Student Life

Sights and Activities

Hamburg: Your home away fom home

Hamburg is a city dominated by water. Its two main waterways, the River Elbe (which flows throught the harbor) and the River Alster (which forms a lake in the center of town) offer many leisure time activities. But Hamburg has something to offer for everyone: from concert halls, museums and fine dining to "the best night out in the world" according to a study conducted by HostelWorld.

"A haven for architecture and design"

The New York Times has called Hamburg a “haven for architecture and design” and put the Hanseatic city on its top 10 places to visit in 2017. Also referred to as a “Gateway to the World,” Germany’s second largest city is home to the second largest shipping port in Europe. On the banks of the Elbe River, container ships are loaded to capacity and sent down the Elbe and around the world. These same riverbanks are also home to the brand new Elbphilharmonie, the long-anticipated concert hall whose billowing windows and imposing foundation have made the iconic structure an emblem of the city. It sits on an island shared by the HafenCity, Hamburg’s newest neighborhood and urban regeneration project situated directly across from the Speicherstadt, the beautiful old warehouse district that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A city on the water

The influence of the harbor is felt far beyond its shores as the tributaries and canals weave their way through the city and prompt some visitors to refer to Hamburg as the “Venice of the North”. And like most port cities, the numerous sailors passing through have given rise to a bustling red-light district. The Reeperbahn sees fewer sailors these days but still teems with tourists who come for the concerts and clubs – some of which have launched the careers of legendary bands like the Beatles.

The banks of the Elbe also provide a brief respite from the city along its sandy beaches. Strand Pauli beach club and numerous city beaches fill to capacity during sunny summer days as Hamburgers settle back and watch the parade of ships entering the container terminal. To learn more about the history of the harbor and the people who have come and gone through its waters, a visit to the BallinStadt Emigration Museum is a must. Hamburg’s answer to Ellis Island, BallinStadt covers four eras and the journeys of generations of migrants seeking to establish new lives in new lands.

A city of mulled wine and cookies

In December, Germany puts on arguably the best Christmas show in the world with the numerous Weihnachtsmärkte, or Christmas markets, that spring up around the town centers and outskirts. At the Hamburger Rathausmarkt, or Town Hall Square, a beautiful, bustling Christmas market is filled with an international crowd who line up for a mug of Glühwein, a Bratwurst and many different Christmas treats while enjoying the lights, music and occasionally, a visit from Old Saint Nick. Smaller Christmas markets fill the pedestrian areas, public squares and line streets at various points throughout the city center and in residential neighborhoods.

Elbphilharmonie
HafenCity
Speicherstadt and Elbphilharmonie
Elbe beach
Christmas tree on the Alster Lake