Situated on the banks of the River Elbe, Hamburg is a historical port city that dates back to the 9th century AD.
It is also a bustling, exciting city with a great bar and club scene (this is Germany after all), trendy restaurants and organic cafés, some really unique museums, and one of the largest greenest cities in Europe. Picnic in the park anyone?
Take in the beautiful, historic canals and seaside. Make sure to visit the legendary fish market, and do as the locals do by heading there around 5 am after a night out on the town.
Germany second largest city is often overshadowed by its first, and there is a friendly competition between Hamburg locals and Berliners. Who has the best parks? The best clubs? Best food? Coolest people?
I have been to both cities and have to say it’s a close call. You will have to visit both too and decide for yourself. Which brings us to the point of this article… Where to stay in Hamburg?
The neighborhoods around the center are far different from those on the outskirts. Each area has a distinct feel, which is why you want to base yourself in the best neighborhood for your interests.
We’ve broken down the best areas in Hamburg below!
Also, check out my backpacking Germany Travel Guide on all things Germany, including itineraries, things to do, where to visit, travel tips, and more!
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Hamburg
- Where to Stay in Hamburg
- Neighborhood Guide to Hamburg
- 5 Best Areas to Stay in Hamburg
- 1. Altona Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Hamburg for the First Time
- 2. St Georg Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Hamburg on a Budget
- 3. St Pauli Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Hamburg for Nightlife
- 4. Sternschanze Neighborhood – Coolest Place to Stay in Hamburg
- 5. Eppendorf – Where to Stay in Hamburg for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Hamburg
- Where to stay in Hamburg for the first time – Altona
- Where to stay in Hamburg on a budget – St Georg
- Best area to stay in Hamburg for nightlife – St Pauli
- Coolest place to stay in Hamburg – Sternschanze
- Best Area in Hamburg for families – Eppendorf
Where to Stay in Hamburg
Looking for somewhere specific to stay? Check out our top picks for the best places to stay in Hamburg. We also have an epic guide to the best hostels in Hamburg.
Staying in Hamburg as a couple or group? Airbnb might be your best bet! Check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!
Best Hostel in Hamburg: Pyjama Park Schanzenviertel
This funky hostel mixes functional design and color-popping style for an eye-catching fun and functional outcome.
The ideal location for travellers who want to spend time in Hamburg’s restaurants and bars and close to public transport. Rooms are large and clean and the common area is a great place to meet new friends.
Best Hotel in Hamburg: Volksschule
Set in an old school, this boutique hotel has managed to retain a chic school-style in its interior design, but with the level of comfort you would expect from a hotel.
Rooms and bathrooms are large and a great value for money. The staff here are very smiley and helpful – plus the location close to the metro makes it easy to travel around the city.
Best Airbnb in Hamburg: Stunning Altbau Apartment
This centrally located apartment is set in a vibrant area, just a few minutes’ walk from Hamburg harbour and Altona railway station.
Its high ceilings and big windows make the apartment bright and airy. The place comes with everything you should need for your trip to Hamburg: a well-stocked kitchen, cozy bed, and a little balcony where you can enjoy your morning coffee.
Neighborhood Guide to Hamburg
Germany’s second-largest city – and former self-ruling city-state until the unification of Germany in 1871 – is today a major bustling port city with a lot of history.
Situated on the banks of the meandering River Elbe, Hamburg is an old, old city dating back to the 9th century AD. As such it has an old town rife with stunning historical sights – and that’s despite great fires, flooding and bombing during WWII. Hamburg is a winner when it comes to bustling, cosmopolitan cities.
Because of its size, this intriguing second city can seem a bit daunting. What do you see? Where should you stay in Hamburg? To make things easier, we’ve decided to break it down into a neighborhood by neighborhood account.
The large borough of Altona is Hamburg’s most westerly. Originally founded as a fishing village in the 16th century, the town was ruled by Denmark until the mid-19th century and was independent of Hamburg until 1937. Altona even has its very own old town full of sights and was once home to an important Jewish community.
St Georg is a small quarter in the large central borough of Hamburg-Mitte (Mitte essentially means center). This area is known for its multiculturalism and thriving LGBT scene.
To the west of St Georg is St Pauli, where you’ll find the Reeperbahn: a street that’s the epicenter of the city’s nightlife, as this used to be the red light district.
To the north of St Pauli is the tiny district of Sternschanze. Locally known as ‘Schanze’ this is Hamburg’s hipster haven, home to squatters, organic cafes, independent fashion boutiques. For an alternative stay in Hamburg, Sternschanze is the place to be.
One of the 13 quarters that make up the northern borough of Hamburg-Nord, our last stop is Eppendorf. There’s a laid-back feel to this waterside district, which originated as a village, Hamburg’s oldest dating back to 1140. Today Eppendorf is an upscale and trendy residential neighborhood.
If you still don’t know where you want to stay in Hamburg – don’t worry! We’re about to delve into the details of these distinguished districts.
5 Best Areas to Stay in Hamburg
Crossed by hundreds of canals and dotted with tons of cafes and multinational eateries of all types, Hamburg isn’t just about its historical sights, though there are many of those, too.
This picturesque, modern city is home to a wealth of epic things to do for locals and tourists alike, which don’t all involve taking photos of buildings and canals. Our guide will discuss which areas of Hamburg would be best for you, your interests, and your budget?
Some neighborhoods of Hamburg are laid-back, and others are rowdy. Some alternative and others home to most of Hamburg’s museums. In Hamburg, there is a lot to choose from depending on your personality and interests.
We’re about to break down those areas and help you decide which district is best for you in this surprising and cultivated city. Let’s go!
Bordering St Pauli to the west, Altona’s smaller eponymous quarters – Altona-Altstadt and Altona Nord – are all about history and green spaces.
Formerly a town in its own right, Altona has since become a part of Hamburg and it’s an alternative place to stay while remaining close to the center.
Things to See and Do in Altona
- Stroll around the quiet Wohlers Park, also home to Norderfriedhof cemetery.
- Take a moment to wander the Jewish cemetery of Jüdischer Friedhof Altona.
- Marvel at the Lutheran church of Haupt-Kirchengemeinde St. Trinitatis Altona.
- On a sunny day, grab a coffee and watch the world go by at Walter-Möller Park.
- Visit the old ferry terminal (Altes Fährterminal Altona) for great views of Hamburg’s port.
- Browse the large Fischmarkt Hamburg Altona and select some tasty food for yourself.
- Pay your respects to steel statues of the Beatles at the vinyl-shaped Beatles-Platz.
- Go swimming at Bäderland Festland.
- Check out the quirky Park Fiction, a public park turned community-generated space for events such as film screenings.
- Get your modern history on at the riverside U-Boat Museum.
- Explore the glass-topped 19th-century Fischauktionshalle, which hosts a huge and varied market every Sunday.
- Learn about the region’s history and culture at the Altonaer Museum.
Best Hostel in Altona: Homeport Hostel
Close to the city center, this hostel has a homely feel and is perfect for travelers who want to socialize. Choose to stay in a private room or in the dorms, which are all kept spotlessly clean.
There’s a kitchen so guests can cook and make tea and coffee, plus a living room area for some down time.
Best Hotel in Altona: Gastwerk Hotel Hamburg
With helpful staff, a large choice for breakfast, and stylish modern decor, this hotel is perfect for a central location. The historic building has been immaculately renovated and is close to top tourist sites as well as the metro.
The small area of St Georg is nestled on the southeastern side of Aussen-Alster, an artificial lake. It borders Hamburg’s Altstadt, ‘Old Town,’ to the southwest and is a great choice for those interested in seeing the old sights of the city but without the more central prices.
This part of Hamburg is also known for its LGBT community, centered around Steindamm in the south of this district, near the city’s main train station.
Here is where you’ll find many LGBT-friendly street cafes and eateries. The multicultural side of St Georg is also evident here, with many Asian and especially Turkish restaurants around.
Things to See and Do in St Georg
- Take a chilled stroll through the long Lohmühlen Park.
- Admire the amazing, unrivaled view of the area from the top of Uçhisar Castle.
- Admire the brick-built church Dreieinigkeits-Kirche.
- Marvel at the imposing cathedral of Mariendom.
- Check out the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, housing everything from 1950s modern design to ancient Japanese pottery.
- Take a stroll along the lake through the waterside park of Alster Hamburg.
- Try an actual hamburger from its town of origin at Frau Möller.
- Eat a döner kebap at Öz Urfa Kebap Haus.
- Enjoy a coffee whilst people-watching from a cafe on Lange Reihe.
Best Hostel in St Georg: MAC City Hostel
Clean, spacious and conveniently located opposite a metro station, this hostel is owned by a friendly family and is great for travelers who want to spend time in the city seeing the sights and enjoying local food.
There’s a shared kitchen and a common area, as well as lockers to keep belongings safe.
Best Hotel in St Georg: Hotel City House
Close to the city center and the Hauptbahnhof, this hotel really does feel like a home away from home. Extremely clean, large and comfortable rooms are perfect for a quiet night’s sleep. In the morning you can start your day at the Hotel City House with a tasty breakfast buffet.
Tucked between Altona and the central district of Hamburg-Neustadt (‘New Town’) is the bustling quarter of St Pauli.This area of Hamburg is mostly famous for the longest stretch of bars, clubs and nightlife venues in Europe: Reeperbahn.
Around this area, there’s also a world-famous red-light district, too. But if drinking and debauchery are not your cup of tea – never fear! St Pauli is also packed full of cultural things to do, parks and museums, whilst also remaining a more exciting alternative to staying in the dead-center of Hamburg.
Things to See and Do in St Pauli
- Brave the Reeperbahn and dip into one of its many bars for a drink (or two).
- Visit the renovated 100-year-old Elbtunnel – a tunnel and exhibition space that runs under the River Elbe.
- Check out what remains of Hamburg’s old Chinesenviertel (Chinatown) at Schmuckstraße.
- Go for a beer al fresco (Hamburg style) and enjoy the atmosphere at Spielbudenplatz.
- Get a history lesson on all things Hamburg at Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte.
- Admire the grand architecture of the Landgericht (Courthouse).
- Relax at the tranquil Alter Elb Park and take a selfie with the Bismarck statue.
- Visit the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy. John of Kronstadt.
- Enjoy a spot of park-and-botanical garden fun at Planten un Blomen – complete with Tropengewächshäuser (tropical greenhouses).
- Wander the picturesque, trendy streets of sub-quarter Karolinenviertel.
Best Hostel in St Pauli: Jugendherberge Hamburg Auf dem Stintfang
If you are looking for a hostel with a fun atmosphere and fantastic views of the Port of Hamburg this is the place for you. The onsite restaurant serves up great food and the staff are warm and welcoming. Let’s not forget that the actual rooms are quite clean and comfortable.
Actually situated above the Landungsbruecken train station, it’s ideal for those who arrive into Hamburg by plane.
Best Hotel in St Pauli: Heimat St Pauli
In an area known for its lively nightlife, this hotel is the ideal mix of good times and restful nights. Located right in the middle of the Reeperbahn, just a few steps from the front door of this hotel are bars, restaurants, and shops.
The hotel itself is safe and clean, featuring rooms that are spacious with newly refurbished bathrooms.
Bordering the northwest part of St Pauli is the small area of Sternschanze. Also known as Schanzenviertel, this petite portion of Hamburg still packs a powerful punch as its famous alternative area.
There’s a building here (Rote Flora) that was infamously occupied by squatters from 1989 and is now a cultural center; Sternschanze also sees left-leaning protests every Labour Day.
Away from the more radical left of der Schanze – as it is colloquially called – this area is all about leafy streets, graffiti murals, and cool cafes, as well as a slew of international eateries.
Prices in terms of both accommodation and food-and-drink are happily lower here than elsewhere in Hamburg, making this area one of the best neighborhoods in Hamburg on a budget.
Things to See and Do in Sternschanze
- Check out the Rote Flora – built in 1888 as a theatre, occupied by squatters, and now a cultural center reflective of the area…
- … And take a moment to watch interesting characters go by at nearby Flora Park.
- Eat Portuguese food at the hip Bairro Alto Portugiesisches Restaurant – complete with azulejo tiles.
- Sit in the very cool environs of Cafe Piya for brunch.
- Drink and dance at the vinyl-only bar and club Le Fonque.
- Pick any cool-looking cafe on Schulterblatt for coffee and a window seat.
- Go shopping for a bargain in the vintage shops and record stores in the area.
- Head north to Schanzenpark for a relaxed stroll and a view of the ornate century-old water tower turned hotel (see below).
Best Hostel in Sternschanze : Superbude Hotel Hostel
This super trendy hostel has a strong aesthetic where style and functionality seamlessly fit into the surrounding district. Simplistic design mixed with attention to detail as well as a welcoming atmosphere has made this place a hit.
Surrounded by Schanzenviertel’s many bars and restaurants, there’s even the choice to dine-in at the cafe or grab a drink at the bar, so you’ll never go hungry.
Best Hotel in Sternschanze: Mövenpick Hotel Hamburg
In the middle of Schanze with bars, restaurants, and the close by S-Bahn and U-Bahn, this hotel is quite convenient.
What makes Movenpick Hotel unique, however, is that it is housed in a former water tower. Completed in 1910, this remained Europe’s largest water tower until 1961!
The staff here are professional and helpful, and the rooms are large with beautiful views over the park. The breakfast is really delicious too.
An antithesis to the no-holds-barred bohemia of Sternschanze, the upscale residential neighborhood of Eppendorf is largely ignored by visitors. But they’re missing out; Eppendorf is chic, laid-back, and home to a large number of ornate art nouveau building facades that make this a charming neighborhood to wander about.
Key to the atmosphere of Eppendorf – a village in its own right for hundreds of years – are the many canals and green spaces for those looking for a truly tranquil city break.
Things to See and Do in Eppendorf
- Admire the stone carvings of Kellinghusenstrasse metro station…
- Stroll around the charmingly picturesque Kellinghusen Park nearby.
- Visit the idyllic riverside Hayns Park complete with Planschbecken (paddling pool) for the kinders (children).
- Browse the goods and produce at Eppendorf’s well known open-air market on Isestrasse (every Thursday and Friday morning).
- Browse the stylish shops and boutiques of Eppendorfer Baum.
- Go for freshly roasted coffee and a slice of blechkuchen at Petit Café on Hegestrasse.
- Visit the swans at Eppendorfer Mühlenteich, where they live in winter…
- …Which is also when you can watch ice skaters on the canals of Leinpfadkanal and Isekanal.
- Check out the charming historic buildings that line the street of Eppendorfer Landstrasse.
- End your day with a glass of wine from the huge list on offer at Poletto Winebar.
Best Hostel in Eppendorf: Hansezimmer Hamburg City
Basic but clean, this family-run hostel gives guests a glimpse into the life of locals in the city. There’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere and the owners will help you with getting around Hamburg and restaurant recommendations.
There’s also a communal kitchen and sitting room for guests to use.
Best Hotel in Eppendorf: Dorint Hotel Hamburg-Eppendorf
Dorint features a good central location, just a short walk away from restaurants, cafes, and parks. This hotel is also within easy reach of the city’s bus service, which makes traveling around the city simple.
Rooms are modern and quiet, and there is a fitness center so guests can spend some time unwinding and exercising.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Hamburg
Hamburg is a wonderful city to wander about, taking in the beautiful, historic canals and seaside. Make sure to visit the legendary fish market, and do as the locals do by heading there around 5 am after a night out on the town.
Catch a Hamburger SV game or at least tour the stadium. Catch a live show, party all night, or simply stroll around one of Hamburg’s many parks if you’re so lucky to catch a sunny day.
To recap, our top recommendations for places to stay in Hamburg include Volksschule hotel. Set up in an old school, this boutique hotel has a unique interior design but is also comfortable and well-located.
Looking for a hostel? Look no farther than Pyjama Park Schanzenviertel, a funky hostel close to public transport, restaurants, and bars.
Did we miss anything about where to stay in Hamburg? Let us know in the comments!
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