Hamburg, or the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to give it its full name, is Germany’s second biggest city and one of the ten largest cities in Europe. It is also the largest port in the country, and the second largest in Europe, and has justly gained the title of Germany’s “Gateway to the World”. The city also has a long and proud tradition of independence, having been a sovereign state until the unification of Germany.
Despite its importance as a port, Hamburg is actually found 100 kilometres inland from the North Sea, to which it is linked by the mighty River Elbe. You can learn about the storied tradition of oceangoing and trade in Hamburg Harbour at the Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg and the Cap San Diego (a museum ship), which combine to tell this broad-ranging, captivating story.
The biggest model railway museum in the world is found at the Miniatur Wunderland, which is sure to delight young and old locomotive enthusiasts alike. Lovers of fine art will appreciate the Hamburger Kunsthalle, while those who favour contemporary art will enjoy the famous international shows and excellent permanent collection at the Deichtorhallen.
The city is criss-crossed by canals, over which span some 2,300 bridges – this is more than any other city in Europe, and there are more miles of canals here than in Amsterdam and Venice combined.
Visit Speicherstadt and the New Docklands for a view of modern Hamburg. These areas are home to stylish refurbished warehouses and impressive new angular buildings. Soak in the cutting-edge design, dine in top-class eateries and go window-shopping in chic and exclusive boutiques in the largest urban redevelopment area on the continent.
Get away from the bustle of urban life with a visit to one of the many big parks and lakes near the city centre. Head to Planten un Blomen (Plants and Flowers), and enjoy the tranquillity of its Japanese Garden. You can also rent a car or take public transport to one of the many local medieval towns.