Hamburg is Germany’s largest seaport and second largest city in size (after Berlin). Officially a city-state, this modern, thriving international city in the North of the country is constantly renewing itself and known as the ‘Gateway to the World’.
The city residents, ‘Hamburgers’ are destined to be forever associated with their world famous creation, the beef burger. Their city is equally famous these days as one of Germany’s most prosperous and creative, being home to the nation’s publishing industry, while its Reeperbahn red light district attracts visitors from throughout Northern Europe.
Hamburg’s gay scene is divided into two main areas: around St Georg, with the Lange Reihe shopping street linking most of the gay bars and gay cafés; and St Pauli, close to Reeperbahn Station. Reeperbahn is the city’s nightlife centre and ‘red light’ district where many nightclubs (straight and gay) are located.
There are a few gay saunas and gay cruise clubs near the city’s Hauptbahnhof. While the Hamburg gay scene is no match in scale to Berlin, it is very active and attracts guys from throughout Europe and beyond year round.
Long known for its annual summer Leather Party, the city also hosts a gay Pride event (CSD) and a gay film festival every year.
Hamburg Airport is a large, modern international airport, well-served with flights from throughout Europe though with fewer direct intercontinental options.
The airport is connected to the city centre by the S-Bahn S1 commuter train with a journey time of 30 minutes and costing €3.20.
European discount carriers Ryan Air and Wizz Air use Lubeck-Blackensee Airport which is much further, some 65 km, from the city. There are bus connections to the city centre.
Hamburg has five major train stations and is well connected to other major European cities by high-speed train services. There are direct trains to other German cities including Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.
There are also international direct connections to Basel and Zurich (Switzerland), Copenhagen and Aarhus (Denmark), Budapest (Hungary), Prague (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria) and Bratislava (Slovakia).
Hamburg city center, Town Hall and Alster River
Hamburg has an extensive public transport system that operates 24/7, with buses and night buses, and trains (S-Bahn and U-Bahn) providing connections throughout the city centre and suburbs. Note the U4 subway line that connects the city centre to the newly developing Hafencity. Single tickets cost €3.20 and increase depending on how many zones you use.
There are also regular ferry services operating in the harbour and along the Elbe river. Take ferry line 62 from Landungsbrücken to Finkenwerder for a great scenic trip of the harbour for the cost of a standard day ticket (€6.20).
Taxis are plentiful and easy to spot with their traditional ivory white livery.
Bicycle hire is also easy and a popular way to get around the city. The city operates a hire system called StadtRad – register on the website first http://stadtrad.hamburg.de/kundenbuchung/ and then find a local kiosk to use a bike.
Hotels in Hamburg are generally well-located and convenient to to get around via public transportation or by walking.
We recommend staying within the Old Town near Hauptbahnhof central station. Or if you prefer to be closer to the nighttime entertainment, Reeperbahn has a good choice of hotels.
For our list of recommended hotels, visit the Gay Hamburg Hotels page.
Rathaus (Town Hall) – imposing, classic European town hall, with guided tours available.
Michaeliskirche (Church of St Michael) – Hamburg’s best-known architectural landmark; an 18th century Cathedral.
Hamburger Kuntshalle (Art Museum) – large art museum in an interesting historical building.
Jungfernstieg – pleasant city centre premiere shopping area with a concentration of designer boutiques.
Innenalster – the inner port area of the city which is now filled with retail shops, bars and restaurants.
Landungsbrueken (Harbour Piers) – a great walking option around the wharfs, piers and boardwalks of the harbour.
Harbour tours – Hop onto a regular ferry boat to explore the large harbour area and for great views back over the city.
Discover the newly emerging city rising from old industrial areas, islands and land reclaimed from the old city port.
The Speicher-Stadt is the district of old warehouses on the edge of Hafencity which is a photographer and architecture fan’s day out in itself to explore and capture.
Miniatur Wonderland – the world’s largest model railway, and still growing. Built with incredible attention to detail, this is now Hamburg’s most popular tourist attraction. Do not miss!
Alter Elbtunnel – connecting the city centre with the harbour, this old foot tunnel under the river is well worth exploring.
Parks and gardens:
Park Planten un Blumen – the city’s botanical gardens, for lovely walks, complete with fountains, kids playgrounds and an ice rink.
Aussenalster – recreational paths around a lovely lake in the outer port area, yet still very much in the city centre.
Alster Lakes – walk or jog the 8km of trails around these pretty lakes, or take a boat ride.
Treppenviertal Blankenese – take a trip to the hilly Blankenese district, with its quaint winding steep cobblestone streets, lovely villas and views over the River Elbe.
This video, produced by the Hamburg tourist authority gives a very good introduction to sightseeing in Hamburg.
With its location in the North of Germany, summer (June to August) will always be the peak months to visit, which is when the major gay events are held.
Hamburg Gay Pride is held every August, and the gay Film Festival every October. The annual summer Leather party has been attracting the gay leather scene to Hamburg for many years, and 2014 sees the much anticipated return of the ‘cruise’ boat, the MS Stubnitz, as the centre piece of the action.
Germany is within the Schengen visa area. If traveling from outside Europe, check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
The currency used in Germany is the euro expressed as EUR or €. There are many places to exchange money in Hambufg. Post offices usually give the best rates. However, you shouldn’t need to change money if you have an ATM card.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in shops, restaurants and hotels.
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