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Hamburg Transportation and Tourist Information

From: Hamburg City Guide

Hamburg Hauptbahnhof train shed

ABOVE: The train shed at Hamburg's Hauptbahnhof or main railroad station.

How to reach Hamburg

Hamburg is a "city-state" in Northern Germany, with a direct connection by water (the River Elbe) to the North Sea. Here's how to reach the city:

ICE trainBy train. The Deutsche Bahn, or German Federal Railways,  operates frequent services between Hamburg and other European cities, including high-speed ICE (InterCity Express) trains that reach Berlin in about 1 hour 40 minutes and Frankfurt in 3 to 4 hours.

You can check timetables with the DB's English-language journey planner, at least when the railroad's Web site is working.

Hamburg's two main stations are the Hauptbahnhof and the suburban terminus station of Altona.

Airbus A380 in HamburgBy air. Hamburg Airport has been expanded in recent years, and it's conveniently located only 8 km or 5 miles from the city center. S-Bahn trains (line S1) run at 10-minute intervals during most of the day, taking 25 minutes to get from the airport to the Hauptbahnhof or main railroad station.

Hamburg highway signBy car. Hamburg is well-connected to other German cities via the national Autobahn network. See Brian's Guide to Getting Around Germany: The Autobahn for general motoring advice, and use ViaMichelin to get customized road maps and directions from anywhere in Europe.

  • Tip: HVV, Hamburg's public-transportation network, suggests leaving your car in a Park+Ride lot at a rapid-transit or regional rail station and taking a train into the city center.

Queen Mary 2By ship. Hamburg and its neighboring port of Cuxhaven are no longer served by international car ferries, but an increasing number of passenger ships (including Cunard's transatlantic liner, Queen Mary 2) use the cruise terminals in the Port of Hamburg.

Tip: If you're headed to Hamburg by ship, see the Hamburg photo diary from our MSC Preziosa Cruise Review: North Sea at Europe for Cruisers.

Local transportation

U-Bahn trainTrains and buses. The HVV, or Hamburg Transport Authority, offers multiple ways of getting around: a U-Bahn Metro or subway, the similar but separate S-Bahn, and a wide-ranging bus network.

If you plan to use the system often, you can buy a Hamburg CARD that includes unlimited travel on public transportation.

Hamburg harbor ferryWater buses. HADAG operates harbor ferries in cooperation with HVV. On these ferry routes (identified by double-digit numbers), you can use a standard HVV ticket or the Hamburg CARD.

Maritime Circle LineSightseeing buses and boats. Hamburger Stadtrundfahrt offers "hop on, hop off" tours on red double-decker buses. The Line A circuit has 20 stops and can be combined with the company's other tours. Given a choice, however, we'd opt for the Maritime Circle Line, a boat service with hop on, hop off harbor cruises to museums and tourist locations around the harbor.

StadtRAD bicycle rentalBike rental. The StadtRAD bikeshare program is an easy, low-cost way to explore the city on two wheels. Once you've registered, you can use a bicycle free for 30 minutes, with a modest charge per minute after that. Some 70 rental stations and 700 bicycles are located around the city.

Tourist information

Hamburg Tourism has an information office in the Hauptbahnhof, or main railway station.

Back to: Hamburg City Guide - Introduction

In this Hamburg city guide:
Hamburg City Guide - Introduction
Museums, attractions
Culture, entertainment
Hotels, restaurants
Transportation, tourist information

Related articles:
Sightseeing Boats and Harbor Tours
BallinStadt Emigration Museum
Hempel's Beatles Tour
Franzbrötchen (Hamburg sweet rolls)
Steigenberger Hotel Hamburg
Dr. Tomas H. Kaiser (private tourist guide)

Also see:
HAPAG Halle Cuxhaven (Steubenhöft)

1st inset photo copyright © Olaf Loose.
2nd inset photo inset photo copyright © Andreas Weber.
3rd inset photo copyright © Christian Becker.