A Budget Traveler’s Guide to Hamburg

Public transport ferry
Public transport ferry | © Pixabay

Hamburg may be Germany’s richest city, but there’s plenty to see and do for even the most budget-savvy traveler. These are Culture Trip’s top tips for making the most of this exciting metropolis without digging deep into your pockets.

Walk through the city

Most of Hamburg’s iconic sights and landmarks are free and accessible at any time. Admire the beautiful City Hall, walk around the Lake Alster, and relax in the sun at the Planten un Blomen park. Stroll along the canals of the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, marvel at modern architecture at the HafenCity, and enjoy panorama views of the harbor from the Plaza of the magnificent Elbphilharmonie music hall. Roam through the bustling harbor, walk through the Old Elbe Tunnel, and see the famous Fischmarkt. These and other sights won’t cost you a cent.

The City Hall

Take a free city tour

Go for a harbor ferry ride

Why spend money on expensive boat tours around one of Europe’s biggest harbors when you can take a harbor ferry instead? The HADAG ferries won’t cost you more than a public transport ticket. The line 62 is the most picturesque and perfect for a round-trip to the southern shore of the Elbe and back. The ferry ride begins at the Landungsbrücken and makes scenic stops at the famous Fischmarkt, the rhomboid Dockland office building, and the Oevelgönne Museum Harbor.

Public transport ferry

Ride the U3 circle line

A trip on Hamburg’s oldest metro line is as good as any hop-on/hop-off bus. A round-trip of the 23 stops takes around 40 minutes and most of the route is above ground. You’ll enjoy some of the best views across the harbor and the Speicherstadt, picturesque canals, elegant old residential neighborhoods, and former workers’ districts. Escape the tourist crowds and find out more about the city and its people. HVV, Hamburg’s public transport provider, has even prepared a free audio guide for German speakers.

Enjoy a water light concert

During the summer and autumn months the Planten un Blomen park in the center of Hamburg hosts daily light fountain concerts. At nightfall the Parksee lake becomes a magical backdrop for colorful fountain shows. The music repertoire varies from classic compositions to movie tunes and tango music. Between May 1 and August 31 the concerts take place at 10PM, and between September 1 and October 3 at 9PM. Do as the locals – come early and bring a blanket and a picnic basket.

Light fountains at the Planten un Blomen

Explore the botanical garden

The Planten un Blomen park has another treasure in store: the five interconnected greenhouses of the Old Botanical Garden, built for the International Garden Festival of 1963. The 2,800 square meters (30,000 square feet) of space hosts five climate zones, from a rainforest to a desert. The different plants, temperatures, and humidity levels make each greenhouse feel like a different world. Once there, visit Europe’s largest Japanese garden, and explore the rose garden and the apothecary garden of medicinal herbs and plants.

Attend a free music concert

Hamburg is a top destination for music lovers and the good news is that you can enjoy superb performances completely for free. Attend a jam session at the legendary Birdland jazz club, or a classical concert at the Hochshule für Musik und Theater. Dance to rock, punk, and reggae music at Wutzrock, a free three-day music festival in July, or experience the ultimate summer-in-the-city feeling at the Knust Acoustics Sommersessions. In Hamburg you’ll find a great free concert every day of the week.

Go to a street festival

The people of Hamburg love a good street festival, and there are many to choose from all year round. There are major events like the Hafengeburtstag – the harbor birthday – every May, and the Alstervergnügen every September. Festivals celebrating city districts like the Altonale, the Schanzenfest, or the Stadtfest St. Georg. Even some streets host popular festivals like the Osterstraßenfest, Bernstorffstraßenfest, or the Eppendorfer Landstraßenfest. No matter the scale, head to a street festival to listen to music, sample good food, enjoy various attractions, and even browse stands of a flea market.

The Altonale street festival
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article