Hamburg is perhaps the most under-rated European travel destination. It is a charming, historic city with lots of traditional architecture and interesting museums as well as beautiful scenery and great shopping opportunities.
Taking a cruise to Hamburg is a great way to see a different side of Germany. Hamburg has a long history as a shipping town and this is reflected in almost every aspect of the city, from the canal-like waterways surrounded by former warehouses which have been converted into offices and maritime museums, to the historic ships, bustling canals and abundance of riverboat tour operators.
Many European cruise operators offer trips to Hamburg and the city is starting to become popular with North American cruise lines too. You can visit the city via Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, Ponant, Cunard and several other major operators.
If you want to see as much of the city as possible and learn the stories behind the city’s many historic buildings, then you may want to consider taking one of the guided tours on offer. The Snapshot of Hamburg tour takes around three and a half hours and covers the main sights, while there is a 90 minute Harbour Tour that covers the sites around the canals, the old port and the river.
Getting Around Hamburg
Unlike many other German cities, it is quite easy (and pleasant) to get around Hamburg on foot. If you are only visiting for one day and would like to see as much of the city as possible, then you should pick up a Hamburg Card from one of the HVV travel offices. This card will allow you to use the city’s subway, train lines, buses and ferries. Many of the city’s main attractions offer discounts for Hamburg Card holders. Hamburg is cyclist friendly and bike hire is quite affordable.
Germany is part of the European Union and uses the Euro as its currency. There are lots of ATMs in the main shopping areas and train stations. While most major stores do accept credit and debit cards, it is a good idea to carry some notes and coins with you for use in vending machines, at smaller stores and to pay for public bathroom visits.
Souvenirs and Shopping
Hamburg is a great place to go shopping. The Monckebergstrasse, near the railway station, is the main shopping street. There is also a good selection of shops near the Gansemarkt, which can be reached via the U-Bahn.
Popular souvenirs include sets of model trains made by Marklin, as well as speciality handbags from Nadelheim. Depending on the exchange rate, you may find that you can pick up other items, including brand-name clothing and electronics, for a competitive price.
You do not need to be fluent in German to enjoy a visit to Hamburg, but knowing a few words will help. Most people in the city speak English well enough to answer simple questions and you should have no trouble buying food and drink, or asking for directions.
Useful phrases include “danke” (thank you), “guten morgan” (good morning), “auf Wiedersehen” (goodbye), “bitte” (please) and “Sprechen Sie English” (Do you speak English)?