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Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe house Hamburg| Courtesy of Stiftung Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe
Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe house Hamburg| Courtesy of Stiftung Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe
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Hamburg's Most Unusual Museums You Need to Visit in 2017

Picture of Ilze Ieviņa
Updated: 10 April 2017
Hamburg boasts numerous excellent museums and an acclaimed art mile, but there are also museums that offer visitors the extraordinary, the surprising and the downright bizarre. Don’t miss these eight fascinating museums.
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Dialog im Dunkeln

The idea behind Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark) is simple yet extraordinary. Blind guides lead visitors through pitch dark exhibition rooms filled with everyday objects, allowing them to experience a world of sensations without eyesight. This unique museum not only provides an unforgettable experience, but it also reverses the roles between the seeing and the blind. A similar concept is used in the nearby Dialog im Stillen (Dialogue in Silence), which teaches visitors to speak with hands and listen with eyes. Booking ahead is advised.

HOURS: Tue–Fri: 9am–6pm, Sat: 10am–5pm, Sun: 10am–7pm

Dialog im Dunkeln, Alter Wandrahm 4, Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 3096 340

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U-Boot U-434

In the Hamburg harbour, the largest non-atomic spy submarine in the world – the Russian U-434 – invites visitors to explore its secrets. Built in 1976, the submarine served in the Russian North Sea Fleet until 2002. The 90.16-metre-long (296 ft) long vessel gives unparalleled insight into the Cold War period, the workings of a spy submarine and the sailors’ spartan living conditions.

HOURS: Mon–Sat: 9am–8pm, Sun: 11am–8pm

U-Bootmuseum, St. Pauli Fischmarkt 10, Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 3200 4934

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Cap San Diego

Nicknamed the ‘white swan of southern Atlantic’, the Cap San Diego in Hamburg harbour invites visitors aboard to explore the largest seaworthy museum ship in the world. The freight ship was retired in the 1980s, when container ships took over the oceans, and now serves as a museum as well as a hotel and event venue. Visitors are welcome to explore every nook and cranny of the Cap San Diego and visit its exhibitions on cargo shipping and emigration. The ship still sails during the annual harbour birthday parades.

HOURS: Mon–Sun: 10am–6pm

Cap San Diego, Überseebrücke, Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 3642 09

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Harrys Hamburger Hafenbasar

In the harbour of the nearby HafenCity lies one of the most bizarre museums on the planet: Harrys Hamburger Hafenbasar & Museum. The museum, housed in an old swimming crane, boasts an exotic collection of over 365,000 seamen’s treasures from across the world. From Indian fertility statues to African ritual masks and an entire zoo’s worth of animals, the museum’s 33 rooms encompass the beautiful and the bizarre, the grotesque and the shocking. The museum is open only on weekends and closes during the winter season.

HOURS: Sat–Sun: 10am–4pm

Harrys Hamburger Hafenbasar, Am Sandtorkai 60–62, Hamburg, Germany

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Automuseum PROTOTYP

Rare sports and racing cars are the focus of Automuseum PROTOTYP, a unique motoring museum. On 2,500 m² (27,000 sq ft) of space in a rebuilt historic factory, visitors can enjoy an interactive, experience-orientated multimedia exhibition. The museum’s exceptional automobile collection can be seen up close and barrier-free, and ranges from self-built machines from the late 1940s to prototypes of modern Formula 1 racing cars. The museum’s guests are invited to discover the exciting automotive history through vehicles, stories, workshop, wind tunnel, test simulator and more.

HOURS: Tue–Sun: 10am–6pm


Right in the middle of Hamburg’s party street lies the Panoptikum, Germany’s oldest and biggest wax figure museum. Opened in 1878, the family-run museum has entertained generations of guests. Alongside famous celebrities, sportspeople, heads of state and historical figures, the museum’s oldest wax figures reflect of its origin as a collection of curiosities. In the creepy corner the visitors can admire the figures of a giant woman, a man with three eyes and other unusual wax figures, both imagined and true.

HOURS: Mon–Fri: 11am–9pm, Sat: 11am–12am, Sun: 10am–9pm

Panoptikum, Spielbudenplatz 3, Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 3103 17

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Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe

The Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe is an island-museum that’s part cultural history, part industrial heritage and part nature reserve. The 150-acre island, once home to Hamburg’s waterworks, offers and idyllic green escape in the middle of the city. The complex was created in 1893 after a cholera epidemic ravaged the city, underlining the need for clean drinking water. This one-of-a-kind museum allows its visitors to explore the history of water purification and offers a picturesque nature trail, as well as various attractions for young and old.

HOURS: Tue–Sun: 10am–5pm

Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe, Kaltehofe-Hauptdeich 6-7, Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 7888 4999 0

Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe | Courtesy of Stiftung Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe

Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe | Courtesy of Stiftung Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe

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Energieberg Georgswerder

The title of Hamburg’s most atypical museum can probably be awarded to Energieberg Georgswerder. The ‘energy hill’ is made up of seven million cubic metres (approximately 247,202,667 cubic ft) of waste lying beneath a protective barrier. In 1983, this former landfill made headlines across Europe when toxic dioxins were discovered. Having undergone extensive decontamination measures, the hill now functions as a plant for renewable energy from multiple sources. The on-site Information Centre provides information on the site’s history as well as on renewable energy, modern waste management and recycling. At 40 metres (131.23 feet) above sea level, the hill also offers some of the best views across Hamburg.

HOURS: April–October, Tue–Sun: 10am–5pm

Energieberg Georgswerder, Fiskalische Strasse 2, Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 2576 1080