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Hamburg Travel Guide

About Hamburg

Although it’s several more miles before the mighty Elbe empties itself into the North Sea, Hamburg has all the atmosphere and attributes of a busy harbour town.

Hamburg’s status as a heaving international port has seen it labelled as the so-called “gateway to the world”, and the description certainly sits well with somewhere constantly awhirl with different cultural flavours.

Hamburg is the second largest metropolis in Germany and has every ounce of the grit and character that this would suggest.

Aesthetically, it’s less like Berlin and Munich and more akin to northern European capitals such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen. All are cities set on water (Hamburg in fact has more bridges than Amsterdam or Venice), and many of its buildings stand along quaysides and canals. It’s also Germany’s greenest city, with a full two thirds of its area dedicated to parkland or lakes.

Away from the greenery though, Hamburg can change at the turn of a corner. This was where the Beatles nurtured their talents in the early 1960s, playing the dingy clubs of the notorious Reeperbahn red-light district. The area still draws visitors in large numbers – Hamburg’s nightlife and live music scene are both renowned today. Elsewhere, you’ll find moneyed waterside neighbourhoods, colourful fish markets and a handsome spread of period buildings. This is, after all, somewhere that was declared a Free Imperial City more than 500 years ago.

Today, the city’s most popular visitor attractions form an appropriately diverse collection. They range from the impressive concert hall Elbphilharmonie which is already Hamburg's new landmark, the Miniatur Wunderland, a colossal model railway that continues to be expanded, to Hamburg Zoo, open since 1863 and notable for using moats in place of barred cages. Elsewhere, theatres, museums and lakeside walks all add to the city’s all-round appeal.

It’s a fantastic place to eat and a great place to cycle - a city where street art meets summer beaches and electronic music meets edgy architecture. To say Hamburg is rarely boring is something of an understatement.

Key facts

Population:
1783975 (2010)
Latitude:
53.552979
Longitude:
10.023815

Featured Hotels

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Fritzhotel

Located in the Sternschanze area opposite a park and just beside the U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, this is a smart, modern and clean hotel in Hamburg that's intimate enough to have a character of its own. Its 17 single and double rooms are well proportioned, some even have balconies, and the local vicinity, which has a reputation as something of an artists' quarter, offers plenty of pleasant green spaces, cafés and bars.

Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten

Old-fashioned opulence on a regal scale. Many regard this enormous 19th-century townhouse on the edge of the Inner Alster Lake, comprising 156 rooms and 32 suites, as the best hotel in Hamburg, and consequently there's a price tag to match. Well located for shopping but a little off the beaten track for much of the city's nightlife.

Le Royal Méridien Hamburg

Spectacular, mammoth and immaculate, this imposing residence offers pretty much everything you could wish for; architecture that seamlessly blends the contemporary and traditional, a swimming pool, solarium, conference and ball rooms, business facilities, a highly regarded ninth-floor restaurant and bar with amazing views, and a total of 284 rooms and suites.

CityHotel Monopol

For those who like to be in the thick of it, this cheap hotel in Hamburg is centrally positioned along the raucous Reeperbahn's nightlife mile. Fortunately, all of its 80-plus rooms are fully soundproofed, but this is certainly the perfect place to stay for the budget-conscious party crowd.

Hotel Wedina

A more intimately proportioned boutique hotel situated in a quiet residential area near Alster Lake, this Hamburg establishment's tasteful décor is more focused on comfort than cool. There's an attractive garden with a pool, Staff are friendly, and the hotel prides itself on providing sanctuary to a number of heavyweight literary guests.

Gastwerk Hotel Hamburg

Gastwerk proudly wears the mantle of being the city's first 'designer' hotel. Even those who don't speak German won't be surprised to discover that 150 years ago this grand brick building housed the city's first gasworks. Its proportions and the clever use of space in its conversion are the hotel's biggest attraction.