Germany is a country we’ve come to fall in love with, and the city of Hamburg is no different. Whether you plan to backpack around Germany or are simply visiting the city of Hamburg for a weekend break there is plenty to see and do.
While in our opinion the best time to visit any location is personal preference our guide explaining the seasons and events in Hamburg should help you figure out the right time for you.
We’ve been to Hamburg in both February and June, and on both occasions have benefited from it’s relatively warm and dry (except for one day in February that it rained all day).
The majority of the attractions you’ll find on this one day in Hamburg itinerary are in walking distance. However, if you’re staying slightly outside of the city centre or don’t fancy walking between attractions then consider getting the bus or metro.
Pro Tip: You can get a public transport day ticket for €8.00 that will cover you for both modes of transport all day, and plan your journeys online in advance.
Where you choose to stay in Hamburg depends on a number of factors such as budget, desired accommodation type and the number of guests you’re visiting with.
However, with all that being said with just one day in the city I recommend picking somewhere as close to the city centre as possible so you can minimise the amount of time you’ll spend travelling to and from your accommodation into the main hub of the city.
This will ensure you minimise the amount of time travelling and maximise the time experiencing all of the incredible things Hamburg has to offer.
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After breakfast head out to Speicherstadt, the largest warehouse district in the world. Buildings here were constructed between 1883 and 1927 and stand on a foundation of timber pile and oak logs.
The area spans more than 260,000 square metres, with buildings connected over waterways with small bridges that make for the perfect photo.
Pro Tip: To learn more about this region and the history of Hamburg consider booking onto an English guided walking tour.
These tours take around two hours and cover the Speicherstadt and HafenCity region of Hamburg.
After almost being demolished in the mid-1900s due to the damage inflicted on the buildings during the war.
These incredible neo-gothic buildings received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2015 and are now home to some of the major tourist attractions for the city including Miniatur Wunderland and The Dungeons.
Miniatur Wunderland is the number one rated attraction in Hamburg, and it’s easy to see why. Located in the historic Speicherstadt district of the city this exhibition was founded in 2000 and is now the largest model railway in the world.
Tickets cost €15 for adults and €7.50 for children and can be purchased online in advance or upon arrival at reception.
Miniatur Wunderland is suitable for all ages, with cheeky nude figurines for the adults as well as the incredible model trains and even an airport to keep little ones highly entertained throughout.
At the museum entrance, you’ll notice a screen which displays the number of guests who have visited Miniatur Wunderland since it opened in 2000 as well as the country they visited from.
You’ll see countries such as the UK and USA as well as smaller countries such as Saint Lucia and Jamaica.
We were surprised to see how incredibly detailed each piece of the exhibition was. Every single figure is an individual, no two are the same.
Then, of course, there is the keen attention to realism. Every section of the Miniatur Wunderland is designed to reflect a real place in the world.
From Las Vegas to the Norwegian Fjords right through to the grand St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Miniatur Wunderland has designed it all in an incredible micro-scale format.
There’s even a fully working airport with a departure and arrivals board as well as planes that take off and land. The designers here really have thought of everything!
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.
Nowhere is this highlighted more than in the Las Vegas scene which is designed to change from daytime to night-time every minute or so.
As this is such an incredibly popular attraction it can get busy, especially in some of the tighter areas of the building so be prepared to wait or go to another quieter room and come back at a later stage.
Just outside of Miniatur Wunderland is Speicherstadt Kaffee. This small café is the perfect place to grab lunch and a drink before moving on to exploring what the rest of your 1 day in Hamburg has to offer.
If you have some extra time and you’re a fan of coffee then consider also booking one of the coffee tasting sessions that are hosted here.
These sessions focus on exploring the different flavours of coffee, where the specific beans originate from and the best way to roast each set for maximum flavour.
After lunch, it’s time to head to the Hamburg Chocolate Museum, Chocoversum. Because who doesn’t want to learn about (and eat) chocolate on their 1 day in Hamburg, right?
Guided tours in English, French and German take place here daily and you’re advised to book a tour online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Our tour began at 12:30 and started with a trip to the chocolate fountain (these people are my kind of people!) before continuing on through the museum to learn about the process of harvesting cocoa beans in various locations around the world.
We really enjoyed the hands-on learning experience that the tour provided and can see why it’s popular with families and couples alike.
Of course, the best part of the tour was when we had the opportunity to make a bar of our very own chocolate. Decorated with an array of different nuts, sprinkles and dried fruits.
Once the tour is complete you’re able to take your personalised chocolate bar home and even purchase additional products from the large shop at the reception area.
Harbour Boat Tour
Finish the afternoon exploring Hamburg with a harbour boat tour.
These tours can be booked in advance, or you can book tickets upon your arrival at the harbour. Be sure to pick up a Hamburg card to get a 50% discount on these guided ferry tours.
Our tour was in German however we were given an audio headset in English which we could use to play pre-recorded information for each of the stops.
The headset comes with a phone like device and you can look at images as well as read a short synopsis of the attraction. The boat ride was a lovely way to spend the late afternoon especially as the sun was shining.
Alongside some background information about Hamburg and the importance of the harbour and the import and export of goods here, you’ll be able to learn about some of the new buildings which are continuing to be developed on the harbour front.
Pro Tip: If concert halls are your kind of thing then consider booking onto one of the guided tours of the Elbphilharmonie which are available in German, English, French, Spanish.
These tours can be booked online up to 12 weeks in advance and cost €15 per person.
Such as the magnificent Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall which opened in 2017 and is the tallest building in Hamburg and one of the most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.
Pro Tip: If a boat ride doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, consider going out on a street art walking tour of the city. You can follow our self-guided street art tour guide or even book a guide to take you out and explore the city personally.
If like myself and Helen you’re more of a dinner and a movie before bed type of traveller, then enjoy a fabulous dinner at one of the incredible Hamburg restaurants before retiring back to your hotel.
Don’t forget that for desert you have that incredible bar of chocolate you made earlier!
Alternatively, if you’re looking for an energetic nightlife scene while in Hamburg you’ll find it in Reeperbahn, the cities red-light district. The bars and clubs here range in size and entertainment formats.
Pro Tip: One of the largest music festivals in Europe takes place across the city and is named after this energetic street during the last four days of the weekend in September – if you’re a fan of music, it’s not to be missed.
The majority of places are open from sunset through until sunrise / the early hours of the morning.