Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg at night

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Ships from a number of different cruise operators have been named or inaugurated in Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg. The question is, however, if any other ship has been as warmly welcomed as Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.

The fact that the QM2 was, of course, named in Britain (in 2004) seems to be irrelevant for the Hamburg residents. When the ship returns to their city – which she has done with regular intervals – they tend to flock along the shores of the Elbe estuary in order to welcome her back.

Queen Mary 2 arriving in Hamburg. Photo: Spahrbier

Still, one should perhaps not be too surprised by the fact that the world’s largest ocean liner has struck a tone with this city’s residents. There is probably a certain amount of emotion, nostalgia, even, in that tone: Hamburg was once the port of departure for some five million emigrants who set out to find a better life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The city in north Germany no doubt makes an effort in trying to convince at least some of the millions of people in the U.S. and elsewhere who have a connection its past to come visit. And why shouldn’t they? The history of the transatlantic liners in Germany’s largest seaport is but one facet of a city that offers an array of experiences: from musicals, ballet, opera, theatre, film festivals and street festivals to major sporting events and many other attractions.

Hamburg, the city of bridges

Located on the river Elbe, Hamburg is intersected by a large number of canals. It is said that there are more bridges here than in Venice and Amsterdam – combined. You could even say that the Außenalster (Outer Alster) and Binnenalster (Inner Alster) lakes, situated close to the city centre, add to the maritime flair. If you are generous enough to include rowing boats, sailing boats and some smaller steamers in your definition of the word “maritime”, that is. Hamburg also features a number of parks where the city’s 1.77 million inhabitants are able to take a break from the routine of their daily urban life.

Looking back, the Hanseatic League trading alliance meant a great deal for the growth of the city, which was founded in the 9th century. The real expansion, however, took place in the 19th century as the city was industrialised. With one of the world’s largest container ports, Hamburg is today a center of world commerce.

Hamburg For Cruise Passengers

The cruise terminal is situated close to the city center, where you can experience shopping and cultural experiences that match those of any other metropolis.

Do Not Miss

A city with close to two million inhabitants, Hamburg offers a wide array of experiences. Here are a couple of highlights:

One of the Alster lakes in central Hamburg. Photo: Spahrbier
  • A cruise with an Alster Steamer will show you some of the most interesting sides of the city as the boat criss-crosses the Alster Lakes (Außenalster and Binnenalster). One of Germany’s finest hotels, the Atlantic Kempinski, is situated close to the lakes. The Binnenalster is also where tourist boats depart on Hamburg Waterways trips, which will show you the city from the river Elbe. The Elbe is lined by old warehouses and buildings once constructed for the merchants that lived here. It is now an area where the HafenCity – Hamburg’s Docklands – is being developed.
  • The Reeperbahn could be the most well-known street in Germany – and probably one of the most infamous ones. Sex clubs and brothels, yes, but this is where you will also find the city’s most popular discos, theatres and clubs. It’s no doubt a special atmosphere here, and one that many Hamburg visitors choose to experience. Reeperbahn and the St. Pauli district is where the Beatles arrived one August morning in 1960 for an early series of concerts abroad. At Beatlemania Hamburg, you can follow in the footsteps of Paul, John, Ringo and George. Street address: Nobistor 10/Reeperbahn
  • The Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte (Museum of the history of Hamburg) has a large number of findings from the Middle Ages up to the present day on display. Different rooms put focus on the city’s port, transports and trade. The big fire in 1842 is documented, as is the post-war period in the late 1940s. Street address: Holstenwall 24
  • Visit the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum for a fascinating insight into a period of Hamburg’s history. In the years between 1850 and 1938, more than five million emigrants embarked on the journey of their life in Hamburg as they left their homes behind for a new beginning in America. Street address: Veddeler Bogen 2b
  • If you have an interest in art, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is something for you. Opened in 1869, this art museum contains works by artists such as Manet, Liebermann, Friedrich and Munch. The most famous collection is the one featuring the German artists of the early 1900s. Street address: Glockengießerwall
  • Situated in an old warehouse, the Speicherstadtmuseum puts focus on the development of trade in Hamburg over the last 100 years. Street address: St. Annenufer 2
A Hamburg landmark: the St. Michaelis Church. Photo: Spahrbier
A Hamburg landmark: the St. Michaelis Church. Photo: Spahrbier
  • St. Michaelis Church, with its 433 feet/132 metres high spire, is a landmark that offers a splendid view of the city. Street address: Englische Planke 1
  • Hamburg offers everything you could possibly wish for if you’re interested in shopping. Elegant shopping malls, department stores, or chic boutiques – you name it, this city has it.

Shore Excursions

A variety of shore excursions is available. Examples include:

  • Coach tours of Hamburg can also include towns in the surrounding area, such as the mediaeval towns of Lüneburg and Lübeck. Like Hamburg, both towns were once members of the Hanseatic League.
  • Berlin is accessible by coach. The capital of Germany, and the country’s largest city, Berlin is steeped in history. The journey time to Berlin is estimated at around 3.5-4 hours each way.

Getting Further

Berlin is some 179.6 miles/289 kilometres away. The distance to Lübeck, included on some shore excursions, is 41 miles (66.1 kilometres). Another alternative for shore excursions is Lüneburg, which is 34.8 miles/56.1 kilometres away.

Contributed by Andreas Lundgren

[googleMap name=”Hamburg” width=”520″ height=”520″ directions_to=”false”]Hamburg, Germany[/googleMap]

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