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Hamburg city trip in 1 day

Hamburg really surprised me as one of the nicest cities in Europe to visit for a city trip for a day. A lot of sights can be easily reached on foot and are located near each other. The city is very charming, full of contrasts and as it is surrounded by rivers and lakes it has many nice viewpoints and tourist facilities, such as a big variation of river cruises.

As you could have read in my previous bog I visited Hamburg for work and added an extra day to explore this German city. Because of that unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time to tour around the city, but it was still worth it and can easily be done!

In this blog post I will share some of the highlights of my city day trip from my opinion and all my favourite personal pictures I took during this day. But first I want to share with you an opportunity to experience all this and visit Hamburg yourself!

Hamburg city is a blend of rugged industrial and classic architecture, as well as modern design, which is also reflected in its unique hotel offering.

In my last blog I already shared 3 of my favourite design hotels in Hamburg, which are perfect for an overnight stay. You can read all about these in this top 3 design hotel blog.

For more hotels in this lovely city check this Hamburg hotels page.

And for extra Germany trip inspiration go to this page of my website.

But on this city trip, due to work, I only had one day to really explore the city and was staying in the beautiful east part of the city called Altona, where the Gastwerk Hotel is located.

This is a quiet but vibrant area of the city which should be lovely as well, but I didn’t see much of it as I chose to focus on the main sites around the Elbe and Alster lakes.

I have this thing with water and love cities situated around water! So naturally the first thing I did was go from my hotel to the Elbe river, which is nearby, to look for the best views around the river!

Hamburg is a real industrial city with a lot of transportation routes to and from the harbor, which is one of the biggest in the world. I loved the contrasts of old historic buildings, classy architecture, combined with views of the harbor, historic boats and industrial activity.

The city is a popular destination for both tourists from overseas countries, as well as Germans natives, and among the top 20 of the most livable cities in the world.

The architecture is very diverse and the skyline is dominated by the spires of a few significant buildings, mostly churches, and of course the radio and television tower, which is unfortunately no longer accessible to the public.

A few of my favourite Hamburg sites which I recommend are:


To get here head over to the Grosse Elbstrasse to walk past the river southwards and you will see an impressive building in the middle of the river. This dynamic shiplike building is a beautiful piece of architecture with its 47 meters long glass and steel construction.

You can even go to the rooftop terrace of this office building for the best views over the river and have lunch or dinner in the restaurant.


Walk on further south to pass by the Fischereihafen for the best restaurants, with of course lots of fresh fish! After that you will see a very special 120 year old building the Fischauktionshalle,with beautiful architectural features, where they used to auction the fresh caught fish!


Across from the Auktionshalle there is a square with unique architecture and old cobbled streets all around. I was told next time to come back on Sunday morning early from 5! to 9.30 am for the market.

Of course THE best place to buy fresh fish or anything else, as it has been a traditional market since 1703. But the after party with music and mainly locals should be great fun as well!


A bit further south you will find one of my favourites of the day, a floating dock promenade where you can connect to a lot of tourist facilities.

Landungsbrucken houses some restaurants and souvenir shops, but this is also the starting point for many sightseeing buses and THE place to get aboard one of the harbor and/or canal boat tours. Unfortunately not in January when I was there, but I will surely come back for that as I love boat tours!

The Altes Elbtunnel

Next to the Landungsbrucken there is a domed building which is almost 110 years old. It doesn’t look that special from the outside, but go in and you will definitely amazed.

Inside you will see 4 large elevators which bring people, bicycles and even cars down to the tunnel 24 meters under the ground. The tunnel goes on 426 meters under the Elbe to the south side of the river.

Haupt Kirche St.Michaelis

Hamburg has many large churches, but ‘’the Saint Michael’’ is the most famous of all. The 355 year old colorful building alone is already impressive inside and out, but the panoramic views from its 106 meters high platform should be amazing both at day as night!

The Alster

What I really enjoyed was just to walk along the Alster lake with its nice lanes and parks. Here you have many benches which offer tranquil and direct lake views embraced by the sights of the city. When I was there the weather was a bit gloomy but imagine how beautiful these views must be in spring or summer?

The Hauptbahnhof

(‘’Central Train Station’’) has impressive architecture and a rugged outlook which I really appreciated.


At the end of the smaller Alster lake you will find this stunning city promenade which is considered the centre of the city by locals, as well as tourists. Directly facing the water of the Inner Alster, with beautiful views, many famous shops, department stores, attractions and classy architecture all around, this is a real must visit.


After this make sure to cross the street to the impressive Rathaus building. This beautifully decorated city hall is so big that it didn’t even fit 1 picture:) The 120 year old sandstone building dominates the city centre and houses the city’s senate and parliament.

I had to choose my sites well, with only one day to spend. But when you will be in Hamburg for 2 or more days, make sure to go to Speicherstadt, the world’s largest complex of warehouses, built in 1883, and recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A canal tour through this historic area should be a unique experience.

Right next to it is Europe’s largest inner-city development, the HafenCity, which is worth a visit as well for its modern architecture and boulevards with many cafés and restaurants.

Hamburg also has many parks throughout the city, which are worth a visit, and the neighborhoods Altona and Schanzenviertel should be brilliant and very trendy as well. So many reasons to come back to Hamburg soon!

But Germany is so diverse and still has so much to discover. Looking for more inspiration? Do check my Germany page.

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