Water sports in Hamburg

(SUP yoga / Lennard Gerner)

With more than 2,400 bridges, Hamburg has more bridges than Venice (400) and Amsterdam (1,200) put together. In fact, Hamburg holds the European record! This multitude of bridges clearly indicates that there is no shortage of water in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

The city’s waterways open up unique opportunities for exploring Hamburg with a sporty twist. Whether you are an extreme athlete or a recreational sportsman, the city provides for all athletic levels. So when planning your next trip to Hamburg, make sure to include at least one water-bound activity in your schedule as it allows you to experience Hamburg in an unparalleled way.

And here are the types of water sports that await you in Hamburg:

Wakeboarding – the very definition of fun sports

If you are up for a challenge, you should give wakeboarding a go as it is arguably the most difficult water sport discipline to be experienced in Hamburg.

So if sailing and canoeing doesn’t give you quite enough of a kick, wakeboarding could be just the right thing for you. Visitors to the Cablesport Arena in Pinneberg can let themselves be pulled across the water at full speed.

Wakeboarding beginners will be provided with guidance, and then it is all down to passion and motivation. Just remember: practice makes perfect, and the more time you spend on the water the more you will progress – so it is really only a matter of time!

(Wakeboarding Pinneberg / Cablesport)

For the more advanced wakeboarders there is a multitude of ramps as well as accessories that can be rented onsite. And yet this wakeboarding facility also caters for onlookers and guests as it also includes a beach club and a restaurant, allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacle from close-up.

SUP yoga – yoga on a stand-up paddling board

(SUP / Lennard Gerner)

In recent years, stand-up paddling has become more and more popular along Germany’s coasts and inland waterways. In Hamburg, the Alster Lake and the city’s numerous canals provide a wealth of routes for a SUP board excursion.

SUP yoga is a new type of water sport that has emerged from stand-up paddling. To practice SUP yoga you don’t have to be overly sporty or super agile: the SUP Club Hamburg will help you explore your own borders in a playful way and to enjoy the soothing effect of the water, the sun, and Hamburg’s lush greenery. SUP yoga helps you experience the interplay of strength, balance and ease.

Should you lose your balance and fall into the water, try and adopt the yogi approach: rather than getting annoyed with yourself, you should simply enjoy the unexpected refreshment.

Canoeing on the Alster Lake 

Canoeing is yet another type of water sport to be experienced in Hamburg. In many of the city’s districts you will find boat rental shops that will supply you with a canoe on an hourly or daily basis. As there really is no shortage of such rentals you can also decide on your canoeing trip right on the spot. (However, please note that many of these boat rental shops are closed between November and January).

For a canoeing trip you need a crew of at least two, while kayaks are available for single persons too. Depending on ambition, you can make your excursion a sporting endeavour or a leisurely adventure. Along the shores of the Alster Lake you will find countless lovely spots for a picnic or a little swim.

As there aren’t any currents or rapids on the Alster, canoeing trips are suited for beginners too. And in case you have non-swimmers on board: no worries, you will be supplied with life-jackets upon request.

However, if you are planning to venture out on the Elbe River, it is highly recommended that you are experienced enough. To get there alone you will have to pass through two locks, which will transfer you to quite a different water environment: there is bustling shipping traffic on the Elbe – and we are not talking cute little boats here but also large-scale container ships. Therefore, it is essential that you are also well acquainted with the traffic regulations for inland waterways.

Sailing – a sense of freedom Hamburg style

A sailing tour on the Alster is pure pleasure, and most of Hamburg’s sailing boat rental yards are open between April and October. On board the sailing boats you can relax, top up your tan and feel the wind in your hair.

(Sailing tour on the Alster / City Sailing)

And the best thing is: you can enjoy the pleasure of sailing even without a sailing licence, for in Hamburg you can also go on board as a passive crew member.

A very special sailing experience awaits you at Hamburg City Sailing: entering the Alster in a spacious centreboarder, you will learn interesting and funny stories about the sights around the Alster Lake and Hamburg’s maritime history. If you wish, you can also operate the sheet rope and the rudder yourself – under the guidance of the captain.

Barca Boats Events also provides opportunities for newbies to get a taste of sailing without actually having a sailing licence. Supervised by a captain you will be able to operate the sheet ropes and sails or even man the tiller. You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. So if you are not up for excitement, you can simply sit back and enjoy the beautiful panoramic view from the water.

Hamburg’s locals strongly believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, but only bad clothing. This is why these trips will also take place in rain. Most vendors will lend you free water-resistant clothing to make sure that you keep as dry as possible during your sailing adventure.

Hamburg’s surfing community – paddling for a good cause

Even though you cannot go surfing in Hamburg, the city has a big surfing community and many locals are deeply in love with this sport. Each year in autumn, the Stadtparksee lake in the district of Winterhude provides the location for the Cold Water Charity Challenge. This charitable event has been organised by the former Coldwater Surfclub Hamburg since 2008 to raise money for children in need of help.

Equipped with their surfboards, participants try to accomplish as many rounds as possible of the Stadtparksee within the course of two hours – whereby participants paddle half of each round, and cover the other half of the round on foot with their boards clutched under their arms. Does this sound like an athletic challenge or not?!

(Paddling for a good cause / Thorsten Müller)

Prior to the event, each contestant has to find a sponsor who will donate a certain amount of money for each round accomplished. The higher the number of rounds accomplished, the more money the contestant will be able to contribute in the end. In 2016, more than 10,000 euro was raised at the Cold Water Charity Challenge.

And yet the event’s focus is not on athletic performance, but rather on the overall goal, i.e. to raise as much money as possible for the charitable project. The fans onsite support all of the athletes enthusiastically, and everyone there is truly passionate about the event.