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Just before the Alster river, a tributary of the Elbe river, reaches the North Sea, it is funneled into two artificial lakes in the central Hamburg area, divided by the "Lombardsbrücke" and "Kennedybrücke" into the Binnenalster and Außenalster. The Binnenalster is the smaller southern part which is adiacent to the "Jungfernstieg" street, where many of the most respectable Hamburg businesses (like the Hapag Lloyd company, 4Jahreszeiten Hotel, etc.) are located. The Außenalster is the larger, northern part and a favourite area for sailing boats.
Außenalster (Outer Alster)
The Alster is a river, a tributary of the Elbe, which starts in Schleswig-Holstein and meanders for 56 km, in a general southerly direction, before reaching the Elbe in Hamburg harbor.
In the year 1190 a dam was built near the lower end of the Alster, in what is now the center of Hamburg, to provide water power for a large grain mill. The resulting mill pond is now a lake, also called Alster.
From 1616 to 1625 another dam was built, as part of the city fortifications of Hamburg, dividing the lake into two parts, the larger Außenalster (Outer Alster) to the north and the smaller Binnenalster to the south.
Second photo: A windy day on the Außenalster.
Third photo: Jogging by the Außenalster.
Fourth and fifth photos: Cycling near the Außenalster.
Next review: Binnenalster (Inner Alster)
Binnenalster (Inner Alster)
The Binnenalster is the smaller of the two parts of the Alster Lake. It borders directly on the city center of Hamburg and is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks.
In 1987 the Alster Fountain went into operation. It was modeled after the Jet d’eau in the harbor of Geneva, Switzerland, but shoots the water less than half as high (60 meters as opposed to 140 meters in Geneva), because of the windy weather in Hamburg.
The fountain was not terribly popular among Hamburg residents when it first went into operation, but I have the feeling it has now been generally accepted as an attractive addition to the city’s trademark lake.
Also the fountain has the effect of aerating the water and has served to improve the water quality of the lake.
Additional photos: Cycling near the Binnenalster.
Next review: Jungfernstieg
The importance of water to Hamburg is obvious everywhere: Rivers, lakes, canals and ports. The city was born on the mouth of the Alster river, as it exits onto the Elbe, so this waterway was paramount to the city's success. The lakes came about in the 13th century as a result of rapid industrialization of Hamburg. The river was dammed to power water mills, and those dams created the lakes that glitter today under Hamburg's tree-lined shores.
There are two Alster lakes in Hamburg, the Aussenalster and Binnenalster. The "outer" Alster lake is the larger of the two, and forges seven kilometers of, largely public, lakeside frontage. The outer Alster is popular with joggers and dog walkers, and is a pleasant escape from the central city. The Binnenalster lies within the old city walls and provides perfect, unobscured views of the city skyline, tangled with the spires of its many churches.
The Binnenalster is tiny, more like a pond than a lake, but the Aussenalster is wide and dotted with sailboats in good weather. You can explore the Aussenalster by ferry, which leave from a dock lying within its smaller sibling.
Binnenalster is my favourite spot in Hamburg, a lake in the centre of Hamburg! It’s so relaxing when I go there and we just walk near the lake, you can walk around the lake. It’s nice in the night too to visit the area and have a drink. It’s perfect to sit there and just watch the calming water, the inhabitants of the lake which are the swans of course and the numerous small boats that do small tours.
There are many hotels (with great view over the lake) and restaurants around. I never visited Hamburg during winter but it must be nice too when the lake is frozen and the people go there for ice skating!
Binnen Alster(inner) is connecter with the Outer lake (which is much larger) through Kennedy and Lombard bridges.
The lake is just some meters away from Rathaus(townhall) if you want to visit both sites
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
The two artificial lakes of Hamburg. This body of water is just within city limits. Binnen Alster(Inner) is smaller as the Outer Alster. You can actually walk around the entire lake without having to cross a single road. Art fans can admire numerous sculptures in and around the water, while nature lovers will be impressed by the enormous variety.
Visitors can hire a wide variety of boats (rowing boats, pedal boats or dinghies), but the lake can get very busy on summer weekends. If you don't fancy working up a sweat, then why not board a steamboat and explore one of the many canals that branch off the Alster.
Hamburg’s Famous hotels, businesses, and restaurants run along the water’s edge. The Kennedy and Lombard bridges separate the Inner from the Outer lake which provides a great view of both.
We enjoyed some beautiful scenes both from the touring double decker bus and through strolling the Binnen area.
- Family Travel
- Sailing and Boating
More Cruises: Alsterrundfahrt and Fleetenfahrt
Besides the harbour cruise there are more options to do boat tours in Hamburg. Tours of the Fleete (canals), lakes and the river Alster show a completely different side of the city, very green and as romantic as can be.
Bots depart at Jungfernstieg on the Alster.
Footnote: The “Alster Cabrio” in the photo is only open if the weather allows – otherwise the boats have a roof.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
Not content with having the lovely Binnenalster on their doorstep, the lucky people of Hamburg also have the Aussenalster, a much bigger lake, separated from the inner lake by two bridges, stretching out into the suburbs. You can barely see the opposite shores of the Aussenalster in my picture, though this is as much to do with the cloudy weather as with the size of the lake, which is over 7km in circumference. We only walked a small part of the Aussenalster. It could be a full half-day trip to walk it all.
Enjoy the views
Hamburg Binnenalster is like a big lake just in the center of the town. Around the "lake" are office buildings, hotels, coffee bars and restaurants. From the south end you have a beautiful view, here the boat tours on the Alster also start. But the best (in my eyes) is to enjoy this place in winter when the lake is frozen and you can do ice skating on it and several sales booths are on the lake. A great ambience, especially in the evening.
Aussenalster - playground for the "high Society"
Aussenalster is the bigger of the 2 artificial lakes and it is certainly the most exclusive area to live. One of the first buildings is the American embassy that is guarded like a fortress day and night. Plenty of rich people and lots of foreign embassies have their palais there, BUT all of the coast-line is for public use only and it became the most popular recreation-area of Hamburg.
Upstream you will find plenty of side-canals with a lot more villas of celebrities.
Motorboats may be used at Binnenalster and Aussenalster only for the public trafic, the police and a few boats accompanying the many rowing-boats during competitions. None of the embassies nor anyone of the really rich people may use their motor-yachts there...
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Binnen-Alster - a lake in the centre of Hamburg
Binnen-Alster is the smaller of the 2 artificial lakes in the very centre of Hamburg. The river Alster was dammed already in the 13th century and so the Binnen-Alster and the Aussen-Alster are in fact artificial lakes.
Binnenalster is the small lake next to Jungfernstieg and not far from the Rathaus / townhall of Hamburg and you will also find the most famous luxuryhotel of Hamburg there :
The "Raffles 4 Jahreszeiten". The hotel was built in 1904 by the architects Freytag&Wuerzbach. next to it you will find the Amsinck-Palais housing the "Übersee-Club".
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The Alster Lakes
As my hotel was very near the two lakes of Hamburg, the Binnen(inner)Alster and the Aussen(outer)Alster, it was a pleasant walk in the springtime, even if it was a bit chilly and grey when I visited. From here it is possible to take a trip with the various boat tour companies.
The Binnenalster (Inner Basin) is a small, beautiful lake in the centre of Hamburg. It doesn't take long to complete a circuit of the lake, and there are excellent views of the Hamburg skyline from its West and North sides.
Classy Waterfronts in the Middle of Town!
The Alster lake is one of the things making Hamburg unique. It is also reinforcing the maritime feel of the city, already present through Hamburg's large inland seaport on the Elbe river. To me, the expensive buildings on the waterfront pretty much sum up the Hanseatic character: Classy, solid, showing wealth and power without bragging about it.
There is a promenade currently under reconstruction and several opportunities for lake cruises/boat rentals. The Alster is connected to the Elbe port through a number of parallel running canals.
The northern part of the lake beyond the Kennedy bridge features a wonderful park-like promenade and behind this one of Hamburg's most expensive neighbourhoods. Again, most of the buildings are very Hanseatic -- displaying wealth, but never losing etiquette and common sense.
Enjoy a boattrip and relax
Right in the centre of Hamburg you will find 2 lakes, the Binnenalster and the Aussenalster. Boat trips are available round the lakes and the waterfront looks pretty cool especially Jungfernstieg where wou will find an array of classy shops and depaertment stores.
During your cruise you will also see some of the most beautiful (and expensive) villas in Hamburg.
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Hamburg Travel Guide
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