This summer, Amy and I spent a week in Hamburg visiting my sister and her boyfriend and I thought I would share some of the things we got up to on our little mummy and daughter trip. Hamburg is a great city break destination and a fab place to visit with family, so if you are planning a trip there, check out this blog post for some fun things to do in Hamburg with kids.
Discover Hamburg with kids: Harbour tour & Speicherstadt
Hamburg, dubbed ‘Gateway to the World‘ by locals, is famous for its busy port and history as a Hanseatic city, so a great way to get to know the city and its rich history is to discover the port and the city’s ‘Speicherstadt‘ (the largest warehouse district in the world built on timber-pile foundations) on one of the harbour tours starting from Landungsbrücken. Tours last between 1-4h depending which provider you go with and cost from 14€ upwards.
A cheaper and less time-consuming way to see Hamburg from the water is to hop on one of the harbour ferries leaving from Landungsbrücken. They’re free using your bus or metro ticket as well as the Hamburg Pass and leave every couple of minutes. The most scenic routes with the best photo opportunities are line 62 to Finkenwerder, line 61 that offers an amazing view of Hamburg’s famous Kohlbrandtbrücke or line 73 that takes you across the river to Hamburg’s ‘Theater im Hafen’.
Hamburg: Germany’s secret capital of musical theatre
This is not only a great spot to watch the hustle and bustle of the city but also one of the city’s hottest locations for musical fans, and home to The Lion King and Mary Poppins. That’s not everything the city has to offer when it comes to musical theatre, though. Check out Disney’s Aladdin at Neue Flora, Kinky Boots on Hamburg’s world-famous Reeperbahn or Fame and many of the other guest performances visiting Hamburg.
Things to do in Hamburg when it’s raining
Now, don’t get me wrong, we had an amazing summer this year but Hamburg is not just famous for its port, it’s also famous for its constant Schietwedder (heavy rain and wind) between the months of October and April. Don’t worry, though, it’s no worse than the weather in the UK during that time and there are plenty of things to do in Hamburg that don’t require you to carry an umbrella.
Especially if you’re visiting Hamburg with children, there are lots of family-friendly bad-weather options you could visit.
Hamburg with kids: Miniatur Wunderland
Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest miniature railway exhibition and a whole lot cooler than its name might suggest. The exhibition offers model cities, trains, airports and famous landmarks as far as the eye can see and the detail that went into creating every single exhibit is simply astonishing.
I’m the first one to admit that I’m not one for model railways and that I was reluctant to visit Miniatur Wunderland but literally every single person I know was full of praise after they visited, so I just had to check it out myself and let me tell you, it’s worth every single penny.
Book your ticket online and bring plenty of time, as young and old alike will be sucked right into the fascination that is miniature railways and before you notice, four or five hours will have passed. The exhibition can also get quite crowded at times, so make sure to come early in the day to avoid the masses and ensure that little ones have excess to all exhibits. Tickets for children taller than 3ft are 7.50€, adults pay 15.00€. Concessions are available.
Reach for the stars at Hamburg Planetarium
Another fantastic attraction to visit with children and adults alike is Hamburg’s Planetarium. Housed in an old water tower in Hamburg Stadtpark/Winterhude, it’s your gateway to our world, the solar system, and the universe – not just on a rainy day.
With over 300,000 visitors, the Planetarium’s ‘Theatre of Stars‘ gives you a wonderful insight into the wonders and secrets of space, past times and future scientific developments.
Go on virtual journeys through space or enjoy one of many live concerts and laser shows under the stars. Worried about the German language? Don’t, many shows are available in English, French and Spanish with the exception of some live elements of demonstrations.
For more details on opening times, entry fees and events, check out the official website of the planetarium.
Hagenbeck: a must for families with children
Everyone loves a trip to the zoo, so if you’re looking for things to do in Hamburg with kids, Hagenbeck’s Zoo in Hamburg Stellingen is an absolute must on your itinerary. The zoo in the heart of Hamburg spreads over 250 hectares and is home to 1,850 animals and 210 species from all continents.
Hagenbeck’s Zoo offers over 4 miles of pathways, gorgeous grounds with authentic temples from Japan and Nepal and the Eismeer, a globally unique attraction where the North Pole meets the South Pole on an area of 8,000 square meters. Hear, smell, touch and see the lifelike penguin world in its ice grotto. Be amazed by breathtaking views of polar bears and fur seals both above and below the water and see one of the deepest walrus pools in the world.
Since 2017, the zoo also features a tropical world adventure aquarium where visitors can see 14,300 exotic animals on land, in water and in caves – a great bad-weather option that can be visited separately from the zoo.
Combined zoo and aquarium tickets for adults cost 30€, children aged 4-16 pay 21€. It’s quite an expensive day out but if you are visiting Hamburg with kids and they love animals, this is definitely a winner.
Rub shoulders with the stars: Panoptikum
What Madame Tussaud’s is to London, the Panoptikum is to Hamburg. For over 130 years now, the wax figure exhibition located just off Hamburg’s infamous Reeperbahn has brought the waxy lookalikes of world rulers, scientists and the most dazzling personalities from the worlds of art, culture, and sport to the Hanseatic metropolis in the North of Germany. So why not pay them a visit yourself?
Rub shoulders with stars like the Beatles or Adele, lose yourself in the eyes of Robbie Williams or take a selfie with the Pope without running into those pesky bodyguards who usually block your view. Entry is 6.50€ for adults and 4.50€ for kids aged 4-16 years.
Where music meets architecture: Elbphilarmonie
Hamburg’s Elbphilarmonie or Elphie as locals call it is not only one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world, it’s also worth a visit if you’re exploring Hamburg with kids.
There are special ‘Twinkle Concerts‘ and ‘Baby Concerts‘ that take place every weekend and cater to all those little ones who love classical music. But even if you don’t have time for a whole concert, you should definitely pop a visit of Elphie on your Hamburg itinerary.
The glistening glass structure that has been built on an old warehouse is not only a highlight for all Instagram addicts but also offers a 360 degree view over the harbour and Hamburg’s Hafencity. Access to the visiting platform (Plaza) is free and you can get tickets on site but if you want to cut waiting times, simply book your prefered timeslot online. There’s only a small booking fee of 2.00€.
Inner-city Park and Waterplay: Planten un Blomen
A real oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of Hamburg is Planten un Blomen (Lower German for ‘Plants and Flowers’), a 47-hectare urban park that is quite literally only a stone’s throw away from Hamburg Dammtor station.
Visit the 2.800 sqm-greenhouse of the Old Botanical Garden with tropical palm trees, ferns and succulents as far as the eye can see. Soak in the peace and serenity of the Japanese Garden or enjoy a game of chess on one of the many open-air boards.
Now, if you think all this might be a little boring for kids, let me tell you different. Every kid in Hamburg goes absolutely crazy for Planten un Blomen and that’s because they have two absolutely incredible playgrounds from kids of all ages. There’s fun, there’s action and in summer, there are heaps of waterplay opportunities, so don’t forget to bring your cozzie or a change of clothes as you might want to stick around for the real star of Planten un Blomen: its colourful fountain and light show.
There are a number of water shows throughout the day but if you’re visting Hamburg with kids and want them to experience the whole shebang with lights, music and lots of oohs and ahs, bring a picnic and stay until 10 pm. It might be a little after bedtime but the show is truly magical and the best thing about it, it’s absolutely free!
Earn your ‘Stair Climbing Diploma’: Hamburg’s Michel
For a long time, St Michaelis or Michel as locals call it, was the first thing that sailors and seamen saw when coming to Hamburg, which is why the biggest of five Lutheran churches in Hamburg and the city’s biggest church has become not only a popular landmark in Hamburg but also somewhat of a symbol for coming home.
Michel is one of the finest Hanseatic Baroque churches and a must-see when visiting Hamburg with kids. There are family-friendly tours teaching little and not so little ones all about the church’s history and architecture as well as its bells and impressive organs.
An absolute highlight, though, is the viewing platform (106m), from where you have an incredible view over big parts of the city. To get there, you can either hop on the lift or earn yourself Michel’s famous ‘Stair Climbing Diploma‘. Now, I won’t tell you the exact number of steps, but let’s just say, you’ll be practising your hundreds. Don’t worry, though, it’s totally worth it!
So you see, there are plenty of things to do in Hamburg with kids. Why not pay one of my favourite German city’s a visit?
Copyright: (image 3) Stage Entertainment, (image 5) Planetarium Tranquillium.de, (image 6) Panoptikum, (image 9) St Michaelis