The City of Hamburg covers 7 districts (see our Districts section below) along with 104 sub-districts having a district office [Bezirksamt] within each. The majority of administrative tasks are settled within the Bezirksamt. Each district is also further divided into local departments or local branches.
Area: 755 sq km 292 sq miles
Squeezed between scenic lakes and huge container ships on the busy Elbe river, Germany's largest port has, so the locals say, much in common with Venice and Amsterdam. Unlike its maritime counterparts, Hamburg remains a hard-working port that is among Europe's busiest. Add to this the independence of a place that has been invaded only once in its history (by Napoleon, no less) and you too will be inspired to serenade the city.
Hamburg has three rivers - the Elbe, Alster and Bille - along with a scenic grid of narrow canals called Fleete which traverse Hamburg. As if that isn't enough water, the city centre boasts its very own lakes - the Inner and Outer Alster Lakes.
The city centre is home to most of Hamburg's main attractions. This half-moon area, which arches north of the Elbe, is bordered by a curve of roads whose names all end in wall (ramparts) and which mark the limits of the old city. Cutting through the middle is the Alsterfleet, a canal that separates the Altstadt (Old City) from the Neustadt (New City). Feeling lost? Look out for the bronze, helmet-shaped Michaeliskirche, an easily seen landmark, south of the city centre.
To the east of the city centre is St Georg, with its lovely leafy streets. To the west of the city centre is the entertainment district of St Pauli. Further west, St Pauli gives way to the lively Altona district, and just to the north are Schanzenviertel and Karolinenviertel, both known for their alternative vibe. The city's premiere neighbourhoods follow the northern rim of the Outer Alster Lake to the north of the city centre, with Winterhude and Uhlenhorst on the eastern shore and Harvestehude and Rotherbaum on the west. The Universitätsviertel (University Quarter) occupies the area west of Rotherbaum.
The airport, one of the first in Europe, is located in Fuhlsbüttel, to the city's north. A taxi from the airport takes 25 minutes. Flying into Hamburg is fairly easy; its international airport has flights across Europe, and is well connected to the city centre, with an airport bus running every 15-20min from 06:00-11:00 (25min trip). You can also take an airport bus to Altona or take the S-1 or U-1 trains to Ohlsdorf and change to an airport express bus.
The city is well served by trains, with four main train stations. There are hourly trains to Lübeck, Kiel, Bremen, Frankfurt and Munich. There are also regular direct services to Berlin, Cologne, Copenhagen and Paris.
Buses connect with Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, with some agencies specialising in trips to Eastern Europe. If you're driving, the autobahns A1 (Lübeck-Bremen) and A7 (Hanover-Kiel) cross just south of the city.
The seven districts of Hamburg were created for administrative purposes and the type of neighbourhoods they span differ considerably. It is therefore impossible to declare that one district is a particularly more attractive area than another one because each district varies so much. The following information provides an overview of the various districts.
Please click on the hyperlinks below to view information about the various districts.
Altona is the westernmost district of Hamburg and lies on the right bank of the Elbe and borders the district Hamburg-Mitte and the district Eimsbüttel. To the West is Blankenese which is the most affluent area of Hamburg. Here you will find magnificent villas with direct views towards river Elbe.
Fans of architecture will have a field day within this part of Hamburg. Within the popular residential areas of Altona- Altstadt (old town), you will find striking traditional 200 year old Palmallé Boulevard, with beautiful villas on the Elbchausse and restored factories which leave a lasting impression on most visitors. On the west side you will find one of Hamburgs’s richest areas with incredible villas with direct views towards the river Elbe. The classical Altona Town Hall dates back to the turn of the 20th century and is a fine example of a building from the Wilhelmenian period.
Before being seized by the Nazis just before the start of WWII, the Altona district was a self-governing city belonging to Denmark. This busy district is one of Hamburg's most populated; making it a hive of activity, full of charm with its different cultures and artistic flavours. Altona has a very good transport system with Hamburg-Altona railway station, connecting the Hamburg S-Bahn with the regional railways.
Eimsbüttel lies in the northwest of Hamburg and borders on the districts of Hamburg-Nord, Hamburg-Mitte and Altona. This district covers Eppendorf and Hamburg-Nord and runs up to the river Alster and is another luxurious area of Hamburg, especially towards the South West at the riverside. This region boasts the best hotels in the city, along with the very good transportation links to the city centre making this district a very sought after residential area.
This is an up market district very sought after for its luxurious residential quarters characterised by several little rivers that run through the district and stylish houses retaining their 20th century charm with stucco and timber floor boards. Hamburg's Eppendorf district oozes elegant charm with the Isemarkt traditional market located under a viaduct.
The middle of Eimsbüttel was traditionally a working class area but has in recent years, due to investment and redevelopment, become a very young and trendy quater of the town with many bars, restaurants, clubs and trendy shops.
The north is scattered with detached houses, newly built shopping centres and malls and it is here you will also find good links to the airport with particular access to the North of Germany and Denmark.
The district of Hamburg-Nord lies in the north of Hamburg between the districts Eimsbüttel and Wandsbek. The North district is traditionally a working class area, however, very north you will find an extremely wealthy neighbourhood called "Walddörfer" – this consists of forest villages and is an extremely good area in which to invest.
In the affluent south, close to the River Alster, you will find some of the most in demand residential areas in Hamburg, with traditional Wilheminian houses with rich stucco patterns. Many properties have been refurbished and converted into flats, with smaller businesses and restaurants in the ground floors.
Uhlenhorst, a quarter in Hamburg Nord, is convenient to the Außenalster, with beautiful panoramic views of the water. It is an exquisite, calm and expensive area where you will find mansions with sea-property and Alsterblick, art nouveau houses and exclusive free-hold flats. Hamburg airport is located at Fuhlsbüttel.
The district Wandsbek lies in the northeast of Hamburg and borders in the south on the district Hamburg-Mitte and in the west on the district Hamburg-Nord.
It is the largest of seven districts that make up the city of Hamburg. Like the other districts of the city, Wandsbek is divided into precincts and quarters. The district is mostly suburban, with the more northerly parts still quite rural, where one can find a mix of newer residences and farms. The South is very luxurious with appealing older style apartment blocks.
Mid-Wansbek between Neu-Steilshoop and the Ohlsdorfer cemetery is the beautiful lake Bramfelder. Some quarters in Wandsbek are pure residential areas with versatile architecture. Old mansions beside new single family houses, dwelling houses from the post-war period beside newer city halls and ecological apartment projects mark the apartment landscape. You will also find calm peaceful forests and green areas.
The North of Wandsbek is a considerable distance from the city centre and tends to be more of a rural area. It is from here you can access the countryside easily.
The district Hamburg-Mitte divides the area of Hamburg horizontally from the eastern to the western national borders. Flanked by the River Elbe and the Alster Lake, the commercial city centre is home to government buildings, department stores, offices and literally hundreds of restaurants, cafés and other eateries. Having been rebuilt after WWII, this district has also become a hub for culture, boasting an opera house, two theatres and the Kunsthalle (Art Hall), all of which are set amid splendid avenues and pedestrian squares.
The east is traditionally a working class area to be found on one side of the Elbe at the port/harbour area. Constituting a significant percentage of Hamburg's overall area, the city harbour ranks as one of the biggest in the world. There are a couple of noteworthy bridges here, as well as the Old Elbe tunnel leading under the Elbe River, a major tourist attraction. The red-brick warehouses in the Speicherstadt are used for storage purposes, so don't come expecting the trendy harbour dining scene of some world cities, as this is more of a working port.
In the very West of Finkenwerder the German headquarters of Airbus Industries is located.
St Pauli is probably the most famous quarter of all of Hamburg with visitors from all over the world enjoying the famous night life. It is here that you will find the stylish and chic crowding into the many trendy bars and clubs. St Pauli area of Hamburg attracts music lovers to its regular concerts. It is also home to the largest and most well-known Hamburg fish market. Parts as Rothenburgsort and Vedell will gain though the new development Hafencity.
Old Town Hamburg tends to be where most visitors spend the majority of their time winding there way through the oldest buildings in the city. Those with an interest in religious architecture will not want to miss the ornate churches of Saint Jacobi, Saint Michaelis, Saint Nikolai and Saint Petri. This is also where you can find the archaeological excavations of the medieval Hammaburg, which will appeal to those wanting to learn more about the history of Hamburg.
The district Harburg lies in the South of Hamburg on the shores of the river Elbe and borders on the district Bergedorf as well as Hamburg-Mitte.
The most well-know quarter south of the Elbe is centre to a historical old town. This is where you will find half timbered houses and a number of restaurants and bars.
The cultural centre Rieckhof in the city centre of Harburg offers cultural meetings of all kinds, from concerts to various sports presentations. Here you will find the Helms-museum one of the most important archaeological museums in northern Germany offering an exciting overview of 200,000 years history of the region. In addition this quarter has a strong presence by industry, numerous large-scale enterprises like the Phoenix works and many ship yards can be found here.
Harburg is home to the Technical University of Hamburg Harburg (TUHH) and other smaller Universities. Additionally the port location offers ‘Channel Harburg’ home to many companies from the information technology industry. The Phoenix quarter consists of numerous multi-storey apartment buildings which were constructed for many of the local workers.
Harburg offers many shopping precincts and local markets. Many of the bars are open 24hrs and a number of the restaurants are situated around the old town.
From two stations, Harburg City Hall and Hamburg Harburg, it takes approximately 20 minutes into the city centre. Alternatively the Elbe tunnel will take a similar time. From Harburg it only takes a short time to reach the countryside and one can relax in areas like Wilstorf with stunning scenery and many lakes.
The district Bergedorf (mountain village) lies in the south of Hamburg on the river Billie and borders in the west the district of Harburg and in the north the district of Hamburg-Mitte.
Somehow you can sense Bergedorfs former status as an independent town when you arrive. A nice inner city with pretty half-timbered houses and picturesque parks shape this Hamburg district. Bergedorf is a friendly district with a magnificent castle set in the middle of a lovely park and surrounded by the remains of high earthworks and a wide moat. The only medieval castle in Hamburg it now houses a museum about the history and cultural development of the region.
The district Bergedorf offers the citizens of not only a life environment for living and recreation, but is within the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg also an important business location.
Bergedorf is the largest urban area for commercial potential of all Hamburg districts. Alongside traditional and production companies in the machinery, wood and building material you will find companies in the electrical and food industry and the medical technology (Life Science). You will also find many companies in the logistics and transport, trade and services industries. Especially in the four-marsh lands and you will find a variety of traditional companies in the horticulture and agriculture. The four-country march and is one of the largest flower-growing areas of Germany. The beautiful green mountain landscape and maritime village is a popular recreational and tourist region for a growing number locals and tourists.