Advance Planning

Three months before Look for hotel deals and book your room. Check out Elbphilharmonie's concert program.

One month before Reserve your table at Die Bank or Clouds, two of Hamburg's most prestigious tables. This is especially true if your weekend coincides with a weekend.

One week before Reserve your spot on one of the tours such as the Beatles Tour, Hamburg Touren or Sandemans New Hamburg.

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/germany/hamburg) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Hamburg Tourism (www.hamburg-tourism.de) Run by the tourist office and packed with useful info.

Hamburg (www.hamburg.de) Run by the city authorities – click on 'Hotels & Tourismus'.

Hamburg Ahoi (www.hamburg-ahoi.com/en) Online magazine with its finger on Hamburg's pulse.

Piste (www.piste.de/hamburg) Excellent online resource for events and live performances.

Top Tips

  • Use your trip into town from the airport to familiarise yourself with the S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems. They'll be your main means of getting between neighbourhoods and it's easy once you know how.
  • Get up high where possible (some churches have viewpoints atop their steeples). Apart from great views, you'll also be better able to understand Hamburg's layout.
  • Consider taking a ferry instead of a harbour tour. The prices are much lower, the views are the same, and you're more likely to share the boat with locals.
  • Take one of the themed guided walking tours to St Pauli and Reeperbahn, then get out and explore for yourself.
  • Sightsee on foot where possible and you'll be rewarded with a deeper understanding of each neighbourhood's personality. This is particularly true in Altona, St Pauli and St Georg.

What to Take

  • Good walking shoes
  • Day pack for city exploration
  • Travel adaptor plug (two-pin Continental European variety)
  • Umbrella/rain coat
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • German phrasebook
  • Curiosity and a sense of humour

What to Wear

Basically, anything goes. If you want to blend in, remember that Hamburg is considerably more fashion-conscious than some other German cities, including Berlin, Cologne or Dresden. Since the weather is unpredictable, even in summer, bring layers of clothing. A waterproof coat and sturdy shoes are a good idea for all-weather sightseeing. Winters can get fiercely cold, so pack gloves, scarf, a hat, and a heavy coat and boots. For evening wear, smart casual is the norm, but upmarket places may insist on shoes (not trainers) and trousers or dresses instead of jeans. Jackets and ties are only required at the most formal establishments.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least four months
  • Make advance bookings for concerts, top-end restaurants and accommodation
  • Purchase your Hamburg Card online
  • Work out the nearest subway station to your hotel to plan your arrival
  • Alert your credit-/debit-card company
  • Organise travel insurance
  • Check if your mobile/cell phone can be used