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The Top Ten Things to Do in Hamburg

Hamburg's Best Attractions and Sights

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Find out what to do in Hamburg, Germany's second largest city. Here are Hamburg's top ten attractions and sights that no Hamburg traveler should miss.

1. Hamburg Harbor

The Piers in Hamburg (St.Pauli Landungsbrücken), Germany
Holger Magnussen

Hamburg is a harbor city – its port is the third largest in the world, after London and New York. There are so many ways to enjoy Hamburg’s harbor, which is over 800 years old; take a boat tour, stroll along the waterfront, and have an excellent seafood dinner at restaurant Rive, which offers commanding views of the port.

2. The Reeperbahn, Hamburg's Red Light District

Hamburg Red Light District, Germany
www.mediaserver.hamburg.de

Hamburg’s most famous street is the Reeperbahn, the thoroughfare of the city’s legendary entertainment and red light district. The eclectic mix of bars and restaurants along with strip clubs and erotic museums brought the Beatles here, who started their international career in Hamburg in the 1960’s.

3. Hamburg Fish Market

Fresh seafood, exotic fruits and nuts, and teas from all over the world – the Hamburg Fischmarkt is a must for every foodie. The open-air market, right next to the historic fish auction hall, is open on Sundays between 5 and 9 a.m., so get up early to get the best buys just off the boat. The bustling atmosphere of the 300-year old market is unique.

More about the Hamburg Fischmarkt

4. Emigration Museum Ballinstadt

Ballinstadt Emigration Museum Hamburg
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Between 1850 and 1939, more than 5 million people from all over Europe emigrated from Hamburg to the New World. The museum complex "Ballinstadt" recreates this life-changing journey on historic grounds; see the original emigration halls, and an extensive interactive exhibition (in English and German). You can even trace back the journey of your own family by studying the original passenger lists and the largest genealogical database in the world.

5. Historic Warehouse District

Photo of Hamburg Germany
Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images
Adjacent to the harbor, you find Hamburg’s historical warehouse district, the largest warehouse complex in the word. Narrow cobble stone streets and small waterways are lined by 100-year old warehouses, which store cocoa, silk, and oriental carpets. Light projections in the evening create a magical atmosphere on buildings, bridges and canals.

6. Hamburger Kunsthalle

A trio of architectural gems house one of the most impressive art collections in Germany. Over 700 years of European art history are represented at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, from medieval altars to modern paintings. Highlights include masterpieces by Rembrandt, Caspar David Friedrich, and Edvard Munch.

7. Church St. Michaelis

St. Michaelis Church Hamburg
Lux Tonnerre
The baroque church of St. Michaelis is the signature landmark of Hamburg. "Michel", as locals like to call the church, was built between 1648-1661 and is the most famous church in the North of Germany; its white and golden interior seats 3000 people. Climb the spiraled top to enjoy sweeping views of the Hamburg cityscape and harbor.

8. Alster Arkaden

Alsterarkaden in Hamburg, Germany
Lux Tonnerre
Hamburg is famous for exclusive shopping, and the elegant Alster Arkaden is one of the most picturesque places for your retail therapy. The historic arcades, inspired by Venetian architecture and lit by wrought iron lamps at night, lead you along the canals to Hamburg’s main square and its richly decorated city hall.

9. Hafencity

Visit Hamburg's future in "Hafencity", the largest urban building project in Europe of the 21st century. At 155 hectares, this harbor city within a city is expected to double the population of downtown Hamburg with thousands of new waterfront apartments, gleaming high-rises, stores, restaurants and a new symphony. The ambitious project will be finished in 2025, but you can already enjoy some of Europe’s most visionary architecture here.

10. Planten un Blomen

Take a deep breath in Hamburg's green scene, the park "Planten un Blomen". It features a Botanical Garden and the largest Japanese garden in Europe. Throughout the summer months, you can enjoy free water-light concerts, theater performances, and festivals in the park.
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