While Hamburg may not stand out as a destination for tourists, this major port city has its own character that makes it worth a visit. With a wide array of things to do and see, the city’s attractions cover several bases, ranging from history and architecture to model trains and museums to harbor cruises and nightlife. Follow my two days in Hamburg itinerary to see the best the city has to offer.
How to Get Around Hamburg
While you could walk to get to the many attractions of Hamburg, the city is large and you’ll easily get worn out. Fortunately, there’s a reliable public transportation network to help you out. Ferries, buses, trams, and the metro run across Hamburg, with tickets working across the network. It’s also easy to reach the city center from the airport with the S-Bahn metro, which takes around thirty minutes.
Best Time to Visit Hamburg
Hamburg doesn’t exactly follow most cities in terms of its high season. The busiest months in this city are usually May, August, and October. Summers here are a bit more on the milder side compared to the rest of Germany. Generally, the best months to visit Hamburg are April, June, and September.
2-Day Hamburg Itinerary
While not as popular as Munich or Berlin, Hamburg definitely has enough to keep travelers entertained for a weekend. With two days in the city, you’ll have plenty of time to see the main highlights of Hamburg, such as the Speicherstadt, Miniatur Wunderland, and maybe even a harbor cruise.
Day 1 in Hamburg
The best way to start your two days in Hamburg is to see the iconic sights along the harbor waterfront.
Start your first day in Hamburg with the Speicherstadt, the world’s largest warehouse complex of its kind. You may not think a warehouse district can be beautiful, but it’s a surprisingly iconic sight to see in the city. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex boasts many great views with its bridges and canals.
A more recent landmark of Hamburg, but a city icon all the same, the Elbphilharmonie can be found southwest from Speicherstadt. A concert hall along the waterfront, this unique building is famous for its glass exterior shaped like an iceberg or waves. It’s not just the performances hosted at the Elbphilharmonie that draw visitors. There’s also a panoramic terrace with views of the harbor and city skyline that’s free to the public.
Old Elbe Tunnel
You can find the entrance to the Old Elbe Tunnel near the Landungsbrücken piers along the waterfront. Europe’s oldest river tunnel, this historic tunnel dates back to 1911 travels under the harbor and takes you to the southern side of Hamburg. Once you reach the bottom of the stairs, you’ll realize this is no ordinary tunnel and if you travel to the far end of the Old Elbe Tunnel, you’ll be rewarded with a great view across the harbor. Take one of the antique lifts to head back up.
St Michael’s Church
The largest church in Hamburg, St. Michael’s Church has seen much rebuilding and renovation over the years, however, an upside to this is its amazing Baroque-style main hall. The interior of the church seems more reminiscent of a grand theater, featuring five organs. Take the climb up the bell tower for a view of the cityscape.
End your first day of sightseeing in Hamburg with a harbor cruise. There are a variety of cruise options offered, with the most typical choice being around an hour-long cruise departing from Landungsbrücken. The small boat travels around the harbor and down the Speicherstadt’s canals, water level permitting. Evening cruises are especially nice, and with Speicherstadt being possibly an even better sight to see at night, they might be a better choice than regular harbor cruises. If you’re a fan of wine and cheese, I’d recommend this Harbor Cruise.
Day 2 in Hamburg
For your second day in Hamburg, you will be exploring other neighborhoods of the city, such as the city center.
Start your day off with one of the most beloved attractions of the city. Miniatur Wunderland is a miniature airport and the largest model railway in the world. Both kids and adults can enjoy the fine detail and impressive scale, and while planes and trains may be the focus here, there are several other attractions and entire cities that have been assembled at Miniatur Wunderland.
Heading over to the main square of the city, you’ll find one of the major landmarks of Hamburg, the grand Rathausmarkt, or Hamburg City Hall. Featuring a Neo-Renaissance elaborate design, the massive building consists of more than 640 rooms. Stepping inside the Rathausmarkt, you’ll see an impressive interior and the central courtyard is worth a visit as well to see its fine details.
One of the most important cultural institutions in the city, the Kunsthalle Hamburg is located near the eastern edge of Inner Alster Lake, or Binnenalster. This art museum is the one of the largest in the country and is the official art museum of Hamburg. The permanent collection here ranges from the 15th century to modern times, with exhibits arranged by era.
Reeperbahn Red Light District
Like several cities in Europe, there’s a rather famous Red Light District in Hamburg. What makes this one different, however, is there’s more to it than the X-rated establishments. Basically being the nightlife district of the city, the Reeperbahn is also home to a few theaters, restaurants, pubs, and bars.