Germany’s biggest sea port is still very busy and impressive even during the economical crisis, especially the container terminals. You can catch a view of the harbour from the promenade walk along Landungsbrücken and Überseebrücke but the best way to get an idea of the harbour and its size is a boat cruise. You are taken through the container terminals and harbour basins, see the huge freighters from close by and observe the harbour at work. Comments (usually in German) are given by the captain who gets information on the ships that are currently in the harbour from the port authorities.
Harbour cruises depart from Landungsbrücken all the time during the day. Just show up and select one. You have the choice between one and two hour cruises, between cruises on a big boat, on a small Barkasse, or a Mississippi paddle steamer.
The Mississippi steamer can be considered a gag… My photos were taken during a cruise on a larger boat like the ones in photo 3. Next time I go, however, I’ll go on a Barkasse – see photo 4 to understand why. Those tiny boats were originally used to transport workers in the harbour, nowadays some do cruises. They are small enough to enter the canals and can get much closer to the big vessels than the larger ones ever could, so the view almost from duck perspective is far more impressive (photographers!).
More photos in the travelogues.
Even if Hamburg is not situated directly at the coast it has a huge harbour that creates a maritime atomosphere in the city. I love to spend time there ever again. Just to sit on the boardwalks in the evening at sundown. There are many kiosks where you can buy a "Fischbrötchen" – kind of a hamburger with fish that are pretty good and a cool Astra beer - that's a must snack in Hamburg!
There are many things to do:
The best view on the harbour you get from the hill just over the subway station Landungsbrücken. When you arrive go through a small open door on the right before you enter the bridge to the harbour. There is a staircase that leads you up to a view point terrace. Those staying in the Youth Hostel "Auf dem Stintfang" book that view. It is really great.
Another great view that you do not think of as a tourist is from the other side of the harbour. Go through The old tunnel beneath the river Elbe. Today this tunnel is mainly used by pedestrians but you also can enter an elevator with your car. This definately is an experience. I really love that old tunnel with its ceramic walls. And it's for free. Anyway - maybe it's raining so this is a good thing to do while waiting for sun...
Of course, you should do a harbour tour on a barge. It does not matter if you do not understand German because the guides tell jokes that rather are annoying. So here it really is an advantage not to understand! But get close to the huge transport and container ships. If you do not want to spent about 9 EUR for that boat trip you also can take a ferry - which you can take with the bus and underground tickets. The 62 goes to Finkenwerder and a nice stop is Neumuehlen/Oevelgoenne (more infos see transport).
See also museums ships Cap San Diego, Rickmer Rickmers and the Old English Lightship (Feuerschiff).
The best place for beer? Look my tip under nightlife (maybe restaurants would have been better? Whatever: "Strand Pauli: In the summertime..." to see the big ships passing by and a sundowner cocktail you'll find in the bar 20up on top of the Riverside Hotel that recently opened. There's also tip on that. Really a cool view!
I think that the port in Hamburg is one of the most exciting in the world. And it is one of the biggest in the world. The best thing to explore is by one of the "Barkassen", small ships that will take you around for one or two hours. With their low roofs it is possible to pass the narrow bridges of the old storage area, the so called Speicherstadt. Nowadays the big banana and cocoa terminals are in the modern parts of this really huge area.
The captains of the small ships are helpful with useful information about anything and I guess that there are some in English too. Better check this before you leave.....
can you see the red man (Santa claus)? He just waved at me :)
You can also have a Große Hafenrundfahrt with this huge ship. Actually there are many kinds of ships waiting for you. Every one is 10 € for 1 hour for an adult, and 5€ for a kid.
Hamburg wouldn't exist if not for its harbor. There are always large container ships here from around the world. It is interesting to take a tour of the harbor (hafen rundfahrt) on one of the small tour boats. They offer tours in both German and English, but the smaller boats can get closer to the oceangoing vessels and into the smaller canals so choose one of these -- unfortunately, the smaller boats generally only offer information in German.
Every year are more cuiseships coming to Hamburg. Hamburg with all its attractions is n ideal cuise harbour. Now a big cruise terminal is build in Harbour City. In 2007 about 80 cruise ships visited Hamburg, bringing about 100.000 tourists. Most ships stay about one to two days in Hamburg.
There is a cruise center in Harbour City and there will be another one in a very attractive location: at Altona Fishmarket (2009).
The Port Area in Hamburg is particularly interesting to get a feel of the city's past. The entrance to the port is guarded by two statues of explorers, one of Christopher Columbus and one of Vasco de Gama.
Hamburg's port area is a main contributor to the city's wealth. There are numerous canals and bridges.
Since Hamburg is a harbor city, one should really take a boat trip through the harbor including the "Speicherstadt".
The "Speicherstadt" is a whole area of former storage houses for goods transported to and out of Hamburg. All the houses are built out of red bricks and are now very popular to live and to work in.
Well almost, it was a bit too nippy to be sitting outside in January, but it was very snug and cosy sat in the bar of the Old English Lightship in the Hafen (port area).
There are in fact three historic ships that have been moored here, including a genuine (and still fully funcioning) general cargo ship. It is even possible to stay in the cabins overnight - an option I hope to take up on another visit.
On a cold Sunday Lunchtime in January it wasn't crowded, although I suspect it gets a damn sight busier in the summer.
I never really did get to the bottom of why that particualar 'english' ship is now in Hamburg's harbour, but the Fire-engine red boat with a jazz band playing away was a great place to be. Highly recommended.
In Chicago, the Elevated railway or 'EL' is strongly marketed as a symbol of the city.
Hamburg has it's own 'El', a section of over two Kilometers of the U-Bahn network, affording great views the port area of of the city. It seems a pity that it is not promoted in the same kind of way.
The Hochbahn, as it is properly called, can be accessed for a trifiling sum, and provides a reliable transfer between the main central station and the St Pauli / Reeperbahn area.
Of particular note is the Baumwall station, partly because it has been resored to something approaching its original look, and partly because this is the best place to stop off and visit some of the historic ships in the inner harbour area.
The Cap San Diego once was a freighter- now it`s a museum ship. At the moment an interesting exibition takes place there-"ein Koffer voller Hoffnung"; it`s about the 5 millions emigrants from Germany and eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th century, who started their journey to seek their fortune in the States, in South America and in Australia at Hamburg`s harbour. You can even spend a night on the ship, they let cabins.
It is an absolutely must do in Hamburg to visit the harbour. You get some impressions already from St. Pauli Landungsbrücken or crossing by car one of the bridges connecting the north and the south part of the city. But the most interesting impression you get during a boat tour through the harbour. You pass by big storage ships very close, you get a lot of info by the captain of your boat and you "feel" Hamburg life.
100 years ago there were only big warehouses and storerooms here. Hafencity was a place of hard work and of trade with the whole world. Now Hafencity is developing here with luxurious appartments and the Elbphilharmonie, a big concert hall.
This is probably the main sight and place to see in Hamburg. Most of the people you will see and meet here are tourists. Since we went there in November it was quite cold and very windy there. But if you are in town, then this is a place not to be missed.
Feuerschiff / Fire-ship is an interesting sight, docked close to the ships "Cap San Diego" and "SS Rickmer Rickmers". The Feuerschiff was built in 1952 and used as a swimming light-tower in Great Britain. In 1991 it was sold to a group of people in Hamburg, who restored and rebuilt it as a perfect restaurant, bar and even hotel.
I was lucky to be able to walk around the ship in the morning before all the visitors arrived.
My favorite part was the engine-room that was transfered into a perfect bar - see my pics under the restaurant-tips !! Some of the rooms may be rented by tourists as hotel-rooms !
The Feuership is open to the public free of charge
every sunday they offer a breakfast-buffet between 09.30a.m. and 01.00p.m.
in the engine-room there is a Jazz-Frühschoppen 11.00a.m.-02.30p.m.
The restaurant is open for lunch & dinner between noon and 10.00p.m.