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The Harbour

Hamburg Harbour

"The Gate to the World”: Hamburg owes its nickname to its more than 800 year old harbour. Hamburg Harbour is not only the most important harbour in Germany, but also one of the biggest in the world. Due to its proximity to the North Sea, about 11,000 ships pass through here annually and ship goods to almost all of the countries in the world. And passenger ships, for example the largest cruise ship in the world, the “Queen Mary 2”, regularly pull into harbour here. It is a harbour of superlatives, a distribution point for paper, pharmaceutical materials, carpets, coffee, tea, raw chocolate, oil, coal, wheat, fertilizer and much more. It is the gate to markets in Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe, and the rest of the world.

The whole waterfront comprises 74.4 km². From the Harbour Balcony, which can be reached from the U-Bahn station “Landungsbrücken” by climbing a few steps, you have a good view of the entire harbour. It is best to explore the harbour on an informative harbour tour on one of the many launches. Here you can choose between different routes and subjects, for example a “Light Tour”, the “Adventure Harbour” tour or the “Architecture Harbour Tour.” If you would like to know more about the history of Hamburg’s harbour you should take a trip to the Harbour Museum. Maritime history is told here with the aid of innumerable models and originals.

Since 1977, the highlight of the year has been the annual Harbour Birthday. Every May, the largest harbour festival in the world entices more than a million visitors from all over the world to Hamburg. For three days, the entire harbour is transformed into a giant fair. Celebrations begin on Friday with an opening parade of the world's biggest and most beautiful sailing and cruise ships, culminate with a gigantic fireworks display on Saturday, and end on Sunday with the closing parade.

A visit to the Hamburg Harbour is not complete without a stop at the historical Fish Market. Every Sunday morning, about 70,000 people storm to this vast and colourful market. Everything is sold here at boisterous volumes, from fresh fish to fruit, flowers and souvenirs. Those for whom the opening hours in winter of 5:00-9:00am are too early should go to the Fish Market after a night of partying on the Reeperbahn. Multitudes of party revellers drink a last beer here and satisfy their cravings with a fish sandwich, or dance their last steps to the live music in the fish auction hall.