St. Pauli & Reeperbahn
St. Pauli is known best for being the home of the Reeperbahn one of Hamburg's main centers for nightlife, with clubs, bars, and restaurants lining it and its side streets. The district is also infamous for its red-light district, which may intrigue the more intrepid traveler, but there is plenty for the visitor of conventional tastes to see and do, including the Fish Market and U-Boat at the harbor and the entertainment and recreation available on the main arcade.
John Lennon once declared "I might have been born in Liverpool - but I grew up in Hamburg,” and the mark that the Beatles and St. Pauli had on each other has been immortalized here too.
Speicherstadt (Warehouse District)
The lovingly restored district of Speicherstadt was one of the pillars of Hamburg's dominance as a world-beating port city in the late 19th century. The neo-gothic Wilhelminian warehouses have been celebrated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Visitors can stroll among the lofty buildings and take in the striking impression they cast over the canals.
Speicherstadt also features the incredible nine-floor Maritime Museum, and the world's largest model railway exhibition at Miniatur Wunderland, Germany’s most popular tourist attraction. The city's latest architectural icon, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, sits in pride of place in the harbour, feted globally for its quality acoustics and views across the port.
St Nicholas Church
As you walk around central Hamburg it is hard to miss the blackened ruins of St. Nikolai, looming over the Altstadt. A haunting reminder of July 1943, when allied bombers attacked Hamburg for 8 days, St. Nikolai has been preserved as a memorial against all war.
42,600 people died in the attack, one of the worst assaults on civilians of all time. Below the ruins of the church is a museum which explains more about Hamburg’s role in the war. Visitors can ascend the now structurally stable spire to an observation deck. On Thursdays, at noon a campanologist plays the bells in the tower, and they ring out across the old town.
St Michael’s Church
St. Michel’s was purposely built as Protestant after the reformation, and is a splendid example of Protestant baroque church architecture. The 132-meter-high steeple bears the largest clock face in Germany, and an observation deck with arguably the best vistas of Hamburg.
Covered in copper, the steeple gleams in the sun and has been a constant landmark for sailors on the Elbe since construction in 1786. Inside the church gives the impression of being in the curl of a seashell. Boasting no less than 5 organs, St. Michel’s seats 2,500 people making it a popular concert venue and the largest church in Hamburg.
Hamburg Town Hall
To step inside The Hamburg Rathaus (town hall), is to step into history. A masterpiece of the neo-renaissance style, the Rathaus was miraculously spared during an intensive bombing of Hamburg in WWII and looks much the same as it did upon opening in 1897.
Festooned with statues on its exterior, and ornately lined with busts, stained glass, and carved woodwork, the Rathaus tells the story of Hamburg in wondrous detail. It is worth taking one of the daily tours to discover more about the symbols and their meanings. The story of Hamburg and its people will unfold before your eyes.