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Hamburg for families

family travel guide

Family trip to Hamburg: key takeaways

  • The greenest city in the country
  • Germany's second largest city
  • Exciting attractions for kids
  • Large number of parks
  • Good choice of hotels
  • 24-hour public transport
  • Save money on trips and excursions with the Hamburg Card
  • Interesting local gastronomy, variety of fish dishes and specialities


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Family holidays in Hamburg

Germany's second-largest city, a major port, the 'gateway to the world', the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg — it's a big name, but it's true. But it's also true that it's a friendly, clean, green city, full of museums (including children's museums) and that a holiday with children in Hamburg is an unexpectedly colourful and memorable experience.

There is a belief that if you toss a coin from the banks of the Elbe River and it hits one of the piles in the harbour, you'll definitely come back to Hamburg. We suggest you practise before you go: a family holiday in Hamburg is something you'll want to do again.

Hamburg on the map of Germany

The city of Hamburg is located in northern Germany, on the banks of the River Elbe, approximately 110 km from where the Elbe flows into the North Sea. With an area of over 750 square kilometres and a population of over 1.7 million, Hamburg is the leading non-capital city in the European Union. Hamburg is 292 km from Berlin, 400 km from Düsseldorf, 425 km from Cologne and 495 km from Frankfurt.

A fortress called Hammaburg was built on the site of Hamburg in the 8th century. The fortress was soon demolished, but the name remained. Hamburg was already known as an important port in the 12th century. Today it is one of Germany's three city-states and the country's second largest city.

Hamburg for Kids

Hamburg is a city of bridges, sailors and millionaires. But if you go through the rest of the alphabet, the city can be described even more precisely.

R — Road. The transfer to Hamburg is not at all memorable because it takes so little time. Well, everyone knows about the perfect quality of German motorways (if you're going to drive).

H — Hotels. Good quality and comfortable, regardless of their star rating. They don't offer entertainment, but they have everything you need to relax with your child after the excursions. If you are travelling with an infant, a cot will be provided in the room.

M are Museums. Adult, children's, unusual, frightening, provocative, but always promising new discoveries.

Hamburg is home to one of the best children's museums in Germany. Unlike today's popular experimentariums, at KLick children are surrounded not by the future, but by the past.

E is for Entertainment. Hamburg has playgrounds, ropes courses, indoor children's entertainment centres, water parks and amusement parks close to the city.

T — Transport. The metro, suburban trains, buses and ferries run smoothly almost round the clock: you'll have no trouble getting to any part of the city.

C — Cuisine. Holidaying in Hamburg means getting to know the local cuisine, and it's very different from the 'sausage-pork knuckle-sausage' set. And we assure you, no child will refuse to eat Hamburg's Rode Grütt.

W is the Weather. The weather is overcast, to be precise. There are more clouds in the sky than sunshine, and rain pours down on the city even in winter. Make sure you bring umbrellas or mackintoshes.

A for Architecture, B for Business, W for Wind, H for Hansa... A trip to Hamburg with children is easy to add to the list.

Best time to travel

Hamburg's tourist season is a relative term. There are a few months of the year when the number of tourists increases, but there is no time when Hamburg is neglected by travellers.

The most popular time to go on holiday with a child is from May to September and in December. The warmer months are ideal for walking and sightseeing, while in December the lights of the Christmas markets will warm your heart. The best time to visit Hamburg with an infant is in late spring, summer or early autumn. In winter, the city is damp and cold and windy, which is not the best weather for babies.

When planning the best time to visit Hamburg, it's also worth bearing in mind the timing of the festivals. One of them, Harbour Day, is celebrated in May. It's a truly memorable event: where else can you see a tugboat ballet or dragon rowing?

Three times a year, in December, March-April and July-August, the city hosts the Hamburg Dom Fair. Children can enjoy a carousel, rides, a giant Ferris wheel and stalls selling sweets and toys.

And at Christmas, the city is transformed beyond recognition. Fairytale towns spring up in the squares, filled with the delicious smell of baking. Children are entertained not only in the streets but also on the fairytale ships moored on the Alster. There are also ice rinks, festive parades and spectacular fireworks in December.

Weather and climate

Hamburg's climate is Nordic and temperate. Winters without frost, summers without heat, with moderate rainfall. The air in Hamburg is clean all year round — with over 100 parks, it's Germany's greenest city.

The best time to visit is, of course, summer. From June to August, the temperature stays between +22 and +24 degrees Celsius, although the city can experience some very hot or cold days. The only downside to the summer weather is the frequent rain. July tends to be particularly wet.

Summer is considered the best time to holiday in Hamburg with children. We recommend extending this period to May and September, which are warm months with reasonably good weather.

In autumn, the air cools down a little, but there is less rain. In September the thermometer shows +18-19°C, in October +13-14°C and in November +8°C. Nights are also quite cold, with temperatures dropping to around +10°C in September and +4°C in November.

Warm winters are common in Hamburg. From December to February, the thermometer stays between +3 and 5°C, with only light frost at night. If you are planning a winter holiday in Hamburg, pack an umbrella and good shoes: Instead of snow, it rains in Hamburg. You'll need good outdoor clothing for long walks, as Hamburg has a very cold winter wind.

In March, Hamburg's weather resembles winter, but in April the temperature rises to +14 to +15°C, the trees are covered with fresh leaves and it finally rains every day. In May the temperature rises to +19°C and the tourist season begins. By the way, Hamburg has beaches and the Elbe is clean but cold. The city of Hamburg has many sun worshippers on its beaches, but only a few dare to swim: even in summer the water temperature doesn't rise above +18°C.


There is little demand for meals in Hamburg's hotel restaurants. Breakfast is rarely included in the room rate, and children's menus are even rarer (and when they are, they tend to be fast food). Tourists usually explore the local cuisine outside the hotels. And Hamburg's restaurants offer a wide range of tastes — some typical of the whole of Germany and some typical of a small region.

The highlights of Hamburg's cuisine include salted herring Matjes, eel soup Aalsuppe and the unusual dish Birnen, Bohnen und Speck ("pears, beans and bacon").

And you can turn an ordinary visit to a cafe into a feast for sweet tooth, because Hamburg is known for its fabulous sweets: Franzbrötchen sugar puff, spiced biscuits from Hamburgische Braune Kuchen, Käsekuchen curd cake, sumptuous marzipan sponge cake and Rote Grütze, a red-berry sour cream cake served with ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla sauce.

Getting Around

Public transport in Hamburg is an indispensable aid for tourists. All sights can be reached by underground, suburban railway and bus.

Transport in Hamburg runs almost round the clock, is very punctual and the intervals between journeys are short. For timetables, routes and ticket prices, visit the website of HVV, the company that runs the city's public transport system.

Underground and train services stop at night between 01:00 and 04:30. Buses also run at night, with around 30 night routes serving all parts of the city. Hamburg's integrated transport system also includes ferries. For tourists, this is more of a sightseeing and walking tool and should not be dismissed out of hand. The ferries run on 6 routes past the Fischmarkt, the Dockland shipyard, the Oevelgönne museum harbour and other points of interest in the city.

All forms of public transport are subject to a single ticket, the cost of which depends on the length of the journey and the zone in which you are travelling. Hamburg and its suburbs are divided into five zones (or rings), with most attractions located within zones A and B.

A day ticket for travel within zones A and B costs €3.60 for an adult and €1.30 for children aged 6-14. A day pass for zones A, B and C costs €8.40 (there is no separate pass for children). It is also possible to buy a day pass for one adult and three children aged 6 to 14. This costs €7.10 for zones A, B and €11.10 for zones A, B, C, depending on the zone.

Tickets are sold at the driver's desk, from vending machines and at customer centres. It is very convenient to use e-tickets on your smartphone.

If you are planning to do a lot of sightseeing, it makes sense to buy a Hamburg Card. The card is a travel pass for all public transport and gives you up to 50% off admission to some museums. The card is valid for 1 day and costs €11.90, 2 days — €20.90, 3 days — €29.90, 4 days — €39.90, 5 days — €46.90. The card can be used by one adult and three children under the age of 14 at the same time.

Getting around Hamburg by taxi is also very convenient, but not cheap. The easiest way to find a taxi is at the taxi ranks. Beige cabs with a chequered pattern are also available on the street. All taxis are metered, with the price per kilometre averaging around €3 for the first 5 kilometres and €2 for the next.

Things to do with Kids

The best way to get to know Hamburg is by walking around the city. All walks start in the old part of the city: the old town hall and the square in front of it, the Elbe promenade, where you can rest on the steps and feed swans and ducks, and the many bridges over rivers and canals. There are over 2,000 bridges, including two from the 17th century.

The harbour is a must-see: old buildings and sleek modern structures coexist, and elegant yachts and pleasure craft mingle with huge liners.

Take one of the houseboats or water taxis that leave from the harbour's central waterfront for a boat trip on the River Elbe and look out over Hamburg from the water: some of the houses look like large ships anchored in this friendly harbour. The harbour is also home to the museum ship Rickmer Rickmers, which has been restored to its original condition.

Meanwhile, holidaying in Hamburg with a child can lead you to some very unusual sights, such as the derelict Gängeviertel, which has been converted into an art object, or Park Fiction, with its plastic trees and wave-like lawn.

Entertainment for the whole family

Hamburg itself may seem too businesslike, but there are plenty of fun centres for children nearby! Heide Park in Soltau offers swings for the little ones, extreme rides for the grown-ups, theatre performances, video games and simulators — in short, something for holidaymakers of all ages.

Hansa Park near Lübeck is a theme park. It's easy to guess what's in store at 'Viking Land' or 'Mexico', but how can you guess what's going on in 'Bonanza City'? The main theme park area is Hansa, the union of free cities that once included both Hamburg and Lübeck. Both parks are closed in winter, but in summer there's nowhere to go.

Bäderland MidSommerland near Hamburg is open all winter. And while there is little action at the park, there is plenty of room for children to lounge in the warm pools, paddling pools and fountains.

In Norderstedt, half an hour from Hamburg, there is another indoor water park, ARRIBA Adventure, with a wonderful water city for children, an adventure pool and several slides. As well as having fun in the water, children can play with entertainers and enjoy the playground.

And if the weather is bad in Hamburg itself, you can have a great time with the kids at the indoor play centre Fun Arena. The former focuses on children's games and the latter on leisure activities such as a golf course, football pitch, swimming pool, gym, laser maze and much more. And what about the JUMP House trampoline park? Jumping on trampolines to the sky, of course.

Places to walk

We've already mentioned the number of parks in Hamburg. The best places to take your child for a walk are Planten un Blomen, the botanical garden (there's a rope park and an excellent children's playground), Stadtpark, which has a playground, and the park around the Alster, which has a seven-kilometre health trail.

There are almost a thousand playgrounds in Hamburg and there is no standard design: each one has a different look and feel.

The Volksdorf Forest is a great place for a walk and can be reached by public transport. Children, of course, will be most interested in the high ropes course. The names of the trails (Niagara, Amazon, Borneo, Everest) make it clear that adventurers are welcome here.

Zoos and wildlife parks

A zoo is a traditional family destination. Hamburg has two: the Hagenbeck City Zoo, which includes an aquarium, and the Schwarze Berge Wildlife Park, which has fewer animals but no aviaries and where children can run up and down the paths with a black piglet or feed a deer.

There are other places near the city where children can enjoy themselves.

  • The Serengeti Safari Park in Hodenhagen is home to 1,500 species of animals. Be sure to visit the ape house, the baby giraffes and the elephant nursery.
  • Walsrode Bird Park is home to the world's smallest and largest birds and hundreds of other species.
  • The bird park at Nindorf is amazing in its own way: Its inhabitants don't live in an aviary and can fly away for the winter — but they always return in the spring.

Almost all the parks have playgrounds and rides. When deciding what to do with your child in Hamburg, be sure to check out the city's official website. There is a programme of children's activities, workshops, performances and free entertainment for children.


Once you've got your first impression of the city, it's a good idea to spend some time sightseeing. Hamburg has around 60 museums and there are some really interesting places for children. What's more, there are so many places to see that two or three days are not enough — what child wouldn't want to see the world's largest model railway, visit the Dialogue in the Dark or go rock painting?

Hamburg's most popular children's museum is KLick. Instead of exhibition halls, there are playrooms with antique objects instead of toys. There's also plenty of space for inquisitive children. A trip here is just as exciting as a visit to Berlin's famous Labyrinth and MACHmit interactive children's museums!

For other fascinating museums, check out our list of things to do with kids in Hamburg.

  1. Miniatur Wunderland — spend a few hours in a small country with a life of its own.
  2. Maritime Museum — play sailor with the kids (there's an entire floor dedicated to the game).
  3. Hamburgisches Historisches Museum — take a chance on a real pirate ship.
  4. Hamburg Archaeological Museum — experience first-hand the ingenuity needed to make fire, hunt and pass on information.
  5. Kunsthistorisches Museum — show your child what a basin, a feather duster, a decrottoire and other objects long out of use or disfigured looked like.
  6. Panopticum — take your child to the Wax Museum in Hamburg, where some of the sculptures are 100 years old.
  7. Zoological Museum — see how much smaller man is than a wolf, bear, seal or whale.
  8. "Dialogue in the Dark" — try using all your senses except your eyes on a guided tour: the museum talks about how blind people experience the world. Dialogue in Silence has recently been added to the collection.
  9. Falkenstein Puppet Museum — see exquisite puppets from the 18th and 20th centuries and marvel at the importance once attached to children's play.
  10. School Museum — find out how German schoolchildren used to learn.
  11. Planetarium — think radically about what you can see in Hamburg and go on a cosmic voyage.
  12. Rosengarten Open Air Museum — take part in workshops on... digging a well, planting fruit trees and baking bread. The Ethnographic Museum has a water playground for children.

As you can see, even a long holiday in Hamburg with the kids will be action-packed. And that's not all there is to see on this list. For example, can you resist visiting the Hamburg Dungeon on your first visit, where Hamburg's most terrifying history is brought to life?

Things to Do with Kids

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Where to stay: Hamburg districts

Where to stay with children in Hamburg? It's not a silly question. Firstly, it's a big city, and getting away from the tourist attractions means spending a lot of time on the move. Secondly, as in any city, not all areas of Hamburg are suitable for children, due to the lack of parks, the noisy entertainment and the dysfunctional environment.

When choosing where to stay with children, look for hotels and apartments near the central station (e.g. Adenauerallee Street), within walking distance of the city's main attractions and major supermarkets.

Another advantage of the area is that it has very good transport links. If you are planning to travel around Hamburg, there are two major transport hubs right next to your home: the train station and the bus station.

You can also stay near Dammtor station and the Alster lake. Hotels in the Riperbahn (St. Pauli) area are not recommended, as it is a centre of noisy nightlife and entertainment for children. It is also not advisable to choose Steintorndamm str. Steinthordamm and Steindamm.

When choosing where to stay in Hamburg, choose hotels in districts with good transport links and a well-developed infrastructure (shops, restaurants, parks, playgrounds). There are plenty of comfortable three-star hotels with good service in the city, although there are also respectable four- and five-star hotels.

However, Hamburg's hotels are not exactly jam-packed with children's services. This is usually limited to the provision of a cot and high chair for infants in the restaurant and the fact that children under 12 (and sometimes up to 16) can stay in their parents' room free of charge.

For this reason, an apartment or an apartment-hotel room may be a better option for an independent holiday in Hamburg with children. An important advantage is that they have a kitchen where you can prepare or heat up a meal for the child.

Good accommodation can be found near Hamburg in Gross-Flotbeck, Nienstedtten, Schnelsen, Blankenese and others. There are suburban trains to Hamburg from Nienstedtten and Blankenese, but you will have to drive from the other suburbs.

Places to Stay

Getting to Hamburg

By Plane

Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel International Airport is 8.5 km from the city centre. Flight times are available on the airport website.

Getting to Hamburg from the airport:

  • By S-Bahn (line S1 between the airport and the railway station)
  • Bus (606, 292, 114,23, 26, 39);
  • By taxi
  • By hired car.

Private transfers can also be booked at the airport.

By Train

The main railway station (Hamburg Hauptbahnhof) is located in the old part of the city. There are four other train stations in Hamburg. There are excellent transport links between the airport and the Hauptbahnhof. Train timetables can be found on the station's website:

By Bus

The central bus station is located next to the main railway station. Buses from other cities in Germany and Europe arrive here. Tickets are sold at ticket offices, ticket machines and on the websites of the transport companies. The bus station website has all the information you need:

By Car

How to get to Hamburg by car: Take the A1 from the north-east or south-west, the A7 from the north or south and the A24 from the east. It is also possible to hire a car on arrival: there are car hire desks in Terminal 2 of Hamburg Airport and in the bus station. A full list of car hire companies can be found on Hamburg's official website.