The famous red-light and party district of St Pauli is the heart of Hamburg’s nightlife. The area truly comes to life after midnight. Here, erotic bars and sex shops peacefully coexist with old sailors’ pubs and modern discos. On the one kilometre (0.6 mile) Reeperbahn and the surrounding streets and squares, everyone will find their perfect spot for an unforgettable night.
You can find cheap student bars like Ex-Sparr and sophisticated cocktail bars like Glanz & Gloria. Lively Irish pubs like Molly Malone and Thomas Read, and legendary live music venues like Große Freiheit 36 and Docks. Electronic and house DJs reign at Halo, Moondoo, Villa Nova, Baalsaal and Prinzenbar. Rock and alternative music fans will feel at home at Molotow and Gruenspan, while Mojo is famous for dancefloor jazz. Those seeking amazing views of the city’s skyline to accompany their beverage of choice will love Heaven’s Nest and 20up.
Just a short walk from the Reeperbahn, an entirely different atmosphere awaits at the Sternschanze. The district’s leftist and alternative vibe is best represented by the Rote Flora musical theatre that has been home to squatters for almost 30 years. When the weather is fine and the bars are full, the party spills out into the streets. Just a few streets away, the multicultural Karoviertel is known for its trendy cafés and cocktail bars.
Between the two districts, you can the sophisticated Goldfischglas, the funky Le Fonque, or the laid back Yoko Mono. Dance the night away at offbeat party locations like the Kulturhaus 73, the Grüner Jäger, and the Uebel & Gefährlich that’s located in a former WWII bunker. Under the Sternbrücke bridge, you’ll find some of the city’s best underground clubs like the Fundbureau, the Astra Stube, and the Waagenbau.
Some of Hamburg’s most exciting nightlife locations can be found off the beaten track. Beneath the main shopping street lies the luxurious Privileg, Hamburg’s most exclusive club decorated by Europe’s largest private aquarium. Nearby the Le Lion Bar de Paris is a sophisticated location offering some of the best cocktails in the country. A unique atmosphere awaits at the Fabrik, a renovated factory building of red brick and steel, one of the city’s most popular concert locations. And the current top location for young and urbane party-goers is the Moloch, located in the modern HafenCity district.
Even the River Elbe is a nightlife location in its own right, with numerous ships serving as swimming bars and clubs. A particularly special experience can be had at the Frau Hedi tours, with great DJs playing diverse music sets. The Feuerschiff – a former lightship – is one of the city’s best live music locations, while the Cold War ship Stubnitz is a floating music club. Special events are always planned for the harbour’s grand anniversary celebration every May, which are always worth a visit.
Hamburg is also a top European destination for exciting music festivals. The season is kicked off every spring by the Stadtpark Open-Air concert, where local and international stars perform under the open skies in one Hamburg’s biggest parks. The Elbjazz Festival in June will host over 50 musicians from all genres of jazz, and in July the wild and colourful Schlagermove parade takes over the harbour area. In August, the Elbe floodplains of the Wilhelmsburg district are filled with rap, hip-hop, and electronic music during the SPEKTRUM festival and alternative, electronic, and rock music during the MS Dockville festival. The festival summer is concluded in September by the legendary Reeperbahn Festival, the biggest club festival in the country.