What to do in Hamburg: 10 things you have to check out

What to do in Hamburg: 10 things you have to check out

by Andrea Byaruhanga

Updated May 10, 2022

If you’re considering taking a holiday in Hamburg—or even if you’re an expat who already lives there—you might be wondering what there is to do. After all, it may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of German tourism. 

So what is there to do in Hamburg? Is it worth visiting?

We’re here to tell you that it is worth checking out! There are lots of things to see and do in Hamburg: cultural sites, breathtaking views, lively neighborhoods—and that’s just the start. 

Let’s have a look at what to do in Hamburg, including Hamburg’s must-see attractions, free activities and much more.

  1. Marvel at Miniatur Wunderland
  2. Enjoy the views at St. Michael’s church
  3. Take a tour of Rickmer Rickmers museum ship
  4. Stroll around Ohlsdorf Cemetery
  5. Check out Speicherstadt
  6. Grab a bite at the Portugiesenviertel
  7. Take a breather at Planten un Blomen and Wallringpark
  8. Take in the sights and sounds of the Fischmarkt
  9. Sip a cocktail at Le Lion
  10. Hunt for deals at Flohschanze Flea Market

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1. Marvel at Miniatur Wunderland

Miniatur Wunderland is an amazing model railway and miniature airport. With almost 16,000 meters of train tracks, this mini railway features models of several international locations, including Italy, France and parts of North America. Miniatur Wunderland runs 1,500 trains daily. 

If you want to get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the railroad go ‘round, you can book a guided tour in English for an additional fee. 

2. Enjoy the views at St. Michael’s church

If you want to know what to do in Hamburg for free, this is a great place to start.

The historic St. Michael’s church, as it currently stands, was built in 1912. It has a long history of being destroyed—by lightning and then fire, for instance—and rebuilt.

This baroque church features a copper bell tower with a 106-meter observation deck; it’s definitely worth checking out to see the beautiful city and harbor views. Step inside St. Michael’s, and you’ll find five organs and an altar that stands an impressive 20 meters high. 

3. Take a tour of Rickmer Rickmers museum ship

Rickmer Rickmers sailed international seas for almost 90 years. Today, this ship is a permanently moored museum. 

Visitors of Rickmer Rickmers can go below deck to check out the galley, engine room, cabins and crew and officer’s quarters. There are also informative displays and exhibits. More adventurous visitors can opt to climb the ship’s 35-meter masts on Saturdays and holidays. 

If you get hungry while you’re looking around, you can grab a burger or a seafood dish at the onboard restaurant. 

4. Stroll around Ohlsdorf Cemetery

At nearly 400 hectares, Hamburg’s Ohlsdorf Cemetery is the fourth largest in the world. It’s been part of the city since 1877. 

Ohlsdorf isn’t your typical cemetery. Alongside its graves, mausoleums, chapels and memorials, you’ll find canals, ponds and botanical gardens. Visitors can also enjoy the extensive walking and cycling paths, guided tours, a museum and a nature trail. This beautiful spot is a Hamburg must-see free attraction.

5. Check out Speicherstadt

Built between 1885 and 1927, Speicherstadt is the world’s largest warehouse district. Lined with red-brick buildings and a cool industrial heritage vibe, this is a great area to stroll around and take some pics for the ‘gram. And, of course, sightseeing costs nothing, so this fits well if you’re on a budget.

You’ll find cafes and restaurants around Speicherstadt, as well as a museum (Speicherstadtmuseum) displaying goods and tools from warehouse companies. This area is also home to the Miniatur Wunderland, featured at the top of our list.

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6. Grab a bite at the Portugiesenviertel

Just next to the Landungsbrücken harbor area is Portugiesenviertel, the Portuguese quarter. This area offers a mix of primarily Spanish, Portuguese and Italian restaurants, bars and bakeries. 

If you like mouthwatering tapas, fresh seafood and world-class wines, Portugiesenviertel is for you!

7. Take a breather at Planten un Blomen

This extensive park spans several Hamburg neighborhoods and is easy to access through several different entrances. 

Planten un Blomen features sprawling lawns, water features, fountains, ample seating to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. Botanical gardens, such as the rose and Japanese gardens, are popular attractions. This park also has an ice rink and a water show.

To fully enjoy this expansive oasis, you should budget two to four hours. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

8. Take in the sights and sounds of the Fischmarkt

Open since 1703, Hamburg’s Fischmarkt is not to be missed. Open every Sunday (from 5 a.m. in summer and 7 a.m. in winter, and closing at 9:30 a.m.), the Fischmarkt is full of fresh fruit, produce and, of course, seafood. This market has a lively atmosphere, with lots of shouting coming from the market stalls. 

The main attraction of the Fischmarkt is the Fischauktionshalle (the old fish auction hall) where live bands keep the party going as patrons drink beer and dance. To many, this is one of the best places in Hamburg!

9. Sip a cocktail at Le Lion

Known by many as one of the best bars in Hamburg, Le Lion features tasty cocktails made by expert bartenders. It also has the distinction of being the birthplace of the popular basil smash cocktail. 

Guests of Le Lion need to knock to be let in and are treated to champagne as they wait to relax in a comfy armchair with a signature cocktail.

10. Hunt for deals at Flohschanze Flea Market

Hamburg’s Flohschanze Flea Market is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located in the Schanzen District at the Feldstraße subway station, this is one of the best flea markets in the city—a trip here is one of the most popular activities to do in Hamburg. Whether you’re looking for clothes, antiques, gifts, jewelry, handmade items or books, you’ll find it at Flohschanze.


Explore Hamburg’s coolest attractions

Hopefully, you’re not still wondering what to do in Hamburg! Boasting natural beauty, a rich history, fascinating cultural heritage sites and fun, lively attractions, there are tons of things to do in Hamburg. 


In past articles, we covered how to have fun in other cities like Leipzig and Frankfurt—now, be sure to add this unique German city to your list of must-see places. 

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Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and son, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.