The Ultimate Bucket List for Hamburg Germany

March 14, 2017

The bucket list for Hamburg Germany!!

Before we reveal the ultimate bucket list for Hamburg Germany, let’s learn a little more about the city itself. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and is better known as the, “Gate to the World.” This city is home to one of the largest ports in the world: a port of exit for millions of Europeans who immigrated into various countries throughout North America.

As a port city, Hamburg has a rich history in industrial sea trade with docks all across the globe (all this water makes me want to visit Germany’s highest waterfall in Triberg). One former resident of Hamburg, Nina Ahmedow, grew up in this picturesque city and gives you her ultimate bucket list for all the sites that you absolutely must see while visiting this scenic, northern city.

1. The Speicherstadt

From this picture you can tell why the Speicherstadt is on the ultimate bucket list for Hamburg Germany.

Since 2015, the Speicherstadt, or Hamburg’s old warehouse district, has been designated a UNESCO, World Heritage site. It is the world’s largest historical warehouse district and was built between 1883 and 1927. This district was first commercially used in 1888 when, the first building was completed.
What makes this area unique is the fact that it was built along a canal,  to facilitate the loading and unloading of any small boats, that brought cargo to the larger ships stored in the warehouses.

Some of the neo-gothic buildings found here, are now home to museums, such as the Afghan museum, the spice museum, and the customs museum. All of these areas of cultural interest are indigenous to Hamburg, since this city was not only where rugs from Iran and Afghanistan were stored, but also where spices arrived from all over the world, and where officials tracked down and punished any potential smugglers. And if you think a customs museum sounds boring, it’s not!! Learning about all the different ways that Hamburg residents tried to avoid paying hefty customs fees is actually pretty exciting and something you do NOT want to miss.

2. Explore the Rivers and Lakes

A really nice way of getting close up view of the gorgeous buildings in the Speicherstadt, is to meander through the local waterways, on a tourist boat. Hamburg offers several sightseeing tours, but don’t spend a lot of money on these when it’s just not necessary. Yes, there are many harbor boat tours that are specialized for tourists, but why spend extra money when you can simply take the local ferry, that is included in the public transport system. If you take public ferry line 62, you will be engulfed by a multitude of beautiful views that capture the nautical mystique of this historic port city.

You can see why the waterways of Hamburg are on the ultimate bucket list for Hamburg Germany.

If you are interested in an Alster boat trip, you will have to pay for that. The only way around that would be to rent a boat and make the trip yourself, but you could easily get lost. Therefore, just choose one or two of the scenic boat tours that sail around the lake and through the canals. From these boat tours, you will get an up close and personal view of the enormous mansions and picturesque gardens that give Hamburg both distinction and charm.

3. Old Elbe Tunnel

A completely different historical site is the Old Elbe Tunnel which connects the neighborhood of St. Pauli with a small island in the river Elbe. This tunnel can be crossed by car, bike, and even on foot (if you explore the tunnel by foot or bike, then it’s free). For tourists, the best to appreciate this monument of architectural beauty is by slowly walking through this tunnel. Take your time and admire all the intricate details that are testament to the beauty within this structure’s construction. As you ascend and descend through the tunnel,  try not to use the elevators. Instead, take the old spiral staircase and witness all the finer details that went into this tunnel’s construction.

4. St. Nicholas’ Church

Another impressive site in Hamburg is St. Nicholas’ Church. At one point, this church was actually the tallest building in the world. However, this neogothic building was damaged heavily during Allied air raids on Hamburg in WWII and now, only the ruins remain. Today, these ruins stand as a tribute to all the innocent people who were victimized by the tyranny and violence of the Nazi regime. Take time to explore the entire complex and don’t forget to take the glass elevator to the top of the church, where you will find a magnificent view of the entire city.

5. Explore Nature

Planten un Blomen should also be on your ultimate bucket list for Hamburg Germany.

Hamburg is a very green city and has many parks. Planten un Blomen (low German for “plants and flowers”) is in the very center of the city. It features a lake and several gardens and hosts several events in the summer. Entrance to the park is always free, and you will absolutely love it here when the weather is good.

The Alster is actually a small river, but when people in Hamburg use the term, they are generally referring to the local, man made lake. Walking around the Alster lake is a nice alternative to sightseeing, since you can see the beauty of nature, right along side some stunning examples of local architecture, like several city consulates. Walking around the Alster will also allow you to appreciate the beauty of  Hamburg in a whole new way, from several different vantage points around the lake.

6. St. Pauli Neighborhood – Red Light District

The port that lines the St. Pauli neighborhood, which is also on the ultimate bucket list for Hamburg Germany.

As a port city, Hamburg is world famous for its red light district. Ports and prostitution go hand in hand, so it’s no wonder that the St. Pauli neighborhood, near the port, is the center of Hamburg’s sex industry. While I don’t recommend that you partake in any of the services offered, this area does have some cool clubs that are located just outsid
e the red light district (the red light district itself is crowded with tourists who flock here every weekend to party and get drunk). Simply stroll along the main street of Reeperbahn and go directly to any of the clubs that interest you.

By day, this area has several museum ships and an old Soviet submarine that you can wander through on a pleasant afternoon.

More About the Author

A big thanks to Nina Ahmedow for all her hard work!! Currently, Nina Ahmedow is an expat living in Athens, Greece. Half Bulgarian Turk, half German, it’s always been difficult for her to fit in so she developed a passion for seeing the world. Nina is interested in living conscientiously and cares deeply about ethical fashion, veganism, minimalism, feminism, and environmentalism. To learn more about Nina and her various passions, click here for a look at her personal website.



Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.


  • Sarah 1 year ago

    Hahahaha “while I don’t recommend that you partake in the services offered” – you crack me up. Sounds like such an interesting city that wasn’t on my radar before but is now!

  • Emily Bitz 1 year ago

    Hey, I’ll probably be checking out Hamburg this year. Thanks for the tips!

  • Monica 1 year ago

    I loved the lakes and rivers. Hamburg is on my Bucket list for 2017. Your post is very helpful

  • Amanda @ The Travelling Blizzards 1 year ago

    Great post! My mom was born in Germany, and half of my family still lives there, so I can’t wait to go visit! I’ve pinned this so I can add these to my exploration of Hamburg!

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      So glad to hear that. My grandma was born in Germany and visiting Berlin was a lot of fun.

  • Christie 1 year ago

    Great info! My family is from Bavaria so I haven’t spent any time in northern Germany since I’m always down there but I’ve been wanting to go. This will be helpful for my trip!

  • Javon 1 year ago

    Some of those names are crazy long. The pictures are fantastic and I had no idea the waterways were so pretty. Thanks for sharing!

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      Haha. So glad no one asked me to say the names because I would have totally failed.

  • Bidisha 1 year ago

    Wow! this is an incredible post. I would personally love to visit The Speicherstadt. Looks very intriguing and would love to learn about the tales of how people evaded customs duty. The waterways also look alluring. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thirty30Courtney 1 year ago

    I’m reading Outliers and the author mentions the Beatles performing in Hamburg and ironically enough, your post appears. I love exploring cities with bodies of water. If I get back to Germany this summer, I would definitely check Hamburg out.

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      So neat. Yeah I love when you get a visual of a place you are reading about in a book. Always helpful.

  • Chiera 1 year ago

    What an amazing list Kelly! I’ll keep in mind for when I go to Hamburg! 🙂

  • Marijana Kostelac 1 year ago

    Saving this for future reference! Germany is on my mind for a while now as I only keep seeing it as a connecting airport and it’s time to fix that 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      I haven’t been to Hamburg but would love to go. I loved Berlin. Such a great fusion of east meets west.

  • Katie @ The Budget Backpack 1 year ago

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I had no Idea that Hamburg was so “coastal” (like close enough to the ocean to have a viable waterway). I looove checking out UNESCO sites – so that paired with the rivers and canals makes this somewhere I would definitely like to visit!

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      Well, if it makes you feel any better, I had no idea either. So don’t feel bad. I had no idea where in Germany Hamburg even was before this guest post. 🙂

  • dani 7 months ago

    “Wonderful work! This is the kind of information that are meant to be shared around the internet. Disgrace on Google for now not positioning this put up higher! Come on over and seek advice from my website . Thank you =)”

  • Renata Green 5 months ago

    Hi Kelly, I am based in Hamburg and like the post a lot although Nina left out one of the most interesting sights – especially for Americans – the Ballin Stadt. Albert Ballin, founder of the Hapag Lloyd, became wealthy by taking immigrants to the ‘new world’. Since hardly any of them were from Hamburg, most of them were from Southern Germany and many from the Eastern countries like Poland, Ukraine, Russia etc., they had to wait for their ship in Hamburg and caused a big (hygiene) problem since they were squatting in the streets. Hence, Albert Ballin built an entire town in the Southern outskirts including not only dorms, but e.g. also a synagogue since many of the immigrants were Jewish. This investment increased his income since more people were able to come to Hamburg and wait for their passage. Today, the Ballin Stadt is a hands on museum – finally Ellis Island’s counterpart – tracing the migration via Hamburg. There is also a databank where people can check whether their ancestors went via Hamburg to the US.

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