The Ultimate Guide to Sightseeing in Hamburg on a Budget

Moin Liebe Freunde!

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Hamburg Rathaus/Townhall

Hamburg is Germany’s biggest port city, whose famous ports are largely responsible for the accumulation of Hamburg’s immense wealth and as a result, it is a beautifully designed city. The city has more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined – the most that any city has in the world. Hamburg is the 2nd most expensive city to live in Germany and as a tourist, I felt the pain. So, if you are on a budget I would recommend only staying for a short amount of time unless you score cheap accommodation.

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St. Nicholas’ Church, Hamburg

So you might not know but I have actually lived in Germany before, for a number of months, in Hamburg to be specific. To cut a very long story short, while living there I had a really bad relationship which dragged on for a lot longer than it should’ve. By the time I went back home to visit I was totally drained and shortly after ended that relationship. This all ended with my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend selling my possessions online (which I paid him to send home to me), so it is fair to say that this wasn’t one of the most amazing times of my life. In all honesty, while living in Hamburg I never really got to know Hamburg and hardly had any quality time in the city as most of my time in the city was spent in the foreigner’s office working out visa stuff. So, I decided that while I was in the vicinity, it was time to make some new, fonder memories in Hamburg.

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Symbol of Hamburg
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Amsterdam-esque buildings in Hamburg

Shopping & Food Recommendation for Chocolate Lovers for Hamburg: 

On my first day in Hamburg, I took a 45-minute walk to the city from my Airbnb to Mönckebergstrasse, which is one of the main shopping streets in Hamburg. I went to Flané, a Chocolaterie/Patisserie to pick up some sweet gifts for my family, my next host and myself (hehe). Flane stocks one of my all-time favourite sweets ‘Kakaokonfect’ from a brand called ‘Goufrais which can be quite hard to find (trust me I’ve searched around Germany for it lol). Now, what makes this treat special is that it melts in your mouth and the flavours are wonderfully complex, somewhat layered like a fine perfume. It is the ultimate chocolate lovers treat and it is pricey but if you in Hamburg and a chocolate lover, I implore you to try it! You will love and hate me for it (cya money!).

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Speicherstadt

Free or Cheap Sightseeing Recommendations for Hamburg: 

  1. Do a Free’ walking tour of Hamburg with Sandeman’s (Price: Tip): Firstly if you are new to the rodeo, none of these ‘free walking tours’ are actually free. They are more so ‘pay as you feel’ tours, so you are expected to tip at the end of the tour. You can find more information about the tour and book online using this link. My guide Evan provided us with fascinating information about Hamburg in a very entertaining way and shared loads of useful advice. I highly recommend doing this tour and doing these kinds of tours in general as they are a great way to get introduced to a city. During the tour, you can get more ideas of where else you would like to visit in the city and you can also get specific sightseeing advice from tour guides relating to your individual interests. Sandeman’s also offers night tours including a Harbour Tour and St. Pauli Pub crawl which I have read rave reviews about.
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Elbphilharmonie building, Hamburg.

2. Visit Elbphilharmonie (Price: Free): Elphilmarmonie is rated as the worlds 8th best orchestral hall and is a great place to get a 360-degree view of Hamburg. I am typically not a fan of modern architecture but I liked this buildings aesthetics. To me, it kind of looks like a flute and I like how it shimmers in the sunlight. To enter you must line up and get a ticket, entry is, however, free so you don’t pay for a ticket.

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One of the views from the Elbphilharmonie lookout – Hamburg Hafen/Harbour
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One of the views from the Elbphilharmonie lookout – Speicherstadt 

3. Wander around St. Pauli Piers and take the ferry if the weather is nice (Price: Free & if you take the ferry = free with your train ticket or 2.40 EU/$3.80AUD): Take the train to Landungsbrücken Station, from here you can walk for a few minutes to reach the St. Pauli Piers. There is a range of food shops along the p where you get a snack, a meal or a coffee. I got some pommes (hot chips/fries) and sat in the sun and ate them with a harbour view. If you have a regular day-ticket for public transport you can board a ferry for free at Pier 3 (boat 62) otherwise you can pay 2.40EU/$3.80AUD for a one time journey, you can buy this ticket at Landungsbrücken Station. Some of the boat rides around Hamburg can be pricey, so this is a great option if you are on a budget.

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Nothing like fries with a view :)!
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Birb that wanted my fries :’)

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A view of the St. Pauli Piers
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People strolling along the St. Pauli Piers

4. Walk underwater through the Elbtunnel (Price: Free): The Elbtunnel was constructed in 1911 and is a very unique and picturesque tunnel with glimmering tiles which goes under the River Elbe. When you come to the end of the tunnel and take an elevator going up, you get a view of Hamburg harbour from the other side.

Other free places that were recommended to me by my Hamburger friend, Mascha (I didn’t manage to visit these places):

5. Elbestrand and 6. Treppenviertal in Blankesee for walking, you can reach Blankensee by S-Bahn.

7. Binnenalster and  8. Außenalster are both picturesque lakes in Hamburg also perfect for leisurely strolls.

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The Elbtunnel

Accommodation Recommendations:

As aforementioned, Hamburg isn’t a cheap place to stay at all. I would recommend booking as early as possible to avoid being stuck with the most expensive places for options like I was. A hostel can cost anywhere between 12.50EU/$20AUD (it is rare to find a bed for this price) and go up to 25.70EU/$41AUD on a weeknight for a bed in a dorm room (!!!!!). I chose to stay in an Airbnb in a shared apartment, sharing with a guy and his adorable dog for around 37.52EU/$60AUD per night. I figured if I was going to pay so much money for accommodation anyway that it might as well be somewhere nice. I instantly blew my daily budget just on accommodation hence why I only decided to stay for a short time (oops).

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The view from the side of the harbour after walking through the Elbtunnel

Hamburg Culture and Safety 

-Hamburgers have a reputation for being serious people and they sometimes can be, so be prepared for that. I personally found it a bit jarring going from a friendly, small town to a cold, big city where smiles are rare to see. Don’t take it personally.

-The word ‘Moin’ replaces all the greetings in Hamburg and when you go shopping, for example, store clerks are likely to say that to you.

In the central areas of the city, beggars can be quite aggressive and they try to get in your personal space, I was followed to an ATM, approached while buying a train ticket – constantly bombarded. I experienced this mainly around the Hauptbahnhof, so if you don’t like this kind of behaviour avoid this area. I never felt particularly unsafe but I don’t appreciate unsavoury strangers violating my personal space.

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St. Michaelis Church, Hamburg

Public Transport

Hamburg is a fairly large city and not by any means walkable (sights are quite far apart from each other) but fortunately, the train network is well connected, decently priced and fairly easy to navigate. If you ever get confused just use Google Maps to work out your route to your destination, it will advise you which station to go to and how to get there, which train you can take and which station to get off at. Taxis are super expensive in Hamburg, only take them if it is an absolute last resort.

There is so much to see in Hamburg – so covering it all in a concise post was tricky but I tried my best. Hamburg is a city which caters to all different types of people, those who are keen to spend their time mostly sightseeing or partying (or both) will be the happiest in this city. I hope you found this blog post interesting and helpful. Have you visited Hamburg before? Do you have any tips, recommendations or stories you would like to share? I would love to hear them :).

Mikki 🙂

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