Hamburg Harbour – Hafenrundfahrten in Hamburg

Hamburg sits on the River Elbe and is Germany’s largest port. It is known as the ‘Tor zur Welt’ – Germany’s gateway to the world. So when visiting Hamburg you must take a cruise around the harbour, exploring the old canals of HafenCity, the docks and shipyards and the busy container port. You can see Germany’s exports in action, last year their exports rose to a record 118.2 billion euros.

That’s enough economics lets get back on track – sightseeing and drinking German beer.

Overlooking the docks in Hamburg

Overlooking the Norderelbe from the boat piers at Landungsbrücken

It was our first day in Hamburg, the sun was out, the sky was blue and although chilly it was perfect for a trip around the harbour. We chose the ‘Classic’ 1-hour harbour tour by Barkassen-Meyer, although in German they did have an English audioguide also they have a phone app you can download.

The new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

The new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

The boat was a smaller canal type boat which could take you under the low bridges and around the canals of Speicherstadt (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), this was the largest warehouse district in the world, originally built in the late 19th century and heavily bombed during WWII.

Speicherstadt is part of the HafenCity quarter which is now home to the landmark Elbphilharmonie concert hall.

The Waterfront

Looking back at the waterfront area from the boat.

From HafenCity we cruised over the river to the working Port of Hamburg, where large cranes and container ships dominate the skyline. There are busy shipyards like the 125 years old  “Blohm + Voss”, where rusty old boats share dock space with cruise ships and the shiny white super-yachts of millionaires.


Entering the lock gates of Ellerholzschleuse dating from 1906

The large lock gates of Ellerholzschleuse open to let us through, we pass even more ships from all over the world getting loaded with goods to further increase Germany’s trade surplus.

One of the many large container ships

One of the many large container ships

The Hamburg Cranes

The large container lifting cranes around the Port of Hamburg

The Barkassen-Meyer classic boat cruise lasts about 60 minutes and they usually depart on the hour. We found this a perfect length of time to experience the sights and sounds of Hamburg harbour but they also do a 2-hour tour if want to become a real ‘salty dog’.

You can see more of our trip to Hamburg on our YouTube Travel Channel.


Hamburg Harbour Boat Tour

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We were guests of the Come To Hamburg scheme.

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  • Erica Price
    May 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Hamburg has been on my ‘to visit’ list since school as it featured heavily in my German language text book. A couple of months ago we covered the new concert hall in our weekly German class – itching to go now after seeing your pics.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 27, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      It is a really nice city and only an hour and a quarter flying time from London. You can try out your German, the locals would appreciate it although nearly everyone speaks good English

  • Sam | North East Family Fun Travel Blog
    May 26, 2017 at 9:56 am

    The harbour looks fascinating and I had no idea part of it was a UNESCO world Heritage site. 60 minutes sounds like the perfect length of time to get a feel for the area. x

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      The harbour trip was a good way to get the feel of the city on our first day. An hour was about the right amount of time unless your really into ships.

  • Rachel @ The Daisy Pages
    June 4, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I love your photos. Hamburg is somewhere that I’ve never visited, but I just might add it to the list now 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      You should definitely go if you get the chance.

  • Becca Talbot
    June 4, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    I love the phrase ‘Tor zur Welt’ – Germany’s gateway to the world, it’s really apt for the city 🙂 I haven’t been to Germany yet, but it’s on the list… 😉 x

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 4, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      We were really glad we visited it was a really good couple of days.

  • Jasmin N
    June 4, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Hamburg is on my travel bucket list & I can’t wait to visit there 🙂 Great post! I’ll save this for the future 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 4, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Keep it on your list, Hamburg is well worth a visit.

  • Kari
    June 5, 2017 at 3:42 am

    Beautiful photos! I would love to be able to see the sites myself someday! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Hope you get to see them too.

  • Analesha
    June 5, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Wow! Looks like an amazing place. Great review x

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      It was a great trip.

  • Helene
    June 5, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I have never been to Germany but i would love to visit Hamburg and Berlin some day. Wonderful photos and a great presentation!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Hamburg and Berlin are both great cities and definitely worth a visit.

  • Phoem Ponce
    June 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

    LOVE THOSE PICTURES! I wish i get to visit Hamburg soon…

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      Hamburg is worth a trip if you are visiting Germany or Western Europe in general.

  • Nora
    June 5, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Interesting facts, you must have had some great time exploring the harbor? I’d love to visit Hamburg this some when we’ll be roadtripping around Europe. The harbor is not my first to go place but it sure seems beautiful and interesting.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      The Hamburg waterfront and harbour are really closely linked and has a fascinating history.

  • Samantha Carraro
    June 5, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Really nice photos! It looks like a very pretty place and I don’t know why, it must also seem very weird, but I always think that harbours are such interesting and fascinating places.


    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      It is weird to get all these big ships and dockyards so close to to the centre of the city

  • Phaytea's Pulse
    June 5, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    This is a nice piece..especially love the new concert hall…you must have had a lovely experience

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