Leaving By Train
Hamburg's main railway station (Hbf) is now officially MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE RAILWAY STATION IN THE WORLD. I love this station and especially the friendly little smoking bar at the main entrance (plus the other one on the main concourse).
A smoking bar is always good in a railway station but there's a lot more to this Hbf than just that. This is Germany's busiest railway terminus and has about 450,000 people a day using it for both local (S and U Bahn) and longer distance services. The shopping and other facilities are excellent and you could almost visit Hamburg and just spend all your time here - I was tempted. As well as the shops, bars, cafes and takeaway restaurants you'll also find the city's main tourist office.
From the practical side of actually being a transport hub - you can get trains from here to pretty much anywhere else in Europe via whatever other German station you need. On my trip I was only going as far as Berlin and so used the ICE service with its journey time of about 2 hours, which cost me 73 Euros - I could have done it a bit cheaper but it would have required being able to print my own ticket or take a slower regional service.
Tickets are available from the VERY easy-to-use machines (with an "English" language option) and if bought for that day don't need pre-validation.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
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Arriving By Bus
I just happened to be in Copenhagen sharing a beer, or maybe it was two (HA!) with my good fiend Rasmus. I wasn't sure where I was heading next - I just knew I had to be in Brussels about a week later. Ras mentioned the Eurolines bus service from CPH to Hamburg and that they were offering a pretty good deal at the time - 94 DKK one-way including the ferry.
So that was Hamburg settled as my next intermediate destination.
Buses leave Copenhagen I think twice a day and whilst I'm not normally a big fan of long-distance buses this proved to be a very enjoyable journey, broken by the 45 minute ferry crossing between Rodby and Puttgarden which was a good opportunity for a swift beer and a fag (in the UK sense of the latter).
Here in Hamburg the bus station is just round the corner from the main railway station and I'd assume that most buses from everywhere else terminate here. There's plenty of relatively cheap hotels in the area and whilst it can come across a bit seedy is in fact perfectly safe and very friendly.Related to:
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how to get there
Hamburg is connected by air with almost every part of Europe, you will find many air companies having Hamburg in their routes and many low cost companies too. Watch out though that some low cost companies like Ryan Air use airport that are 1 hour away from Hamburg (at Lubeck)
I usually travel to Hamburg from Berlin by train. If you book in advance you may find a ticket down to 29euros. There are several different trains, some direct trains cover the distance in about 2 hours. The main train station is always busy (pic 1), the staff is very helpful, there are machines for tickets but you go to the main hall and ask for details, routes and prices so not to get confused. There is also an Info Spot where you can take maps, guides of the city, buy tickets and get all the useful info you need.
Metro from Main Station to airport
Since December 2008 there is a direct connection from main railway station to the airport in Hamurg. The ride takes 25 minutes, and costs 2,60 Euro. First arrival at the airport 4:29, last departure to station at 0:14. The train is called S1 to the direction of Poppenbüttel-Wedel. The train is separated in Ohlsdorf, the first wagons go to the airport. So watch out you are in the correct part;-) (info from Feb 2008).
If you want to go on sightseeing right away think about buying a day ticket. If you only take two rides in bus, metro and ferry it makes sense.
Info on public transport in general you find here: www.hvv.de
The official airport website is: www.ham.airport.de/en/index.phtml
If you are departing from the airport have a look at the new Möwenpick restaurant area on the upper level. It was opened in the end of 2008 and I think it is a nice design!
Bus to airports Luebeck and Bremen
The airline Ryanair offers cheap tickets but mostly flies to airports that are pretty far from where you want to go...
There are also bus connections starting / leaving from ZOB (central bus terminal) next to the mail railway station in Hamburg (Hauptbahnhof) to different airports.
You will find more information and/or time shedules here:
For Lübeck (LBC): around 8 € and one hour
Ryanair: www.vhhpvg.de / http://www.vhhpvg.ch/ryan/index.php
Bremen (BRE): around 14 € and 1,5 hours
Bus and Underground
Hamburg has a very good public transportation with busses, underground and ferries. This is a link to the homepage of the transportation company where you can look for the connections and more detailed prices:
For underground you have to buy tickets before departure, bus drivers, however, sell tickets, too.
If you do more than two regular drives (2,60€) a day ticket is cheaper (5,10 €, starting at 9:00 am, before that 6,00 €). Also you might think about 3-day (15,00 €) or weekly tickets (14,10 €).
Travelling with a goup is a good option: you can buy day tickets for up to five people (8,60 €, weekdays not between 6-9:00 am, weekend whole days). You can use them between 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. next day - so after partying no need for a new ticket).
The prices comprise the normal touristic drives within the city. Prices mentioned here are from April 2008
By the way the prettiest underground is the U3 passing the harbor with a great view. As for busses I can recommend the line 112 that connects many tourist places. Last stop is Oevelgoenne with its museum harbor and the Elbe beach. Very nice to stop by;-)
Budget Travelling by Car
Private Car Sharing
In Germany it is pretty common among students and young people to share costs by travelling together by car. There is a good website where you can look up the possible connections and people offering tours. It definately is the cheapest possibility to get around. Much less than the train company. There are good connections between the big cities, mostly at the weekends when students and commuters are going home. Of course you should check how much luggage you can take along... If I remember correctly there also where some connections to cities in some other European countries. It's little strange because you do not know with whom you are going. But I use this frequently and I did not made bad experiences so far.
Ticket machines on the airport
I've got an electronic ticket from the lufthansa web site.
I was a bit nervous because I had to actually get the ticket from a machine at the Hamburg airport (as well as the Budapest airport)
However ... it turned out to be pretty nice procedure :
you go to the machine and put your credit card inside - the machine recognizes you by your cc number and gives it back to you, then you choose which seat you would like in the plane and the machine prints out the ticket ....
easy uh ?
SMART cars.... Ugly as Sin
I don't care what the girl on the airplane from Hamburg to Amsterdam told me!!
To her they may seem modern and efficiant... but I can't stand these little rodents of the road.
I like my big Japanese Mazda!! It has a small but powerful engine. I have trouble parking it in the city. It is not very snappy in handling... but it rules the road when it works.
This car is a scary concept.
By the way, there is a coffee shop here also.Related to:
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More on getting around
I walked a lot for 3-4 days. Hamburgers all seem to ride their bikes in town and with bike paths everywhere, I felt like renting a bike myself.
Walking around the Aussenalster was one of the most pleasant things I did. Sailboats, rowboats, windsurfers & big ships all compete on the water, very exciting! Parks & footpaths all around, lined with cafés & marinas.
The best is to take a boat ride to Winterhude & take in the scenery. If you choose to walk back, don't miss Leinpfadstrasse with all its gorgeous villas. I read that there are boat rides along the Alsterfleet (locks canal) to the Elbe River but didn't see that.
A tour of the harbour is a must. It's called Hafenrundfahrt & you take the boat by the Rickmer Rickmers museum ship at Landungsbrücken.
If you're like me & enjoy even a ferry ride, you'll be in seventh heaven in Hamburg!
The pic is a monument to those who fell during the First world war. I found it stark and moving.
Getting around in Hamburg and around
I drove into Hamburg in late afternoon, heading for the Youth Hostel. Was told to get on Ost-West Strasse til Landungsbrücken. I drove off, happy that I'd taught myself enough German to know I was looking for a bridge... but never saw a bridge.
No one I asked had heard of the Youth Hostel. I finally realised that Landungsbrücken is a landing, a promenade where people hang out.
I parked nearby & got various directions to the Hostel, everyone saying "just over there". With a huge backpack & arms full, I wish it had been downhill & not 15 minutes walk away! Especially since the Youth Hostel was full & sent me further "just down this road", to a hotel. Another 15 minutes. I didn't drive in Hamburg after that. But it was easy driving out of the city to Lübeck once, & to Berlin the last day.
The U-Bahn & S-Bahn were supposed to be complicated to figure out. I didn't think so. The whole public transport system is very efficient. A Tageskarte is good for all public transit & with it, the ferry to Blankenese is free.
The pic is the Inner Alster lake (Binnenalster in German), with the Alsterarkaden in the background. This is a white neo-Renaissance arcade with great shops & a beautiful view on the lake.
Hamburg's airport Fuhlsbüttel'...
Hamburg's airport Fuhlsbüttel' is really nice, well organized and not far from the city centre. The problem is that there's no train connection to get there - just busses. Have a look at the gorgeous view of the port from the air when arriving in or departing from Hamburg!!!Related to:
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If you're coming to Hamburg...
If you're coming to Hamburg from another city in Europe, I'd recommend you take the train unless you're in a hurry. If you aren't from Europe you're gonna have to fly.
Hamburg's public transportation system is very good, and you can get pretty much everywhere you need to go if you rely on it. Having a car isn't very practical; in fact, many Hamburgers don't drive as they have no need for it. It's also a great city for walking, which allows you to see more than any other option would. If you feel like biking, bike paths run alongside the sidewalks and are a very common way to get around.
The choice of options is...
The choice of options is amazing. You can fly, the airport is located in Fuhlsbuttel, or take a train (fast and comfortable connections with every part of Germany and with Scandinavia, for that matter), bus (not much cheaper than train, but no travel passes) and your own car.
You can get around using metro (U-bahn and S-bahn). A car provides only hassle as you'll have difficulty in finding parking space. Historic center can be perfectly explored on foot or on a bike.
By Plane:The Airport links...
The Airport links Hamburg to the rest of Europe. To go to the city you should try to catch the Airport Bus in Front of Terminal 4. A taxi is more comfortable but will cost you round about 20 Euro.
The suburban traffic system is supposed to be one of the best in Europe. Effective, quite cheap and clean.
There are nightbusses so you can save taxi money at nighttime.
Try www.hvv.de for further details.
Biking in Hamburg is easy and comfortable since the greens are in the goverment. bicycle tracks are just everywhere.
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