as a tourist centre using public transport

  (Updated December 2010)

Hamburg Rathaus
Hamburg Alster Arcades
Top: HAMBURG -Rathaus (town hall)
Above: HAMBURG - Alster Arcades
Below: LÜBECK - Holstentor
Lubeck Holstentor

Below: LÜNEBURG- Am Sande
LÜNEBURG - Marktkirche
  Luneburg Am Sande
Luneburg Am Stintmarkt

As with the other pages in this series, the purpose of this one is to indicate what may be done on a short visit to the city in question,using public transport only. It is based on a visit to Hamburg in December 2010. For more information visit the Hamburg Tourist Information site.

Hamburg is a state in itself but DB (German railways) passes can be purchased which encompass the city and the adjacent states of Schleswig-Holstein, to the north and  Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) to the south.

Hamburg itself has an excellent transport system operated by HVV which encompasses buses, Ü-Bahn and S-Bahn railways and river ferries.

The airport at Fuhlsbüttel is the terminus of the S1 S-Bahn line and provides connections to central Hamburg in under half an hour. (One point to note is that when travelling TO the airport from the city centre, you must occupy the front three of the six carriages, as the rear three separate from the S-Bahn train at the stop before the airport. This fact is, however, announced in English on the train so should not be a problem).

The heart of the city is the magnificent Rathaus (town hall) which is a five-minute walk from the impressive main station (Hauptbahnhof). The annual Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) occupies this route, running from Spitalerstrasse, immediately outside the western side of the station, to the Rathaus.

Just to the right of the front of the Rathaus are the attractive Alster arcades, which lead to the Binnenalster  - or inner lake, from where local cruises can be taken.

Also well worth a visit is the quayside adjacent to Landungsbrucke Ü-Bahn station. A walk from here to Rödingsmarkt station (two stops) along the dockside takes you alongside the historic Rickmer Rickmers sailing ship and the Cap San Diego, historic vessel. Inland you will see the elevated section of the Ü-Bahn. A ride on the metro between the two stations mentioned above affords an excellent view of the dock area.

If you prefer to walk further along the quayside, towards Messburg Ü-Bahn station, you will see across the water the Zöll (customs) museum and the famous Miniatur Wonderland, which houses the largest model railway in the world. This is housed in the Speicherstadt, the massive historic warehouse complex of Hamburg, which is well worth a visit in itself.

Day trips by rail from Hamburg

The main station (Hauptbahnhof) has extensive connections to the rest of Germany and a good panoramic view of the station can be had from the walkways at each end of the platforms.

The station roof, at 120 x 140 metres and 35 metres high has the largest unsupported roof area of any station in Germany. Consequently it has enough space to be very well provided with shops and eating places to pass the time whilst awaiting trains. The DB Reisburo (travel centre) provides leaflets and information and booking can also be made there. But for most journeys it is easier to use the main self-service machines, all of which have English language options.

For most day trips a DB Lander ticket is the best option. These allow up to five adults to travel for the same price and work out cheaper even if there are only two of you travelling. In 2010 a Schleswig Holstein Lander ticket cost 30 euros and the Niedersachsen one was 27 euros. HVV has a local version whose price varies depending on the zones purchased; one covering Hamburg to Luneburg, for instance, costs 23 euros (2010 prices).

The Lander tickets allow unlimited travel after 9am on all trains except ICE and Inter-City trains but the Regional trains on which they are valid are themselves very good and plentiful. Having bought the ticket from the machine - you can buy on the day of travel or day before, you must write your name on it, where indicated. The ticket does not need validating - it is simply issued to be checked by random checks. You can often complete a whole day's travel without being checked but it is certainly not advisable to risk travelling without a ticket!

Services to the places below are mostly by double-deck trains operated wither by DB or MetroNOM.
  • Lübeck
Lübeck lies to the north east of Hamburg and is a famous and attractive Hanseatic town. On leaving the station at Lübeck the visitor crosses the nearby Puppenbrücke and immediately sees the iconic Holstentor, which is located just yards beyond the main tourist office. The rest of the city is dotted with attractive buildings.

A suggested route is to carry on straight behind the Holstentor and into Holstenstrasse. Soon, the magnificent varied architecture of the Rathaus will be seen to the left. From here, take  Breitestrasse or the parallel Konigstrasse towards the city gates at Burgtor, where there is a plaque to Carl Hans Lody, executed at the Tower of London in November 1914 on espionage charges. More details of Lody are here. Lody became a Nazi hero in the 1930s and a German Navy destroyer was named after him.

For more information visit the Lübeck tourist information site.

  • Kiel
From Lübeck it is less than an hour to the north east to the city of Kiel, a famous port and sailing centre. The route from Lübeck passes alongside the enormous Plön See lake. Architecturally the city has suffered from its World War II experiences.
  • Lüneburg

Lüneburg emerged from World War II largely undamaged and this means it is, today, a really attractive town, located an hour or so from Hamburg to the south west. Virtually all of the streets in the city centre are packed with characterful buildings, with Am Sande one of the most well known locations.

From Hamburg the purchase of a Niedersachsen Lander ticket covers this area, though the HVV version is slightly cheaper if you are only visiting the town and not the further reaches of the Niedersachsen. The DB ticket covers the whole state for just four euros more.

Visit the Lüneburg tourist office for more details.

  • Bremen

Little more than an hour by train from Hamburg, Bremen has a historic Rathaus and cathedral as well as the famous Beck's brewery, which offers tours of its premises. Bottcherstrasse is also well worth a visit for its fascinating 20th century architecture. Bremen can also be reached by air, with its tram network linking the airport to the city centre. Even though Bremen and Hamburg are city states, the DB Niedersachsen Landeskarte covers the Hamburg to Bremen route as well as the rest of Niedersachsen.

  • Schwerin

About an hour and a half from Hamburg by regional trains, Schwerin's lakes and its magnificent castle make it a pictureque regional campital. The Mecklenburg-Pomerania regional ticket covers the Hamburg to Schwerin route and beyond. Change here for Wismar...

  • Wismar

About half an hour from Schwerin, Wismar is a former Hanseatic port which spent a considerable time under Swedish rule.


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