Looking for a fascinating, stimulating vacation destination on your upcoming trip to Germany? Well, look to the north – the city-state of Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest metropolis – for a journey you’ll never forget. Packed to the brim with culture and entertainment, Hamburg encompasses a state’s worth of tourist gold into the borders of a single city.
Hamburg’s full name is the ‘Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.’ Founded in the ninth century, its very name indicates its vibrant history and its membership in the Hanseatic League of medieval years. The city, located at a strategic port at the intersection of the Elbe, Alster and Bille rivers, has a history of invasion – it was subject to years of Viking siege, was invaded by France during Napoleon I’s last German campaign and was nearly destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II.
Though very few pre-war buildings exist (still more were destroyed by a massive fire in 1842, making pre-1840s structures even more scarce), Hamburg is still host to a rich historical tradition. As a trade city in the Hanseatic league, it quickly became the most important port in Northern Europe, and its heritage can still be detected in historic structures such as the Speicherstadt, an authentic brick warehouse complex that reflects Hamburg’s proud trade history. Other notable buildings include the city’s Rathaus, or city hall, and its five Hauptkirche, or main churches, which stand out on the landscape because of their spired green copper tops.
On The Waterfront
As one of Europe’s major ports, Hamburg is a haven for anyone who loves water. Check out the city’s two artificial lakes, the Aussenalster and Binnenalster, or its many historic bridges and canals. You can get a great view of the city at the LandungsbrÃ?Â¼cken, or harbor promenade. Better yet, go out on the water yourself. Take advantage of a Hafenrundfahrt, a boat ride circling Hamburg’s historic harbor – you can catch most of these rides at the LandungsbrÃ?Â¼cken.
Hamburg is known for spawning important musical acts – The Beatles played at the Star Club during their early career and popular German acts such as Fettes Brot and Kraftwerk also got their start in the city. But Hamburg is known for much more than its musical chops – the Reeperbahn red light district is world-renowned. If exotic – and erotic – nightlife isn’t your speed, you can still try the Reeperbahn’s many restaurants and night clubs for an up-all-night experience you’re not likely to forget.
Though Hamburg is a lesser known tourist destination, it hosts many festivals, such as the Fireworks Festival and Alster Fair, the Hamburg Film Festival and International Short Film Festival. You’ll come for the leisurely pace and stay for the world-class shopping, dining, and sightseeing of Germany’s second largest city. So give harbor life a try – you’ll find it’s a welcome addition to your itinerary.