Hamburg is becoming a top destination for international cruise lines, serving as the port of call for 164 ships annually with more than 400,000 passengers. This hotspot in northern Germany is also drawing visitors with a variety of maritime events and attractions, as well as the new urban district, HafenCity, expanding along the harbor.
HafenCity was created out of former docklands and is continuously growing as more restaurants, upscale retailers and cultural venues move into the area along the water. For example, every Saturday, visitors can shop at Der.Die.Sein Markt at Unilever House for unique souvenirs from 45 local artists and designers.The area even earned Hamburg the title as “European Green Capital” as a model for sustainable urban planning. In 2016, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall will open on the tip of Sandtorhafen, becoming the new landmark building.
From May 9-12, Hamburg will celebrate its 824th Harbor Birthday (Hafengeburtstag) carrying on the tradition dating back to 1189. The 4-day event is expected to draw 1.5 million visitors and will feature 500 booths, music, performances, food and entertainment, as well as ship parades and dragon boat races. On May 10, Hapag Lloyd’s MS Europa will have its ship-naming ceremony, a new tradition among cruise lines during the event.
First-time visitors should take a cruise of the harbor, and also see Hamburg from aboard a boat on the inner-city Alster Lake. For the most authentic experience, don’t miss the traditional Hamburg fish market every Sunday from 5 a.m. to 9:30 am.
Meanwhile, at the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum, located at a historic site in the middle of the harbor dating back to 1901, visitors can trace the paths of emigrants from the Hamburg harbor across the Atlantic to Ellis Island. The interactive museum is made up of three buildings that display 1,000 documents, a reconstructed dormitory, and the registration section of the Emigration Hall. The museum also features an onsite research center where visitors can search through passenger lists and access the genealogical database. The entrance fee is $16 for adults and $9.50 for children. For more information, visit ballinstadt.net.
Visitors seeking restaurants with maritime flair can visit Rickmer Rickmers, located onboard the museum ship Rickmer Rickmers serving traditional hanseatic cuisine, or Blockbrau, a recently opened brewery serving northern German dishes located at St. Pauli habor with a view of the river Elbe. In the heart of HafenCity, Chilli Club is a restaurant and bar in a prime location that looks chic, but isn’t over-the-top. The menu consists of modern Asian fusion and creative cocktails.
New on the hotel scene, Scandic Hotel Emporio is eco-certified featuring 325 rooms and the H2O restaurant, run by celebrity chef Jaime Oliver. The hotel features a Scandinavian design with blond woods and warm colors. For more information, visit scandichotels.com. Meanwhile, for travelers looking to be near the high-end shopping streets, Monckebergstrasse and Jungfernstieg, the four-star Barcelo Hamburg features 193 guestrooms and suites with city views. Visit m.barcelo.com/en_GB for more information.
For more information, visit hamburg-travel.com.