A Superb Hamburg 3-Day Itinerary

> February 13, 2023
A Superb Hamburg 3-Day Itinerary


This maritime metropolis won’t wow you with its historic buildings, so you’ll need to tune in to its vibrant energy and cool attitude to really appreciate it.  

Speaking of wow, John Lennon once performed in Hamburg wearing a toilet seat. If you didn’t know that, you’re welcome for your fun fact of the day, and here’s a Hamburg 3-day itinerary to show you a similarly good time. (You can even see the club the Beatle’s played at at the end of day 3.) 

Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city after Berlin, with 1.8 million residents. It’s known for its huge port, galleries and museums, nightlife, and the fact that it has more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice, and London put together: 2500! There’s your bonus fun fact of the day.  

You might also be interested in reading:

Here’s a summary of what you’ll be seeing during your 3 days in Hamburg: 

Hamburg itinerary map and summary

Map showing all the Hamburg highlights on this 3-day itinerary

All the places on this itinerary are in my Google Maps list which I am happy to share with you.

The main spots you’ll be hitting on this Hamburg 3-day itinerary are: 

Day 1: Wasserschloss viewpoint, Miniatur Wunderland, International Maritime Museum, Elbphilharmony, Rathaus, Chilehaus
Day 2: Altona Fish Market, U-Boat Museum, Old Elbe Tunnel, Rickmer Rickmers, Hamburger Dom
Day 3: Hamburg Kunsthalle, Plants and Flowers Park, Old Town stroll, Deichstraße, St. Nikolai Memorial, St. Pauli district (or not) 

My Hamburg hotel recommendation 

I think this is a good time to mention the hotel we stayed at, because it was awesome! It’s like a fancy school sleepover...

Hotel Volksschule in Hamburg, Germany, best hotel in Hamburg

Hotel Volksschule is a former school

Hotel Volksschule is in a former schoolhouse, and they took the theme and ran with it—even their Christmas tree was school-themed! But not in a childish way, it’s still a proper, modern 4-star hotel.

The location is good, just a 15-minute drive from the city center. But most of all, the breakfast—amazing, the service—fantastic, and the rooms? Second to none! High ceilings mean lots of oxygen, and the rooms are completely silent and dark, meaning you get an incredible night of sleep. 

I am not easily impressed, but I give Hotel Volksschule a 10/10. 

Just so you know, I get a small commission if you book through any of my affiliate links. Remember, I only recommend places that I really love, so you are in good hands!   

My top tips for visiting Hamburg:  

  • Find a hotel right outside the city center because the prices can be ludicrous in central Hamburg. We loved ours: Hotel Volksschule
  • Before you visit, check the dates of this year’s DOM fair. It’s only on for 3 months each year.
  • Get ready for seafood: We experienced fish overload in Hamburg, and I mean that in the best way possible.  

Day 1 of Hamburg itinerary: HafenCity and Altstadt

Map showing the walking route of day 1 on Hamburg 3 day itinerary

See the walking route of day 1 of Hamburg 3-day itinerary on Google Maps

Main sites visited on day 1: Chilehaus, Wasserschloss viewpoint, International Maritime Museum, Elbphilharmony, Rathaus
Restaurant tips: NENI Hamburg | Daniel Wischer
Hotel recommendations: Hotel Volksschule
Further reading: Unique things to do in Hamburg | Hotel booking hacks 

Speicherstadt district is part of HafenCity quarter, but you can’t tell where one ends and the other one starts. All you need to know is that it’s the cool warehouse/port district. One look at the red brick facades and you’ll know you’ve found it.  

The area has undergone a lot of redevelopment—think bars, restaurants, shops, etc., all right by the water, giving Spericherstadt and HafenCity a great vibe.  

Day 1, stop 1: Chilehaus

Chilehaus in Hamburg, Germany


Time spent here: 30 minutes 

Start your long weekend in Hamburg by stopping by the Chilehaus en route to HafenCity. It’s an iconic, expressionist-style building that was built in 1922, symbolizing Hamburg’s economic recovery after WWI.

See its triangular shape from the intersection of Burchadstrasse and Pumpen, and then head into the public courtyard where you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants.  

If you’re visiting during a workday, stop by the World Heritage Information Center to learn about Chilehaus’ history and architecture. They’re closed on weekends, unfortunately (open Monday to Friday 10 am–3 pm).  

Also take a look around inside Chilehaus, which serves mainly as an office building. The tiles and the winding stairwells are particularly interesting (and Instagram-friendly). 

Day 1, stop 2: Wasserschloss viewpoint

Speicherstadt and HafenCity, Hamburg

Wasserschloss viewpoint

Time spent here: 5 minutes

The next quick stop is Wasserschloss viewpoint. It’s like an introduction to Speicherstadt and has some great photo ops of the red brick buildings.  

Go on, take some pics!  

Day 1, stop 3: International Maritime Museum

Hamburg Maritime Museum

Choosing my captain’s outfit

Time spent here: 3 hours 

Your first real stop of the day is possibly the best maritime museum in the world. I know! I’m excited just writing about it. 

It’s 9 floors of pure joy and… ships.

Plan to spend at least 3 hours there, or 7 if you’re going with me. There is literally everything boat-related: from the start of boatbuilding and sailing, to trade navies, world navies, the age of exploration, history, wars, and everything in a very educational and fun manner.  Not extremely interactive, but fun nonetheless.  

Sings are mostly in English but sometimes only in German. Just look at the boats, they speak for themselves.

  • Tickets cost EUR 15 

Lunch: If you spent way too much time at the Maritime Museum, you may need to stop for a lunch break now, or at least for a snack before your next museum visit. Keeping with the industrial theme of the neighborhood, I’d recommend NENI Hamburg, an upmarket Israeli restaurant. It’s midway between the Maritime Museum and Miniatur Wunderland.  

Tip: Speaking of Israel, I visited the beautiful country over Christmas 2022. Check out my Israeli articles here. 

Day 1, stop 4: Elbphilharmonie

Hamburg Elbphilharmonie Plaza and exterior

The Elbphilharmonie: Plaza and exterior

Time spent here: 30 minutes 

Your last stop in HafenCity is at the very edge of it, right on the Elbe, and is Hamburg’s tallest building—the Elbphilharmonie. When you see the wavy glass top section sitting on top of a red brick warehouse from the 60s, you’ll know you’ve found the Elbphilharmonie.  

It serves not only as a concert hall, but also as a 5-star hotel (the Westin Hamburg, going for a cool EUR 380 a night) and restaurant. 

The Elbphilharmonie’s public viewing platform, called the Plaza, is a very cool section right between the glass and brick sections of the building. There’s an indoor and outdoor area that you can walk around and enjoy views from.   

If you want to be sure you get to visit the plaza, book your tickets online in advance. There are limits on the number of people visiting and you get a time when you’ll be allowed in. 

  • Tickets to the Plaza cost EUR 2 

Day 1, stop 5: Rathaus

Rathaus of Hamburg

Hamburg Rathaus

Time spent here: 15 minutes–1 hour 

Time to move out of Speicherstadt and on to the Old Town for your last stop before dinner.  

From the Elbphilharmonie, walk back along Speicherstadt instead of taking the more direct route. This way is way nicer, with the views of the brick buildings, than walking directly to the Town Hall through the newer but perfectly boring neighborhoods. The walk will take you about 20 minutes.  

It’s easy to find, because you can see the tower from almost everywhere in the city center.

Route from Elbphilharmonie to Rathaus map, itinerary Hamburg

Click over to this route on Google Maps

Hamburg’s Town Hall aka Rathaus is one of the few town halls that actually worth visiting on the inside.

You can enter the foyer and courtyard freely for a small peak. If you manage to catch an English guided tour (they don’t run daily), you’ll even know what they’re talking about when they show you some of the 600 (!) rooms in the Rathaus. Tours last 1 hour. 

  • Tours cost EUR 5 

Day 1, stop 6: Dinner at Daniel Wischer

Daniel Wischer Restaurant interior, best restaurant in Hamburg’s Old Town

Fishy vibes @ Daniel Wischer

Nothing left to do on this Hamburg itinerary (for today obviously) but eat some seafood!  

Daniel Wischer is a great fish restaurant that we tried and it’s close to Rathaus Square. The fish was made to perfection and the interior is cool and casual, with high ceilings and brick walls. There was a great atmosphere and service is wonderful.  

It’s better to make a reservation in advance to secure yourself a spot.   

Day 2 of Hamburg itinerary: Miniatur Wunderland and the riverfront

Map showing the walking route of day 2 on Hamburg 3 day itinerary

See the walking route of day 2 of Hamburg 3-day itinerary on Google Maps

Main sites visited on day 2: Miniatur Wunderland, Rickmer Rickmers, Old Elbe Tunnel, U-Boat Museum, Hamburger Dom
Restaurant tips: Brücke 10 | Hard Rock Cafe  
Hotel recommendations: Hotel Volksschule 
Further reading: Unique things to do in Hamburg | Vienna itinerary 

Your first stop today will take you to my favorite place in Hamburg, Miniatur Wunderland. You’ll need to head back to Speicherstadt, but after that, it’s to the port, matey!  

Day 2, stop 1: Miniatur Wunderland

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Some of the miniature people are naughty, and some are just plain delinquent!

Time spent here: 4 hours 

Adult kids (like me) will love it in Miniatur Wunderland (=miniature wonderland). In simple terms, it’s a model railway. In reality, it’s a tiny but vast world of incredible detail. It was so much fun and so overwhelming, there’s so much going on!

On the practical side of things, make sure to buy your tickets in advance. We didn’t and had to wait until the next day to get in.

The whole thing is based on famous sites from around the world, with thousands of people, but also fantasy characters, all over the place, each with their own thing going on.  

I go into more detail and perhaps even TMI on everything you’ll see at Miniatur Winderland in my Unique Things to Do in Hamburg article. Let’s just say some of the mini people are going on Santa’s naughty list next year!

Expect to spend at least 3–4 hours here.  I spent 30 minutes just staring at the first 10 meters, and the place is on more than 1 floor!

  • Tickets cost EUR 20

Day 2, stop 2: Rickmer Rickmers

Rickmer Rickmers, Hamburg, Germany

Rickmer Rickmers

Time spent here: 1 hour 

I hope you’re feeling curious today, because you have not one, but two sea vessels to explore. I mean you are spending most of your day at the riverfront, so what else is there to do. 

Just a 15-minute walk from Miniatur Wunderland and you’ll bump into the first one—Rickmer Rickmers.  

The permanent exhibition on the ship takes you through Rickmer Rickmers’ busy history—from busy 19th century cargo ship to rotting away somewhere in Portugal after the war. Then there is the special exhibition, which is a gallery space.

If you need a little something extra to make this worth your while, note there is also an escape room, a restaurant, and, for you adrenaline junkies, the possibility to climb the masts. 

 Day 2, stop 3: Famous Fischbrötchen for lunch

Brücke 10 restaurant in Hamburg Germany

Brücke 10 is right on the water

Unless you’re over-fished, I highly recommend stopping by Brücke 10 for lunch. It’s famous for fish sandwiches called Fischbrötchen. The place is perfect for a casual meal and it’s right on the water.  

It’s located at the St. Pauli docks that the Old Elbe Tunnel leads under (conveniently your next stop).  

If you can’t stand another fish spot but you’d still like to stay close to the water, my go-to is always the Hard Rock Cafe. Granted, Hamburg’s branch isn’t one of my favorites, but hey, burgers and wings! 

Day 2, stop 4: Old Elbe Tunnel

Old Elbe Tunnel, Hamburg

Old Elbe Tunnel

Time spent here: 1 hour 

This is a cool stop roughly halfway down the riverfront between Rickmer Richmers and the other boat you’ll be visiting, the U-Boat.  

The 100 year-old Alter Elbtunnel is 426 m (1400 ft) long and leads under the river. It was built in 1911 as a path for workers from the pier to the docks.  Nowadays it’s just a public pedestrian tunnel.

Old Elbe Tunnel elevators, Hamburg Germany

Going down? The elevators to Old Elbe Tunnel

There’s not much to see on either side of the tunnel, but you do get some serious viewpoints towards the city. 

Take 1 hour to visit and walk there and back. There’s no entrance fee. You can take the stairs or the elevators that are basically just cages going up and down. No wonder it was an engineering marvel back in its day. 

  • No entrance fee

Day 2, stop 5: U-Boat Museum Hamburg

U-Boat Museum Hamburg

U-Boat Museum

Time spent here: 1 hour 

I feel like this Hamburg 3-day itinerary needs another boat, don’t you? And this time, you might even bump your head on a Soviet bunkbed! That’s because you’ll continue your port exploration on a former Soviet spy submarine called the U-434, and space is limited!

A what-boat? U-boat, or U-boot in German, is the shortened version of the word for submarine, Unterseeboot (“undersea boat”).  

You’ll get a feeling of how hard was to serve on the u-boat before it was decommissioned in the 1990s. Be ready to watch your step and squeeze through tight space.

Tip: After seeing the living quarters on the U-Boot, our room at Hotel Volksschule felt like a castle.

You can visit on your own or with a guide. Guides usually only speak German, you do get to visit the command center as a bonus (not accessible on your own).

Expect to spend 1 hour at the submarine (with or without a guide). Tour groups are very small, so you may need to wait for an available one. 

  • Open daily, Monday to Saturday 9 am–8 pm, Sundays 11 am–8 pm  
  • Tickets cost EUR 9 + EUR 5 for guided tour

Day 2, stop 6: Hamburger DOM

Hamburger DOM amusement park at night

Get your kid on at the DOM fair!

Time spent here: As long as you want

End your day at the Hamburger DOM—a very nice fair where you can find trash food and great attractions ranging from the vintage kind to the I-want-to-throw-up-my-currywurst kind. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours here just letting loose.  

It’s important to note that the Hamburger DOM is only open for about 3 months a year: March 24–April 23, July 21–August 20, November 10–December 10 (2023 dates). 

You can walk to the DOM from the riverfront in 15 – 20 minutes. Take the route through Plants and Flowers Park, but there’s no need to wander beyond where you need to today since the park is on the itinerary for tomorrow.

Tip: Vienna’s Prater is a year-round amusement park that is one of the oldest in the entire world. You have to at least visit the Ferris wheel (they even turned one of the cabins into a strap yourself in, there’s nothing to hold on to type of situation). Want to visit? My Vienna itinerary at your service.   

Once you’re done being a kid again (at least for today), head back to your hotel. If you’re staying at Hotel Volksschule, the trip will take you about 20 minutes.

  • Hamburger DOM website  
  • Google Maps link    
  • Opening times: Monday to Thursday 3 pm–11 pm, Fridays 3 pm–12 am, Sundays 2 pm–11 pm.  In 2023, the DOM dates are: March 24–April 23, July 21–August 20, November 10–December 10.  
  • Free entry, you pay for individual rides

Day 3 of Hamburg itinerary: Old Town and St. Pauli

Map showing the walking route of day 3 on Hamburg 3 day itinerary

See the walking route of day 3 of Hamburg 3-day itinerary on Google Maps

Main sites visited on day 3: Hamburg Kunsthalle, Plants and Flowers Park, Deichstraße, St. Nikolai Memorial, St. Pauli district
Restaurant tips: Stadtsalat | Cantine Papa Lisbeth |  
Hotel recommendationsHotel Volksschule 
Further reading: Unique things to do in Hamburg | Bavaria itinerary

Day 3, stop 1: Hamburg Kunsthalle

Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Me admiring “The Wanderer” on the left and “The Salon” on the right

Time spent here: 3 hours 

The last of your 3 days in Hamburg will commence at Hamburg Kunsthalle (=art hall). It’s one of the best art museums I’ve ever visited, and I don’t even like art that much! The fact that it includes my favorite painting ever (“The Wanderer”), helps, too.

There is a really good collection of impressionists and paintings of the artists like Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Manet and Monet. Aside from those, you’ll get the whole spectrum from Old Masters to modern photography.  

The Kunsthalle is spread out into 3 buildings, so there is a lot to see. You’ll need about 2–3 hours for a fairly brisk walk through all of the rooms.  

Day 3, stop 2: Plants and Flowers Park

Plants and Flowers park in Hamburg, Planten und Blohmen and TV Tower

Plants and Flowers Park with Heinrich Hertz TV Tower

Time spent here: 2 hours

Once out of the Kunsthalle, you’re ready to spend the rest of your last day in Hamburg in the beautiful outdoors.  

Lunch: If you emerged from the art gallery hungry as a hippo, get yourself a poke bowl or salad at Stadtsalat. They have an impressive 4.9 point review on Google Maps, so unless you want to argue with 1250 people, I think my recommendation is sound.  

You already saw a part of the Plants and Flowers Park (Planten und Blohmen) yesterday while walking to Hamburger DOM, but its northern and best section is located right across the Alster Lake from the Kunsthalle. How convenient! It’s like someone put thought into this itinerary…  

There are several themed areas in the park. Don’t miss the Japanese garden and find some waterfalls and fountains, too. If you have kids in tow they’ll love the playgrounds. Use the UFO-looking Heinrich Hertz TV tower as your point of navigation and you’ll stay on track as you walk through the park.   

Day 3, stop 3: Altstadt

Hamburg Old Town highlights, Hamburg Itinerary for 3 days

From left: Deichstraße, St. Peters’s Church, St. Nikolai Memorial

Time spent here: 2 hours 

This isn’t a stop per se, but I think a little improvisation never hurt nobody—I'm going to suggest that you just take a stroll. You can Google “Hamburg Altstadt” to see the area that is considered the Old Town, and just wander the streets and take in Hamburg’s atmosphere. Or just start at the Town Hall and follow your nose.  

Craving a little shopping therapy? Mönkebergstrasse is one of the main shopping streets, where you can spend way too much time and money while taking coffee breaks at one of the many cafes. You can use the Gothic St. Peter’s Church to get your sightseeing on (so you don’t feel so bad about all the unnecessary shopping).  

Walking further south, you’ll hit St. Nikolai Memorial—Hamburg's most important war memorial. It’s what was left of a church after an air raid in 1943. The church ruins house a war museum, and you can take a glass elevator up to the viewing tower (in the church tower that miraculously survived).  

Last but not least, find your way to the canals again as you get closer to the Elbe. Visit the oldest street in Hamburg, Deichstraße, and you’ll even feel like you’re in Amsterdam! Cantine Papa Lisbeth is one of the many small restaurants that you’ll encounter. Try to nab a spot at an outdoor table so you can people-watch while you chow down on your fish rolls.  

Day 3, stop 4: St. Pauli and Reeperbahn 

Time spent here: as long as you want 

If you’ve seen my Unique Things to Do in Hamburg article, you’ll notice I tell you to expect very little of St. Pauli. But now it’s on the Hamburg itinerary? Let me explain.  

St. Pauli is Hamburg’s main nightlife district and is hyped up on some websites as THE BEST IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Not Hamburg, not Europe, the WORLD. So, I just need to knock your expectations down to a manageable level first.

Yeah, it’s a bunch of lively streets centered around Reeperbahn, a  with plenty of bars, restaurants, clubs, drag shows, and even a cabaret or four. The red-light street of Herbertstraße is also right there if you want to do that.  

So, you can spend an evening in St. Pauli if it’s your scene. I wanted to say there’s something for everyone, but everyone isn’t impressed by drunken people, neon lights and partying until the morning light.  

Tip: Make like John Lennon and visit Indra Club 64—the very club where the Beatles played some of their very first shows! Toilet seat entertainment not included.  

Maybe you’d like spending another evening at Hamburger DOM instead.  

Or, stay further away (20 floors, in fact) from the mayhem on the ground in Skyline Bar 20up. Taking in the views of Hamburg’s port after dark is the perfect way to end your 3 days in Hamburg.  

FAQs: Is Hamburg worth visiting?

Hamburg, Germany

In terms of being spectacular—it’s really not. You won’t be blown away by its beauty or find it super unique, but Hamburg’s tourist attractions are well worth your time.  

I was skeptical about Hamburg, but since I generally like Germany, I gave it a shot. And now I can confidently say: Yes, Hamburg is very much worth visiting.  

It’s even possible to spend 3 days in Hamburg without it seeming like too much, which is a very rare animal among the cities of the world.  

FAQs: What’s the best time to visit Hamburg?  

Anytime is suitable to visit Hamburg. It does lie close to the sea, so expect milder weather conditions, but wind and rain shouldn’t surprise you.  

Winters are cold but rarely freezing, and then there’s the Christmas market and the winter edition of the DOM as a bonus. There are also awesome museums to take cover in if it gets too much for you outside.  

Summers aren’t unbearably hot, with the hottest months being July and August. But they can bring more rain, so just pack accordingly. And even if you’re visiting in the summer, don’t forget a light jacket for the evenings.  

FAQs: What is the best area to stay in in Hamburg? 

Stay in the wider center because the hotels in Old Town are excessively expensive. Hamburg’s infrastructure is so good that there is no reason to pay a premium when you can get a fantastic hotel a little further away and easily get to the Old Town when you need to.

Hotel Volksschule is the hotel we stayed at and LOVED IT. It’s a 15-minute drive from Hamburg’s Old Town. They have room rates starting at EUR 150 per night including breakfast. More details about this 4-star, school-themed hotel in the beginning of this article.  

FAQs: Can you recommend some fish restaurants in Hamburg?  

I tried and can recommend these seafood restaurants/bistros:  

Daniel Wischer is a great fish restaurant close to Rathaus Square. The fish was made to perfection and the interior is cool and casual, with high ceilings and brick walls. It’s better to make a reservation in advance to secure yourself a spot.  

Brücke 10 is famous for their fish sandwiches (Fischbrötchen). So again, more of a casual place ideal for lunch, exactly what you need during a busy Hamburg trip. We had a herring with onion in a bread bun and is was surprisingly delightful. It’s located at the docks close to the Old Elbe Tunnel.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you make bookings through my links, at no additional cost to you. This helps keep this blog free, thank you!    


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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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