Berlin or Hamburg – Which German City Is Best?

Need help deciding whether to visit Berlin or Hamburg on your trip to Germany?

I’ve visited Berlin and Hamburg several times, and if I had to pick just one city, it would be Berlin. The capital of Germany, Berlin, is packed with history and culture.

Of course, that’s not to say Hamburg isn’t a fantastic city. Both Hamburg and Berlin are excellent, and I highly recommend visiting both if you can.

Culture & History

Berlin is the most historically significant city in Germany if not all of Europe. The city was at the heart of World War I and World War II, not to mention the historical Berlin Wall.

I recommend spending 2 – 3 days in Berlin and going on a free walking tour while in the city to better understand its history.

Being a port city, it’s unsurprising that Hamburg has a fantastic history and boasts a lot of culture. The music, theatre and arts scene in Hamburg is exceptional. Some of the best performances in the world take place here, and it’s where The Beatles played some of their earliest professional gigs.

Domestic Transport Network

Being the capital city, Berlin has better international transport connections. However, Hamburg also has an international airport with flights from inside and outside Europe.

Berlin has a fantastic domestic transport network made up of:

  • Trains
  • Trams
  • Buses
  • Underground

The city of Berlin is walkable. However, given its size, you’ll likely need to use some domestic transport to get to different places of interest.

Hamburg is significantly smaller than Berlin. However, the city still has an extensive domestic transport network, including:

  • Trains
  • Buses
  • Underground

Food & Dining

Again, being the capital city of Germany, it’s no surprise Berlin has a fantastic range of restaurants and cuisines. The city is currently home to 21 Michelin-starred restaurants that include:

  • Rutz
  • Cookies Cream

If you don’t have the budget to enjoy Michelin-star restaurants in Berlin, don’t worry. The city is also home to plenty of affordable, local foodie places.

Alternatively, Hamburg is the place to be if you’re looking for fine seafood. Given the city’s prime location on the water, the seafood here is as fresh as it comes. Again, there are several Michelin-starred restaurants in Hamburg. Plus, there are many local markets and artisan bakeries to enjoy.

Nightlife & Evening Entertainment

The nightlife in Hamburg is good. However, the nightlife in Berlin is something else. I have travelled to Berlin in the past for the nightlife alone. It’s that good.

Sure, there are bars across Berlin. However, what you come to Berlin for is the clubs. Berlin is the clubbing capital of Europe with famous places which include:

  • Berghain
  • Anomalie
  • OHM

If you’re looking for a good night out in Hamburg, you don’t have to travel far to find it. The city has one of the best red-light districts in Europe. Here, erotic bars and sex shops coexist peacefully alongside old sailors’ pubs and discos.

The Cost

The cost of visiting Berlin and Hamburg is about the same per night.

The number of accommodation options in Berlin means there’s something for all budgets. However, with so much to see and do in the city, you’ll want to spend at least two to three nights here. Meanwhile, you can see most of what Hamburg offers in 48 hours or less.

Both Berlin and Hamburg have transport cards and city passes. These are great ways to fix your costs so you know exactly how much (or how little) you have left to spend.


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