Hamburg Harbor lies at the heart of the city and encompasses many of its most interesting districts and sights. No visit to Hamburg is complete without a visit to the harbor, where you can learn about its shipping industry and how it made the city an important trade center. This was central Europe’s main port for several centuries. When you’ve learned enough maritime history, relax and enjoy the lively surroundings with a cold beer and a snack on the riverfront, or get an overview of the area’s sights with a guided boat tour.
Arrive at Landungsbrücken (the landing stages) in the quarter of St. Pauli to get your first glimpse of the harbor. Enjoy the view over coffee or a snack at one of the many cafés, bars and restaurants in the area. There are several museum ships to see nearby, including the Cap San Diego, a former cargo ship.
A guided boat tour of the harbor is a must, and almost all of them depart from Landungsbrücken. Guides give an account of the port’s history, point out the major sights along the way and will help you to find your bearings if you’re a first-time visitor to the city.
Take the commuter ferries operated by the public transportation company for a cheaper alternative to the guided boat tours. While there are no guides, the trips are included in the metro day pass. Take the number 62 to Finkenwerder. This ferry is the most frequented by tourists thanks to its impressive views.
Visit in early May, when the harbor celebrates its birthday for one weekend. Visitors from all over Germany and Europe are treated to live music, fireworks and “ballets” performed by tugboats.
Reach the Landungsbrücken by U-bahn or S-bahn. There’s limited parking in the area. Hamburg Harbor is open every day and can be visited for free. Pay for tours. Check the weather before a visit because the harbor is sometimes covered by a heavy fog that can last for days.