When to fly
Most tourists flock to Hamburg during May through to September. This period also experiences the warmer weather, although there is also more rainfall. Hamburg’s warmest months are June, July and August, with temperatures usually between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius. During this time, hotel rates and flights may be more expensive, especially if you plan on visiting the city for a festival, as these draw in a lot of tourists. Therefore, it is advised to book flights to Hamburg early and reserve accommodation in advance. One such popular event is the annual city festival, Alstervergnugen, which takes place in August around the Alster Lake. Expect to see hundreds of national and international artists, acrobats and athletes, as well as lots of delicious food.
March to May and October to early November have pleasant weather and fewer tourists swarm the city. This can therefore, be the perfect time to visit if you wish to explore the city when it is a little quieter. Cheap flights to Hamburg can be found during November to March, when fewer visitors are here, lines are shorter, and you can focus on cultural events.
Winter in Hamburg can be quite cold, with temperatures around the freezing mark, however if you wish to see the city in a blanket of snow, December to February can be an ideal time to book flights. You may also be able to find cheaper flights and discounted tours and hotel rates, but prices will rise if you choose to visit near Christmas or New Year. While there, don’t let the cold dampen your spirits by taking the time to wonder around one of the many picturesque Christmas markets, for instance the one in the square near the Old Town Hall. The magical atmosphere is great for all the family, whether you’re warming yourself up with a mug of mulled wine, or watching the Christmas parade.
Hamburg is known as the “gateway to the world” and is one of the largest ports in Europe. Centuries of trade have led to the city becoming a rich and diverse place with plenty you’ll want to experience.
It may or may not be the birthplace of the hamburger, but it has plenty of other things to brag about such as its Hanseatic League past, its standing as a city state, Germany’s second-largest city, and Europe’s second-largest port city (after Rotterdam). It is also the home of the sinful Reeperbahn and the place that gave the Beatles a start.
Travellers taking Hamburg flights will discover a city criss-crossed by canals. It has an astonishing 2,300 bridges, more than Venice and Amsterdam combined. The lake at the centre of the city, the Alster, is made up of two lakes, the Binnenalster (inner Alster) and the Aussenalster (outer Alster) and is a popular spot.
The Altona Fischmarkt, on the banks of the Elbe river, is a must-go spot. It's open early on Sunday mornings - 4am in summertime, 7am in winter - and over by midday. It's not just the place to go for a bit of cod, there's a flea market that sells almost everything.
Aside from the water and greenery, Hamburg has plenty for culture vultures with theatres, music halls, cabarets and museums. The largest art gallery is the Kunsthalle, which has a fine collection of 19th and 20th-century masters.
You’ll want to see some historic icons after taking flights to Hamburg, and one of the best is The Michel: a cathedral on every postcard that’s worth seeing for the dramatic statues outside of the angel Michael fighting Satan. Go up the tower for superb views of the city.
Reeperbahn is Hamburg’s top area for nightlife. Among the neon lights you can find all sorts of things going on in this diverse place, including theatre productions, live music, nightclubs and bars. This racy area is where The Beatles began to build their reputation in the early 1960s and you’ll find Beatles Platz on the corner of Reeperbahn and Große Freiheit named in their honour.
Getting around Hamburg
Hamburg Airport (HAM) is situated 5 miles (8km) from Hamburg. To get to the city from the airport you can hop on the S-Bahn (local train) to Central Station (Hauptbahnhof), which runs every ten minutes. Hamburg Bus Lines take visitors downtown and to the suburbs. A taxi will take around 30 minutes to get you downtown. Trains, subways, harbour ferries and buses can take you around central Hamburg easily.
How to get around
To get around, take the U-Bahn (subway). Take the S-Bahn (trains) to get out to the suburbs. The two services are connected. Buy bus tickets at Automats and railway ticket counters, and you’ll get a great view of the city in return. For unlimited travel, as well as discounted admission to Hamburg attractions, purchase a Hamburg Card.
It’s fairly easy to drive in Hamburg, but rush hour can slow your travel and parking is expensive. Taxis can be found almost anywhere.
The Airport Express runs frequent buses to the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). The TRAVELPorter Airport transfer service provides a door-to-door service within the local area. Hamburg Bus Lines service the city centre and other suburban areas. Taxis are readily available outside all terminals, they take around 30 minutes to the city centre.
Hamburg insider information
- Hamburg’s port is the largest sea port in the country and the second largest in Europe. Industrial, but also attractive, you can easily spend an afternoon wandering round. Don’t miss Rickmer Rickmers, an old sailing ship permanently moored in the port and now a museum. Built in 1896, it has been used as a cargo ship to Hong Kong, and a carrier of war materials and owned by the Germans, Portuguese and British. Today, the ship houses a museum and on-board restaurant.
- If you find you miss the port when you get home (or you want to take a look at it before you get there), there is a webcam available at the official Hamburg Port Website.
- Hamburg is, of course, said to be where the Hamburger originated. The origin of the dish is reputed to come from the city’s trade connections. Arab merchants introduced a raw version of the dish, called kibbeh, which was a mixture of ground lamb and spices. Locals made a few changes, including the crucial cooking of the meat, and the hamburger we know and love was born…
- With more bridges than Venice, Hamburg is a city on the water. Take a canal boat trip to see it from the river and enjoy the commentary of the ship's captains. You can also hire kayaks or row boats to take to the water during the summer months.
- There are lots of museums and activities catering to children. One of the best is the Puppenmuseum, or Doll’s Museum, a short drive from the city centre. The collection was built up over three decades and contains more than 300 dolls and around 60 doll houses.
- Germany’s nightlife is centred around the Reeperbahn area. The red-light district is also the place where the Beatles first began their career, when they spent three months here in 1960. For a tour of Beatles nightclubs, visit the Top Ten Club on the Reeperbahn, then the Kaiserkeller on Grosse Freiheit and the Starclub.