Calling itself Germany’s Gateway to the World, Hamburg is the country's biggest port and the second largest in Europe. It is proud of its status as an independent city-state and of its mercantile background, which created much of the city's wealth. Today Hamburg is known for being one of the richest metropolitan areas in Europe, along with Brussels and London.
Located on the River Elbe, Hamburg’s busy port is 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the North Sea. Hamburg Harbor today is home to the International Maritime Museum Hamburg and the museum ship Cap San Diego, which jointly tell the story of Hamburg’s maritime history.
Although the port may be the heart of Hamburg, the city offers many additional features, particularly in the areas of culture and the arts. Visit the vast Hamburger Kunsthalle art gallery and the Deichtorhallen center for contemporary art, which hosts world-renowned international exhibitions. Use Hamburg’s extensive subway system to navigate between museums and galleries, which you’ll find throughout the city. Don’t miss the Miniatur Wunderland (Miniature Wonderland), one of the most visited tourist attractions in Germany.
Hamburg’s city center now contains mostly modern office buildings, as many of its medieval buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1842 or reduced to rubble during World War II. Seek out the Hamburg Rathaus, or Town Hall, which was painstakingly rebuilt and restored to its original 19th-century condition.
Walk around the Speicherstadt and New Docklands areas, where you’ll find renovated former port warehouses and ambitious modern glass-and-steel structures. Admire the architecture, dine at upscale restaurants and shop for one-of-a-kind and luxury items at boutiques. These areas of urban redevelopment, currently the largest such project in Europe, show modern Hamburg at its best, embracing change and moving confidently into the future.
A short distance from the center you can find several large parks and lakes. Visit the Planten un Blomen (Plants and Flowers) park to spend time in the tranquil Japanese Garden. Rent a car or catch Germany’s fast and reliable national train network to explore nearby historic towns.