10 Alternative Free Things to do in Hamburg, Germany
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This post is a comprehensive list of all the awesome free things to do in Hamburg, Germany.
Hamburg is a beautiful city in northern Germany with tons of free things to do! I lived there for a year when I was a teenager and often sought out cheap or free activities in Germany’s second largest city.
Here are 10 of my favourite free sites and things to do in Hamburg, Germany.
10 CULTURALLY-RICH FREE THINGS TO DO IN HAMBURG, GERMANY
Admire the Rathaus
If you’ve seen any photos of Hamburg, odds are that you’ve seen the Rathaus. And nope, it’s not a royal palace – it’s city hall! Constructed in the late 19th century, it’s one of the few completely preserved historic buildings in Hamburg. Even if you have just one day in Hamburg, the Rathaus should be on your list!
After admiring its beauty from the outside, be sure to pop into the lobby for a look inside the building, which is open daily from 8:00 am-6:00 pm. If you’re lucky, you might find a market or other event in the town square right in front of the Rathaus.
How to get there: take the bus or metro to the Rathaus or Jungfernstieg stations or walk from the main train station.
Take a Ride on the U3 Metro
Hop on the U3 (yellow line) at the Rathaus (city hall) and ride towards Kellinghusenstrasse for a scenic view of the city (and take advantage of a great opportunity to rest your feet a bit).
If you have a transit day pass, your ride is essentially free (day passes are cheap and I highly recommend getting one so you can explore beyond the walkable city centre).
Explore a Neighbourhood
You’ll never get bored exploring Hamburg’s many neighbourhoods. Here are a few: Speicherstadt (a UNESCO World Heritage site), St. Pauli, Hafen City (a newer neighbourhood), Sternschanze, Eppendorf, and Blankenese.
Take a Stroll Along the Outer Alster Lake
Right in the middle of Hamburg is a huge man-made lake! It’s gorgeous and offers a bit of serenity in the middle of the bustling city. While the smaller Inner Alster is easier to access from downtown (you can see it from the Rathaus), I recommend heading to the bigger Outer Alster. There are many paths to explore by foot or bike and benches for watching boats and swans.
If you have a couple hours, you can even walk around the entire lake. And if you’re in Hamburg in the winter you might even get to walk on the Alster. When the lake freezes over, Hamburg throws a party on it!
See the Harbor with Ferry 62
The Hamburg Harbor – the second largest in Europe – is an impressive site but harbour tours can be expensive. A free alternative (provided you have a transit day pass) is to take ferry 62 to Finkenwerder and back.
Riding alongside tourist and commuters alike, you’ll see huge container ships, the famous Fischmarkt, the popular Strandperle beach, and more.
How to get here: take the U3 (yellow line), S1 (green line) or S3 (purple line) to Landungsbrücken and walk across the bridge to Pier 3.
Explore the Massive Ohlsdorf Cemetery
Head a bit north of city centre and you’ll find the largest rural cemetery in the world with 12 chapels, 25 city bus stops, and 1.5 million burials. Over two million people (both tourists and locals) from all over the world visit Ohlsdorf every year!
Wander the “District of Stairs” in Blankenese
Ride the S1 (green line) 25 minutes out of the city centre and you enter what feels like a different world. Blankense is an old fishing village turned wealthy neighbourhood.
The most scenic part of Blankense is a 10-minute walk from the metro station. The Treppenviertel (District of Stairs) is a neighbourhood on a hill overlooking the Elbe river. Explore its narrow winding footpaths and admire the thatched-roof houses and amazing views of the Elbe river.
How to get there: take the S1 (green line) to Blankenese and follow the signs to the Treppenviertel.
Spend Sunday Morning at the Fischmarkt
If you’re in Hamburg on a Sunday morning, join both tourists and locals at the popular Fischmarkt. This open-air market has been in Hamburg since 1703 and offers all kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and fish. The Fischauktionshalle (Fish Auction Hall) offers food stands (I had the best shrimp sandwich there), beer, and live music from 5:00am-9:30 am (7:00am-9:30 am in the winter).
Even if you don’t want to buy anything, get up early (or head over after staying out late) and check out this popular Sunday morning market.
To reach the Fischmarkt take the U3 (yellow line) to Landungsbrücken or the S1 (green line) or S3 (purple line) to the Reeperbahn and walk the short distance to the market.
Tour the Elbphilharmonie
You don’t have to buy a ticket to a performance in order to visit the new Elbphilharmonie. Grab your free ticket on the street level and then ride the escalator to the observation deck for breathtaking views of the city and harbour.
To reach the Elbphilharmonie, take the U3 (yellow line) to Baumwall or ferry 72 from Landungsbrücken.
After, Explore Speicherstadt
After visiting the Elbphilharmonie, walk a couple blocks over to the distinctive Speicherstadt warehouse district. This picturesque section of Hamburg is full of canals, bridges, and 100-year-old brick warehouses. Perfect for a leisurely stroll and at least one selfie!
I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this list of free things to do in Hamburg, Germany. I’d love to hear from you if you tried any of the activities out. Comment below if you have anything else to add!
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