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3 days in Hamburg – everything you need to know to plan the perfect break

So you have 3 days in Hamburg and you are wondering what to expect? Well, hip bars, amazing architecture, and plenty of atmosphere are just some of the things that await you as part of your Hamburg itinerary.  We were lucky enough to explore this city through the Come to Hamburg project.

We had 3 days in the city where we had the opportunity to explore some of the main tourist attractions, get lost in the colourful streets, and try some amazing food. We tried to fit in as much as possible, and after 3 days in Hamburg, our feet were sore, but we definitely enjoyed our time in the city.

Here is our 3 day Hamburg itinerary that will hopefully help you plan your own trip to this amazing city.

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Hamburg Itinerary Factsheet

Country: Germany

Language(s): German but English is widely spoken

Currency : Euro

Visit if you like: European city breaks, architecture, and history

Hamburg is a major port city located in the Northern part of Germany. It is the second largest city in Germany and consists of hundreds of canals, lots of beautiful parkland, and parts of the city were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite it being the 3rd largest port in Europe, you might be interested to know that the city isn’t actually located on the sea. In fact, a ship would need to travel 109 kilometres along the River Elbe to reach Hamburg.  

Another cool thing about Hamburg is that it has more bridges that any other city in the world, in part due to the canals that snake their way through the city. In my head I always thought maybe Amsterdam or Venice would hold that title, but apparently not. 

If you are wondering if Hamburg is worth visiting here is an article to help you decide.

Or if you are deciding between Hamburg and Berlin here is a helpful guide.

Where to stay during your 3 days in Hamburg

Hamburg has a lot of accommodation to fit all budget types. We got the opportunity to stay at the Sofitel Hamburg Alter Wall. This luxury hotel is located right next to a train station which made it the perfect location for us. You can read our review here. 

Our lovely room at the Sofitel

If you are looking for something more budget friendly then do have a look at the Hotel Bergedorfer Hohe. Located in Bergedorf this hotel provides you with the opportunity to explore the surrounding town as well as Hamburg centre.

Best areas to stay for your Hamburg itinerary

So we have given a bit of a rundown on the hotels we have stayed in during our time in Hamburg, but we know choosing an area can be a bit overwhelming. Here is a breakdown on the best areas to stay during your 3 days in Hamburg.


Obviously 3 days in Hamburg doesn’t give you a lot of time in the city. With this in mind you want to make sure that you are staying somewhere central. That is why Altstadt is a great option, especially if this is your first time visiting.

It is centrally located and is basically the commercial district of Hamburg. It’s also right by Lake Alster and City Hall. It’s very picturesque and close to a lot of the main city attractions.

The only downside is that it can be quieter here at night. So if you are looking for somewhere with a lot of nightlife this might not be for you. It can also be a little expensive due to its central location.


Neustadt is another central location, and this tends to be a bit more upmarket. It’s close to St Michaelis which is a beautiful baroque church, as well as the Portuguese quarter.

There are a lot of restaurants in the area to suit all budgets, although it does tend to be quieter in the evenings.


Hafencity is another central area, in the regenerated docklands of Hamburg. The architecture around here is really cool, and there are lots of cool cafes and restaurants in the area. It’s close to the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg concert hall, as well as a number of museums and galleries.

Accommodation in the area is varied so you get everything from upmarket stays, mid range hotels, and some hostels.


Altona is a great area to stay if you are looking for something a little more hip and happening. There are a number of bars in the area, as well as cafes and restaurants. It’s a bit more lively than some of the other central areas.

It’s also right on the harbour, so you are close to a lot of attractions, and public transport. There is also a fish market in the area every Sunday morning. Although when we went there was already live music and beers being served, which kind of gives you an idea of what the area is like.

This is a great place to stay for a younger crowd.

St Pauli

If you are all about the nightlife St Pauli is your best bet for your 3 days in Hamburg. St Pauli doesn’t always have the best reputation and it is also home to the Reeperbahn. That being said though it’s generally safe, and is full of clubs, bars, and entertainment.

No matter your budget you will find a wide range of accommodation here.

Things to do during your 3 days in Hamburg

There are a lot of incredible things to do in Hamburg, and obviously in 3 days you might not be able to do them all. That being said here are our favourite things to do in Hamburg.

 City Bus Tour with Die Roten Doppeldecker

One of our favourite things to do when visiting a new city especially with limited time is to do a city bus tour. It is the perfect way to orient yourself as part of your 3 day Hamburg itinerary.

We did the full circle (Sightseeing tour – Line A) and got to see a lot of Hamburg. There is live commentary in German, but you can plug your earphones in and there is pre-recorded commentary in English. The best thing about the tour was that it showed us how big Hamburg is, which really surprised us.

You can book your tickets online in advance on Get your Guide.

Things to do in Hamburg
One of the leaving points for the bus tour

St Michael’s Church 

St Michael’s is a great addition to your Hamburg itinerary particularly if you are looking for some pretty awesome views.

We discovered this on the bus tour, and we decided to hop off and explore. The church is one of the most famous in Hamburg and the church tower offers panoramic views of the city.

The good news is there is a lift but if you really want to you can climb the 400 plus steps to the viewing platform.

If you want to book online in advance then you can do that here.

The incredible view from St Michael’s

Harbor Boat Tour with Barkassen Meyer

Things to do in Hamburg
Our boat ready to take us on the tour

You cannot plan a 3 day Hamburg itinerary without doing a boat tour. There are so many companies offering tours around the harbour. You literally cannot walk around here without someone trying to sell you a tour. We had the opportunity to do the tour with Barkassen Meyer and it was amazing.

The tour was in German but we got an app from the main office which gave the commentary in English. The best bit about this was that you could click on the area you were passing and the commentary would start. This ensured you didn’t miss anything.

We sat on the top deck, the wind in our hair, and an Aperol Spritz or in Dave’s case a pilsner in hand. The highlight of the tour was when we went right up to some of the larger boats filled with shipping containers. The sheer size of these boats and the machinery is on an epic scale and is a sight to behold.

There are actually several different cruises you can book onto with some examples below.

What could be better than a boat tour and a beer?

Miniatur Wunderland

Another must for your 3 days in Hamburg is a visit to Miniatur Wunderland. Dave really wanted to do this, especially when we found out through the commentary on the bus tour that this was home to the world’s largest model railway exhibition.

I wasn’t sure what to expect so went along reluctantly. I have to say I was really impressed. It is actually so amazing and we highly recommend visiting if you come to Hamburg. The displays are so intricate that it almost transports you back to that magic of being a kid. There are various displays and different themes although our personal favourite was the airport display which involved a model plane taking off.

The model airport


Our hotel was really close to the Rathaus or Town Hall. This was perfect because it gave us ample opportunity to walk by and marvel at the building. You can actually go in and have a look at the lobby, which again is worth it if you have the time.

If you are lucky enough to visit around Christmas the Rathaus becomes the home of the Hamburg Christmas Markets.

The Rathaus in all its glory

St Pauli Fischmarkt

St Pauli Fischmarkt isn’t just a place full of fresh fish. I mean it has that, but it is so much more. It’s a cute little market where you can buy clothes, fruit and veg, and much more. It opens on Sunday morning, and once you are done shopping head to the fish auction hall where you can grab some brunch and live music performances.


Unveiled in 2017 the Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall that fits 2100 spectators inside. It’s one of the most acoustically advanced venues ever built, and is home to the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.

The building itself is really cool, and looks a bit like the sails on a ship. There is an observation deck at the top, as well as a cafe, both of which are open to the public.

International Maritime Museum

If you are a fan of all things maritime related this museum is for you. The International Maritime Museum is a private collection of model ships, construction plans, uniforms, and maritime art. The museums has over 40,000 artefacts and over a million photographs.

It was born from one man’s passion for all things nautical, and is a popular tourist attraction today. It’s also located in Kaispeicher B, which is the oldest warehouse in the Speicherstadt.

Kunsthalle Hamburg

The Hamburger Kunsthalle is one of the largest art museums in Germany. It’s well worth a visit if you are into your art.

You could probably spend a full day here just looking at all the art which includes pieces by Rembrandt, Rubens, and even Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Poggenmuhlen Bridge

This is probably the most famous bridge in Hamburg and believe me there are a lot! Photographers flock here to get a snap of one of the most famous scenes in Hamburg. It’s also really busy after sunset when the light begins to fade. If you are looking for Instagram spots in Hamburg then we have an article to help you get those social media perfect snaps here.

Things to do in Hamburg
Taken from the Poggenmuhle bridge

Chocoversum (chocolate museum) 

Another favourite on our 3 day Hamburg itinerary. Because who doesn’t love chocolate! This place is a chocoholic’s dream. You get to learn all about the chocolate journey from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. You also get to do a lot of tasting along the way.

We got to design our own chocolate bar to take home. Let’s just say neither of us are going to become chocolate artists anytime soon. Most of the tours are in German but on Saturday and Sunday at 12.30pm they do an English tour. Our guide was fantastic and we learnt so much about the process. The whole tour takes about 90 minutes and is definitely worth it (even for the chocolate samples alone).

We recommend booking your tour online in advance so that you don’t miss out.

Creating our chocolate masterpieces

The Old Elbe Tunnel

This was by far one of the coolest tunnels we have seen. It was recommended to us by a local so you know it has to be amazing. Opened in 1911, this was actually the first river tunnel in mainland Europe. It is worth getting the lift down and having a look even if you don’t intend to walk it.

View of the Old Elbe Tunnel

Reeperbahn and St Pauli

The most recognised street in the Reeperbahn

Yes it is seedy and yes it is frequented by stag and hen do’s but however you feel about it, the Reeperbahn is worth a visit. At night the area is chaotic and rowdy, but in the day it has a quieter vibe. It is also located in the St Pauli area which is a great place to walk around.

There are a lot of hip bars and restaurants to discover. Plus you can get some cool photos of the graffiti laden walls. Around Christmas this area is home to the Santa Pauli Christmas markets, which are probably the most interesting Christmas Markets we have ever visited to say the least.

We recommend doing a tour of the area to learn a little bit more about it all, and experience the nightlife.

The beach

This was one of the more surprising stops on our 3 day Hamburg itinerary. If you get on the ferry from Landungsbruken to Finkenwerder (Line 62) you can hop off at Ovelgonne and head to the beach. On a warm day you will find kids building sandcastles and dipping their toes in the water, with cranes and tugboats in the background. There are also some lovely bars and cafes there which makes it all the more appealing on a summer’s day. It’s a great place to walk around and explore or just sit and take in the view. I should also add that the houses here are just incredible.

Eating during your 3 day Hamburg itinerary

Germany of course is synonymous with eating sausages and drinking beers. And this is of course what we did a lot of the time during our 3 days in Hamburg. But there is so much more to Hamburg. Here are some of the best places to eat during your trip.

Better Burger Company

If you want cheap and cheerful good quality burgers we recommend Better Burger Company. You get to build your own burger from a wide variety of different toppings and sauces. It’s quick and easy, and great if you are in a rush.


This restaurant is a little more upper class, and is located in the basement of City Hall. Which alone is pretty amazing. The setting is very grand and they have three separate dining rooms. They serve a lot of local dishes like fish, and classic hamburgers.


Fischereihafen Hamburg is a must for seafood lovers. It is a little bit more pricey with the Prince and Princess of Wales being some of the more famous guests in the past. It’s a beautiful place to eat with a grand setting. You can order things like lobster, oysters, and much more. It’s perfect for adding a touch of romance to your 3 day Hamburg itinerary.

Erika’s Eck

If you are after something a little more traditional head to Erika’s Eck. It’s an institution in Hamburg serving giant schnitzel portions well into the night. It’s located in the Sternschaze area and is perfect for lining your stomach before/after a few drinks.

Cafe Paris

I love visiting Europe and going to those grand style cafes. Cafe Paris is like that with a heavy French influence. It’s good for a hearty meal especially if you are into French food.

Drinking during your 3 days in Hamburg

Hamburg is a great place to go for a night out. There are so many amazing bars, clubs, and live music venues to suit all tastes. Here are some of our favourite places to do if you are looking for drinks during your 3 days in Hamburg.


This hidden cocktail bar is one of the coolest in Hamburg. You walk in and honestly it feels like you have been transported to another world. There are logs on the wall, and tree branches hanging over head and that is just the beginning.

They actually distil their own gin here, so it’s highly recommended you order a gin cocktail.

Zum Silbersack

Located in the Reeperbahn Zum Silbersack is a very popular hangout for tourists and locals. It does get busy but this dive style bar is well worth it. The drinks are cheap, the atmosphere is jovial, and the floors are…well sticky. Enjoy!

Le Lion

Le Lion is considered one of the best cocktail bars in Hamburg. It’s got a whole Mad Men style interior going on. The drinks are really good, and the signature drink is the Basil Smash which is worth a try.


StrandPauli is perfect for those summer days when you just want to sip drinks and chill in the sunshine. It’s got a Caribbean kind of theme going on with a very relaxed atmosphere and loud music.

Sample 3 day Hamburg itinerary

Here is a sample 3 day Hamburg itinerary to give you a bit of inspiration for your own trip to this amazing city.

3 days in Hamburg – Day 1

Day 1 of your 3 days in Hamburg should be spent getting acquainted with the city. We certainly think one of the best ways to do this is to do a hop on hop off tour. Do the full circuit to learn all about the history of the city, before disembarking in the warehouse district.

Once here check out the Miniatur Wanderland. This should take you to late afternoon/ early evening when we recommend visiting the Reeperbahn area and exploring St Pauli. Make time for a few drinks and if you are game for a night out this is definitely the area to do it!

3 days in Hamburg – Day 2

Day 2 of your 3 day Hamburg itinerary starts with some awesome views. We recommend a morning visit to St Michaels Church where you can admire the views of the city. Then walk down to the harbour and do a harbour cruise. Once you are done in the afternoon have a drink at one of the harbour bars before exploring the Elbe Tunnel.

In the afternoon get the ferry over to Ovelgonne to walk around and admire the incredible houses. Make some time for a drink, and some food as well, before heading back into town for the evening.

3 days in Hamburg – Day 3

What better way to start the day than with a visit to the Chocolate Museum. Spend the morning making your own chocolate and learning about the history of it too. Once you are done head to the Rathaus to explore this area and get lost in some of the back streets. Make some time to visit the Poggenmuhlen Bridge or wait till golden hour to get some of those Instagram worthy shots.

When is the best time to plan your Hamburg itinerary?

Hamburg is one of those places that you can pretty much visit all year round. In the summer months. You are probably looking at a temperature range between 16 and 30 degrees Celsius on average in June, July, and August.

At this time of year Hamburg comes alive with al fresco dining, canal side drinks and much more. August tends to be the busiest month in Hamburg for tourism due to the school holidays. This means that you may find yourself queuing for tourist attractions a little longer. Accommodation is also a bit more expensive, so do make sure you book well in advance if you are planning your Hamburg itinerary for August.

Hamburg also has a lot of indoor activities like museums, that you can enjoy in the winter months, so visiting in winter is also viable. In December the Christmas markets begin and Hamburg becomes a magical winter wonderland full of festive cheer.

If you want decent weather, but also want to avoid the swarms of tourists May and September are great months to visit. Accommodation is a bit cheaper too.

3 days in Hamburg – getting here

Hamburg is a pretty easy city to get to. It’s the second largest in Germany, and there are several regular flights between German and European cities. Airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet both have frequent flights to the city, which is great if you are looking for cheap flights.

Chances are your Hamburg itinerary will begin at Hamburg Airport. Well the good news is that getting from the airport to the city centre is quick and easy. If you are wanting to take public transport get on the S-Bahn which runs every 10 minutes. This will take you to Hamburg Central Station in about 25 minutes.

Is 3 days in Hamburg enough?

You might be wondering how much time you need in Hamburg. We think 3 days in Hamburg is the perfect amount of time to explore the city, and see all the main attractions. This should also give you enough time to experience some of the nightlife the city has to offer. Obviously the longer you have in Hamburg the better, but 3 days really is a good amount of time.

Romantic things to add to your Hamburg itinerary

If you are lucky enough to be visiting Hamburg with your significant other, then here are some of the more romantic things to add to your itinerary.

Take a canal/ harbour cruise

A harbour cruise especially during the evening, is a great way to experience a bit of romance. You can chill out with your partner and watch the world sail on by. Here is a great evening cruise you can book.

Visit the Christmas Markets

If you are visiting in December the Christmas Markets are a must for any romantic weekend in the city. I mean what says romance more than mulled wine, and food?

Head to the Poggenmuhlen Bridge for sunset

Located in the warehouse district this bridge is popular with photographers at sunset, for a reason. The lighting and reflections off the surrounding buildings are just beautiful as the sun goes down. Definitely a must for your Hamburg itinerary.

Do a private sunset evening tour

For the ultimate romantic experience why not book on a sunset tour, that takes you to some of the most iconic sights in Hamburg.

Explore St Pauli and the Harbour by night

Walk through the harbour with the bright lights reflecting in the water, before heading to St Pauli and the Reeperbahn to experience the nightlife Hamburg has to offer. You can book here in advance.

How to get around as part of your Hamburg itinerary

The good news when planning your Hamburg itinerary, is that it is a really easy city to get around. You will probably walk a lot of the time. A lot of the key attractions are within walking distance, with a few exceptions.

That being said there will probably be times when it’s just easier to use public transport. We recommend purchasing the Hamburg Card as this will cover all of your public transport costs.

The cheapest option is a single day pass for €11.90, and this goes up to 5 days for €46.90. There are also different prices for group passes which are useful when travelling with two or more.

The card includes most of the public transport in the city, including your trip to and from the airport. You are essentially covered on the bus, ferry, the S-Bahn, and the U-Bahn. Although the U-Bahn which is the city subway is the main way to get around.

Once you purchase the card for specific dates, you just need to carry this around with you and present it when asked.

Should I purchase the Hamburg Card for my Hamburg itinerary?

We actually found the Hamburg card to be really good value, so would recommend you purchase it. Of course this is dependent on what you plan to do as part of your Hamburg itinerary.

But if you plan to use public transport, visit some museums, or even do a boat or bus tour, then the card is worth it. In some instances you get up to 50% off.

We have mentioned costs above, and for more information you can visit the Hamburg Tourism website.

How much money do I need for my 3 days in Hamburg

Hamburg isn’t super expensive, which is good news if you are on a budget. As mentioned our accommodation in Hamburg was covered, but realistically you should expect to pay between €80- €150 per night for mid range accommodation in the city. There are a lot of accommodation choices so make sure you book in advance and you can get a good deal.

For everything else we budgeted around €100 per person per day. We didn’t spend close to that (again a lot of our tours were covered), but we were pleased to find that food and drinks are quite moderately priced in Hamburg.

What to pack for 3 days in Hamburg

Here are some suggestions on must bring items for your 3 days in Hamburg.

  • Bring an umbrella or raincoat as the weather can be unpredictable
  • Comfortable shoes are a must
  • Bring swimwear in the summer
  • And a decent coat in the winter
  • Casual clothes are generally fine unless you are going to super fancy places.

Things to know when planning a Hamburg itinerary

Here are some top tips and things to consider when planning your own Hamburg itinerary.

  • Get a Hamburg Card – it’s really worth it.
  • Carry cash with you as not all places accept card.
  • Use the ferries and explore the beautiful neighbourhoods.
  • Don’t fear the Reeperbahn, particularly at night. It’s popular even with locals.
  • Sunday’s are chilled in Hamburg with many stores closing.
  • Hamburg gets crazy in the summer so make sure you book things in advance.

So should I spend 3 days in Hamburg?

Honestly if you are on the fence about visiting Hamburg then take this as your sign to go. It’s a really cool city, with a lot to see and do. It’s also really beautiful, with the canals, and bridges, offering a romantic background as you explore the city. Hamburg might actually be the most underrated place we have ever visited so definitely go before the secret gets out!

Final thoughts on our Hamburg itinerary

Overall our time in Hamburg whilst very short was also very sweet. We would like to say a big thank you to those behind the Come to Hamburg project for hosting us. Do check out their really awesome website for more Hamburg related activities. We were so thrilled and honoured to have the opportunity to explore the city and just take it all in. If you want some more German inspiration don’t forget to check out our 3 day Berlin itinerary.

Also if you found this useful don’t forget to pin it for later.

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