No visit of Hamburg is complete without hitting the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's legendary nightlife mile, which is also home to one of Europe's biggest red light districts.
What to Expect at the Reeperbahn
The Reeperbahn is the most famous street in Hamburg; you'll find many great bars, restaurants, theatres, and clubs here, along with sex shops, sex museums, erotic theaters, and strip clubs.
This eclectic mix makes the Reeperbahn an interesting and fascinating place to visit for travelers and locals alike; the district is the second most popular Hamburg attraction after the harbor and attracts all kinds of visitors, from night owls and students, to theatergoers and tourists.
Highlights of the Reeperbahn
The lively Reeperbahn is the main thoroughfare of Hamburg's entertainment district, but there are some interesting side streets worth visiting:
- Große Freiheit:
In the early 1960s, the Beatles wooed their German audiences in Hamburg and started their career in various music clubs along the street “Große Freiheit” (literally “Great Freedom”).
Some of these clubs still exist, and if you are a fan of the Fab Four, get up and get down in the Indra Club and the Kaiserkeller, and visit the newly built Beatles Square at the street corner of Reeperbahn/ Große Freiheit.
The Spielbudenplatz is the historic core of Hamburg's entertainment district, which started out in the 17th century with acrobats, jugglers, magicians, and wooden booths selling refreshments to sailors.
Today, this street is home to many great theaters, and you can visit one of the oldest wax figure museums of Germany here.
Street prostitution is legal at certain times of the day on Davidstraße, so you might see the "ladies of the night" waiting for their customers here. At the corner of Reeperbahn and Davidstraße, you can find the most famous police station in Germany. The Davidwache provides highly visible police protection 24 hours, and makes the area one of the safest ones in Hamburg.
The most notorious and exclusive street of Hamburg's red light district is the Herbertstraße, with prostitutes sitting in windows, displaying their charm for customers. Herbertstraße is closed off by a wall for minors and female visitors. It is not officially prohibited for women to enter this street, but strongly discouraged by the police; the prostitutes here can be hostile to visitors who just "want to look".
Interesting Facts About the Reeperbahn
- The name "Reeperbahn" comes from the old German word "Reep" meaning "heavy rope"; in the 18th century, heavy hempen ropes were produced here for sailing ships in the Hamburg harbor.
- John Lennon supposedly said: "I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg."
Tips for your Reeperbahn Visit
- The Reeperbahn doesn't come to life before the evening hours; a good time to visit is around 8 or 9 p.m.
- It gets very crowded on the weekends; the area is safe thanks to the high police presence, but you should still be cautious and beware of pickpockets.
- If you are lured into a strip club with a free entry, expect to shell out around $20 for your first drink.
- Getting there: Metro Stop "Reeperbahn" or "St. Pauli"
The Reeperbahn is part of the list Top Ten Things to Do in Hamburg.