Hamburg: The City With Something for Everyone

Looking for a weekend away? Head up north and lose your heart to Hamburg! This wonderful harbor city makes for a great visit any time of the year and has a lot to offer whether you want a romantic getaway, a family break or a lively party weekend with your friends.

Miniatur Wunderland

Visit the largest model railway system in the world at Miniatur Wunderland. Discover over 930 trains with nearly 14,450 railway wagons, 228,000 trees, 215,000 figures, 8,850 cars, 13,000 meters of track, and 3,660 buildings and bridges.

Levi Vodica /

Miniatur Wunderland (Miniature Wonderland), Hamburg, Germany.

This intricate and realistic miniature world is perfect for a day out with the kids. It is set over eight sections:

  • Central Germany and The Harz, with its seemingly endless ICE high-speed route and over 130 trains, it includes beautiful landscapes and replicas of famous Hamburg districts and attractions such as St. Michaelis Church and Hagenbeck Zoo and the Port of Hamburg.
  • Knuffingen is such a famous ‘mini’ city that it even has its own website (in German)! It is home to 10,000 ‘model’ inhabitants and its local police force are frequently catches speeding drivers using their radar trap. The local fire station is kept pretty busy too.
  • America draws ‘tiny’ crowds with its desert metropolis and paradise for gamblers, Las Vegas: More than 10% of all Wunderland lights – around 33,000 – are installed here. You can also enjoy mini versions of the Keys and Cape Canaveral as well as of course the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and Yosemite Park.
  • Scandinavia was set up as the sixth section in 2005. Particularly impressive is the real water basin in which there are currently 16 ships that travel from miniature port to port.
  • Switzerland, where the mountains stand with the 6-meter high Matterhorn as the centrepiece where visitors can hike and enjoy the view once they have reached the summit. There are many astounding highlights, such as the tiny chocolate factory which produces real chocolate, or the open-air concert with 21,000 tiny visitors.
  • Knuffingen Airport, which took 6 years of construction! It offers visitors over 100 airplanes and other vehicles with fully automated movements.

St. Pauli & Reeperbahn

When you mention Hamburg to someone, many automatically think of the Reeperbahn and the Fish Market.

So what is ‘the Reeperbahn?’ The Reeperbahn means ‘Rope Walk’ and is a street in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district. It’s known for its particularly wild nightlife and ‘adult’ entertainment. It’s often referred to as ‘the most sinful mile’ as it is also the city of Hamburg’s main red light district, and a popular tourist area. The street is lined with restaurants, night clubs, discos and bars as well as sex shops, brothels and believe it or not, a sex museum.

But the Reeperbahn isn’t just about sex and adult entertainment. It is home to the city’s main musical theatres and you can still enjoy a fun and lively night out here without committing any mortal sins. There are plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants for every style and budget, but it is certainly not family-friendly. Even during the daytime it’s not an ideal place to take children.

Musicals & Theatre

Hamburg is renowned for hosting some of the top musical shows in the country. Currently running are Disney’s The Lion King, Disney’s Tarzan, and a brand-new show, Rocky the Musical. Also running is Heisse Ecke, a musical based around the famous Reeperbahn in St. Pauli.

Hamburg has over 40 different theatres – the best known being the Thalia Theatre, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Ohnsorg Theatre, Schmidts Tivoli on the Reeperbahn, and Kampnagel.

The city also has an English-language dedicated theatre. It was founded in 1976 by two Americans and shows a diverse range of plays every season. The programme usually includes a classic American or British drama, a comedy, a thriller, and a contemporary play. Past plays have included the works of Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O’Neill, Harold Pinter, Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, Alan Ayckbourn, Neil Simon, Neil LaBute, and John Godber.

Hagenbeck Zoo

If you want to feed a giraffe, marvel at a baby elephant or watch cute, rare baby animals, at Hagenbeck Zoo you can! The park is home to over 1,850 animals from 210 species in spacious outdoor enclosures that reflect their natural living conditions. The latest attraction is the new Eismeer (Polar Sea). Polar bears, walruses, seals, Arctic seabirds and different penguin species feel at home in the 8,000 square meter complex with 5.3 million litres of water.

D. Pfleiderer /

Asian elephant in zoo Hagenbeck.

A quick trip to the elephant enclosure is a must for every visitor. Few other species are so popular with visitors as the Asian elephants. The gentle pachyderms delight both young and old. Feeding the grey giants with fruits and vegetables is encouraged and unique in Germany.

Younger guests can see dwarf and Ovambo goats up close in the petting zoo and will find lots to play with in the large playground with its Western fort. In addition, there is a suspension bridge, kangaroo jump pit, tiger and elephant path and numerous feeding shows that make the trip through the 25-hectare park into a real experience. Pampas rabbits and dwarf deer as well as magnificent peacocks and various breeds of domestic chicken roam freely around the park.

It’s possible to get tickets to visit both the Zoo and the Tropical Aquarium (see below) at a discounted price.

Hagenbeck Tropical Aquarium

Experience an exciting journey into the world of the rainforest in Hagenbeck Tropical Aquarium in Hamburg. In over 8,000 square meters, visitors will encounter 14,300 fascinating animals from 300 species, including small monkeys, large crocodiles, poisonous snakes and tropical sea inhabitants. The true-to-nature design of the habitats is particularly impressive: thanks to real jungle plants, narrow paths and, in some areas, brightly coloured birds flying freely, you actually feel like a jungle adventurer.

The Hagenbeck Tropical Aquarium is divided into habitats: visitors travel through Africa, Asia and South America and discover animals from every continent. At the beginning of the tour is the Madagascar village square. Colorful parrots fly through the air and lemurs move swiftly among the trees and huts. You can even find crocodiles here; feeding times are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at around noon. In Africa, you will encounter tropical reptiles and in Asia various tortoises and iguanas. Four-eyed fish and basilisks greet the visitors on their jungle tour in South America. Even life hidden underground can be explored.

  • Cave Worlds are the retreat for the giant constrictors. Frogs, bats and other exotic creatures that shun the daylight also live behind the doors of an old cabinet. The path leads through the old mine tunnels to animals that are not seen during the day, such as whip spiders, newts and cave fish in the stalagmite cave.
  • The Poisonous Snake Village is inhabited by numerous poisonous snakes. Including the longest venomous snake in the world – the king cobra. The green mamba and the Gabon viper from Africa, the Texas rattlesnake and the Australian spiny-tailed skink also call this home. Less dangerous animals such as the bearded dragon, scorpions, cockroaches and tarantulas also crawl over the sandy ground and rocky landscape.
  • The Underwater World is a peaceful haven of green moraine, colourful corals and a huge Amazonian freshwater exhibit. The highlight of the tour is the unique panoramic window behind the spectacular shark atoll – a huge water basin holding about 1.8 million litres extends behind the 22-centimeter-thick curved pane of glass. Several species of sharks and many other reef inhabitants have their habitat there. Feeding of the large predators takes place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 2.00pm The Makalali Lodge offers a panoramic view of the tropical hall and an overview of the crocodile lake with four mighty Nile crocodiles.

Getting There

By car, the journey time to Hamburg is around 5.5 hours from Kaiserslautern, 4.5 hours from Wiesbaden, and 6 hours from Stuttgart. For train options, check with Deutsche Bahn.

Categories: Attractions, Kid Friendly, Rest of Germany, Rest of Germany, Rest of Germany, Road Trips, Theatre & Music, Travel