Hamburg's urban shore: A maritime world of experience

Copyright Jörg Modrow

Hamburg’s urban shore: exploring the city’s raw and beautiful locations on the waterfront

Located at the interface of water and city life, the banks of the Elbe are characterised by attractive green residential areas and countless places of interest – ranging from the HafenCity Hamburg and the iconic Elbphilharmonie to the Speicherstadt warehouse district (a UNESCO World Heritage site) to the famous St Pauli Landungsbrücken, the St Pauli Fischmarkt square, and the Elbe beaches in Oevelgönne and Blankenese. Hamburg’s urban shore is shaped by the element of water, wide open views, and a steady west wind coming from the North Sea coast.

On the south side of the Elbe, where the largest part of Hamburg’s port is located, you will find more rustic scenery as well as industrial heritage. Surrounded by navigable waterways and green areas, the south side also features the district of Wilhelmsburg, Europe’s largest river island.

The north side of the Elbe is characterised by an inspiring mix of urban flair, public parks, wide views of the water and, further to the west, spacious urban beaches that invite you to take a relaxing stroll along the Elbe. Hamburg’s urban shore is also home to first-class restaurants on the waterfront, relaxed beach clubs, and traditional cafés.

Hamburg's urban shore has always been a symbol for the city’s life on the Elbe – a life that is characterised by authentic people who stand together during hard times, by ships, by the busy port, by the houses with a view, by the beaches in the heart of the city, and by the element of water. It stands for home and wanderlust, tradition and modernity, the raw and the beautiful – something that is constantly in motion, while at the same time conveying peacefulness and tranquillity.

In short: an ideal setting for a one-of-a-kind summer excursion – whether on foot or by bike, from east to west (watch out for headwind!) or from west to east, with the Elbphilharmonie always in view … and of course with many culinary stop-overs along the way.

More to explore: https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/maritime-hamburg/

5 x great (viewing) spots on Hamburg’s urban shore

Gezi Park Fiktion (St Pauli)
Park Fiktion/ Mediaserver

Overlooking the port and the shipyards, this neighbourhood park is a popular spot among St Pauli locals.

http://park-fiction.net/category/english/

Altonaer Balkon (Altona)
Altonaer Balkon/ Mediaserver

The ultimate viewing platform for watching giant container ships passing by.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/green-hamburg/parks-green-spaces/altonaer-balkon/

Elbphilharmonie Plaza (HafenCity)
Elbphilharmonie Plaza/ Mediaserver

The view from the Plaza is a must for all guests since 2017, with a steady west wind and best enjoyed at sunset.

https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/plaza

Stairs Quarter of Blankenese (Blankenese)
Treppenviertel/ Mediaserver

You can explore the narrow roads and alleys either by bus (line 488) or on foot.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/sightseeing/blankenese/

St Michaelis Church (Neustadt)
St. Michaelis Kirche/ Copyright Lukas Pretzel

The church tower provides a magnificent panoramic view of the city – also in the evening hours.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/sightseeing/st-michaelis-church-hamburg-michel/hamburg-michel-tower-ascent/

5x maritime dining

Salt- & Silver Zentrale (St Pauli)
Salt- & Silver/ Mediaserver

A hip foodie place with an excellent view of the port.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/salt-silver/

 

Fischereihafen Restaurant (Altona)
Fischereihafen Restaurant/ Mediaserver

Classic fish restaurant at the port, with an elegant flair.

http://www.fischereihafenrestaurant.de/en/

 

Lime Tree Terrace at the Hotel Louis C. Jacob (Nienstedten)

Afternoon tea on the time-honoured terrace depicted by Max Liebermann, with a fantastic view of the Elbe.

https://hotel-jacob.de/en/restaurants-bar/lime-tree-terrace/

FISCHClub (Blankenese)
Fischclub Blankenese/ Mediaserver

A haven for all lovers of fish, situated on a pontoon in Blankenese.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/fischclub-blankenese/

 

Süllberg Deck 7 (Blankenese)

Gourmet cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere, towering above the Elbe.

www.karlheinzhauser.de/deck-7

 

5 x beach clubs, cafés & bars on Hamburg’s urban shore

Strandperle
Strandperle/ Mediaserver

The ultimate Elbe experience. Watch the ships passing by, dig your feet into the sand and dream away the afternoon with a fish roll in your hand.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/strandperle/

 

Strand Pauli
Strandpauli/ Mediaserver

The perfect holiday atmosphere, including St Pauli off-scene flair and a fabulous view of the shipyard opposite.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/routes-tours/nightlife-with-view-of-the-elbe/

 

Café Entenwerder1
Café Entenwerder 1/ Mediaserver

A coveted place off the beaten track, this eatery on a floating pontoon serves breakfast, seasonal dishes, craft beer, and excellent coffee from Public Coffee Roasters.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/entenwerder-1/

ÜberQuell (St Pauli)

Brewery serving one of the best beers in town – centrally located between Landungsbrücken and St Pauli Fischmarkt.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/ueberquell-hamburg/

 

Dock 13 (Oevelgönne)
Dock13/ Mediaserver

Beach club with a view of the container terminals on the Elbe.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/zum-alten-lotsenhaus/

5 x hotels with a view of the Elbe

Hafenkran Hamburg (HafenCity)

Arguably one of the most original places to stay as rooms are built into a historic floating crane in the HafenCity.

https://www.floatel.de/en/hideaways/hafenkran-hamburg

The Westin (HafenCity)

Luxury hotel on-site the Elbphilharmonie building, with a one-of-a-kind view of the HafenCity and the port.

https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/hamwi-the-westin-hamburg

 

Hotel Hafen Hamburg (St Pauli)

Classic choice, providing an unparallelled view over the port.

https://www.hotel-hafen-hamburg.de/en/

 

GINN Hotel (Altona)

New opening, with rooms and junior suites located in the Elbspeicher at the historic Fish Market.

https://ginn-hotels.com/?lang=en

Louis C. Jacob (Nienstedten)

Romantic luxury hotel on the Elbchaussee, including a star-studded restaurant.

https://hotel-jacob.de/en/

 

5 x discovery trips along the River Elbe

Natureum Niederelbe in Balje

Natural history museum and exhibition centre in close proximity to the North Sea, offering a wealth of information on the regional ecosystem.

www.natureum-niederelbe.de/

Zollenspieker Fährhaus

Coming from Hamburg, the hotel – and the Zollenspieker nature reserve – are located at the southernmost point of the Elbe in Hamburg. An ideal environment for all nature lovers.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/zollenspieker-faehrhaus-restaurant/

Vier- und Marschlande

Fruit and veg growing region in the southeast, marshland that was cultivated by Dutch settlers, with many circular hiking routes.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/green-hamburg/parks-green-spaces/vier-und-marschlande/

 

Mudflat hiking off the island of Neuwerk

120 km from Hamburg, the North Sea island of Neuwerk in the Wadden Sea National Park is actually a municipality of Hamburg.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/discover-hamburg/areas/island-neuwerk/

Willkomm-Höft ships welcome point in Wedel

Classic destination for an excursion to Hamburg’s surrounding region. Each incoming ship is greeted to the tune of its national anthem as onlookers enjoy coffee and cake.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/sightseeing/willkomm-hoeft

 

Wind, water, and wide spaces: A beach holiday in the city of Hamburg?

Hamburg exudes the beachy air of the sea – that’s what you will find when standing on the Elbe shore, looking at the gigantic container ships as they make their way down the river to the sound of seagulls. As you feel the soft sand under your feet, you get that special holiday feeling – a beach holiday feeling in the very heart of the city.

Digging your bare feet into the sand, you watch the ships pass by, with the sun on your skin, palm trees swaying in the summer breeze, a cool caipirinha in your hand, and relaxing music in the background. All this can be experienced in the three beach clubs at the St Pauli Landungsbrücken: directly on the Elbe in the middle of the port, the beach clubs “Strand Pauli”, “Hamburg del Mar” and “Dock 3” create an unparalleled holiday and club experience.

All those who prefer a more contemplative experience can simply walk over to one of the beachy stretches on the Elbe. Oevelgönne with its many beachy stretches used to be the home of seafaring captains and belongs to the district of Altona. Especially during the summer months, this is where locals enjoy the sun and the view of the 24-hour container port opposite. The Strandperle, which is also located here, is a real institution and is considered to be the “mother of all Hamburg beach clubs”. The nearby eateries and the Oevelgönne beaches are popular places for enjoying a mild summer evening. During the day, you can view the historic vessels of the Oevelgönne museum harbour or take a long walk along the shore to the Ice Age granite boulder “Alter Schwede”.

Further to the west, the Blankenese beach with its small hotels, pontoon restaurants and bathing spots is a surprisingly quiet place for a large city. The former fishing village exudes an almost Mediterranean atmosphere and is ideal for a mix of relaxing beach holiday and inspiring city break. Using the S-Bahn, Blankenese can be reached in only 15 minutes from Hamburg’s city centre. The promenade above the beach is shaped by its petite wooden buildings that are typical of Northern Germany. Some of these host small beach hotels, restaurants with Hamburg specialities or beer gardens where you can enjoy barbecued fish, draught beer, and much more.

Extending your journey even further to the west, towards the district of Rissen, you will reach Falkenstein shore, a wonderful place to go for a recreational walk at any time of the year. The Geesthang, a steep slope overlooking the shore, offers a beautiful panoramic view over the Elbe. The path along the sandy banks of the Elbe gives you a foretaste of the North Sea and is somewhat reminiscent of the Frisian Islands. Only a few metres further on, Wittenbergen beach with its shallow water is a popular destination for local families. The Wittenbergen landing stage juts several metres out into the water and offers ideal conditions for sunbathing or for watching the giant container ships passing by.

5 x beach clubs for a perfect summer’s day

Strand Pauli
StrandPauli/ Mediaserver

The perfect holiday atmosphere, including St Pauli off-scene flair and a fabulous view of the shipyard opposite.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/beach-club-strandpauli/

 

Strandperle
StrandPerle/ Mediaserver

The ultimate Elbe experience. Watch the ships passing by, dig your feet into the sand and dream away the afternoon with a fish roll in your hand.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/strandperle/

"Hamburg del Mar" and "Dock 3"
Hamburg del Mar/ Mediaserver

These two adjacent beach clubs are located right at the St Pauli Landungsbrücken, serving barbecued food and tasty cocktails and featuring inviting sun lounger.

www.hamburg-del-mar.de and www.dock3beachclub.de

Central Park
Central Park/ Mediaserver

Urban beach club with a laid-back atmosphere in the middle of the Schanzenviertel. Here you can play table tennis, enjoy a good drink and dig your toes into the sand.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/the-nightlife-scene/central-park-hamburg/1

 

Dock13 (Oevelgönne)
Dock13/ Mediaserver

Beach club with a view of the impressive container terminals on the other side of the Elbe.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/zum-alten-lotsenhaus/

 

5 x Elbe beaches to stroll along

Hetlinger Schanze
Hetlinger Schanze/ Mediaserver

This beachy stretch west of Wedel is part of an extensive nature reserve and has a length of 7 kilometres, providing ample space especially at low tide.

https://www.holstein-tourismus.de/en/our-region/detail-page/detail/hetlinger-schanze.html

 

Oevelgönne beach
Strand Oevelgönne/ Mediaserver

Chill out on a deck chair, relax on the beach with a beer or take your volleyball skills to the test.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/maritime-hamburg/wittenbergen-elbe-shore/

Blankenese beach

At this peaceful destination in Hamburg’s west, guests can find small beach hotels, restaurants, and spots to splash around.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/maritime-hamburg/the-elbe/blankenese-shore-beach-holiday-in-the-middle-of-hamburg

Falkenstein shore

A little quieter than other beachy stretches, this is a popular place for long walks throughout the year.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/green-hamburg/parks-green-spaces/falkensteiner-beach

Wittenbergen shore
Kanutour in Wittenbergen/ Mediaserver

At the most westerly stretch of the Elbe beaches, the sand is a bit finer than elsewhere. From here, you have an excellent view of the lighthouse and the passing ships.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/maritime-hamburg/elbe-beach/

 

A cycle tour along Hamburg’s urban shore

Germans love their rules, so here are two basic rules for you when planning your cycle tour along Hamburg’s urban shore. First, you want to make sure you travel from west to east – i.e. from Wedel / Blankenese to HafenCity or Entenwerder. That’s because you want to harness the tailwind coming from the North Sea. Second, you want to allow plenty of time – even though the route might seem quite short for an experienced cyclist (about 17 km from Blankenese to the HafenCity). That’s because you want to accommodate at least three or four stops for refreshment or picnic breaks. If you follow these two basic rules, you will be sure to experience a highly diverse and utterly inspiring maritime excursion that is unparalleled among European metropolitan regions.

Your journey begins in the city centre, where you take your bike on the S 1 or S 11 to Blankenese. Pushing your bike downhill through the picturesque stairs quarter, you will reach the beach of Blankenese, a former fishing village and now a well-to-do Elbe suburb. Fancy a tasty lunch? “FISCHclub Blankenese” offers a great choice of maritime dishes – or perhaps try a fish roll at the “Op'n Bulln” on a pontoon. Your route continues in the direction of Hamburg’s city centre. Cycling along the Elbwiesen nature reserve, you will follow the path of the river, passing yacht clubs (to the right) and stately villas (to the left). If you are in a competitive mood, you can take up a race with one of the giant ships arriving with the tide at the container terminals on the other side of the Elbe.

The south side of the Elbe is also home to the world's third largest aircraft workshops – the Airbus plant in Finkenwerder, the birthplace of the A320 holiday planes and the legendary A380 double-decker. Passing various beer gardens, you will now reach the romantic highlight of your tour: the Lime Tree Terrace of the Hotel Louis C. Jacob, also known as the “Liebermann Terrace”, named after the famous impressionist painter, who captured the beauty of this place in 1902. Here you can enjoy your afternoon tea in a truly unique setting. A little later, as you reach the Teufelsbrück jetty, you will take a short detour to the Jenischpark, an English-style landscaped park that is also home to the Jenisch Haus and the Ernst Barlach Haus – the cultural highlight of your cycle tour. A few minutes later, you will pass the “Alter Schwede”, a glacial erratic with a weight of more than 200 tonnes. You will then reach Oevelgönne, a lovely village with a great choice of eateries and some old captain's cottages (you are better off pushing your bike now). Here you can also find the Strandperle, the mother of all Hamburg beach clubs – ideal for a cool bottle of beer and a well-deserved rest on the beach.

Leaving the Oevelgönne museum harbour behind you, the scenery becomes more urban: at Alter Fischereihafen, you can grab a fresh fish roll from the fish wholesalers, and on Saturday mornings you can treat yourself to oysters and champagne in one of the small fish restaurants opposite. By the way, Hamburg’s famous fish market is held every Sunday from 5 to 9:30 a.m. outside the historic fish auction hall. A must for all guests, it can be enjoyed first thing in the morning or at the end of a St Pauli party night. The route along the St Pauli Landungsbrücken (excellent fish rolls also at “Brücke 10”) will be a bit busier, until you reach your final destination – the Elbphilharmonie in the HafenCity. Make sure to check out the Plaza viewing platform for a gorgeous panoramic view. And if you’re still bursting with energy, you can continue along the cycle path to the Entenwerder peninsula for coffee at Public Coffee Roasters and a slice of cake at Entenwerder1 – a pontoon café on the Northern Elbe that is popular among locals.

5 x refreshment along Hamburg’s urban shore

Strand Pauli

The perfect holiday atmosphere, including St Pauli off-scene flair and a fabulous view of the shipyard opposite.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/beach-club-strandpauli/

 

FISCHClub (Blankenese)

Great choice of fish dishes on a pontoon moored off Blankenese.

(https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/fischclub-blankenese

Lime Tree Terrace at the Hotel Louis C. Jacob (Nienstedten)

Afternoon tea on the famous terrace painted by Max Liebermann, with a magnificent view over the Elbe.

https://hotel-jacob.de/en/restaurants-bar/lime-tree-terrace/

 

Strandperle

The ultimate Elbe experience. Watch the ships passing by, dig your feet into the sand and dream away the afternoon with a fish roll in your hand.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/strandperle/

 

Café Entenwerder1

A coveted place off the beaten track, this eatery on a floating pontoon serves breakfast, seasonal dishes, craft beer, and excellent coffee from Public Coffee Roasters.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/shopping-enjoying/restaurants-cafes/entenwerder-1/

 

5 x cycle tours & cycling tips

Exploring Hamburg by bike
11 cycle routes in Hamburg
6 bike excursions across Hamburg’s surrounding region
Day-to-day cycling in Hamburg
Bike rentals

StadtRAD Hamburg for shorter trips and Hamburg City Cycles for longer excursions and guided cycle tours.

https://stadtrad.hamburg.de/en

https://www.hhcitycycles.de/en/

Hamburg means life on the water

In Northern Germany, this year’s sunny spring is expected to be followed by a wonderful summer – quite contrary to popular belief, according to which rain is thought to be your constant companion in the north. While the truth lies in the middle, Hamburg’s locals love to venture out to the city's urban shore in all weather.

The River Elbe awaits you with its refreshing breeze, inviting you to discover the region without the heat of the summer catching up on you. Life in Hamburg is shaped by the element of water, and this can be felt most when exploring locations along the waterfront. The view of the Elbe is omnipresent, and with a cool breeze on your back and the sound of seagulls in the air you can envision the ocean on the horizon. As you step out the door, a warm ray of sunshine and the smell of sea salt evoke this special Hamburg feeling. The choice is yours: whether you fancy a healthy run, coffee with friends on the water, a boat excursion, a stand-up paddling tour or simply a peaceful walk with your dog – Hamburg’s waterside locations provide the perfect environment for enjoying the summer to the full.