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The Ultimate Guide to Europe’s Party Capital, Hamburg

Reeperbahn Festival
Reeperbahn Festival | © Hamburg Tourism Board
Hamburg has been voted the best place in the world for a night out. With dozens of bars, clubs and theatres, it’s hard to decide where to start exploring. This guide will help you plan your perfect night out in the party capital of Europe.

The legendary St. Pauli district

Reeperbahn at Night | © Steffi Lange/Shutterstock

You’ll be at the heart of the action in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district, home to the Reeperbahn (nicknamed ‘the most sinful mile’). But what makes this area so special?

Hamburg’s red-light district first established itself in St. Pauli due to the close proximity to the international harbour, and it still thrives today. It was St. Pauli’s central location and cheap rent that initially attracted the bars and clubs to move in and contribute to the development of the area. It is now the party hub of Hamburg, and caters to every person’s after-hours taste, from hip speakeasies to Irish pubs, erotic theatres to glamorous cocktail bars. Countless restaurants cater to all appetites, while theatres and musicals attract a higher-brow crowd. All along the Reeperbahn, black-and-white flags with a skull and crossbones pay homage to the district’s famous FC St. Pauli football club, dubbed the most left-wing team in the world. The historically anarchist football team has a cult following around the globe, and the area is packed on match days with supporters proudly wearing the skull symbol.

Loved by locals and visitors alike, the St. Pauli district is untamed and surprising, and a must-visit for everyone travelling to Hamburg. Read on to find out how to make the most of your time in this legendary part of town!

Reeperbahn

The one-kilometre-long (0.6 mile) Reeperbahn is the heart of the St. Pauli district and the city’s nightlife scene. At first glance, the bright red facades of erotic bars and shops may overshadow everything else that Reeperbahn has to offer. Look closer and you’ll find cool underground Techno clubs like Baalsaal, diverse concert arenas like Molotow and great dancing spots like Thomas Read. Enjoy the ‘most sinful mile’, but make sure you step off the main strip and get to know some of the smaller bars and clubs along the adjacent streets and squares, which often have the best atmosphere and decent drink prices.

Spielbudenplatz

Reeperbahn Festival | © Hamburg Tourism Board

At the beginning of the Reeperbahn lies the Spielbudenplatz, one of the hottest locations in the city. Two large stages at each end of the square serve as a top venues for events like Reeperbahn Festival, the largest club festival in Germany. The Spielbudenplatz is lined with theatres, restaurants, bars, and clubs, making it the perfect place to start a night out.

Dine in style at the Dips n Stix, the Schmidts Tivoli theatre restaurant, or take the elevator up to the top of the Dancing Towers for a meal accompanied by spectacular views at Clouds Heaven’s Bar & Kitchen. The basement of the building is home to Mojo – one of the best clubs in Germany for dancefloor jazz and acid jazz. Other noteworthy addresses include the legendary live music venue Docks and the striking Klubhaus St. Pauli, which combines nightlife and culture.

Hans-Albers-Platz

Street view, Reeperbahn, Hamburg © Datenschutz-Stockfoto/Shutterstock

The next stop along the Reeperbahn is the Hans-Albers-Platz. Known for its bars and pubs, the square truly comes alive at night with live music and partygoers spilling out into the square and creating a festival atmosphere. Pubs like Molly Malone and The Academy bring a little piece of Ireland to Hamburg, whereas Hans-Albers-Eck and 20 Flight Rock are typically Hamburgian: a little rough around the edges but with a lot of heart.

Hamburger Berg

Reeperbahnfestival 2009 13 | © Hamburg Tourism Board

Across the Reeperbahn from Hans-Albers-Platz is the side street Hamburger Berg, a secret spot for locals. As opposed to Reeperbahn itself, the bars and clubs that line its side streets always have free entrance, making it easy to pop from one place to the next. Here the drinks flow, and the dance floors fill quickly. Try Ex-Sparr for affordable drinks, Pooca Bar for great live music and Rosi’s Bar for the ultimate Hamburg dive-bar experience.

Talstraße

Talstrasse and Reeperbahn in St.Pauli, Hamburg © Jannis Tobias Werner/Shutterstock

One street over from Hamburger Berg, Talstraße is also known for some great bars and clubs. Fans of funk and soul should head straight to Hörsaal, where you can dance to jukebox music under a disco ball until the early hours. In contrast, the intimacy of 3 Zimmer Wohnung, a small three-room apartment-turned-bar, is perfect for settling in for a cocktail. Nearby Utspann and Hafenkante are typical quaint Hamburg pubs, loved by the locals and perfect for a quick pint.

Große Freiheit

Beatles-Platz | © Hamburg Tourism Board

Last but definitely not least, the side street of Große Freiheit is almost as well known as Reeperbahn itself. This is the street where the young Beatles boys started their legendary musical career, and is famous for great live-music venues like Grünspan and Grosse Freiheit 36. Popular establishments like the Dollhouse and Susis Show Bar remind one of the history of area as a red-light district, and remain popular with tourists and stag dos. The area also has numerous LGBTQ-friendly establishments like the Olivia Jones Bar, which are open to anyone looking for a fun night out.

Find out more about why Hamburg was voted the best city in the world for nightlife.