Boldly titled 'Gateway to the World', Hamburg is Germany's second largest city, Europe's largest port, and an increasingly popular destination for tourists. Situated on the banks of the Elbe River, Hamburg is also known as the 'Venice of the North', a reputation enhanced by a network of canals and two large lakes near the city centre. The city was strategically important as a port and is still imbued with a strong maritime tradition. Hamburg is a delight for music buffs, as the birthplace of famous 19th century composers Brahms and Mendelssohn. The city also later played host to the Beatles in their formative years.
Harbour in Hamburg © mediaoverflow
Hamburg is a distinctive mix of old brick buildings, modern glass facades and baroque churches. Nowhere is this more evident than the astonishing new Elbphilharmonie concert hall, its glass edifice perched atop an old brick warehouse. Visitors can take a free trip to the viewing deck of the building for views out over the harbour and Speicherstadt, the largest warehouse district in the world.
Every Sunday morning since 1703, trade has sprung up at Hamburg's traditional fish market, where tourists can take in the sights and sounds of the locals pedalling their wares.
Hamburg's nightlife is legendary. The main street running through the party district of St Pauli is called Grosse Freiheit (Great Freedom), and this is exactly what awaits the intrepid explorer. Highlights include Reeperbahn, Hamburg's answer to Amsterdam's red light district. The city also plays host to numerous music festivals throughout the year. The city has a number of museums dedicated to history, art, communications, ethnology, and even spices. Further afield, Hamburg is the gateway to the seaside and spa resorts of the Baltic and North Sea coastline.