner, live music, theatre, musicals or other non-sex related activities. It is worth pointing out however, that one is likely to be accosted by prostitutes offering "certain services".
Three times a year (Mar, Aug, and Nov), there is an enormous fair in this part of town called Dom . It features rides, enormous numbers of food vendors, and a broad range of tacky animatronics. Take the U-Bahn to Feldstraße or Sankt Pauli. In a park across the street is an enormous statue of Bismark.
The "Hafenstraße" (Harbour street) is between Landungsbrücken, the most tourist crowded place in the city, and the fish market, which is open only on Sunday morning from 4:30AM-9:30AM. The street between was a place for squatters in the 1980s and was well known by the media when there were "battles" between the Autonomous movement and the police. Some houses still exist there, though the "80s-Myth" is dead. You can go to the Punksbar "onkel otto" or eat at the "vokü".
During the time of squatting, the well known football club "F.C. St.Pauli" obtained an antifascist-fan-crowd, in opposition to right wing hooligans. The team plays in the 2nd Bundesliga, and is one of the most popular teams in Germany. The outstanding character of the area, its inhabitants and also the football club can best be pointed out by the person of the ex-club-president who is also the director of two non sex-related theatres on the Reeperbahn and a well-known figure in Hamburg's and even Germany's gay community. If you get the chance for a ticket of a match, don't miss it.
Sankt Pauli is one of the most populous district in Europe and a melting pot of all different people, thousands of stories and interesting histories.
As of 18 July 2009, glass bottles are banned in the neighborhood from Friday night until Monday morning. Violating the ban can apparently result in a fine up to 5000 eur. Alcohol is still permitted on the street and vendors can still sell drinks in cans or plastic bottles.
Also in the Reeperbahn area are clubs where the Beatles played at various times from 1960-1962, including the Indra club and Star Club. At the corner of Reeperbahn and Grosse Freiheit, also called Beatles-platz, there is a sculpture honoring the Beatles.
This neighbourhood is situated right in between Sankt Pauli, Eimsbüttel, and Altona. Get out Sternschanze station and walk down Schanzenstraße southward to reach the vivid centre of Schanzenviertel. Students and immigrants from all around the world and young creatives give this quarter a unique and urban flair. During the last few years, Schanzenviertel became very popular among even wealthy people. This led to rising living costs on the one hand and a variety of exquisite boutiques on the other. The Schulterblatt street with the Rote Flora building and its galore of bars and restaurants represents the centre of Schanzenviertel. The Rote Flora used to be the last squatted house in Hamburg, it's now left to the squatters for free by the owner. During the week, it is turned into a café, concerts of various styles or other events may also take place. On some days there is cheap (mostly vegan) food available. You can sometimes find fantastic parties for small prices on Friday and Saturday.
Situated northeast of Central Station and city centre, Sankt Georg is the lively, trendy centre of Hamburg's gay scene. Rainbow flags flutter from the balconies in summer. The streets are crowded with people shopping, having a chat, drinking coffee, or going to one of the many art exhibitions around the Lange Reihe street.
The former Danish village Ottensen, bordered by the River Elbe in the south and the Altona Central Station in the east, is not unlike Schanzenviertel, a very hip place to live. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ottensen was mainly populated by Turks, working class people, and political activists. Nowadays, it is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods. Its situation and the architecture let many inhabitants even today speak of Ottensen as a village. The Fabrik, an alternative concert hall, is situated at Barnerstrasse. Only a few blocks away lies Zeisehallen, a formerly occupied fabric hall, nowadays home to a movie theatre, a gallery, a restaurant, and a bookshop. Ottenser Hauptstrasse and Bahrenfelder Strasse, crossing at the Spritzenplatz, offers a huge variety of small shops and bistros.
The Karolienenviertel (also known as Karoviertel) can be compared to the Schanzenviertel. Locals claim that the Schanzenviertel became too popular (and thus crowded). The Karoviertel is far from quiet, but populated by locals. The main attractions are unique clothing stores some of which are second hand. To get there take the HVV to either Feldstrasse (Heiligengeistfeld) or Messehallen subway station.
Blankenese was a fishing village on the Elbe to the southwest of Hamburg. It lies in a valley between two of the only ridges in the area that runs straight down to the river. This upbeat suburb of Hamburg has more millionaires than any other German city. On pretty weekends, the place will be full of Hamburgers there to enjoy the tiny beaches, the winding streets, and the charming houses. Blankenese is among the most picturesque parts of Hamburg.
To get there, take the S1 to Wedel or the S11 to Blankenese. The train station lies at the top of the valley, on Bahnhofstraße. Go straight across Bahnhofstraße and your will find the banks, an Italian gelateria and café, the market square (markets open early and close at 1PM on W, F, and Sa), the bakeries, grocery store, and post office.
There are a number of small beaches on the North side of the Elbe river between Övelgönne and Blankenese. Even though not common, it is safe to swim in the Elbe there (if you don't swim out too far). You may have a barbecue there in the evenings, as long as you bring a grill and clean up after youself. Watch out for surprisingly large waves created by large ships passing by and stay clear at least 50m of any structure in or reaching into the water! See Stay Safe below!
In addition, there are a usually number of commercial beach clubs during the summer, usually between Fischmarkt and Övelgönne. Other than the name might indicate, these are bars open to the public.
The best way to come to the most popular beach is to take the harbour-ferry bus from the Landungsbrücken station to Neumühlen/Övelgönne.
Hamburg publishes a thick, detailed booklet of local museums called "Museemswelt Hamburg". You can find the Museemswelt Hamburg at the information desk at any of the museums.
Night of Museums in April is big in Hamburg. Over fifty places take part and are open till 2AM. Entrance to museums is not free, but the cost is symbolic, ticket everywhere (plus public transportation) costs 12 € (discounted 8 €).
Houses of worship
Hamburg is traditionally a Lutheran evangelic town. But due to the large number of different ethnic groups who settled in the harbour town, one is most certainly going to find a suitable temple of any religion. Almost all synagogues have been destroyed during the time of Nazi-government.
The best way to explore Hamburg's extensive waterways (Hamburg has more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice and London combined) is on a ferry or pleasure boat. A variety of boat tours lasting from 50 minutes to 3 hours depart regularly from the Jungfernstieg on the Inner Alster lake. The exact offer varies depending on the season, so do check in advance or at the landing stage to see what's available. The simplest and shortest tour is the Alsterrundfahrt or Alster tour that lasts 50 minutes and takes in the Inner and Outer Alster lakes (adults: €15). The small cruise boats are often hired for weddings. One is an old steamer. Contact Alster Touristik on 35 74 24-0 or check out the website at www.alstertouristik.de .
Theatre, Opera and Musicals
Hamburg is home to the Hamburg State Opera House (Staatsoper Hamburg ), one of the leading opera houses in Germany. It holds great historical significance, as in 1678 the first public opera house in Germany was built in Hamburg at Gänsemarkt Square, which is where the opera house is still located today. The In 2011 the Staatsoper celebrated 333 years of opera at Gänsemarkt. Hamburg also has many theaters, and is known to host a number of different musicals, as well as other music events.
The Laeiszhalle  is the main classical music hall in Hamburg, with two halls: the klein Saal and großer Saal. You can see the schedule on their website. For online ticket purchases, use Ticket Online .
The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg has many smaller concerts — something almost every day — and is much cheaper than the Laeiszhalle. The programs range from the curator of their early keyboard instrument collection playing them and giving a spiel on the music and the instruments (in German only!) to formal concerts of renditions of Schubert's Die Winterreise. Pick up a schedule at the desk of the museum (down the street from Hamburg Hauptbanhof).
Note that all musicals are in German language, regardless of their origin. If you're still interested, make sure to buy tickets early, many shows are sold-out. But, midweek there is a good chance that you will be able to buy last minute tickets at a highly discounted price of €40 regardless of price category, age, or occupation.
There are 11 universities in Hamburg, the biggest of which is the University of Hamburg .
Many courses and programmes are held in English.
Hamburg is home to schools from countries such as Japan, Sweden, France, Britain and more, where the pupils are taught in their native language. The International School Hamburg  opened in 1957 as the first of its kind in Germany.
The harbour is the fastest growing job sector in Hamburg. Numerous minor and major companies work in that area. You should be able to speak German because due to the high unemployment rate in Germany's jobseekers are attracted by the relative lower unemployment rate in Hamburg. This results in high numbers of applications. Hospitality and media are the two main other industries.
Note that living costs in Hamburg may be significantly higher than in other big cities in Germany depending on your demands. Due to heavy destruction during World War II, especially apartments, older victorian style homes built at the beginning of the 20th century are rare but highly demanded. Be prepared to compete for apartments in attractive areas in town with well-paid media professionals, freelancers and spoiled kids with unlimited resources in their parents' bank account. Inner city areas have become quite popular among doctors, lawyers and architects as well in the last years.
The main shopping area of Hamburg is the Mönckebergstraße in the centre of the city. Take the subway to either central station, Rathaus (town hall), or Mönckebergstraße. Also check the side-street Spitalerstraße. West of town hall towards Gaensemarkt are the more pricey shops like Hugo Boss.
Shops are mostly open daily 10AM—8PM and on Thursday and Friday until 10PM.
The Schanzenviertel is also getting more popular nowadays for unique designer boutiques. Younger people especially enjoy being here. Subway "Sternschanze"/"Feldstraße".
Hamburg has quite many shops which claim "Second Hand", but are more of an outlet. It's still worth a visit though.
Original Hamburg dishes are Birnen, Bohnen und Speck (Low Saxon Birn, Bohn un Speck, green runner beans cooked with pears and bacon), Aalsuppe (Low Saxon Oolsupp, often mistaken to be German for “eel soup“ (Aal/Ool translated ‘eel’), however the name probably comes from the Low Saxon allns [ʔaˑlns], meaning “all”, “everything and the kitchen sink”, not necessarily eel. Today eel is often included to meet the expectations of unsuspecting diners.), Bratkartoffeln (Low Saxon Brootkartüffeln, pan-fried potato slices), Finkenwerder Scholle (Low Saxon Finkwarder Scholl, pan-fried plaice), Pannfisch (pan-fried fish), Rote Grütze (Low Saxon Rode Grütt, related to Danish rødgrød, a type of summer pudding made mostly from berries and usually served with cream, like Danish rødgrød med fløde) and Labskaus (a mixture of corned beef, mashed potatoes and beetroot, a cousin of the Norwegian lapskaus and Liverpool's Scouse (food), all offshoots off an old-time one-pot meal that used to be the main component of the common sailor's humdrum diet on the high seas).
Alsterwasser in Hamburg (a reference to the city's river Alster with two lake-like bodies in the city centre thanks to damming), a type of, a concoction of equal parts of beer and carbonated lemonade (Zitronenlimonade), the lemonade being added to the beer.
Hamburg is also home to a curious regional dessert pastry called Franzbrötchen. Looking rather like a flattened croissant, the Franzbrötchen is somewhat similar in preparation but includes a cinnamon and sugar filling, often with raisins or brown sugar. The name may also reflect to the roll's croissant-like appearance – franz appears to be a shortening of französisch, meaning "French", which would make a Franzbrötchen a “French roll.” Being a Hamburg regional food, the Franzbrötchen becomes quite scarce outside the borders of the city; as near as Lunenburg (Lüneburg) it can only be found as a Hamburger and is not available in Bremen at all.
Ordinary bread rolls tend to be oval-shaped and of the French bread variety. The local name is Rundstück (“round piece” rather than mainstream German Brötchen, diminutive form of Brot “bread”), a relative of Denmark's rundstykke. In fact, while by no means identical, the cuisines of Hamburg and Denmark, especially of Copenhagen have a lot in common. This also includes a predilection for open-faced sandwiches of all sorts, especially topped with cold-smoked or pickled fish. The American hamburger seems to have developed from Hamburg's Frikadelle: a pan-fried patty (usually larger and thicker than the American counterpart) made from a mixture of ground beef, soaked Staling, egg, chopped onion, salt and pepper, usually served with potatoes and vegetables like any other piece of meat, not usually on a bun. Many Hamburgers consider their Frikadelle and the American hamburger different, virtually unrelated. The Oxford Dictionary defined a Hamburger steak in 1802: a sometimes-smoked and -salted piece of meat, that, according to some sources, came from Hamburg to America.
Every day, you can get vegetarian food for donation (€1.50) in different places check out on this site: .
In the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), there are a lot of snack bars to have a quick meal. While there are probably not many vegetarian snack bars, there is a fairly decent selection of veggie food to be found, such as croissants with brie cheese and meat-free pizza slices.
If you want to relax and drink a coffee in some coffee Bars go to:
On the floor
There is a Church mission on the West side of the main train station, mainly for homeless people and people with problems. But it's very clean, people are friendly, and if one is humble and polite, there is a good chance you can enter to chat (even in English) and sleep there on the floor in your sleeping bag. The night shift opens the place at midnight and everyone has to leave before seven in the morning.
Nevertheless, as a traveller, you should contribute some money to run the volunteer's service or at the very least offer some help. Remember: This is not a place for the unprepared traveller and definitely not a hotel!
The Atlantic and the Vier Jahreszeiten share the prize of Hamburg's best hotels over the last one hundred years. Emperors and movie stars have stayed there, including James Bond (Tomorrow never dies, 1997).
Internetcafe Hamburg Winterhude, hudtwalckerstrasse, 22299 Hamburg. Contact Number +49 (0)4025482039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Mon-Fri 1000-2300 and Sat/Sun 1200-2300.
The computers in this internet cafe come fully kitted out and capable of internet browsing, MS Office, gaming and photo editing. Standard flat rate deal available of 2 hours + 1 drink at a cost of 3.5 Eur.
Hamburg is part of the worldwide Global Greeter Network (free sightseeing tours given by local volunteers).
Hamburg is generally a safe city.
Watch out for pickpockets, especially in the area around the Mönckebergstrasse, Central Station, on the Reeperbahn, in buses and trains, but also on crowded escalators and any other crowded places. If you're not used to be confronted by prostitues, beware when walking along Reeperbahn after dark. They sometimes walk in groups and might try to pickpocket you while trying to get away from them.
Be very careful when entering a table dance bar at the Reeperbahn. Many of the clubs have the reputation of ripping off the tourists with the bills. The most common trick is that a girl in the bars aks if she could order something to drink. If positive answer is given (and a positive answer could be even the slightiest movement, without even saying it), she is most likely to order a bottle of champagne of up to 500 Euro or more. If the customer is unwilling or incapable of paying the bill, he/she will be escorted to the nearby ATM to withdraw the cash. If you happen to be in such a situation, try to attract the attention of the police, in the end you could get out with smaller bill.
Also be very careful, especially in the weekends, at the S-Bahn Station Reeperbahn, as this is the place where the party-goers board in/out of the trains, and very often conflicts between drunk teenagers or groups arise. There is a high security and police presence on the platform itself, as in the trains as well, but still keep an eye on the groups and, when possible, stay out of conflicts.
Keep your distance from demonstrations unless you wish to get involved: both leftist groups and the Hamburg police are known for their heavy reactions in such situations.
Bathing in the River Elbe is possible but, of course, you must keep out of the way of ships. Swimmers can be thrown about and even totally swamped by the wake from ocean liners. Swimmers should also stay away from structures in the river and strictly avoid an area about 50 m around those extending into the river.
Strong underwater swirls going down as deep as 10-15 m and even close to the beach may pull the strongest swimmers under water. When relaxing on one of the beaches along the riverside, keep several metres away from the water's edge and keep an eye on children playing in or near the water. Container ships passing by sometimes create surprisingly large waves that won't just get your feet wet on the beach, but may also drag you into the Elbe.
Swimming in the Outer Alster lake is possible, though swimmers are rarely seen. The water is fairly clean. The lake is only about 2-3 metres deep.
Tap water is very clean and you can drink it without any exception, even use it to provide baby food.
Important phone numbers in emergency (dial without any local prefix all over Germany/always free of charge):
112 = Medical emergency and fire department
110 = Police
St. Marien, Domkirche (catholic cathedral), Danziger Str. 60 (St. Georg, near to central station).. Holy Mass Su 8:30AM, 10AM, noon (Portuguese), 3PM (Croatian), 6:15PM, M-Sa 6:15PM; Th 9:30PM.
St. Elisabeth, Oberstr. 65 (district Harvestehude).  Holy Mass Sa 6PM, Su 10AM, noon (English), 5:30PM (Spanish), 7:30PM (3rd Su only), Tu, Th, F: 7PM, W 3PM.
St. Ansgar (kleiner Michel), Michaelisstr. 5 (district Neustadt). . Holy Mass Su 9:30AM, 11:30AM, 3:30PM (Tagalog), 7:30PM. M F 6:30PM, W 9:30, 7PM (Tagalog).
Index of all Catholic churches in the archdioceses of Hamburg 
Both North Sea and Baltic Sea beaches are reachable within an hour by car, railway, or bus.