Visiting the maritime city of Hamburg is one of the top reasons to travel to Germany. With one day in Hamburg, you can explore the ruins of medieval buildings, walk historic footbridges, and view the world’s largest model railway.
After Berlin, Hamburg is the largest city in Germany. It covers over 753 square kilometres. Many of the attractions are near the harbour area, but some of the sites are a little further away. This makes it a challenge to navigate the city in a single day.
Not sure where to begin? Plan your trip using this detailed 1-day Hamburg itinerary…
Looking for more ideas for your trip? Check out our other city itineraries and our Germany Travel Guide for more recommendations on when to visit, where to go & what to do!
What to do in Hamburg in 24 hours: A complete 1-day itinerary
As with all our one-day city itineraries, this Hamburg itinerary takes you to some of the top places to visit in the city.
Unfortunately, 24 hours isn’t enough time to see it all, but you’ll get to visit some amazing sights. The area includes picturesque city squares set against a backdrop of historic architecture, along with many important cultural points of interest.
While the public transportation system is great, it’s hard to fit everything into a 24-hour trip. We’ve focused on attractions that are within walking distance, making it easier to get around.
PRO TIP: Want to make the most of your day? Pick up the Hamburg Card to enjoy free public transportation and exclusive discounts for more than 150 sites, museums, tours, and restaurants!
Savour local food at Public Coffee Roasters
With only 24 hours in Hamburg, it’s important to fill up with an early-morning breakfast. Grab some coffee and cake at Public Coffee Roasters, located on Wexstrasse.
It’s a busy street, with lots of activity. Sit outside and enjoy your breakfast while watching the locals bustling about on their morning commutes. There’s no better way to start your tour of the city.
This popular café has outdoor seating and opens at 8:30 in the morning. It’s also near the centre of the city.
If you’re lucky, you shouldn’t have to wait very long to get served, but if it looks too busy, there are several other cafes on the same street. Start walking east toward the next destination, and you’ll pass a few other options.
PRO TIP: Save your legs and scoot between destinations by booking a Hamburg Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Ticket before you arrive! Includes 29 stops along the way.
Discover Hamburg’s history at Town Hall
Finish off your cake and coffee, and start walking toward the centre of the city, where you’ll find Hamburg Town Hall. It’s hard to miss, with its massive steeple high above the other nearby buildings.
The town hall houses the parliament and senate and contains 647 rooms. It’s a large building with a façade that features intricate designs, a clock, and a stunning copper roof. Built at the end of the 19th-century, the building remains one of the most important sites in the city.
The area around the town hall is equally majestic, with numerous historic buildings and a public promenade built along the banks of the river.
Once inside the building, you can take a tour for just a few dollars. It’s a short tour, but it offers an interesting lesson about the history of the city. You’ll also get to check out the various staterooms, with their expensive tapestries and chandeliers.
PRO TIP: Interested in exploring Hamburg’s history? Hop onto the Historic Hamburg Tour including stops at the Hamburg Rathaus (Town Hall), St. Michael’s Church, and Deichstraße!
Shop til you drop at the Jungfernstieg
When you exit Town Hall, start walking northeast toward Binnenalster, one of the large man-made lakes built near the centre of the city. Within a couple of blocks, you’ll reach the Jungfernstieg.
When trying to see as much of Hamburg in one day, take the time to do a little shopping. While the city has a many markets, malls, and shopping districts, the Jungfernstieg is a great place to empty your wallet.
The most popular public promenade in the city, the Jungfernstieg offers access to many cafes, restaurants, and shops. If you started too early to get breakfast at the coffee shop, take a short break at one of the many cafes with views of the river.
The lakeside section of this shopping district faces the water. The inner part intersects with numerous streets lined with small shops. It’s also home to two of the largest shopping malls in the city and several department stores.
If you want to shop, this is the place. It’s easy to spend an entire day in this area, but you’ve got keep on the move to visit the rest of the sites.
PRO TIP: Want to save your energy? Book a Hamburg Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Ticket including 29 sightseeing stops throughout the city centre!
View priceless artworks at Kunsthalle Hamburg
When you run out of arms to carry the souvenirs you’ve purchased in the Jungfernstieg area, walk to the other side of the lake. Take Ballindamm toward Kunsthalle Hamburg.
Like most major European cities, you’ll find several museums in Hamburg, including Kunsthalle Hamburg. This art museum contains over seven centuries worth of priceless art.
Among the collection, you’ll find works from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, Manet, and Goya. The building itself is equally impressive. The outer façade features life-size statues of notable artists placed in cutouts on the outer wall.
Inside the museum, take the audio guided tour. It’s an interesting way to learn more about the paintings as you appreciate the skills of the old masters. You can also visit the modern art wing of the museum, housing classical modernism paintings from German painters.
If possible, try to get tickets online in advance. It saves time and every minute is essential when you’re trying to see everything in just 24 hours.
Take selfies at the Speicherstadt
After finishing the tour of the museum, work your way south toward the Port of Hamburg. While there are dozens of attractions in the port area, the Speicherstadt stands out as a necessary stop.
In fact, the Speicherstadt is an important stop for any Germany trip itinerary. Speicherstadt is a warehouse district constructed toward the end of the 19th-century and beginning of the 20th-century. It’s also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The buildings are separated by a couple of canals and linked with various footbridges, but they are all interconnected, making it a massive contiguous warehouse complex.
Considered the largest warehouse district in the world, the complex includes 17 buildings standing 7 to 8 stories tall. It includes over 300,000 square metres of storage space. Currently, one-third of the world’s carpet is produced in these warehouses.
The neo-Gothic architecture, canals, and bridges also make it one of the most scenic sites in the city. Make sure that you snap several photos in this area.
PRO TIP: Want to learn more about this fascinating corner of Hamburg? Hop onto the Elbphilharmonie, Speicherstadt & HafenCity Tour to stroll through some of Hamburg’s most interesting neighbourhoods with a professional tour guide!
Get a view of the city from the Elbphilharmonie
The Speicherstadt spans most of the southern edge of the city’s centre. When you reach the western part of the warehouse complex, you’ll find one of the newest additions to Hamburg’s impressive buildings.
The Elbphilharmonie was opened in 2017, as a world-class concert hall. The building is designed to resemble a large sail of a boat or a wave of the water. It stands out among the older architecture of the Speicherstadt.
While you may not catch any performances in the concert hall, you can get a better view of the city. The Elphi, as the locals call it, is a large concert hall with a 360-degree view from the upper floors.
The public viewing platform is your chance to stare out at the city and the port of Hamburg. Besides the spectacular view, you can get more souvenirs at the gift shop or grab a drink from the bar.
PRO TIP: Want to learn more about the Elphi and see it for yourself? Get insider access by booking a Guided Elbphilharmonie Tour online before you arrive!
Step through history at St. Michael’s Church
After getting a better view of the city from inside the Elbphilharmonie, take the northern footbridge back toward the centre of the city. Work your way along the riverside boulevards as you travel to St. Michael’s Church.
The path will take you along the river and past several of the city’s parks. There are several sites to check out along the way, including historic ships and museums, but for now, you’ve got to reach the church before the doors close.
Visiting St. Michael’s Church is one of the most important things to do & see in Hamburg.
The church was built in 1669 and has become a landmark in the city. Outside of the church, you can check out the sculpture of St. Michael defeating the devil. The inside of the church contains 2,500 seats and a large marble pulpit.
While you no doubt experienced a great view from the Elphi, St. Michael’s Church also offers a panoramic viewpoint. The steeple includes stairs and a lift taking you to the top.
Another highlight of the church is the crypt, containing 2,425 people, including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
PRO TIP: Want to save money when visiting St. Michael’s Church? Be sure to flash your Hamburg Card to get discounted access to the tower, viewing platform, and crypt!
End the day with drinks in the Reeperbahn
St. Michael’s Church places you near where you started. To finish off your tour of Hamburg in 24 hours, you’ll head to the Reeperbahn, the biggest red-light district in Europe.
In decades past, the Reeperbahn was a raunchy, adults-only section of the city. While one of the side street still houses sex shops, the area has become more family-friendly. Theatres and restaurants have popped up that cater to everyone from families to fellow travellers.
At the end of the Reeperbahn is the Beatles Platz. Life-size silhouettes of the Beatles were erected to commemorate the group’s early history in Hamburg. Before breaking big, the band got their start playing at small clubs in Hamburg.
As the evening winds down, you can find a restaurant or bar on the Reeperbahn to close out your Hamburg adventure.
PRO TIP: Interested in the sordid history of Hamburg’s Reeperbahn? Join in on the unique and informative Sex & Crime in St. Pauli Tour! (Full word of warning: This is absolutely NOT a family-friendly tour.)
Where to stay: The best hotels for 24 hours in Hamburg
Like most bigger European cities, sorting through the best places to stay in Hamburg can be challenging due the sheer volume of choices. For this Hamburg itinerary, I’d recommend narrowing down your search to the most popular areas around the city centres including Altstadt, Altona and St. Pauli. Here are a few ideas for your accommodations search…
- Chez Ronny: Stay at this edgy guesthouse for definitive proof that budget-friendly hotels don’t have to be boring. The club-like decor & lighting fits in perfectly with the aesthetic of the nearby Reeperbahn nightlife & entertainment district.
- NH Collection Hamburg City: One of the top mid-range picks in the city, this 4-star hotel delights guests with its sparklin’-clean modern guest rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows. Take the luxury up a notch by taking advantage of their spa facilities or chillin’ out on the sun terrace.
- Sofitel Hamburg Alter Wall: For experiencing true German hospitality, there’s no better choice in Hamburg than this classy 5-star hotel. The property’s location beside the Alsterkanal Canal is absolutely brilliant, as are the world-class amenities, including an on-site spa, restaurant, and terrace bar.