10 Best Things to Do in Hamburg


Young smiling people at beach in front of container port

Applications, visas, bureaucracy, packing, farewells, tears, smiles, airports, planes… It took so many steps, but you are finally here! Welcome to Hamburg! This is where the fun starts. You didn’t travel hundreds, maybe thousands of kilometers just to study. You have an adventurous spirit and so do people from Hamburg. You went through a lot of challenges to end up here and we can promise you that Hamburg will reward your efforts. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience and KLU offers you the chance to live it in one of the most thrilling and beautiful cities in Germany. And even if you’re a local instead of an international one, well, then you know what we mean.

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A quick look at travel apps or Google will provide you with the list of all the musts to visit in the city like the Rathaus, the Alster, the Elbe, etc. However, we’ll add to that list with some of the coolest things this city offers, approved by real Hamburgers. This way, you can get the most out of your student experience and also impress your family and friends by knowing the oddest corners in town and making the best plans ever!

  1. “Free” walking tour of Hamburg. This is perhaps the most touristy of our tips, but an absolute “to-do” even if you have lived in Hamburg for a while. Several companies offer these “free” tours (you only pay after the tour as much as you think it’s worth), and they are available in several languages (German, English, Spanish). You will learn a lot about the history of the city, beyond the “I was there” Instagram picture. And if you like traveling, some companies like New Europe are also available in several European cities, so you can collect the tours (and get discounts for other paid tours) and a good amount of bragging rights.
  2. A city on the water. You cannot say you have experienced Hamburg until you have conquered its waters. Whether kayaking, standup paddle boarding, or sailing, this city is to be explored from its canals and lakes. The most affordable is to rent a kayak, rowboat, or standup paddle board and row down the Alster and the canals. It’s not only fun, but you also get to see stunning views of Hamburg from the water, discovering some very picturesque old houses along the waterfront, otherwise impossible to see on foot. It takes two to three hours to really glide through the little canals, and the vibe is calm and secluded, even romantic, so it makes for a great date plan, too ;) You can also buy your own inflatable boat without breaking the bank on  Amazon or at Decathlon, and if your budget is really tight, you can even use a kayak for free if you pick up garbage along the way, contributing to a sustainable and clean city.
    For water sports lovers who are a little more daring, the Elbe has everything you need: untamed nature, waves, tides… and many other water sports enthusiasts like yourself! And lastly, with a bit more time and budget you can also venture into sailing. Start simple by doing a Schnuppersegeln, a trial sail, and if you like it, go join a sailing club!
  3. Take me down the river. Since we are talking about water, did you know that the HADAG harbor ferries belong to the public transport system in Hamburg? Yep! That means that with your student semester ticket (or any valid transportation ticket) you can jump on some of the ferries that sail along the Elbe. We suggest the Ferry 62, direction Finkenwerder, that you can take from the piers at Landungsbrücken. It will make stops at the famous Fischmarkt (fish market), the Cruise Center Altona, and the Dockland where you’ll find amazing architecture. Jump off at the next stop, the museum harbor Övelgönne, from where you can access the Elbe beach to sunbathe, walk, and watch the ships. Take your bike along and you can ride back to Hamburg through beautiful nature and residential areas. See if you ride faster than the container ships!
  4. Next level picnic. We are not reinventing the wheel here if we tell you that on a sunny summer day one of the best plans is to grab some food and go have a picnic with your friends in a park. But Germans take picnicking to the next level: grill in the park! We are aware that in many countries starting a fire in a park to grill your steak or vegan burger is absolutely forbidden. In Hamburg, though, it is rather easy to find a “grill zone” in the park where you can cook, and supermarkets even sell disposable (and recyclable!) one-time grill grates that are very convenient if you don’t have your own mini grill. Throw in some drinks and other snacks, and there you go! A perfect plan! If you want to round it off, check out the Wasserspiele in Planten un Blomen. The water of the fountain lights and “dances” to music every summer evening.
  5. Walking underwater. Another favorite place to bring your snacks is on the other side of the river Elbe. You can do it at any time, literally day or night. At the south end of the St. Pauli area you can find the entrance of the Alter Elbtunnel, a 426-meter tunnel opened since 1911 that will bring you under the waters of the Elbe to the other side of the river. The view of the city from the endpoint (Steinwerder) is simply wonderful. And this will cost you: zero euros.
  6. The magic of the harbor. If you are a logistics lover or if you are curious to know how items from all over the world are available in your city, it is almost mandatory to take a tour through the harbor. In the tour “Eye to Eye with the Giants” (35€), you can experience the real life of the port amidst cranes, endlessly long container warehouses, and huge cargo ships.
  7. The many waves of the Elbe. One of the most acclaimed masterpieces of 21st century architecture sits less than 10 minutes walking from KLU. The Elbphilharmonie can be visited every day, even if you don’t go to see a concert. It has not only some of the most stunning views of Hamburg, but it is an astonishing element of beauty, in and of itself. Not to mention that it regularly hosts some of the best musicians in the world, which you can see and listen to for as little as 10€, or sometimes even for free!
  8. Test your brain. A rainy day shouldn’t ruin your plans in Hamburg, because, well, then you’d have no plans. A great activity for these occasions is to put your brain to work and test your abilities (and your coordination with your partner/team) venturing in an escape room! Big Break Hamburg is one of our favorites, but there are many others, and they even organize Escape Game Weeks, in which you can get discounts in several of them. The live games can sometimes be pricy (but worth it!), but if your budget is tight then you can opt to play the online games, which are as little as 10€, no matter how big the group is. The more people, the cheaper and the more fun!
  9. “I see your two, and I raise you five”. If you are more of a classic type of gamer, this can be an even better plan for those long winter nights. In several cafés you can play board games with your friends and get some food and drinks. Places likeWürfel und Zucker have a collection of about 2000 different board and card games, so it’s impossible not to find something you like. Pro tip: always reserve a table in advance!
  10. Like a true German. Our final tip is a bonus for those whose German skills are in good development. If you want to really be immersed in the German culture, it doesn’t get more German than sitting in a bar on Sunday night to watch the crime show “Tatort”. This TV show has been running since 1970 and features police cases based on stories from all regions of Germany. Watching it at a public screening is a great way to learn about different cities, German accents, and to wake your inner detective. Try to guess who the criminal is before the episode ends.

    Find all of these activities in our customized map!

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