Updated: April 2019
If you’ve only got one day in Hamburg then you’re going to want to spend your time wisely. We’ve visited Hamburg a number of times and as a result, are happy to share with you our perfect one-day itinerary.
If you can we suggest spending a number of days if not weeks in Germany. This country benefits from year-round popularity with tourists is due to some of its fantastic calender attractions such as the German Markets & Octubafest. Consider checking out our guide to Berlin to learn more.
Whether you plan backpacking around Germany or simply visiting the city of Hamburg for a weekend break there is plenty to see and do.
- Best Time To Visit Hamburg
- How To Get To Hamburg
- Where To Stay In Hamburg
- How To Spend One Day In Hamburg
- Book Hamburg Attractions
- Where To Eat In Hamburg
- One Day In Hamburg Map
- Hamburg City Travel Guide
Best Time To Visit Hamburg
The best time to visit any location, in my opinion, is always personal preference and Hamburg is no different. That said if you’re only visiting Hamburg for one day, I figure it would be nice if the weather was nice enough so that you could truly see the beauty of this city as you walk around it.
May through to October is the warmest months, it’s also the main tourist season. For this reason, you may find higher accommodation prices and busier attractions. November through to April is the fall and winter seasons, with fewer crowds and variable weather.
How To Get To Hamburg
Regardless of whether you’re spending one day in Hamburg or the rest of you’re life in Hamburg (that’s not a terrible idea…) you’re going to need to get here first. There are four major ways you’ll be coming to Hamburg and these depend on your departure point.
Hamburg Airport is known as Flughafen Hamburg and is situated 10km north of the city. The quickest and most affordable way to the city from the airport is on the S1 train that departs from platform 2 at the internal train station within the airport. The journey will take approximately 30 minutes.
You can get a direct flight to Hamburg from most major airports within Europe including; London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK. For the best flight deals, we always use the free flight aggregation tool; Skyscanner.
Hamburg well and truly is a city on water. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that one of the best places to visit while on a cruise. There are three cruise terminals in the vicinity of Hamburg;
Situated right next to Hamburg’s Fish Market is the Altona Cruise Terminal. Cruises have been stopping at this terminal since 2011. On a good-weather day, you’ll find visitors and well-wishers will stand and wave farewell to the cruise from the glassed top-deck ontop of the terminal.
HafenCity is located just 1.5 km away from the central railway station in Hamburg’s new inner-city district. However, what really sets Hafencity terminal above the rest is the new multi-storey city terminal that is due to be built by 2021. The entire area surrounding the terminal is currently undergoing major development and once complete is expected to hold more than 200 shops, multiple restaurants and a cinema.
Finally, we have the third and most recently opened cruise terminal; Steinwerder. Opened in 2015, Steinwerder has more than 1,500 car parking spaces for passengers as well as shops and a bistro open during passenger check-in.
Hamburg is situated on a major line within Germany making it perfect for an inter-rail stopover. Direct trains from the capital Berlin run regularly year round and the journey takes just 1 hour and 40 minutes. There are also direct trains from Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Vienna.
Major trains will stop at Hamburg Central Station where you can transfer to your accommodation via car hire, taxi, private transfer or metro.
Where To Stay In Hamburg
If you’re only spending one day in Hamburg then you’re going to want a hotel central to the action so you can maximise your time exploring. In the past we’ve stayed at; SuperBude in St Pauli and The Generator Hostel.
We’ve put together a guide on where to stay in Hamburg that should help you find the right region and accommodation for your visit to the city.
How To Spend One Day In Hamburg
Below is an extensive list of attractions in Hamburg. In an attempt to include as much of a variety as possible (suitable for budgets and interests) we’ve included more than you could possibly fit into one day. However, to help you plan your day we’ve added the average time it takes to complete this experience. When planning your one day in Hamburg don’t forget to include travel time between experiences and allocate time for eating lunch and dinner.
Approx time to spend at the attraction: 1.5 hours
Miniatur Wunderland is a unique attraction in Hamburg and is definitely worth visiting, suitable for everyone with cheeky nude figurines for the adults, trains and an airport to keep everyone entertained, you really can’t go wrong. It is a great place to go and spend the afternoon even if you only spend one day in Hamburg. This is a great place to keep children entertained and busy.
Inside Minatur Wunderland
You are greeted at the top of the stairs by what looks to be a timetable on a screen, the screen displays the number of guests visited over the years from different destinations such as the UK, USA and more unknown as Saint Lucia and much more. This was a nice feature to see to really realise the popularity of the Miniatur Wunderland and Hamburg itself.
I was surprised to see how detailed the exhibition was. Each and every figure is an individual, the detailing in making everything so lifelike. I really enjoyed seeing the places we had seen ourselves or knew to see the detail of the scenery and the buildings.
There is everything to entertain from a fully working airport with a departure and arrivals board along with taking off and landing. The attention to detail within each section is worth spending hours to find everything you can. I love that there is something for all ages, fans of cars, planes and trains as well as the hidden nudes and cheeky scenes for the adults.
One of my favourite features of the exhibition was the change from daylight to nighttime and back again. The details of the lights changing slowly to create a sunset and sunrise. Along with the change of days came the change within the exhibition, each car, building and street light also came on and off with the change. The attention to detail here was great to see and think it made it all the more exciting and real for me to see, especially if you visit Las Vegas in the change from daylight to sunset.
The Downside To Minatur Wunderland
The only downside to the exhibition is the crowds. It can get a little tight and be prepared to leave a particular exhibition and come back to it when it is less busy. As people like to take their time and see everything they can on the exhibit, it meant that there was quite a build up in the first room but once past that initial room it tends to spread out more.
Approx time to spend at the attraction: 1.5 hours
If you didn’t already guess, it is a museum about chocolate. Who could possibly get to a city and turn down a visit to a chocolate museum? Not me! This is a perfect place to head to even if you are only spending one day in Hamburg. You can head here in the afternoon after a hectic morning at the Miniatur Wunderland.
Our tour started at 12.30. We arrived well before and got a chance to look around the store and bought a bottle of water.
We debated the water after being told by the staff it was wise to have one with us. At €1.50 we thought was going to be a scam – but it really isn’t.
There are many tours daily and even if you can’t book onto an English speaking tour you can get a guidebook. Tickets are available to book and purchased online or at the shop.
When the tour begins you are given chocolate straight away, that to me is a great start. We walked into a room with a large fountain. The fountain is covered with a protective plastic so unfortunately, I couldn’t just dunk my head underneath. The tour takes you from the very beginning of where the cocoa beans are grown and what makes the best cocoa bean as well as their shipping methods.
I really enjoyed the hands-on learning of the tour. Our guide who was fun and really interacted with the group. The museum has plenty to see other than what is shown to you. Not a detail is left out and definitely made me feel like I left an expert.
Making Our Own Bar Of Chocolate
In our opinion, the best part of the tour was when we got to make our own bar of chocolate. We were led into a room that had a beautiful smell of chocolate, although the whole museum smelt like that. On both sides of the room was a wide selection of different toppings. They have everything from dried fruits, smarties and chocolates to gummy bears and sweets. We were able to pick 3 toppings to use on our bars. It’s hard to choose just three but we managed in the end.
We finished the tour and got out bars at the end to wrap up ourselves and take home to eat. Though Helen’s didn’t last very long. I loved this tour and would happily go on it again to get all that chocolate again, this is a must do if you spend one day in Hamburg.
Harbour Boat Tour
Approx time to spend at the attraction: 2 hours
We booked onto a boat tour, after the Chocoversum tour we got the bus down to the harbour. We made it just in time before the boat itself left. While the boat tour was in German you get a headset in which you can listen to audio in your language and play each stop.
The headset comes with a phone like a device and you can look at images as well as read s short synopsis of the attraction. The boat ride was a lovely way to spend the late afternoon/evening and was very relaxing. The boat tour took you around the harbour to show you different attractions, buildings. If you don’t have much time left with your one day in Hamburg, this is a great way to bring it to a close and see the magnificent Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall from the river.
Approx time to spend at the attraction: 2 – 3 hours depending on the number of sites you’d like to visit and you’re walking speed.
On another more recent trip to Hamburg, we went out on a street art tour. Hamburg is well known for its street art and so if that’s your thing or you find yourself with a morning or late afternoon spare in the city, following this arty guide around the city might be right for you.
If a self-guided tour isn’t your kind of thing you can also book onto a dedicated tour with a local tour guide and specialist in the subject. See below.
Guided Tour of Hamburg Town Hall
Approx time to spend at the attraction: 1 hour
Hamburg Town Hall is open daily and continues to be in full political operation today. That said, you don’t need to be a politician to gain entry into this incredible neo-renaissance building. Instead, you can marvel at the building and a selection of the 647 rooms inside yourself or head out on one of the wonderful free guided tours.
Just outside Hamburg Town Hall, you’ll find the Rathausmarkt. This area is incredibly popular with fairs, markets and concerts.
Approx time to spend at the attraction: 1.5 hours
The Elbphilharmonie, often nicknamed ‘Elphi’ opened in 2017 on the peninsula of the Elbe River in HafenCity. This is the tallest building in Hamburg, and one of the largest and acoustically most advanced concert halls in the world.
Guided tours of the Elbphilharmonie are available in German, English, French, Spanish and can be booked online up to 12 weeks in advance. Tours are a set price of €15 per person.
Book Hamburg Attractions
Below is a list of just some of the Hamburg attractions you can book to enjoy during your one day in Hamburg.
Where To Eat In Hamburg
If you’re only spending one day in Hamburg then you’re going to want to dine at the very best places the city has to offer… We’ve done the research to find you those very places!
Mam Eat Greek
We found Mam Eat Greek one afternoon in a quiet area near the Superbude St Pauli hostel. The area was full of cool places to drink wine, coffee or grab something to eat. Mam Eat Greek was a family run business and was very popular with eat in and take away. It was freshly made and tasted delicious, it was a great place to find if you were looking for something a little different to eat.
Flamm Hus French Pizza
We found Flamm Hus on a walk around the canals in the Market Hall. The pizza was delicious and light and was more than enough for the 2 of us to share as a light lunch.
Milch Coffee Shop
There is nothing better than finding a great coffee shop or cafe to go and relax. Milch is located down towards the harbour side, great if you are heading there for a boat trip. The coffee shop is fairly new and has great ratings on TripAdvisor. The service as well as the coffee is fantastic and the cakes weren’t far behind either.
Better Burger Company
Better Burger Company is located in the centre of Hamburg just on the outskirts of one of the main shopping streets. The burgers here are handmade fresh served on a cool metal tray.
Jill – Neapolitanische Pizza
I won’t lie, we love pizza and sometimes there is nothing more comforting than having something you know and love. That is why we sought out another pizza place on our travels. We found Jill – Neapolitanische Pizza while out and had lunch. The pizza was beautiful and TripAdvisor reviews agree saying it is the best pizza in Hamburg. With a cool and large seating area, it is easy to see why it is so popular.
Bruecke 10 is located on the edge of the harbour and is a great spot to stop for lunch. Known as one of the best traditional German seafood spots in Hamburg. They serve up fresh made seafood sandwiches and dishes perfect to looking out over the harbour. Located at Pier 10 which can be found on google maps or easily signposted when near the harbour itself.
This is a traditional bakery located in the middle of the ‘Schanze’ quarter. This is a great spot if you fancy something sweet and traditional. Also on offer is a great range of tea and coffee. This is also located near Mam Eat Greek and Superbude St Pauli and is a nice spot to sit and relax.
One Day In Hamburg Map
The map below will help you to find food and attractions while in Hamburg. Each point corresponds to either an attraction or a restaurant highlighted in the guide above.
Hamburg City Travel Guide
A great way to travel around the city of Hamburg is by bike. I recommend using the application Donkey Republic (further information in the video below) for a self-guided tour of the city. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a guided tour of Hamburg on a bike then consider HH City Cycles who have English speaking tours available for different abilities starting from just €26.
Metro & Bus Using Hamburg Card
If cycling around doesn’t sound like your kind of thing then I instead suggest using public transport via the Hamburg card. Not only does the Hamburg Card offer you up to 50% off entry into some of the biggest and best attractions in Hamburg it comes with completely free travel.
For one day in Hamburg you can buy a day ticket that costs just €10.50 and can be purchased in advance online or in person at tourist information, HVV ticket vending machines and a number of hotels, hostels, and campsites within Hamburg.
I hope this has answered all your questions and queries about what to do with one day in Hamburg. As always if you think there’s an attraction or something to do that should be featured in our guide of how to spend one day in Hamburg please let us know in the comments below.
In the meantime, if you’re looking at spending longer in Hamburg, then consider going on one of the fantastic day trips from the city to lesser-known tourist locations nearby.
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