City of Hamburg

A cruise to Hamburg

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.

City of Hamburg

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)?

4711 Eau de Cologne perfume shop

Time to visit Cologne in Germany

If you are looking for an excuse to make a trip to Germany, here are 5 things to do in the city of Cologne. Before we get started, Cologne is Germany’s 4th biggest city and home to the University of Cologne, one of Europe’s oldest universities.

Visit the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

Kolner Dom

The Dom, or Cathedral in English is Cologne’s biggest landmark. 1,000s of tourists visiting the 140+ metre Roman Catholic church each day. The Dom is located outside of Cologne’s central train station (Köln Hauptbahnhof/ Köln Hbf), making it accessible for tourists visiting from both abroad and other German cities. Our train ticket was €11.10 for a group of five which seemed like a bargain compared to back home.

For a €3 fee, you can climb the 533 steps up a narrow, winding staircase of the Dom with no lifts for the way back down. There’s a view from the top if you have the energy and fitness to make it up there. Otherwise, the Dom is an impressive site itself viewing from the bottom.

Visit Cologne Zoo (Kölner Zoo)

The zoo in Cologne is accessible for €15 for a day pass (cheaper for students and children). There are thousands of animals living within the grounds which includes an aquarium. More animals inhabit in Cologne Zoo than any other zoo in Germany, and the world’s largest elephant park in Northern Europe.

Cologne Zoo is a great day out for the family, especially on a nice summer’s day.

Smell the No. 4711 Shop

4711 Eau de Cologne perfume shop

The forty-seven eleven shop is home to the famous Eau de Cologne perfume. These shops are simply full of bottles of all sizes of the perfume. A girl’s dream. The particular shop we visited had a tap running of the perfume pouring out. Try before you buy. Or in our case, try and walk out of the shop. Eau de Cologne has a very strong, distinctive scent.

Padlocks on the Hohenzollern BridgeCross the Hohenzollern Bridge


The Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke) crosses the river Rhine. A bridge that survived World War II (whereas the Cathedral was badly damaged) has been full of love padlocks between the sidewalk and tracks.

If you visit Cologne with your partner, a romantic walk across the Hohenzollern Bridge is a must. Make sure you come prepared with a padlock and prepared to throw the key in the Rhine.

Taste the Local Beer!

Kölsch is the local beer in Cologne, with thirteen breweries producing their versions. During our short stay in Germany, we tasted Gaffel, Früh and Dom. Most bars serve your beer in 0.2L glasses for around €1, which for an Englishman like me was just a sip. I cannot deny each drink was fresh though.

One thing we did do in one bar we visited in Cologne was drink from a €34 barrel. That lasted the small group of us the evening!

Barrie Smith pouring Gaffel Kölsch from his barrel
Barrie Smith pouring Gaffel Kölsch from his barrel