Hamburg Hauptbahnhof: A Complete Guide
Water, water everywhere! You know that if a city has three rivers flowing through it, gorgeous architecture from antiquity and modern times and enough interesting activities to keep you entertained for weeks, then it’s a city worth exploring. Hamburg, is Germany’s “Gateway to the World” and is the country’s largest seaport, bringing in goods from all over the planet to Europe.
Not only is it a productive city, but there is so much to see and do in this scenic port town. Walk across some of Hamburg’s 2,500 bridges and take in the view. This city is famous for having more bridges than London, Amsterdam and Venice combined. Walk the streets of the warehouse district in Speicherstadt and get a sense of what this city is all about through its red-brick lined canals and interesting things to do. You can also spend a day relaxing at Planten un Blomen, one of Europe’s most celebrated urban parks.
When you are ready to explore more of Germany’s beautiful scenery and varied activities, head to the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. Here, you will be able to catch a train to nearby towns and cities or to another country. Hamburg is a great place to kick off your European tour and see some of the best views that Europe has to offer.
Hamburg Hauptbahnhof Station Overview
Hamburg is the home of four train stations with Hamburg Hauptbahnhof being the main train station. Built in 1906, it houses a magnificent train shed modeled after the Galerie des machines from the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. There are 14 platforms and a shopping area that houses hundreds of restaurants and shops for your enjoyment.
Serving 450,000 travelers a day, the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof sees 750 local and national trains leave its platforms daily. This makes it one of the busiest stations in Europe. Walk into the main hall of its astounding 230 foot wide iron and glass roof is a feast for the eyes. The great hall of Hamburg Hauptbahnhof is more reminiscent of Times Square than a center for travel, with its commercial signage and city light allure.
There are eight mainline railways, four urban railways and six underground platforms that intersect in this great hall. They all create an impressive network of track that sits before you on different levels. Take the escalator to the underground to catch a local train. One level up will enable you to catch a regional train or ICE train if you are traveling to a nearby city or internationally.
There are two footbridges at the north and south end of the great hall. You can get to any platform using these footbridges along with escalators or elevators if needed. If you enter from the east, you will find this is where taxis and many hotels are accessible. You will also see the ticket office and DB lounge as well as the left luggage office at this entrance. The main western entrance will take you to the city center and all there is to do in Hamburg. If you are in the mood for shopping, you are in luck as there are scores of retail shops in the Wandelhalle. This shopping center span the width of the hall for purchasing gifts and goods. There is even a supermarket if you need to purchase snacks for your journey.
How to buy tickets at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
If you enter the station at the east entrance you will find the ticket and information center here. You can purchase regional, national and international tickets with an English speaking clerk. You can also get advice on nearby attractions and itineraries. Running late and need a quick ticket? If you don’t need advice or information from a clerk, then there are ticket kiosks throughout the station. At these kiosks you can follow the prompts and get your tickets that way.
We book our train tickets in Europe using either Trainline or Rail Europe. These services offer an easier customer experience as we’ve found our credit cards work better when booking through these sites. Eurostar Tickets can be booked on either platform. In addition Rail Europe offers rail passes if you are planning a longer trip.
Where to eat at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
There are a plethora of places to eat in the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. From a two story McDonald’s and a trusty Starbucks, to a various and sundry collection of other gastronomic goodies. Hamburg Hauptbahnhof has you covered when it comes to food.
If you want another bite of German cuisine, there is a Schweinske where you can get your fill of schnitzel or a potato made anyway you like. Do you have a hankering for Indian food? Manju is your place to get curry made your way or fluffy saffron rice. If you are in a hurry, stop at Senfbar and grab a pulled pork sandwich for your journey.
Where to Stay at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
There are so many places to stay just steps from the station that you won’t have a problem finding accommodations that fit your style and budget.
Just 550 feet away from the station you can book a luxurious Art deco room at the Hotel Reischshof Hamburg. A restaurant, bistro and bar will welcome you off the busy streets of Hamburg. You can also relax at the spa that features two saunas and a relaxation lounge.
A great mid-priced choice that is the clean and comfortable and only 600 feet from the train station is Novum Hotel Continental. Enjoy modern and beautifully decorated rooms along with a breakfast buffet in the morning to fill your belly. With only a five minute walk to the city center, this is a great place to stay for sight seeing.
If a hostel better feeds your need to save money, try the A&O Hostel. Great for lone travelers or families, this hostel is .5 miles from the station but very accessible to many things to do in the city. Take advantage of nearby Hammer Park or take a walk on the Elbe River and take in the scenery.
How early do you need to arrive at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
If you have your tickets and know your way around the station, fifteen minutes should suffice to make it to your platform in time. However, with a station this size and the heavy foot traffic that it can produce, getting to the station earlier is a great idea. Thirty to forty-five minutes should be enough to ask customer service questions if you are not familiar with where to go and how to get to your platform.
Best trips from Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
Hamburg is a great city to start exploring Europe. Take one of these exciting trips to another city from Hamburg and have a story to tell all your friends and family.
Traveling from Hamburg to Paris will be a fabulous scenic trip through a beautiful part of Europe. For under $50 you can take a 13 hour trip that will show you charming towns and idyllic views. Try hard to catch a glimpse as you will be traveling 200 miles per hour to get there. When you arrive in Paris, pick a few of the arrondissements to explore. You can also just go to the famous tourist icons such as the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe. Whatever you do, Paris will not disappoint and your trip from Hamburg will be a memory seared in your mind.
If you would like to try out what it’s like to sleep on a train, catch a six hour train ride to Munich. Slumber with the sounds of the track to lulling you to sleep. Sleeper cars feature 1,2 or 3 bedroom accommodations complete with a sink, shower and toilet. With breakfast included in the price, not only will you be saving on a hotel, but also restaurant bills.
Once in Munich, enjoy Marienplatz, where you may catch a festival in procession or just a quiet dinner on the plaza. Don’t miss the Glockenspiel at Rathaus to see a display that has been ongoing for over 100 years. After you catch the show, stop by and tour the Asamkirche, a gorgeous Baroque church built in the 18th century. It promises to wow your senses. Munich is a world class city with so much to do that you will need a few days before you travel on to your next destination.
Beginning your European train tour in Hamburg will be a great introduction to Germany and the joys of traveling by train. When you get to Hamburg, tour around its wonderful river banks, intriguing museums and warehouse districts. Later, you can continue on with the memories you’ve made as you continue your trip across the continent.