Occupying a massive area of 755 square kilometres, Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and the eighth largest in the European Union. Boasting with a metropolitan population of over 5 million, it is crossed by the historically-significant river Elbe. What’s interesting about it is that its name directly reflects its past grandeur: its city-state incarnation, its membership of the Hanseatic League, and its free city of the Holy Roman Empire status.
Hamburg has had a rich history of destruction and reincarnation: floods, fires, military bombardment and other calamities have repeatedly devastated the city but it has never stopped growing. Today it is one of the most highly-esteemed tourist destinations in the world with a scintillating UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus (something worth taking a thorough glance at). Oh, and let us not forget that Hamburg houses the world’s second-oldest bank, the Berenberg Bank (beaten only by the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena of Italy).
Hamburg can be found within the bounds of the oceanic climate zone, under the significant influence of the Atlantic Ocean. This, however, does not reflect its temperature fluctuation entirely for Hamburg reaches into the highs and the lows just as well. Winters are cold to freezing whilst summers are hot. The lowest temperature ever recorded there was an astounding -29.1 degrees Celsius whilst the highest was 37.3. Temperature-wise, Hamburg is very close to a continental climate but its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean cannot be overlooked. In spite of all the aforementioned details, it is important to know that the city is much warmer now than it used to be in the 1970s and the 1980s. One way to demonstrate this is pointing out that it does not receive as much snowfall as it used to back in those days. Keep an eye on the forecast, though, and make sure you acquaint yourself with the seasons of the Northern Hemisphere if you happen to be living ‘below’ the Equator (wink).
Hamburg is served primarily by the eponymous Hamburg Airport, located 8.5 kilometres from the city centre (within the bounds of the Fuhlsbüttel quarter). Funnelling more than 16 million passengers annually, it is the fifth busiest airport in Germany (beaten by the juggernauts of Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich and Frankfurt). What’s important to know for all tourists is that it should not be confused with the other airport of the city: the Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport. This latter one is a private airport that you are unlikely to land at if you are a backpacker. The former one, consequently, is more heavily-used and it is a focus city for the Air Berlin, Condor, EasyJet, and Germania Airlines and a hub for the following: Eurowings, Germanwings, and Ryanair. Like most European flights, you can find tickets at much cheaper prices if you pre-purchase them. Oh, and cab rides from the airport cost around 25 Euros – keep that in mind if you are on a budget-savvy trip.
We are happy to tell you that Hamburg has one of the most well-developed urban transport systems in the world with numerous options around the clock. If you are on the lookout for cheap rides, you should look for the Rathausmarkt, for it is the central hub of all buses in the city. From there, rides fan out in all directions including the suburbs. If you are a night owl (which many tourists tend to be), you might want to keep an extra eye out for the special Nachtbus-es (night buses). Other options include taxis, S-Bahn or U-Bahn subway trains, and biking (Hamburg is extremely bike-friendly – if you are an eco-friendly traveller, you might want to rent a bike at the local StadtRad).
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
Hamburg is famous for quite a few things but one of its most prominent landmarks is indubitably the Planten un Blomen urban park located within the inner city (more specifically at St. Petersburger Straße 28). Besides its exquisite water shows and excellent picnic areas, it offers clear vision of the sky-piercing Heinrich-Hertz-Turm (a telecommunications tower soaring at a height of 279.2 metres). If you happen to be travelling with your kids, make sure you pay a visit to the playground area of the park in the south. Stretching upon an area of 47 hectares, it was created in 1930 and it is open all year long. Oh, and do not forget to visit the Old Botanical Garden of Hamburg (Alter Botanischer Garten Hamburg), which is located in the park.
Let us take a peek at the artistic side of the city and visit the Kunsthalle Hamburg, a fine establishment dedicated to European arts and covering more than seven centuries. Established in 1869, it is located in the Altstadt district. From medieval art to contemporary, you can find anything there. Famous artists represented include: Bartel Beham, Bernardo Bellotto, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Carl Blechen, Arnold Böcklin, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Caspar David Friedrich, Max Liebermann, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Johann Georg Hinz, Jan Massys, Giambattista Pittoni, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens and many others.
If you are up for the Golden Mile of Hamburg, make sure you explore the world-famous Reeperbahn. Considered an entertainment centre, it is essentially a street within the bounds of the St. Pauli district of the city. This is one of the most prominent nightlife-attractions of the city. Also, the Beatles made the place famous with John Lennon’s famous quote: “I might have been born in Liverpool – but I grew up in Hamburg.” What’s also interesting here is that prostitution is legal – note the abundance of brothels and sex shops.
Hamburg is a welcoming city with numerous landmarks to check out even beyond what we have recommended. Do not forget to have a sip at those world-famous German pubs for their beer is simply astounding. Oh, and do try to speak German if you dabble in it because the locals greatly appreciate it. Safe travels!