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The HafenCity in Hamburg is one of the most modern districts and offers plenty of activities and attractions. From old warehouses in the Speicherstadt to the new imposing landmark, the Elbphilharmonie, the contrast couldn’t be greater. A day in Hamburg’s HafenCity is absolutely worth it, whether on land or on the water.

Our HafenCity Tips: 13 Things to Do in Hamburg’s HafenCity and Speicherstadt

View of Hamburg from above: HafenCity, Landungsbrücken, and Harbor
View of Hamburg: HafenCity, Landungsbrücken, and Harbor

Hamburg’s HafenCity is great to explore on foot, as many of our tips are close to each other. Since 2003, HafenCity has been a new district of the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. A lot has developed there and continues to do so today. Find out what interesting things you can explore in HafenCity below. Have fun with our Hamburg HafenCity tips!

How to get to Hamburg

You can reach Hamburg in many different ways. One of them would be to fly by plane to Helmut-Schmidt-Airport. The route network is extensive, and you can fly to Hamburg from many cities around the world (including within Germany). You can find tickets and times at Skyscanner.

From there, there’s a direct connection with the S-Bahn to the main train station, which brings us to the second option – the train. Hamburg is excellently connected to the ICE and Intercity network and offers four stations for long-distance trains. Besides the main station, these are Dammtor, Harburg, and Altona.

The third option would be the long-distance bus, such as Flixbus, which you can take directly to Hamburg’s bus station from many German and European cities. It’s located just a few meters from the main train station, making it easy to get to your accommodation afterward. You can find tickets for trains and buses at Omio.

The last option, of course, is your own car. The A1 highway leads to Hamburg from the west, the A24 from the east from Berlin, and the A7 from the south. This way, you can travel to Hamburg individually and remain mobile within the Hanseatic city.

Accommodation in Hamburg – our hotel tip

Located in the Speicherstadt, the AMERON Hamburg Hotel offers a perfect starting point to explore Hamburg’s attractions. You can easily walk to the Alster, HafenCity, the Landungsbrücken, or the city center. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, TV, safe, free Wi-Fi, and more. The good breakfast in the morning will energize you for the day.

The Junior Suite of the AMERON Hamburg Hotel
Junior Suite of the AMERON Hamburg Hotel

Hamburg HafenCity: Tours and Tickets

1. Elbphilharmonie

Of course, this must first be mentioned in the HafenCity tips! After what felt like an endless construction period, the Elbphilharmonie stands as the new landmark of Hamburg in the HafenCity district. From a distance, you can recognize the Elbphilharmonie by its impressive glass facade, which resembles waves or a sail. The modern building houses apartments, a hotel, a concert hall, and a restaurant.

The Hamburg Elbphilharmonie at sunset

A highlight of the Elbphilharmonie is certainly the viewing terrace with a breathtaking view of the Hamburg harbor and HafenCity. For just €2, you can buy a ticket and it almost is a must-do when visiting the HafenCity. But even without the viewing terrace, the Elbphilharmonie is certainly a great opportunity for some memorable photos.

View from the Elbphilharmonie of the harbor, the Landungsbrücken, and St. Pauli
View of the harbor, the Landungsbrücken, and St. Pauli

2. Walk in the Speicherstadt

The Speicherstadt is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Hamburg’s HafenCity. It is also part of the HafenCity district and stands in stark contrast to the modern part. The old warehouses, which were built between 1833 and 1927, are still well preserved today, and many are actively used. Not always for storage as in the past, but also as office buildings, museums, or other tourist attractions, such as the Miniatur Wunderland (see point 5).

The Speicherstadt of Hamburg's HafenCity

Since 2015, the Speicherstadt has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A walk over the many bridges, between the brick warehouses, and along the canals/waterways, is always a pleasure for us. We ourselves visit the Speicherstadt repeatedly, even after countless times. If you want to know more about the history of the Speicherstadt, then a tour is worth it to delve even deeper.

3. Evening Lights Cruise

A slightly different way to explore Hamburg’s HafenCity and Speicherstadt is one of the evening lights tours through the fleets and canals. During this, you’ll learn more about the history of Hamburg and can admire some notable buildings such as the Elbphilharmonie and the Marco Polo Tower from the water.

But not only the Speicherstadt and HafenCity are part of the evening lights cruise. Other parts of the Hamburg harbor like the Landungsbrücken in St. Pauli or the museum ships anchored there are also included. Since the boat tours are very popular, you might consider booking a ticket online in advance if you don’t want to miss out. Especially on holidays and weekends, you should book online in advance.

4. Cruise Center/Cruise Terminal

While not really a tourist attraction, we still want to mention the Cruise Center in our Hamburg HafenCity tips. The cruise terminal attracts many onlookers when ocean giants like the Queen Mary 2 or some ships from the Aida fleet are docked or departing.

If you’re there at the right time, you can best observe the Chicagokai with the cruise ships from the steps in front of the Unilever building. Construction is currently underway there to replace the old, temporary Cruise Center with a new, modern one.

Since the Cruise Center is just a few minutes on foot from the Störtebeker Monument (see point 8), you can stop by. However, it’s only worth it if the cruise ships are there, as otherwise, there’s not much happening.

5. Miniatur Wunderland

Located in the heart of Speicherstadt is the popular Miniatur Wunderland. It has been open since August 2001 and has been continuously expanded since then. Today, it spans nearly 1500 m² with several kilometers of tracks and over 1000 automatic trains running on them. Many famous places have also been built there, including an airport with planes taking off and landing.

Inside Miniatur Wunderland in HafenCity Hamburg

From the Hamburg Harbor to Las Vegas, the Alps, or Scandinavia, there’s a lot to marvel at here. Even if you’re not a fan of model railways (neither are we, to be honest), it’s truly impressive to see the world that has been created here! It’s one of the HafenCity tips that is especially great for families with children. And if there’s typical “Schietwetter” (bad weather) in Hamburg, Miniatur Wunderland is a wonderful alternative.

Currently, new sections are being developed, such as a Formula 1 track in Monaco and parts of Central America, the Caribbean, and Asia. You should ideally book tickets in advance, as they often sell out.

6. Hamburg Dungeon

Do you want to experience the history of Hamburg from a playful, exciting perspective? Then visit the Hamburg Dungeon, which is set up similarly to the other dungeons in Amsterdam, London, or Berlin. It’s a mix of show and horror cabinet with a historical background.

Highlighted in the Hamburg Dungeon, which opened as early as 2000, are among others the history of the terrifying pirate Störtebeker (see also point 8), the great fire of 1842, and the infamous Santa Fu prison. The actors in the Hamburg Dungeon also involve the visitors to varying degrees, making it a genuine experience. We thought it was absolutely fantastic! It’s open during the week from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and on weekends from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (last admission). Prices start at €20, and tickets for the Hamburg Dungeon should be booked online in advance. We’ve often seen long lines at the entrance – even during the week sometimes.

7. International Maritime Museum

Located directly in the Kaiserspeicher B of the Speicherstadt is the International Maritime Museum, where you can discover over 3,000 years of maritime history. This includes pictures, weapons, paintings, and thousands of ship models spread over 12,000 m². For children, there are even model constructions made of Lego bricks, such as the Queen Mary 2.

The International Maritime Museum in HafenCity Hamburg

There are also exhibitions on marine research, a ship simulator, and tours led by former captains to see and experience. You can easily spend several hours there. If you’re interested in maritime history in Hamburg, this is definitely a must-see. It’s open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is €13, with discounts available for children, families, students, and seniors.

8. Störtebeker Monument

Opposite the International Maritime Museum, you’ll find the monument of Störtebeker. Originally, the monument was erected on August 1, 1982, in the Grasbrook district, which is considered the place of Störtebeker’s death. Today, it is located in the heart of Hamburg’s HafenCity.

Who was this Störtebeker, anyway? According to legend, Störtebeker was a pirate who raided many ships in the North and Baltic Seas during the 14th century. Most of his raids targeted the ships of wealthy Hamburg merchants of the Hanseatic League. Among the people, he was seen as the Robin Hood of shipping, as he took from the rich and gave to the poor.

In 1401, he was publicly executed in Hamburg, along with his entire crew. It is said that, after being beheaded, he walked past 11 of his men to grant them freedom, as the mayor had promised. However, the mayor did not keep his word, and all were executed.

9. Magellan Terraces and Sandtorkai

The Magellan Terraces are located directly at Sandtorkai, where you can also find Hamburg’s Traditional Ship Harbor. They were built in reference to the tradition of the sea and trade. You will find some elements that are meant to remind you of the carpet trade of the Speicherstadt and others that represent the sea, the waves, and the fish.

The Magellan Terraces and the Traditional Harbor of Hamburg's HafenCity

From there, you can also reach the floating pontoon where many traditional ships are moored. This harbor basin was, by the way, the first artificial harbor basin of Hamburg, essentially the starting signal for the Hamburg Harbor (opened in 1866). If you are out and about in Hamburg’s HafenCity in the evening, the Magellan Terraces are beautifully illuminated and are also a sight to behold.

10. Marco Polo Terraces and Dalmannkai

The Marco Polo Terraces at Dalmannkai are another place to linger in Hamburg’s HafenCity. They were designed by the same architectural firm as the Magellan Terraces. There are numerous opportunities to settle down here, whether on the hill-shaped lawns or the wooden platforms.

From here, you can enjoy the view of the Elbphilharmonie, the Marco Polo Tower, and the Grasbrookhafen. The Marco Polo Terraces were also designed with a reference to the sea and the tides in Hamburg. The lowest level even displays a different image depending on whether the Elbe river is at low or high tide.

11. HafenCity Viewpoint

Standing at a height of 13 meters, the orange-colored Viewpoint of HafenCity is located in the Baakenhafen. You can visit it for free and enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view from there. Overlooking the HafenCity of Hamburg all the way to the Elbbrücken. There’s also a board on site, so you know exactly what there is to see around you. The HafenCity Viewpoint is definitely worth a short stop and one of the free HafenCity tips.

View from the HafenCity Viewpoint of the Elbphilharmonie
View from the HafenCity Viewpoint

12. Visit the Parks

Hamburg’s HafenCity also offers plenty of green spaces for relaxation. There you’ll find playgrounds for children, for example, at Am Lohsepark or in Baakenpark. The latter even has an outdoor fitness area and a soccer field. With the “Himmelsfeld” in Baakenpark, there’s also a small viewpoint overlooking the Hamburg Harbor.

View of Baakenpark in Hamburg's HafenCity
Baakenpark in Hamburg’s HafenCity

Other parks you can visit while strolling through HafenCity include Grasbrookpark and Sandtorpark. Grasbrookpark, with areas for lounging and also a playground, is located directly opposite the Marco Polo Terraces. You’ll find Sandtorpark with its large green space opposite the Magellan Terraces.

13. Lighthouse Zero

Lighthouse Zero, as the name initially suggests, is not a real lighthouse. It is a kind of model house of a construction company. It is located in Hamburg’s HafenCity at the tip of the Baakenhöft.

The futuristic house offers a 2,153 sq ft apartment and a rooftop terrace with a 360-degree panoramic view. If you’re interested, you can arrange a viewing, as Lighthouse Zero is primarily for marketing purposes. But it’s also a great photo opportunity for tourists, especially at sunset or in the evening when it’s lit up.

Plan your trip to Hamburg now

More hotel recommendations for Hamburg:

Have you ever visited HafenCity in Hamburg? We look forward to hearing your opinion about HafenCity in the comments. Maybe you even have more HafenCity tips for us?

Photos: Photo 2 (Hotel Recommendation): AMERON Hotel Hamburg – Photo 8 (Magellan Terraces): Fred Romero/flickr – Photo 9 (Viewpoint): Fred Romero/flickr – Photo 10 (Baakenpark): www.sommer-in-hamburg.de/flickr