If you're heading to Germany and want to experience something beyond Berlin, let me introduce you to my absolute favorite: Hamburg.

Located by the beautiful River Elbe, this bustling city was once a small fishing village but has now become one of Germany's busiest and most exciting destinations.

Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany after the capital city Berlin and the 7th largest in the European Union is a treasure trove of history and full of German culture. You'll also find lively nightlife, plenty of good food, cozy and green parks, and exciting events.

Accommodation guide hamburg

While I grew up near Frankfurt, I have been to Hamburg many times and have some of my best friends living in the city, so I really know the ins and outs!

With many diverse neighborhoods, it can be a little challenging to decide where to stay in Hamburg. But don't worry, I've put together a list of my favorite spots in the city to make your decision easier.

Best areas to stay in Hamburg

Inner Center

The inner center of Hamburg is the lively heart of tourism, packed with exciting things to do. Here, you'll find the iconic Speicherstadt, along with plenty of good restaurants and bars. My personal favorite neighborhoods to stay in central Hamburg are the City Center, St. Georg, and the Hafencity.

Outer Center

Just outside the Center are the districts where you'll find many locals and a more alternative vibe. Everything here feels a little more edgy, which makes it super interesting to explore. If you don't want to stay right in the center, I recommend checking out Altona, Sternschanze, and St. Pauli.

1. Where to stay in Hamburg for First-Timers: City Center

What could be a better way to enjoy your holiday than staying in the heart of Hamburg? Trust me, the architecture in the city center will blow your mind! One of my favorite landmarks is the beautiful Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus).

From there, you'll be perfectly positioned to explore the city center and grab a delicious lunch at the surrounding restaurants.

Walk along Jungfernstieg, a promenade lined with trees along the Alster Lakes. Browse along Mönckebergstraße, Hamburg's main shopping street that is largely pedestrianized.

Not only is the City Centre easily accessible, but it's also home to Hamburg Central Station. So, if you're planning to explore the outskirts of Hamburg or go on an Interrail journey through Europe, the city center makes an ideal base for you.

Where to stay in hamburg germany

Best area for:

  • First-timers

  • Central location

  • Sightseeing

Things to see & do in the City Center

One of my favorite things to do when I'm in the center is to hop on a boat tour over Alster Lake or explore the beautiful canals throughout the city. You'll be treated to the best views of the city, and on top of that, you will learn something about Hamburg's history and culture. Alternatively, for your first time visiting Hamburg, I can also recommend this hop on hop off bus tour, which includes a boat cruise!

If you're starting to feel hungry, I love Mutterland STAMMHAUS, just next to the central station. Or try the more traditional Amber Cafe as a go-to lunch spot near the center. They've got amazing traditional dishes, delicious coffee, and mouthwatering sandwiches, all served in a cozy coffeehouse setting.

If you're looking for some green spaces in Hamburg, head to Planten un Blomen, a huge urban park, perfect for a picnic.

Best hotels to stay in the City Center

($$$) Tortue Hamburg

Tortue Hamburg is the perfect luxury option if you want to stay in the city center. It is within walking distance of many sights and boasts spacious rooms and luxury amenities.

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($$) Renaissance Hamburg Hotel

The Renaissance Hamburg Hotel is a great mid-range option in the city center. Everything here feels super luxurious for a more affordable price.

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($) Ruby Lotti Hotel Hamburg

If you are looking for more budget-friendly accommodation, Ruby Lotti Hotel Hamburg is a great option. This hotel offers cozy rooms with comfortable beds and a modern interior.

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2. Where to stay in Hamburg for a wild nightlife: St. Pauli

St. Pauli, the notorious district of Hamburg, is the perfect spot for anyone looking to have a wild and fun time. This area has it all: colorful street art, graffiti-covered buildings, nonstop partying, and an exciting nightlife scene. 

It's mostly known for the Reeperbahn, which is both the red light district and the party district rolled into one. I know it may sound a bit bizarre, but trust me, you'll have an amazing time strolling along the lively bar street, grabbing some delicious street food, and enjoying a couple of ice-cold beers.

If you want to get all the insider knowledge into St Pauli, I highly recommend this two-hour walking tour!

Where to stay hamburg

Best area for: 

  • Nightlife

  • Partying

Things to see & do in St Pauli

Of course, you can't miss checking out St. Pauli at night, but even during the day, there's so much to do and see. The Elbtunnel, dating back to 1911, is an engineering marvel that's a must-see for anyone in the area. It runs under the River Elbe, connecting the two parts of Hamburg. It's free to visit!

You'll also find the Hamburg Museum of History in St. Pauli, which is a great spot to spend some day hours and learn about the local history if you're not too hungover!

Best hotels to stay in St Pauli

($$$) Hotel Hafen Hamburg

Located a brief walk from the River Elbe and Reeperbahn, Hotel Hafen Hamburg offers Hanseatic cuisine, free Wi-Fi, and picturesque views of Hamburg and the harbor from its Tower Bar. The hotel features traditional and modern rooms, all equipped with amenities like flat-screen TVs and safety deposit boxes.

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($$) Arcotel Onyx Hamburg

Arcotel Onyx Hamburg is a great mid-range option for anyone wanting to stay in St Pauli. The 4-star hotel is super modern and offers a big breakfast buffet every morning.

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($) Auto-Parkhotel

If you're on a budget but still want to stay in St Pauli, Auto-Parkhotel is the perfect option for you. It's a small hotel with simple yet cozy rooms and a great location close to the Reeperbahn.

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3. Where to stay in Hamburg couples & foodies: St Georg

St Georg is hands down the coolest and trendiest little neighborhood in Hamburg. It's right in the heart of the city, and it's one of my absolute favorite spots to hang out with friends and discover hidden gems.

You'll find loads of modern art galleries, cute cafes and restaurants, outdoor markets, and some gorgeous parks that are perfect for a leisurely evening walk.

Plus, St. Georg is super close to the Hamburg main train station, so if you feel like exploring other parts of the city or taking a day trip to another German town, it's super convenient!

FYI: The area became super popular as an LGBTQ+ friendly hub of the city!

Hamburg

Best area for:

  • Couples

  • Foodies

  • Central location

Things to see & do in St Georg

Just wandering through the streets and enjoying the amazing atmosphere is enough to fall in love with this place. Here in St. Georg, I have the perfect routine: First, I head to Lohmuehlen Park to relax and hang out in the sun. Then, I treat myself to the best cafes in the area.

Peaberries, is my favorite spot. It's a charming little coffee shop that bakes fresh croissants daily and serves the best flat white in town. If you're keen to head a little further along, try Mit Herz und Zucker Café, which is close to Lübecker Straße metro station and usually has a line out of the door on weekends!

Best hotels to stay in St Georg

($$$) Reichshof Hotel Hamburg

The Reichshof Hotel Hamburg is perfect if you're looking for luxury accommodation in St Georg. It's a 4-star luxury hotel with modern and spacious rooms, plus a huge gym and spa area.

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($$) Arcotel Rubin Hamburg

Arcotel Rubin Hamburg is a lovely mid-range hotel in the heart of St. Georg. The rooms are modern and come with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. Plus, it's just 500m from Hamburg Central Station.

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($) Cab20

I've stayed at Cab20 before and it's really a great budget-friendly accommodation in St Georg. It's a charming hotel with simple yet comfortable rooms and a convenient location close to all the main attractions. I'd opt for a Double Cabin even if you're traveling solo to get some more space!

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4. Where to stay in Hamburg away from the crowds: Altona

If you're looking to stay a bit further from the Hamburg city centre, Altona is the perfect choice for you!

It starts right next to St. Pauli, so you'll still have easy access to all the excitement of Hamburg without being in the middle of the crowds.

The district is beautifully situated on the banks of the Elbe River, offering some incredible views. Who knows, you might even enjoy them from your hotel room!

Fun fact: Altona used to be a separate city from Hamburg, and the older part of the former “town” is now known as Old Town. Just make sure not to confuse it with Hamburg's Old Town!

Hamburg germany

Best area for:

  • Relaxation

  • Couples

  • Budget travelers

Things to see & do in Altona

Altona is a fantastic spot right by the River! It's the perfect place to soak in some stunning views and visit the charming bars and cafes along the esplanade.

But let me tell you, the real gem here is the Hamburg fish market, called Altonaer Fischauktionshalle. Every Sunday, locals, and visitors from all over gather at this iconic market for its fresh fish, drinks, and the barkers. It's the ideal spot to grab a delicious snack in the morning and start your day off right!

Best hotels to stay in Altona

($$) FirstClass Apartments

If you're looking for spacious accommodation in Altona, FirstClass Apartments are your best bet. They are modern and stylish apartments that include a living room and a full kitchen. Plus, it's only a few minutes walk from Hamburg Altona Station.

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($$) Clipper Boardinghouse

Clipper Boardinghouse is a great mid-range hotel in Altona. It's a modern and chic accommodation with spacious rooms, some of which even offer views of the river.

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($) OBERDECK Studio Apartments

OBERDECK Studio Apartments are perfect for budget travelers. The small but cozy apartments offer all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay, plus they're right by the river and close to public transportation.

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5. Where to stay in Hamburg for cool & alternative vibes: Sternschanze

Sternschanze is an awesome district in Hamburg known for its alternative vibes. It's become a hot spot for young people, offering quirky shops, trendy bars, and cool art galleries.

What's even more amazing is that it's a melting pot of cultures, with people from all over the world living together in perfect harmony. If you're looking for a chill spot to grab a drink and enjoy some local food, Sternschanze is the place to be.

Accommodation hamburg

Best area for: 

  • Alternative vibes

  • Cool & hipster scene

  • A young crowd

Things to see & do in Sternschanze

The Rote Flora is a must-visit in Sternschanze! It's an old theater transformed into a cultural hub for the city's alternative scene. Squatters have been living here for decades, making it a famous landmark of the area.

Don't forget to check out the unique boutiques and cafes! I absolutely adore Oma's Apotheke, which translates to Grandma's Pharmacy. It's an institution in the area. During the day, you can grab a coffee and cake, and at night, it's buzzing with people enjoying a beer.

Best hotels to stay in Sternschanze

($$$) August The Boardinghouse

August The Boardinghouse is perfect if you're looking for luxury accommodation in Sternschanze. It's a chic and modern hotel with spacious rooms, plus they offer free bike rentals to explore the city.

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($$) My Place

This little mid-range boutique hotel is one of my absolute favorites. It's super trendy and modern, and it's even listed in the Michelin Guide for Hotels.

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($) Superbude Hamburg

If you're looking for budget accommodation in Sternschanze, Superbude Hostel is your best choice. It's a fun and funky hostel with colorful rooms, plus it offers free Wi-Fi and bike rentals to explore the city. While it says St Pauli, it really is located in Sternschanze and a 10-minute ride into St Pauli, so you get the best of both worlds.

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6. Where to stay in Hamburg for families & sightseeing: Hafencity

Hafencity is located south of the City Centre. The port area underwent a complete reconstruction, and now it offers plenty of apartments for the locals.

Here, you'll discover the remarkable Speicherstadt, the world's largest warehouse district, with charming canals running through the area and footbridges connecting the distinct buildings.

It's such a beautiful and unique area that it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site! So, of course, I highly recommend exploring it when you're in Hamburg.

Accommodation hamburg germany

Best area for:

  • Families

  • Sightseeing

Things to see & do in Hafencity

Hafencity is a fantastic hub for culture and art. You'll find plenty of museums here, like the International Maritime Museum and the Speicherstadt Museum, and of course, the famous Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall

Here are some of the best tours to explore Hamburg's famous Hafencity & Speicherstadt:

Don't forget to visit Miniatur Wunderland, an absolutely amazing model railway exhibit that's one of the most popular attractions in Hamburg!

Plus, there are so many lovely cafes and restaurants in the area, so make sure to treat yourself to a delicious bite or two while you're exploring. Schoenes Leben Speicherstadt is a great spot for lunch or dinner!

Best hotels to stay in Hafencity

($$$) 25hours Hotel Hamburg HafenCity

If you're looking for luxury accommodation in Hafencity, 25hours Hotel Hamburg HafenCity is the ideal spot. The luxury hotel offers super modern rooms with flat screens and Bluetooth speakers.

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($$) Pierdrei Hotel HafenCity

A little more affordable but equally lovely is Pierdrei Hotel HafenCity. It's a modern hotel with cozy rooms, plus it's within walking distance of most sights.

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($) Holiday Inn Hamburg

If you're on a tight budget but still want to stay in Hafencity, the Holiday Inn Hamburg should be your choice. The hotel has modern and spacious rooms and serves as a great base for exploring the city.

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Where to stay in Hamburg – Frequently Asked Questions

📍 What is the best area to stay in Hamburg?

It really depends on what you're looking for, but Hamburg's city centre, anywhere between Jungfernstieg and the central station, is best for first-timers! If you want to be near the Hamburg city center and enjoy all the hustle and bustle, I recommend staying in St. Pauli or St. Georg. For something a bit more relaxed, Hafencity or Altona is great.

🚗 Do I need a car in Hamburg?

No, you don't need a car in Hamburg. The city is very well connected with its public transportation system, which includes buses, trains, and boats. Plus, walking around the city can be enjoyable too! 

📅 How many days should I stay in Hamburg?

That depends on what you want to see and do in Hamburg. Generally, I recommend staying for at least four days, so that you have enough time to explore the city. But if you're short on time, two or three days should be enough to see the main sights.

💸 Is Hamburg expensive?

Hamburg is an expensive city, as it's one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany. However, there are plenty of cost-effective choices available for lodging and meals. So you can definitely make your stay in Hamburg more affordable by doing some research and planning ahead. 

Where to stay in Hamburg – Final Words

Hamburg is an awesome city for a weekend getaway in Germany! It's full of rich history and culture, not to mention fantastic food options and some of the best nightlife in the country.

While it can be a bit pricey, opting for budget accommodations and affordable eats can still allow you to have an amazing time here, even if you're on a tighter budget. 

I hope my guide to my favorite areas and hotels will help you decide where to stay in Hamburg.

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