Why Hamburg is Germany’s Best City – Our Pearl

Actually, people are going as far to call Hamburg the most beautiful city of the world. That’s the slightly understating sounding self-image that Hamburgers (don’t think about food!) have of their city.

I was living 4 years in Hamburg so far. I come from a tiny village at the North Sea, 3 hours west. Over the years I also lived in Berlin and in Frankfurt, in Sweden and in New Zealand, and have visited numerous cities around the globe. But every time, apart from my hometown, Hamburg’s been the only place I felt like coming home to. Nordisch by nature. No point denying that.

A view over Hamburg's lake Alster from Jungfernstieg.

But when thinking about that I wonder … what actually makes a city so stunning, people would unhesitatingly throw in such bumptious overmodest titles as Germany’s best city? Let alone the world’s?

too busy to read it all? Oh no worries you lazybones, got right whatcha need: 33 proofs that Hamburg is Germany’s most beautiful city.

Hamburg – recipe for the best city in the world

a lot of water (the Elbe, the Alster, and… ↓)
being close to the Sea (actually, two seas! The North and the Baltic Sea)
a fair amount of parks and green spaces
ideally some old romantic squiggly colorful buildings
more than 30% of public transport being on time
a dash of cute lil cafés and boutiques
overflowing with authentic open-minded diverse people
a bit of history and mystery
at most half an hour each to get to university, museums, parties, shopping, nature reserves
special bonus for invention of Franzbrötchen (this is German but tells you where to get the best of those sweet flat croissant like bits of heaven – there’s nothing as good as being on the way home at 5 am and scoring the first heavenly warm Franzbrötchen in the next bakery)

fritz-kola (the less sweet, more sustainable cool alternative to coca cola)

Ratsherrn (German beer. Do I have to say more?)

Alright, everybody is gonna have different preferences for a place to be perfect. Probably. In most of the cases.

But Hamburg, on the other hand…

Absolutely everyone I’m telling that I’m from Hamburg, just replies “Aaaaaw, that’s awesome!” – Julia, 22, professional Hamburg expert with 22 years of experience and not at all biased

How can you resist?!

Another tip: Discover Best of Hamburg by foot using this route I created!

Hamburg is a place like no other

The Hamburgers also tend to see (don’t dare picturing burgers with eyes) anything that happens south of Elbe river rather skeptically. I mean. This vibrant center full of the most diverse cultures and colors and languages and nationalities, so exquisite in art and fasion and design and music, and yet so authentic with simple, loyal people. If you’re taking the train coming from the south and get a first glance at the impressive harbor, you’ll understand that skepticism. It’s like crossing borders… basically from North Italy.

The harbor – that’s a chapter in itself. Even on closer inspection it has much going for itself. Just take a seat in the U3 along Rödingsmarkt and Landungsbrücken, stroll towards the fishmarket, take a detour to Speicherstadt, finish off with one of the greatest musicals right at the waterfront.

Or how about a relaxed stroll through the city park or enjoying light shows and classical music at a mild summer’s night in Planten un Blomen.

Take a walk around the Alster, our huge lake dotted with sailboats that shapes the cityscape so distinctively. It’s a very peculiar feeling when you’re on the water and in the middle of a 1,5 million city, and yet surrounded by the fewest people.

A view over the Alster, Hamburg's giant lake

A view over the Alster, Hamburg's giant lake

Check out the impressive townhall, go shopping at Mönckebergstraße.

The iconic townhall of Hamburg is one reason to make it Germany's best city.


Walk through the old Elbtunnel.

Enjoy the wide view over the city’s typically copper green roofs from Michel, Hamburg’s landmark.

Watch the big cruise and container ships from Elbstrand (the beach at Elbe river), best chosen for sunset with a BBQ, a six-pack, a bunch of friends and an acoustic guitar.

Hamburg's Elbstrand at sunset.

Sports. Too many to actually name them all. Soccer, icehockey, basketball, triathlon or marathon, skiing or lindy hop. Name it, we have it.

Rummage diverse flea markets or take a look at our countless fascinating museums – the Miniatur Wunderland (all about trains, and basically the world rebuilt in miniature) will make your inner child’s eyes glow!

Schanzenflohmarkt - Hamburg's weekly flea market with heaps of treasures to be found!

Rock at numerous concerts and the famous festival on the ship MS Dockville.

Roam bars and clubs at Reeperbahn (that btw in the 90s was ruled by mafia) and Sternschanze. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s colorful – and you can easily be out till 8am. No freaking curfew or anything. And don’t forget the must-try Fischbrötchen before leaving.

Take a break – just 20, 30 minutes by public transport, and you can start adventurous hikes through nature reserves.

The city just has it all. It’s big and yet so comfy and laid-back. The cultural life and the closeness to the seas. Big ships, small people, tea and spices, HSV and St Pauli, and the great freedom. Hamburg is awesome. Always. Even at times when it’s less awesome.

And alright now, here ya go: The actual hamburger (most likely) has its origin in … Hamburg.

Even scientifically, Hamburg is Germany’s and one of the world’s best cities!

Every year, The Economist publishes its ranking of the Most liveable city – and Hamburg made the jump into the top 10. Over the last years, the Hanseatic City regularly was among the top 20, and recently left behind cities like New York, London, Berlin and even Sydney regarding the more than 30 factors taken into account.

In the total of 140 cities worldwide, the other German cities didn’t rank too bad either at 20 (Frankfurt), 23 (Berlin), 25 (Munich) and 32 (Düsseldorf). While the world’s most liveable city, according to the study, is the Australian Melbourne, followed by Vienna and Vancouver.

… and Hamburg’s darn Great Freedom

“Große Freiheit” – part of the Hamburger Kiez, the red light district, the party – club – bars area, a cross street from Reeperbahn. It got its name in 17th century already, when there residing folk enjoyed freedom of religion and trade, until it even officially became a special economical zone. Today, the street hosts a couple of famous night clubs like Große Freiheit 36 or Grünspan. Including the one in number 64, where once The Beatles had their first gigs before getting more famous.

Germany's most beautiful city promises great freedom.


The people with their own stories and unique experiences give the city a special personality. My favorite places around town that I take in at my own personal way. A megacity and yet a village. The lively hustle & bustle and the calm quarters with their almost rural character. An explorer’s paradise.

A walk along Hamburg's rivershore and cute little houses

We’re international. And still, we’re as local as you can imagine. In Finkenwerder, people actually still grow up with North Germany’s loveable dialect Plattdeutsch, sounding a little like Dutch, but is less and less spoken across the area. “Moin Moin” – a way of greeting each other and just anyone – … okay I have no words for it. Cause I’m already dreaming away. Longingly. Sitting somewhere – from a Hamburg perspective – in the deepest South….

Alright. Well this is not Hamburg. But this is Plattdeutsch. This is how I grew up 😀

How can you not fall in love with that?!

Last but not least – Hamburg has the coolest people

This was my first week at my corporate job in Hamburg.

My first week at my first (corporate) job in Hamburg…


For example, we decided against the olympic games 2024 in a referendum. Why? Because we fight for sustainability, because it would have been one giant waste of money we have way better use for, because we didn’t let them take our freedom away, because we don’t want that artificial boost of gentrification.

We’re good, socially responisble, decent people. We have a great support system. In 2015, we took over 22.000 refugees in – not saying, the city could deal with it just fine (problems with housing and overcrowded government offices for example). But I don’t know a single person among my friends who hasn’t helped at least once by donating, helping to sort donations, teaching German, “adopting” a family to support them in everyday life. Even subletting a free room in a shared apartment. Or just hanging out going for coffee together. That is Hamburg.

We’re fine with any weather. With the first ray of sunlight, an outcry goes through the crowd and snow-white legs are getting in touch with their first lumen in weeks. With the first raindrop, everybody does business as usual, “alright, we’re back to normal

And last but not least: We’re smart! Of course this fact doesn’t need proof, but there is.

Well, admittedly, as a psychologist, I have to turn two blind eyes to the statistics. But love is blind, isn’t it?

According to the results of an online IQ test, Hamburgers have an average IQ of 113, the best of all Germany. Followed by Kiel and Hannover, two more north German metropolises (no further questions). Based on 4.000.000 participants from March to October 2015. The company responsible also offers tests like “Which Disney princess are you most similar to?“. However, they’re not telling us Hamburg’s result in this case. Neither which Pokémon we are. Too bad.

Best friends being found in Hamburg!

Final note: Hamburg is the place that connected me to some of the most precious people I have ever, ever met. Case closed.


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Why Hamburg is Germany's most beautiful city - our pearl

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  • Reply
    Adeline Lundie
    March 16, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Keep this going please, great job!

  • Reply
    Utta Hogan
    January 29, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Hamburg –
    the mix of the old and the new,
    the green and the City
    the water and the amazingly restored houses.
    The light from the „ greatest sky in the world“
    Hamburg meine Perle
    Need I say more??

  • Reply
    September 30, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I am from Korea and I had lived in Hamburg for about 6 mont in the past. Back then, I didn’t realize there are no better cities on the earth than Hamburg. I’ve visited every famous cities in Europe, but I think Hamburg beats them all, seriously. Hamburg actually has everything. The sea, nature, art, shopping, transportaion, moden and historical at the same time, and the size is also not too big or not too small. I think Hamburg city is one of the most underestimated travel destination in the world.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Hooray, thanks so much for your comment Kim! It made me so happy to hear that 😀 In fact, wherever I travel I tell people that Hamburg is my favorite city of Germany, at least. I had a good friend of New Zealand visiting, and Hamburg was his first stop of many during his 3 months of Europe. At the end of his trip, he visited me again in my then-home in a little town in Sweden – and said the same thing you did. Hamburg was still his favorite 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanderlusting Update – July 2017 | birdwinks
    August 2, 2017 at 6:48 am

    […] studied and lived in Hamburg for over 4 years, and I don’t give my title of best cities away easily. The more ashamed and […]

  • Reply
    Om Trips Blog
    May 7, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I just found your blog and wanted to say „Hi“. Great post about Hamburg with so positive thoughts. I will be happy to meet you in Bulgaria one day!

    Keep in touch,

    • Reply
      May 24, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Yay, thanks a bunch Moni! Makes me happy to hear 🙂 I actually might come to Bulgaria soon and will gladly get in touch.

      • Reply
        August 7, 2018 at 6:03 pm

        Hey, dear, did you make it to Bulgaria? Will be happy to see you in person! Best, Moni 🙂

  • Reply
    Aryane @ Valises & Gourmandises
    November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    That’s so funny. I’ve been to Hamburg three times and I just can’t seem to like it. In the summer, the spring and during the Weihnachtsmarkt (which was beautiful I’ll admit)…
    Maybe I didn’t spend enough time there, but I just find it too big and impersonal. And I HATED the Reeperbahn. I can’t wait for Germany to stop smoking!
    There are some beautiful areas of course, especially in the spring with the magnolias and Kirschbluten. But somehow I’m immune to Hamburg’s charm 🙁

    • Reply
      November 28, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Well, it would be rather exhausting if we all fell in love with all the places, wouldn’t it? So don’t worry if you can’t relate to this haha. But I can see what one wouldn’t like when at Reeperbahn, and I totally hate bars that you’re allowed to smoke inside. Although I found that to be worse in Berlin. However, I was living in Hamburg for 4 years and thus able to connect with some really lovely people, to discover more hidden places, to be a part of society. And suddenly, it felt rather like a village. Or several different villages that happen to be put together to a city… But like I said, it’s often a very personal impression indeed!

  • Reply
    Traveling Long-Term is not just Coconuts and Jam Sessions | birdwinks
    November 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    […] longer period of time was my term studying in Sweden. I had studied psychology for two years in Hamburg by then, and paused for this exchange semester as well as time for internships. So off I went to my […]

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Hamburg is really lovely. Wonderful natural beauty, the best of urbanization. But it still retains its old world charm. This is what makes it such an enchanting city.

    • Reply
      November 22, 2016 at 8:06 am

      You’re absolutely right – nicely said!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Even though we’re coming to Germany for a few weeks next month (CANNOT WAIT) I keep finding more and more cities and places in the country that I want to visit! And now Hamburg has been added. It looks absolutely stunning and has everything that makes a city amazing in my eyes. Plus I love your section about why the people are great. I had no idea that the city took in so many refugees (amazing) and decided against the Olympics (also amazing, for such great reasons). Thank you, once again, for sharing such a thoughtful and inspiring post!

    • Reply
      January 14, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Coming to Germany was definitely a very good idea 😉 And I’m happy our ways finally crossed, even though so briefly! That afternoon of making pasta I will never forget haha. Hope you get to see (more of) Hamburg eventually, dear. And I’ll surely come by visit some time working along my never-ending bucket list as well, haha.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 11:52 am

    I didn’t realise it was so beautiful – I love all the water and the fountains are just stunning. I’ve not done much travel in Germany but it’s definitely a place I’d like to see more of. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Yay, cool to hear! Germany has definitely a lot to offer, much which I didn’t see myself yet… apart from a quick visit to Castle Neuschwanstein I haven’t even seen Bavaria yet, haha.

  • Reply
    Paula - Gone with the Wine
    November 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I shortly visited Hamburg when I was younger. Unfortunately I don’t remember so much about it, so I should definitely go back and explore more of the city. A good friend of mine used to live right next to it, and we went there for a quick trip. I love it the fact that you think it means freedom, sounds like a best thing city can give to people!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Cool to hear! In fact, it’s not freedom I associate with Hamburg, but that one famous street across from the most popular party area is actually called “Große Freiheit” = “Great Freedom” 🙂

  • Reply
    Ticking the Bucketlist
    November 15, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I love the way you have written the recipe…so cute. People seem to be so nice…I strongly believe its the people who make a place the way it is. Btw…I must say that you seem to be having a lot of fun in your job..I would love to have such a fun place to work as well!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:27 am

      I totally agree on the people! They added up so much to the happy times I had all kinds of places… And haha, thanks heaps, the job is really cool! Although I’m really looking forward already to some deskfree time 🙂

  • Reply
    November 15, 2016 at 2:41 am

    I love your ‘recipe’ at the beginning – what a creative way to show why Hamburg is Germany’s best city. It does look really lovely. I have never been, and I have always been hearing about Berlin, but now I will also have to consider Hamburg.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I did like Berlin, I was living there for 5 months last year, but … well, we just didn’t bond as much haha. But both cities are worth a visit!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Haha, such an entertaining read! The people is good enough reason to love a city/country for that matter, really! I haven’t been to Hamburg but have been to Kiel and Hannover – both are lovable German cities, too, in my opinion! I just moved to Germany (for good, for now.haha) and I hope to explore more! Maybe I’ll take up my friend’s invitation to spend the New Year’s there! Who knows? 😉

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:33 am

      I spent New Year’s in Hamburg which was definitely cool, but also Norderney, an island at the North Sea is definitely worth a visit for finishing a year. Glad to hear though you enjoyed North Germany so far, it definitely holds my heart an soul. I love Kiel as well! Have the most wonderful time here 🙂

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    November 14, 2016 at 6:09 am

    Good piece of research has gone into this post! Nice work. Missed Hamburg and quite a few other places while in Germany, though we visited quite a few. But then, Germany has so much to offer…one trip can possibly not be enough.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

      So true! I have been to Bavaria just once really shortly, otherwise, nope… Thanks heaps for the feedback!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 5:27 am

    I love the way you have listed out the reasons for making it count as the top city. The pictures are also beautiful. Hope my experience will be in line with what you say here, when I visit here

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

      I sincerely believe so! Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Absolutely loved all your photos in here. My good friend is from Germany (and has gone back for university) and would send me photos of when she was briefly living in Hamburg. It’s such a beautiful city. I would love to hear the classical music there and visit that miniature museum! And that’s really impressive that Hamburg had the highest IQ in Germany! (Although Germany’s education system in general is easily one of the best education systems I’ve heard of!) Lovely post 🙂

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 11:01 am

      True about the education system – however in South Germany it is supposedly better. I liked the idea of the Finnish though, to abandon traditional subjects and instead study events, phenomena and situations 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Hamburg looks like such a diverse city – full of life and incredible architecture! I love your recipe list, very creative! And Well Done to Hamburg for supporting sustainability and welcoming refugees!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Thanks heaps, yeah there are just so many countless reasons to love this city haha!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    OK you have me sold! I will be heading back to Europe in 2018. We have done zero planning to date but The Hubs is a massive Motorbike racing fan so The German MotoGP is on his must do list. I’ll be sure to convince him on a side trip to Hamburg.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Oh, cool! Well, the Hamburger Harley Days are quite famous, you might consider that for your trip and as extra convincing points!

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Hamburg is definitely a great city, but not the best in the world. My home, Vienna definitely is 🙂 (Named world’s most livable city 7 times in a row). I think I would return to Hamburg to visit but could not picture myself living there.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Haha, what would the world be if we’d all agree 🙂 I haven’t been to Vienna myself yet, but I definitely wanna visit. Food, art, music, sigh. However I’m totally a child of water and need the Sea at my doorstep 🙂

  • Reply
    Paula - Gone with the Wine
    November 12, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Christina, I have nominated your blog with a Liebster Award. I hope you accept. You can find the details from here Have a great weekend!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Oh so cool, thanks for that! And the mention of my posts putting you in a good mood, that makes me happy to hear! I’ll gladly look through it 🙂

  • Reply
    November 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Interesting thoughts!! I’ve never liked Hamburg that much, I much prefer Berlin!! 🙂

    • Reply
      November 19, 2016 at 11:44 am

      What would the world be if we’d all agree, huh 🙂 I lived in Berlin for five months last year, but I’m definitely a child of water and love to have the sea at my doorstep!

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