With one of Europe's most efficient and effective train services, Germany is highly accessible for travelling via train.
Hamburg's main train station is its Hauptbahnhof, centrally located in the city.
Services from Hamburg run to locations throughout Germany.
The central station (Hauptbahnhof) of Hamburg is a very modern and still inconvenient space for passengers. There are no any sitting areas inside: the tracks are within the space of the station itself; the people usually sit on the ground.
As a big city, to and from Hamburg travel many trains. You should be careful and to observe the timetables as well the monitors by the platforms. Besides, you must expect your train to be late: the both trains I took to and from Hamburg were late by 20-25 mins. The good thing is that the information about the trains is in both German and English. Still, be very careful where is your train and which is your wagen, because some of the trains are very long and they do not wait too much fr careless passengers :)
The German train system enjoys a good reputation outside of Germany, but somehow many Germans do not share this opinion. They are notorious for running late and for missed connections. Hamburg (together with Cologne) ranks the top of the most unreliable stations in the network regarding punctuality. It even happens quite often that trains going south and southwest (via Bremen and Hanover) skip the central train station and run to/from Hamburg-Harburg. Same case with Berlin and Hamburg-Bergedorf, both cases can be a mess for people unfamiliar on how to get to these other train stations on the outskirts of Hamburg.
The price system is probably the worst, there are many tickets and many fares that you can easily lose an overview. Laender-Tickets and Quer-durchs-Land - tickets are cheap, but can not be used before 9 am on weekdays. You need special tickets or a regular ticket with a supply to use ICE and IC trains. Special offer tickets booked in advance can only be used for the train you specified. And than there are private train companies which usually share their fares with Deutsche Bahn, but have some extra tickets valid on their trains only. At least the vending machine have improved, back from the barcode days where you chose your ticket on one machine and had to pay on another one. Counter service is still available, but buying a ticket at a counter costs more than at the vending machine....
If you want to inform yourself about the train company's prices or routes, use the website stated below. But if you are travelling longer distances within Germany, visit one of following pages ( www.airberlin.com / www.germanwings.com / www.tuifly.com / www.ab9euro.de ) and take a flight or a bus. For some places in southern Germany, I have even used a combination of two Ryanair flights flying through Stansted! I am aware that I do this at my own risk, but I still consider it more relaxing than having to quarrel with Deutsche Bahn. If you book early enough in advance, a flight or a bus trip can be cheaper and not nearly as annoying. For a trip to Berlin (www.berlinlinienbus.de), the coach is a little slower than the train, but always wins on price.
The InterCityExpress (ICE) trains coming in from the south stop at three different stations in Hamburg. The first is the Central Station. I don’t usually get off here, but I have changed trains here several times, for instance on my way to Kiel, Rendsburg, Rostock or Copenhagen.
The Hamburg Central Station is said to be the busiest station in Germany and the second busiest in Europe (after the Gare du Nord in Paris).
Second photo: The clock tower of the Central Station.
Third photo: A white ICE train approaching the Central Station and a red suburban train (S-Bahn) going the other way.
Next: Dammtor Station
My recommendation for travelers coming into Hamburg from the south is to stay on the train at the Central Station and get off a few minutes later at the second stop, Dammtor.
The Dammtor station is near the university, near the opera house, near the convention center and not far from the Adult Education Center. There are several small, pleasant and reasonably priced hotels near the university, and on the other side of the station is the SAS Radisson Hotel for those who are travelling on an expense account.
GPS 53°33'38.80" North; 9°59'22.49" East
Additional photos: People on bicycles near Dammtor station.
Next review: Altona station
The third and last station where the long-distance trains stop is Hamburg-Altona, which is well-known in Germany because it is always listed as the final destination of all these trains.
In Altona I naively went walking around looking for the front of the station so I could take a photo. It took a while for me to realize that there isn’t any front or rather that this is the front – a shabby concrete façade of shops and advertizing.
Second photo: An underground entrance to the station.
Third photo: This is their idea of a railroad station: a shopping center and a parking garage for cars.
Fourth photo: But when you get past all the shops and the parking garage there are actually some tracks and trains, so it is a working railroad station after all.
GPS 53°33'6.53" North; 9°56'7.38" East
StadtRAD stations 2121 (Bahnhof Altona Ost/Max-Brauer-Allee) and 2122 (Bahnhof Altona West / Busbahnhof)
Back to my first Hamburg review: The Hamburg State Opera
Back to my Hamburg intro page
Hamburg's main station handles nearly half a million passengers a day, making it the busiest in Germany, and the second busiest in Europe after Paris Gare du Nord. It has direct high-speed ICE express links with many German cities, including Berlin and Munich. It's also a fast four hour journey away from Copenhagen, a journey that will shorten further if the German land link to Denmark's islands is ever built.
I took the I-C-E train from Berlin to Hamburg. It only took 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is a very comfortable way to travel (however, please note my WARNING below).
I purchased my ticket online in advance of my trip and saved money that way (36 Euros per person)
ESSENTIAL to have the actual credit card that you used to book the online ticket since the conductor will ask you for it (they scan the actual card) along with your print-out. It says on the DB website that it sould be printed-out on European A4 paper but good, old U.S. 8 1/2" by 11" worked find but make sure that the geometric symbol they scan is cleanly printed. My credit card I used originally to book had expired just prior to my trip BUT I brought it along to prove I had purchased my ticket (VERY important).
A reserved seat is held for 15 minutes once leaving a particular station so find your seat as soon as possible. Seats are by CAR and SEAT number so be aware where you are when boarding the train or you may have a long walk to your seat.
Although we were in a compartment I would STRONGLY recommend individual seats for better comfort. My friend and I had to endure a German pre-teen girl bonding with her father for the entire trip!!
The dining car had a stand-up, take-away or sit-down option and the beer and food were very good.
WARNING: according to wikipedia.org the I-C-E trains have a very troubled safety record as compared to other high-speed trains (like the "Bullet" trains in Japan). If you like, take your chances and hopefully enjoy the ride (which shaved hours off of the regional trains).
I made an online booking for a train departing Hamburg for Denmark, via the Deutsche Bahn website. Be aware that there are no difference in class reservations even though the website gives you a choice of 1st and 2nd class.
I chose 1st class and paid more for the privilege. But I discovered on boarding the train that there was no class difference between the coaches. So choose 2nd class and pay less and you save money.
As our flight arrived in Lubeck, we spent a day exploring here before travelling on to Hamburg. There are regular trains every hour between the cities, it costs only 9.50 for a singl ticket and the journey takes 45 minutes.
The Hauptbahnof is a well maintained and clean central train station connecting Hamburg with other leading cities in northern Germany. I came here to catch a train for Luebeck - just 45 minutes to the northeast.
The train station is also the hub for a number of local and regional buses. The main airport bus drops its passengers off here.
Inside the terminal are many shops, and a stunning central atrium which well captures the historic spirit of the great trains of Europe. Be sure to check out the station arcade - just behind the main shed. It's a beautiful piece of wrought-iron architecture.
From the main trainstation in Hamburg there are connections to U-bahn, S-bahn and Intercity and International intercity lines.
The station has a special internal design with vendors on both ends of the station.
I wish I had a pound for every time I have sat on one of these benches waiting for a train. Hamburg has direct trains to Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen and much more so getting here by train couldn't be easier. The station is quite impressive, having the biggest roof of all German stations. You also have a good station to eat at as it has a big food court, should you be in need to kill an hour but not your wallet.
Hamburg has great rail links with the rest of Germany and much of Europe. The Hauptbahnhof (main station) is worth a visit even if you're not travelling just to watch the activity and the food court is pretty good too.
Hamburg has 4 trainstations - the Hauptbahnhof being the most important one. From here you can go EVERYWHERE!!
The other trainstations are Hamburg Harburg, Hamburg Dammtor and Hamburg Altona - and they are included in your ticket even if it only says: destination Hamburg!