Hamburg is Germany’s third-visited city for good reason. Here are ten great things to do in Hamburg on a budget...
Franzbrötchen is to Hamburg what croissants are to Paris, custard tarts to Lisbon and Danish pastries to Copenhagen. They are buttery and soft on the inside, and flaky on the outside with a slightly sticky caramelised coating of sugar and cinnamon.
It would be a crime to visit Hamburg and not try one – they are gorgeous, and they are best enjoyed with good coffee.
You’ll easily get a coffee and pastry for around €5 in Hamburg, but if you really appreciate good coffee get yours at Café Elbgold on Lagerstrasse. It’s sublime, and they do very good latte art too.
The rise of the ‘free’ walking tour is one of the best things that’s happened to people who want to discover new places since… well probably since we started flying to those new places.
As with all these free tours, you pay what you think they’re worth, so don’t be mean. The Hamburg free tours last for two hours, and you can choose between a historic city centre tour (11am every day, meeting at the Town Hall) and a St. Pauli Reeperbahn tour (2pm daily, meeting at the Hard Rock Café). It's an interesting way to discover the great things to do in Hamburg on a budget.
The public park and botanical gardens are free to enter, and lovely to wander around. There’s a Japanese garden, a rose garden, greenhouses full of exotic plants, lakes and ponds, playgrounds, free concenrts and performances, and lots of space to sit and relax.
It’s a bona fide oasis in the middle of the city. But the highlight has to be the evening water fountain and light shows that run almost every evening from May to October – two artists create an incredible show with the fountains and some coloured lights. Hamburg’s own little Bellagio.
Over 70,000 people head to this Fischmarkt every Sunday, and if you’re in Hamburg you really should be one of them. It’s an absolute sensory overload, that starts at 5am from April to October and 7am the rest of the year.
Don’t expect just a bunch of people hawking fish – there’s all kinds of stuff on sale, as well as live music, beer, food stalls, and a mad mix of people who got up early to visit the place, and ones who stumbled down from Reeperbahn to sort out their booze-hunger!
It’s free in, but you should spend a tenner on some food (try the blackfish brötchen) and a drink.
You don’t need to shell out for a barge harbour cruise top get a floating tour of the area. They are great, but they can cost around €18 each.
If you’re on a budget, what you should do instead is get a HVV ticket hop on the 62 Ferry at pier 3 (Ladungsbrücken). The boat goes past all the harbour’s main sights, and you can hop off and back on again if there’s something you want to explore a little more closely.
Otherwise just stay on the boat and cruise past. The off peak day ticket is perfect for this, and only €6.
Strand Pauli is the place to go if you want a little beach vibe during your city break. It’s a place where you can kick off your shoes and feel sand under your feet while you have a few beers on a sunny day.
The outdoor terrace is huge, and decorated so that you’ll feel like you’re on a tropical island while surrounded by a German industrial harbour, which – lets be honest – is all any of us really want from a bar. Drink Astra – it’s Hamburg’s brew, and it’s €2.80 a bottle so you can have three!
The Old Elbe Tunnel is almost 24 metres deep underground (and under the Elbe river) and goes on for nearly 500 metres.
It was a pretty remarkable accomplishment back in 1911 when it was completed, and it’s still used today by pedestrians, cyclists and the odd vehicle. Take a walk through it.
It’s free, the inside of the tunnel is quite interesting (there’s even some sea-themes artwork to be found down there), and there’s a really nice view of the river and Hamburg from the other side.
Hamburg’s Warehouse District, the Speicherstadt, is just cool. It’s incredibly atmospheric, like a film set, with canals and beautiful architecture – and it’s just been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status on 5 July 2015.
It’s lovely to just walk around, and if you’re into photography you’ll be in your element. It handles a huge amount of the world’s carpet production, as well as tea, coffee, cocoa, and spices.
If you’re hoping that means it’s a good place to get a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate, you’re in luck. Go to Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei for some seriously strong, well-made coffee and fantastic cakes and pastries.
Well, we say ‘climb’ but there’s actually an elevator to take you to the top too, so don’t let the thought of over 130 metres worth of steps put you off!
It costs a fiver to go all the way up to the top, and when you get there you’ll be treated to brilliant panoramic views of the whole city, the port and the river.
It’s a spectacular view and a proper Hamburg ‘must-do’. The church is free to explore as well, if you’re into exploring churches – but really, the view from the tower is probably what you’ll remember most.
Ok, because it’s under a tenner we are officially pointing you towards the awesome Riesencurrywurst for €8.50 at Erika’s Eck.
It’s really gorgeous – but we have to be honest – you’re missing out if you don’t have one of their schnitzels. They cost €10.90, so it’s technically not officially on our list but if you’re the sort of Maverick who plays by your own rules, we really wouldn’t blame you for splashing out an extra 90 cent and having one of those big, breaded bad boys.
Just go there for dinner, it’s a Hamburg institution, and it’s open from 5pm in the evening until 2 pm in the afternoon.
Find more great things to do in Hamburg on a budget on Try Somewhere New.
Flights to Hamburg
- Dee Murray