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Hamburg is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
The city of Hamburg has a well-deserved reputation as Germany's Gateway to the World. It is the country's biggest port and the second-busiest in Europe, despite being located astride the River Elbe, some 100 kilometres from the North Sea.
Airport Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel (HAM)
Hamburg has the fifth-largest international airport in Germany, so arrival by plane is an obvious choice for those visiting from far away. There are plenty of connections within Europe, although only a few intercontinental direct services are offered.
Hamburg Airport is connected to the city by the S-Bahn S1 commuter train line, which connects to the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and the city centre in about 30 minutes. There are trains every 10-20 minutes. Beware on the way back from the city centre to the airport: All trains are divided at Ohlsdorf, with only the first three cars going to the airport, and the rest going to the suburb of Poppenbüttel.
The airport, which is hugely popular with plane-spotters, is surrounded by Schrebergärten (meticulously maintained allotments), park lands, and open green spaces, crisscrossed by bicycle and walking trails. The popularity of this area is not only due to the many viewpoints, but also because Lufthansa Technik (Lufthansa's maintenance service) operates some large hangars on the airport, which means that the site is visited by a variety of rare and interesting aircraft (including VVIP).
Hamburg has five major stations: Hauptbahnhof (central station), Altona, Dammtor, Harburg, Bergedorf. Various types of train service are available.
ICE (Inter City Express) high speed train service to or from most major German cities, including Berlin, Cologne (Köln), Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich also to Basel and Zurich (Zürich) Switzerland. There are usually hourly service to most destinations during the daytime.
Hamburg has a well-developed public transport system. Buses go around the clock. At night, a special night bus service connects the outlying districts and the city center. The buses depart and arrive at "Rathausmarkt", near the town hall and operate all through the night.
The S-Bahn and U-Bahn (metro) train services (underground and overground) run from approximately 5AM until 1AM in the central city, but there is often no service past 11PM in outlying districts. On weekends, it runs all night.
What to see
The area west of Hamburg's central railway station is mainly a shopping area with the streets Spitaler Straße and Mönckebergstraße, leading to Hamburg's town hall. Close to the Mönckebergstraße you find the churches St. Jacobi and St. Petri, two of Hamburg's five main churches.
Behind the Hulbe-Haus, under the building of "Radio Hamburg", you can visit the remains of the bishops tower, from the 11th century. On the other side of the road, you can currently see excavations in progress, seeking the remains of the small fortress Hammaburg, which was erected in the 9th century giving Hamburg its name.
Around city hall
The Mönckebergstraße ends at Hamburg's impressive city hall. It was built in 1897 out of sandstone in Neo-Renaissance style, including a 112 m tower. Inside there are several magnificent halls used for representative purposes and sittings of government and parliament.
The building behind the city hall is Hamburg's House of Commerce. Between the buildings, there is a little place called Rathaushof with its fountain Hygieia-Brunnen. The place in front of the city hall is the Rathausmarkt, hosting many events especially in summer.
North of the Rathausmarkt, you find white arches at a canal called Alsterarkaden. The whole area behind is full of indoor shopping arcades. The most well-known one is the Hanse Viertel.
Following the canal to the right and crossing the traditional shopping road, Jungfernstieg, you quickly get to the artificial lake Binnenalster. Boat tours take you to the even bigger artificial lake, Außenalster, directly behind the Binnenalster with lots of sailing boats in summer.
At the southern end of the Alte Deichstraße, you see where the harbour moved afterwards. There is a canal called Zollkanal.
The Hamburg Dungeon is a live-action presentation of the "darker times" of Hamburg.
The Miniatur Wunderland is the world's largest model railway layout. The panoramas include parts of Hamburg, the Alps, the American west, and a Scandinavian exhibit which features automated ships on a body of water. It also has an airport exhibit with automated planes which taxi and fly.
Another Hamburg landmark is the Reeperbahn in Sankt Pauli. It's probably one of the most famous red-light districts in the world. From vaudeville to prostitutes, from bars to sex-shops, you can find an assortment of attractions. This is probably one of very few places worldwide where all shopkeepers give you serious and open advice on all kinds of sex-related articles.
Three times a year there is an enormous fair in this part of town called Dom. It features rides, enormous numbers of food vendors, and a broad range of tacky animatronics. Take the U-Bahn to Feldstraße or Sankt Pauli. In a park across the street is an enormous statue of Bismarck.
The Harbour street is between Landungsbrücken, the most tourist crowded place in the city, and the fish market.
Also in the Reeperbahn area are clubs where the Beatles played at various times from 1960-1962, including the Indra club and Star Club. At the corner of Reeperbahn and Grosse Freiheit, also called Beatles-platz, there is a sculpture honoring the Beatles.
Situated northeast of Central Station and city centre, Sankt Georg is the lively, trendy centre of Hamburg's gay scene. Rainbow flags flutter from the balconies in summer. The streets are crowded with people shopping, having a chat, drinking coffee, or going to one of the many art exhibitions around the Lange Reihe street.