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The Alster and Alster Tours

The Alster© carsten jacobs / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

The Alster and Alster Tours

The Alster is a river that springs from a marshy tarn in Schleswig-Holstein and flows for 56km into the heart of Hamburg, opening out into a reservoir only 2.5 metres deep. This reservoir, also known as the Alster, is divided by the Kennedy Bridge and the Lombard Bridge into the Inner Alster and Outer Alster. The Inner Alster is the smaller of the two, situated at the edge of the city. The Outer Alster is a mecca for all Hamburg water sport fans. Numerous yachtspeople, paddlers, and rowers cavort about on the Outer Alster, especially when the weather is good, while the Inner Alster is above all famous for its beautiful promenade lined by grand buildings. The cafés and restaurants surrounding the Inner Alster and Outer Alster are perfect places to relax with an original Hamburg “Alsterwasser” – ‘Alster Water’ – a mixture of beer and lemonade. Or you can go to the “Lange Reihe”, the main shopping street in the lively neighbourhood of St. Georg. A stroll along the banks of the Alster is a must on the itinerary of every visitor to Hamburg and will take you past many of Hamburg’s tourist attractions, including the Ethnology Museum, the Literature House and the Kunsthalle – The Art Hall – one of the most important museums in Germany.

A further must is a tour of the lakes on an original Alster Steam Boat – the best way to explore the numerous canals, waterways and the Alster’s many bridges, of which Hamburg has more than even Venice. The daily departure point is Jungfernstieg in the inner city. The journey time varies between one and three hours, depending on the route you take. For instance, the Alsterrundfahrt – a round trip – lasts about one-and-a-half hours and will take you past the areas of Uhlenhorst, Winterhude, Eppendorf, Harvestehude and Rotherbaum. The Alsterkreuzfahrt – ‘Alster Cruise’ – takes about two hours and sails from Jungfernstieg to the Winterhude Ferry House. A canal tour departs from the Alster and takes passengers into the Speicherstadt. The canal tours on offer usually stop at the ‘Stadtparksee’ – the Muncipal Park Lake – the Goldbek Canal or the Rondeelteich Lake. In summer, you can go on a ‘Dämmertörn’ – an excursion at dusk – which follows the routes of these canal tours and leaves at 8pm.