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This article contains a Hamburg itinerary for 2 days and lists information on how to spend a weekend in Hamburg.
A colossal city based around the Elbe river in Northern Germany, Hamburg is a dream destination for those interested in history, architecture and nightlife. Identified by its iconic red brick buildings, there are many things to do within a weekend in Hamburg.
Even though Hamburg is not quite on the tourist radar, especially because it is far from the beautiful Bavarian region, it is still one of the most important cities in Germany. Not only is it the second largest city in Germany, but it is the largest port city in Germany and the third largest one in Europe. In fact, Hamburg is also known as the “gate to Germany”, which is why the city flag features a gate.
This Hamburg itinerary and travel guide lists all the top things to do in Hamburg in a weekend, how to get there, when to get there, where to eat in Hamburg and the best activities to try here.
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History of Hamburg, Germany
I personally love to read up the history of any city before I visit it as it adds character to an otherwise unknown place. That being said, there’s a lot to say about Hamburg. Two fires, one in 1842 and the other during the bombing of World War 2 in 1943 destroyed almost all of Hamburg. Due to this, Hamburg has been reconstructed with red bricks instead of the traditional half timber houses. This is the reason why Hamburg has the iconic look that we see today and it’s worth spending at least 2 days in Hamburg.
Is Hamburg Worth Visiting?
Yes! Absolutely yes! You just cannot skip a visit to Hamburg if you find yourself in Germany. It’s not just the red brick buildings or the canals or the architecture or food that will keep you hooked. While there are many reasons to love Hamburg, it’s the vibe and feel here that gets you. It is truly one of the best cities in Germany! This Hamburg itinerary for two days will help you see the best of the ctiy over a short period of time.
Are Two Days in Hamburg Enough?
To be honest, two days in Hamburg are sufficient to see the top attractions in the city. Sure, you can run around and check things off of a list within 24 hours in Hamburg but if you really want to experience the city, then you need more time – like a weekend in Hamburg. That being said, I’ve visited Hamburg four times and each time I have spent 2 days in Hamburg. And so I can assure you that you can definitely visit all the top attractions within a weekend in Hamburg.
Best Time to Spend a Weekend in Hamburg
The weather in Hamburg is pretty much the same as anywhere in Germany or western Europe. Which means that the winters are unbearably cold, long and dark and the summers are bright and beautiful. But it’s worth mentioning that I’ve visited Hamburg in October, February, May and August and I loved spending one day or the weekend in Hamburg city, irrespective of the weather.
How to Reach Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg, being one of the most important and biggest cities in Germany, is accessible easily by bus, train, plane or by car. Take a look at how you can reach Hamburg, Germany.
The Hamburg airport is located just 13 km from the city center and can be reached easily through the various public transportation in Hamburg. The easiest way to reach Hamburg from Hamburg airport (or vice versa) is to take the S-bahn that goes directly to the Hamburg main train station ( Hamburg HBF).
How to Reach Hamburg by Train
Germany has good train connections. And so, the best way to get to Hamburg by train is to take the IC (Intercity) or ICE (Inter-City Express) trains that run between cities. You can book these trains on the Deutsche Bahn app or website. Furthermore, you could even take the RE (Regional Express) trains to reach and spend a weekend in Hamburg city.
How to Reach Hamburg by Bus
To be honest, the train connections within Germany are much stronger than the bus connections. That being said, if you’re looking for a way to reach Hamburg by bus then you can consider booking a FlixBus that can provide a cheap and good connection.
How to Get Around Hamburg City
Although Hamburg is one of the biggest cities in Germany, you can actually walk to most of the places to see in Hamburg. That being said, if you’re spending just a weekend in Hamburg and need to visit some of the spots that are slightly away from the city center, you can use the S-bahn or the U-bahn which is basically like the metro system. You will see signs for the bahn stations as you walk around the city or you could download the DB Navigator app to find the best way to go from one spot to another.
Hamburg Map of Places to Visit in Hamburg in 2 Days
Where to Stay in Hamburg, Germany
Whether you’re going to spend 2 days in Hamburg or perhaps more than 2 or 3 days in Hamburg then you need to find yourself a good, reliable place to stay. Lucky for you, I’ve done most of the research myself. Given the city’s popularity, there are tons of hostels, well-rated hotels and even boutique hotels in Hamburg. Additionally, you can even check out the best hotels in Hamburg for any budget on booking.com where I usually find the perfect hotels. Take a look at my pick of the best places to stay in Hamburg.
While there are many great hostels in Hamburg, Pyjama Park in Schanzenviertel is the best-rated hostel in Hamburg. Not only do they have huge rooms – dorm as well as private, but their location is one of the reasons why people love staying here.
Apart from that, Backpackers St. Pauli, located in Altona, is another top choice. In addition to a terrace, barbeque facility, bar, and a shared lounge, they provide budget-friendly private rooms as well as dorms in Hamburg city.
Situated centrally between the Hamburg train station, townhall, miniatur wunderland and other places to visit in Hamburg in 2 days, this budget-friendly hotel in Hamburg provides all basic amenities at affordable rates. To top it off, pets are allowed at this hotel and they even offer a nice breakfast.
Offering great views of Hamburg, a 6th floor gym, a cafe and restaurant on premises and 24 hour room service, Holiday Inn is only a short walking distance from the beautiful Speicherstadt area. So if you only have two days in Hamburg, then this centrally-located hotel would be perfect for you.
A spacious and luxurious Hotel, courtyard by Marriott in Hamburg City offers many amenities such as a gym, bar, restaurant on premises, 24-hour desk and a business center. Additionally, their clean and spacious rooms, modern furniture and excellent location make this the perfect choice of hotel in Hamburg when you have just a weekend in Hamburg.
With a nice view of the Alster lake, Fairmont Hotel is a 5-star hotel in Hamburg City that features spacious rooms, luxurious decor, buffet breakfast, gourmet cuisines, a Michelin restaurant and a terrace with a view of the Lake. Moreover, their spa, fitness center, yoga classes and other activities will help you relax after spending the whole day in Hamburg.
13 Best Things to do in Hamburg in 2 Days
The Elbphilharmonie is an architectural wonder and now a landmark of Hamburg, Germany. It is located on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe river. Inaugurated in January 2017, this opera house has one of the best views of Hamburg city. Despite being an object of controversy due to the excessive cost of €870 million that went into the construction of the building, it is still one of the best things to do in Hamburg. In fact, going up to the terrace of the Elbphilharmonie is free of cost and open to the public.
To go up to the Elbphilharmonie terrace, go to the counter at the right hand side of the building, get a coupon for no cost and take a gorgeous elevator ride to the top. You’ll find a café shop, souvenir shop and public restrooms in addition to a breathtaking view of Hamburg.
2. Townhall (Hamburg Rathaus)
Dating back to the 1800s, the Hamburg Rathaus or town hall is also an important landmark in the city of Hamburg. To top it off, it is architecturally marvelous both inside and out. Normally, there are tours of the Rathaus conducted but as of 2022, they are not conducting it anymore. However, you can still walk into the ground floor of the Rathaus and the verandah in the back.
3. Old Elbe Tunnel
Built in 1911, the Old Elbe tunnel or Alter Elbtunnel is yet another architectural marvel and one of the top places to visit in Hamburg in two days. The tunnel is built underwater and accessible by foot and vehicles using an elevator that goes to the bottom. Furthermore, it lies 23.5 m below sea level and is 426.5 m long. It was constructed to make it easier for workers to commute between the docks and the shipyard. Today, the tunnel is used both by locals as well as tourists, who can visit the tunnel free of cost. Furthermore, the Elbe tunnel is close to the other places to see in Hamburg and is a must-visit highlight in Hamburg.
4. International Maritime Museum
Located in HafenCity, Hamburg, the international Maritime Museum contains impressive models of ships, maritime art pieces, German naval history and everything about ships. Not just that, it is located next to the most picturesque bridge in Hamburg close to all the places you need to visit within a weekend in Hamburg.
5. Alster Lake
The larger one of the two artificial lakes in Hamburg, Alster lake is one of the unmissable places to see in Hamburg if you’re visiting in Summer. During Summertime, the lake is full of people in rented paddle boats, canoeing and kayaking. In fact, there is even a promenade at the lake to sit and have a drink or to take a stroll around the vast circumference of the Alster lake. It’s certainly worth making a trip to the lake to relax after a hectic day of sightseeing when you have two days in Hamburg.
6. St Michael’s Church
One of the five main Lutheran churches in Hamburg, St Michael’s Church is an important historical and touristic point in Hamburg. Apart from holding a museum in the crypt, visitors can even pay €6 to take the elevator to the top of the church from where one can see the most spectacular view of Hamburg city as well as the Elbphilharmonie. From an architectural standpoint, the clocktower of St Michael’s Church contains 4 clocks which have the largest clock faces in Germany. All of this makes this church one of the must-visit attractions in a Hamburg itinerary for 2 days.
7. St Nikolai Memorial
Whether you have a weekend in Hamburg or less than 24 hours, you have got to visit the St Nikolai Memorial for a number of reasons. Firstly, between the years 1874 and 1877, the tower of this church was, in fact, the tallest building in the world. After the second world war, the ruins of the church were turned into a memorial to remember the victims of war and tyranny. You’ll find the memorial in the open air part of the church and it is free to visit.
Coming to one of the most exciting things to do in Hamburg, not only is Speicherstadt the most exciting place to visit in Hamburg, but it is also the most instagrammable spot in Hamburg. The largest warehouse district in the world, the area has been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Even though most of the buildings here are just warehouses, the red brick construction all around is breathtaking and thus popular among tourists. Apart from that, there are even a number of museums in this area such as the Maritime museum, the Zoll Museum and Miniatur Wunderland.
You’ll even find a number of cafes and restaurants in Speicherstadt where you can enjoy a meal with a fabulous view of the iconic red construction of Hamburg. Take a look at my pick of the best places to eat in Hamburg at the bottom of this Hamburg travel guide.
The Fischmarkt, or fish market, is the place to be on a Sunday when you’re spending a weekend in Hamburg. Not only will you find incredibly fresh fishes, fruits, flowers, fish sandwiches and clothes, but also souvenirs. This open air market even has live music and performing bands at times. And so, do try to spare some time for this exciting local experience during your Hamburg trip.
The Hamburger Kunsthalle or Art Hall is a large art museum that contains paintings and installations from different eras and a mixture of different styles of art. The best part is that just like most museums in Europe, the museum is free to visit if you’re under 25. For the rest of us older folk, the regular tickets cost €14.
11. Miniatur Wunderland
When you have more than just 24 hours in Hamburg, then you have got to visit the Miniatur Wunderland. The reason why I say this is because this museum is so amazing that you’ll end up spending almost a day here. And so you need at least 2 days in Hamburg or more in order to get the most out of your visit to Miniatur Wunderland. The literal English translation of the name is ‘miniature wonderland’ and a wonderland it is!
The museum contains life-like miniature replicas of entire cities, airports (including working models), railway stations, model trains, cars, ships and what not. You’ll need at least 5-6 hours to really enjoy the intricate, amazing structures here. What’s more, this place is entertaining both for kids as well as adults.
Because this is one of the top things to do in Hamburg, it is highly recommended to book tickets in advance via their official website.
The trendiest part of Hamburg, the Schanzenviertel contains boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and party spots. From the 1980s until 2004, the Schanzenfest or the Ski jump festival used to be held annually in this year. This festival contained street food stalls, flea markets, street art and artists as well as alternative music. However, in recent years, the festival has turned violent and so it is better to visit this area during a normal time instead of during the festival.
13. Hamburg Boat Ride or Ferry Ride
To see the best view of Hamburg, consider taking an inexpensive ferry ride. In my opinion, a short ferry ride between the Elbphilharmonie and Landing Bridge 1 (near the Old Elbe tunnel) is quite scenic and sufficient to see the best views of Hamburg from a boat. If you have a Hamburg travel pass or a Niedersachsen or Lower Saxony travel pass, then all ferry rides are included in the ticket.
Alternatively, you could book a boat tour of Hamburg that comes with an audio guide in many languages. This way, not only will you get to see the best views of Hamburg from a boat but also gain a lot of information about the history and architecture of Hamburg, Germany.
Hamburg Itinerary for 2 Days
Day 1 of Hamburg Itinerary for 2 Days
- International Maritime Museum
- Ferry Ride
- Landing Bridges
- Old Elbe Tunnel
- Fish Market
- St. Michaels Church
- Museum for Hamburg History
Day 2 of Hamburg 2 Day Itinerary
- Miniatur Wunderland
- St. Nikolai Memorial
- Shopping in the city center
- Alster Lake
Where to do Shopping in Hamburg, Germany
Any Hamburg itinerary and travel guide wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include where to do shopping in Hamburg, Germany. The area around the Rathaus (Townhall) is perfect to pick up souvenirs and clothes or accessories. The souvenir shops are directly across from the Rathaus. Afterwards, you can walk around the area where you’ll find all sorts of both mid-range and high-end stores.
Where to Eat in Hamburg
There is no dearth of places to eat in Hamburg. Due to the size and the multi-cultural environment of Hamburg, you will find plenty of cuisines and various interesting restaurants and cafes in Hamburg city. The majority of Indian restaurants in Hamburg are located behind the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Sarvana Bhavan is an Indian restaurant where you will find excellent South Indian specialities such as idli, dosa and more. Coming to authentic Italian food, Andronaco restaurant in Hafencity is close to most of the places to visit in Hamburg in two days and serves the best pasta, pizza and gelato.
Best Activities to do in a Weekend in Hamburg
- Port of Hamburg Cruise Tour
- Red Light District Walking Tour with Drink
- 1.5 Hour Cruise of Hamburg Harbor and Speicherstadt
- A Romantic Evening Lights Cruise of Hamburg Harbor
- Combo Tour: Hop-on Hop-off and Harbor Cruise Ticket
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