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Heidelberg | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Heidelberg is a city in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Coronavirus since Reopening

Germany | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
3,238,054
Confirmed
0
Confirmed (24h)
81,693
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
2.5%
Deaths (%)
2,865,000
Recovered
19,700
Recovered (24h)
291,361
Active

Understand

It is no secret that Heidelberg is a jewel among German travel destinations. Heidelberg is located in the Neckar river valley right where the legend-rich Odenwald (Forest of Odes or Odin) opens up towards the plains of the Rhine Valley. Heidelberg is home to the oldest university in Germany (est. 1386). With 28,000 students, the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität (or Ruperto Carola, the Latin equivalent of its name) is one of Germany’s larger academic institutions and boasts the full spectrum of an ancient academy, from Egyptian Studies to Computer Linguistics. The faculties for Medicine, Law and Natural Sciences are considered to be among the best in Germany. The university fostered the establishment of several other world class research institutions such as the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biological Laboratory (EMBL), Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), Max Planck Institutes for Medicine, Astronomy, Nuclear Physics, among others. Generally speaking, Heidelberg is an academic city with a long and rich history and is similar in many ways to cities such as Cambridge or Oxford (Heidelberg and Cambridge, England are twinned).

During WWII, the city was almost completely spared allied bombings which destroyed many of Germany’s larger inner cities. As a result, Heidelberg has retained its baroque charm of narrow streets, picturesque houses and of course the world-famous Schloss (castle ruins). After World War II, the US Army built large barracks at the southern end of the city. Heidelberg’s 149,600 inhabitants at one point included not only 28,000 students at the university but also nearly 20,000 US citizens, almost all of them soldiers and their families. However, in 2015, the US Army presence relocated to a different city in Germany.

With hundreds of thousands of tourists flocking to the city annually, Heidelberg is truly a culturally diverse and international destination, despite its small size. Over the years, Heidelberg has attracted numerous artists, intellectuals and academics from all over Europe and has sometimes been referred to as Germany’s unofficial intellectual capital. People who have lived and worked in the city include the poets Joseph von Eichendorff, Jean Paul and Goethe, scientists such as Bunsen and Kirchhoff, philosophers such as the founder of the “Illuminati” order von-Knigge, atheist Ludwig Feuerbach, existentialist Karl Jaspers, political theorist Hannah Arendt, architect Albert Speer, and many more. Mark Twain wrote in A Tramp Abroad:

Get in

By plane

ICE Train from Frankfurt or Stuttgart Airport to Heidelberg

You can travel to Heidelberg via ICE (InterCity Express), Germany’s fastest train, running at up to 300 km/h (180 mph) on German rails. For more info and booking see German Railways (Deutsche Bahn, DB) website.

Both Frankfurt and Stuttgart airports have train stations inside the terminal. Frankfurt Airport even is a major ICE train stop.

Reservations are not necessary; just buy your ticket at the counter or machine after you land. Credit cards are accepted; most staff speak English. It might be necessary to change trains (only once) at Mannheim, Stuttgart, or Frankfurt Central Station, but it is still likely to be faster than the bus. One way prices: Frankfurt €26.00 (ICE), Stuttgart €29 (IC) €41 (ICE).

Lufthansa Shuttle Bus

Lufthansa provides a shuttle bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg for €25 one way (taking one hour) and €46 round trip. If you have a Lufthansa Ticket, you get €2 discount.

Minor Airports

  • Frankfurt-Hahn – An airport in the middle of the beautiful green mountains of Hunsrück is a major hub for Ryanair. There are frequent bus connections from Heidelberg Hbf to Frankfurt-Hahn; the trip takes a little more than 2 hours, and costs €20 with Hahn Express, bookable via flixbus (fixed price one way as of 2018). Other bus companies offer indirect connections only and there is no train to Hahn, though DB operates a bus from Frankfurt main station to Hahn.
  • Baden-Baden has an airport, too. Mainly domestic flights are handled at this airport

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By train

  • The main train station Heidelberg Hbf is located in the western part of the city, from there you can take a tram to any place downtown e.g. Bismarckplatz (taxis are not recommended as they are far more expensive than trams!) Check for connections to “Heidelberg Bismarckplatz” on German Railway Website
  • There are direct train lines from Heidelberg to Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Mannheim and Frankfurt – and direct long distance trains to Munich, Vienna, Hamburg and Cologne usually running at least every 2 hours.
  • For most long distance destinations it is useful to take the regional train to nearby Mannheim Hbf (S-Bahn, about 15 minutes), from where there are frequent direct high speed connections to all major cities in Germany and some places in the nearby countries (e.g. ParisZurich, Amsterdam).
  • Taking slow trains will be much cheaper on a Saturday or Sunday, especially if you have a five-person group ticket, “Schönes Wochenende”, for € 42 total or every day “Länderticket Baden-Württemberg” for € 22 – 38 total.
  • Locomore connects Heidelberg to Stuttgart and Berlin. DB tickets aren’t valid on Locomore and vice versa, since Locomore belongs to the Flixbus company.

By car

The A5 connects Heidelberg directly to Frankfurt and Karlsruhe. It’s easy to reach from any direction.

Get around

The city runs a small but rather effective system of trams and buses. The two most important nodal points are the main station and Bismarckplatz. A single trip costs €2.60, and a day ticket costs €6.70. Ticket machines at most tram and bus stops take cash and cards, and have instructions in English as well as German.

Bus #32 and #33 connect the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) with the old city area; detailed maps, schedules and routes can be found online. A mountain railway runs between four stations (including the castle), linking the old city on the level of the river with the summit of the Königstuhl Mountain, about 400 m (1312 feet) above the city.

The “HeidelbergCARD”, a tourist pass that includes public transportation, many museums, and the lower section of the mountain railway (a separate fare is required for the upper section), can be bought at the tourist information center located just outside the main station.

What to see and do

  • Altstadt and Hauptstraße (historical city center and main street). The Hauptstraße leads from Bismarckplatz across the old town. Approximately one mile in length, it is reputedly the longest pedestrian shopping street in Germany.
  • CastleThe castle is above the old town, and can be reached by mountain railway (included in the ticket price) or staircase. An audio guide tour of the castle and its grounds is available for a fee near the entrance. It is available in several languages, including English. There is also a statue to the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the castle gardens. The castle hosts an outdoor Christmas market during December, which can get extremely busy (in recent years, this Christmas market had to be relocated to the Altstadt to protect the bat population in the castle). The castle grounds are free to visit, and offer a great view of the city and river. €7.
  • PhilosophenwegThe Philosophenweg which can be found on the northern side of the city. It provides a wonderful view across the oldest part of the city. Here you can find the site of the famous Merian Stich (engraving) which is a popular illustration of Heidelberg.
  • HeiligenbergThe Heiligenberg mountain which boasts a wonderful view over the old town.
  • ThingstätteThe Thingstätte on top of Heiligenberg (an open-air theatre built by the Nazi regime in 1934 to host propaganda events)
  • HeiligenbergAlso on the Heiligenberg the remnants of a wall ancient Celts built to keep Germanic tribes out, the Heidenloch, a deep well with unknown origins, and the ruins of a 10th-century cloister.
  • Kurpfälzisches MuseumThe Kurpfälzisches Museum on the Hauptstraße contains interesting exhibits of items from Heidelberg’s pre-history to modern times.
  • UniversitätsplatzThe old university on Universitätsplatz in the old city and the adjacent old armory which is now a student cafeteria (but also open to the public).
  • JesuitenkircheIt has 1712 Baroque construction with modern touches inside.
  • HeiliggeistkircheThe Heiliggeistkirche church is only one of many large and small churches, but definitely the one with the most interesting history. During the Dark Ages, it was the shelter of the Bibliotheca Palatina, Germany’s oldest library. The Bibliotheca was stolen and brought to Rome but eventually returned in pieces. Today, parts of it can be visited in the University Library (also the oldest and probably the most valuable of its kind in Germany), which is situated close to the old university. You can get a great view of the Heiliggeistkirche, Old Town, and the Neckar river bridge from the castle (Schloss Heidelberg).

What to do in Heidelberg

The city boasts more than twelve cinemas, over eight theaters, including

  • StadttheaterTheaterstraße 10the large state-run theater
  • ZimmertheaterHauptstraße 118 ,   Germany’s oldest private theatre
  • KarlstorbahnhofAm Karlstor 1, 69117 HeidelbergOne of the progressive culture center in the east-end of the old city.
  • Halle_02Zollhofgarten 2, 69115 Heidelberg (Just walk to the other side of the main station towards Bahnstadt). Hosting concerts and exhibitions in a converted warehouse. The area used to be one of the barracks of US Army.
  • Königstuhl-Mountain568 m (1560 ft) high, 450 m (1480 ft) above Heidelberg, is a nice option to escape the hustle and bustle of Heidelberg downtown. The mountain top of Königstuhl offers a nice view over Heidelberg and the Rhine Valley. In good weather conditions you can see the Northern Black Forest. The same funicular railway that carries visitors to the castle continues to the mountain top. You will have to switch trains once—the final one to the top is a historical wooden funicular train. (A separate fare is required for the historical funicular.) On the top you can have a look at the more-than-100-year-old engine that just pulled you up. (No worries—made in Germany!)
  • HimmelsleiterIf you feel more energetic, you can take the Himmelsleiter (Heaven’s Ladder or Sky Ladder) — a stairway of 1200 steps winding up 270 meters (890 ft) up to Königstuhl. It ends 10 meters east of the mountain top funicular station. The lower end of stairs is just above the castle, but a bit hidden.
  • Tourist Information at the main stationWilly-Brandt-Platz 1 ,   April 1 – October 31: Monday to Saturday 9AM – 7PM, Sunday, Holidays 10AM – 6PM;November 1 – March 31: Monday to Saturday 9AM – 6PM, Sunday, Holidays closedThe Tourist Information Centers at the rail station has a wide range of information for your every need. Whether you need a room, tickets for city tours and the castle, ideas for things to do or are simply looking for souvenirs.

Buy

The main shopping area is from Bismarckplatz along the Hauptstraße. Here you will find the big chains as well as the small unique shops.

  • Go by the Cathedral during the day for small markets selling souvenirs
  • The English BookstorePlöck 93.  For books in English

Eat

BBQ & Beer – On sunny summer days the “Neckarwiese” (‘Neckar meadow’, northern bank of Neckar river, just west of Bismarckplatz) is full of people relaxing in the sun, having a Barbecue or a beer… This place also offers a nice view to the castle. You will have to bring your own grill, beer and steaks. Cheap grills to use once are available at the “Bauhaus” do-it-yourself store at Kurfürsten-Anlage 11, just 200m south of Bismarckplatz. Nice way to mix with locals. Grilling is only allowed in two zones marked with cobblestones. Do not put one-way-grills onto the grass, it will leave a hole in the grass.

Snacks – Along the Hauptstraße, which runs through the center of town, you will find several bakeries that serve local specialities including “Brezeln” (pretzels). Department stores have a nice selection of delicatessen stalls called “Markthallen” where you can eat everything on the spot.

Cafes – Many of the cafes in Heidelberg set up outside tables when the weather is fair, and these are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. A popular destination for summer cafe beer sipping and lounging is the Marktplatz, which is adjacent to the Heiliggeistkirche.

Meals – The Haupstraße is plentiful with an amazing variety of restaurants. Dishes tend to be served in large portions, relatively inexpensive and of good quality. You can find something for almost every taste including Japanese, Indian, Italian, Chinese, German and Bavarian. American fast food and “Döner” restaurants cater to the budget conscious and late-night crowds.

  • Mensa im MarstallhofMaybe the most beautiful University Canteen in Germany, offering food and beer at low prices in a historic buildling and a Beer Garden!. Everybody is welcome, Open till late…
  • Sunisas Thai ImbissSpeyerer Straße 1, 69115 Heidelberg, [0] 6221 / 6555533: if you want a change from German food: an authentic, tasty Thai diner and takeaway with reasonable prices. It also has terrace, pool tables and cocktails. Open at 11AM till late at night.
  • Thaipanon the Hauptstraße, at the Universitätsplatz. An excellent, reasonably priced, Thai restaurant, with great service. The food is as authentic as it can get in Europe. Try the Giow Grob (deep fried Chicken Parcels) for a starter. In general, ask for “Thai spicy” if you want the real thing but only if you can deal with it!
  • Korean/Sushi restaurantHeiliggeiststraße 3, close to the Marktplatz, next to the Hotel zum Rathaus, a seemingly little-known, but great sushi place (also serves Korean food).
  • La Locanda 26Steubenstraße 26.  Opening Hours: 11.00 – 23.00 / Wednesday closedmiddle.
  • BrunnenStube (Restaurant BrunnenStube), Kranichweg 15 (see website for directions).  Mon.-Sat. from 17:00, closed Sundays and some public holidays;Nice restaurant with modern German cuisine and moderate prices. Great fish, lamb and many seasonal specials. Located in the west of Heidelberg’s center in a living area. Patio dining in summer. Main course from €7.90-18.90.

Drink

More than 300 bars, pubs, clubs, discothèques and the like, from Bavarian style tourist restaurants with deer antlers on the walls to extremely left-wing student bars which reserve the right to refuse police officers entry to the bar. You name it. Find your place and enjoy yourself. Heidelberg knows no curfew. Most bars close at 1AM, but especially the students bars are often open until the early morning. Although the locals—even the police officers—are used to drunk tourists as well as to drunk students, please be calm on your way home and do not riot. As a remnant of the student revolts, Heidelberg has the largest ratio of policemen per capita and you may find yourself in the arms of an officer much faster than you think.

If you are a young person and happen to discover one of the student parties (which are quite numerous but advertised mostly by word-of-mouth), you scored the jackpot. Get inside, get a (dirt cheap) beer and have fun. But try and avoid being recognised as a tourist. No party ends before 3AM and many run until 6 or 7AM. Either Untere Straße or the Zieglers (Heidelbergs oldest students’ bar) are frequently crowded with students.

  • Wines are produced around Heidelberg (e.g. Schriesheim, Wiesloch), but it might be difficult to get hold of them – unless you simply go to a vineyard… When you buy wine, always a safe bet is a Riesling from Pfalz or some white wine from Baden instead, or try any of the numerous wines from other German wine regions.
  • Vineyards Vineyards are usually located in the middle of small towns along Bergstraße (Highway B3). Fruit farmers sell wine right on their farm e.i. vineyard – make sure you also ask for Apple Wine (Hesse specialty) and New Wine (wine still in process of fermentation – sold from the barrel, bring a canister!) which you can sometimes drink in some ‘wine-beergarden’ right on site. Take a tram (5/5R) northbound to any place between Schriesheim and Lützelsachsen or a local train (S3/S4) southbound to Wiesloch – or (even better, if you have the time) S1 or S2 to Neustadt, where you will find yourself in an endless landscape of vine stocks.
  • Mensa im MarstallhofMaybe the most beautiful University Canteen in Germany and maybe also Heidelberg’s cheapest Beer Garden. Serving Welde-Beer (the Beer with screwed bottle necks and answering on any question… ) Everybody is welcome, Open till late…
  • Vetter’s BrauhausSteingasseVetter’s is famous for having one of the strongest beers in world (Vetter 33).
  • KulturbrauereiNext to the Old Bridge in the Leyergasse there is this small breweries
  • Großer MohrSmall but highly recommended. Tuesday night the odds are high to find the Mohr besieged by medical students.
  • SonderbarThe latter boasts a huge collection of absinthe, whiskeys and whiskys, as well as a very distinctive atmosphere.
  • DestilleThere is a tree in the center of the establishment.
  • TrinidadThis cocktail bar at the edge of the Old Town is small, but famous for its drinks and continuously receives praise in local restaurant guides.
  • O’ReillysAn Irish pub north of the river, just over the bridge from Bisi (Bismarckplatz).
  • DublinerA good Irish pub at the center of Heidelberg Mainstreet (Downtown)
  • Ham Ham’sA great place to chill, drink, and smoke
  • NektarA very relaxed and chill place to enjoy a drink and party
  • B.J.Z. BarGreat place to party in Emmertsgrund, its a B.Y.O.A. (Bring your own alcohol) and you can crash anywhere in the house
  • The Brass MonkeyFriendly bar on Haspelgasse, just opposite the old bridge. Good crowd and all staff also speak fluent English.
  • Star CoffeeIf you are looking for coffee rather than alcohol, Star Coffee has two branches, one off Bismarckplatz and the other on the Hauptstraße, serving a variety of coffees and offering free WiFi access.
  • Moro CafesFewer computers but more style are found in the two Moro Cafes, directly at the Alte Brücke and one on the Hauptstraße.

Recently, most pubs close much earlier in the night, even on the weekends at around 2AM. Just move to one of the numerous clubs, which usually have no entrance fee this late at night.

Be Safe

Heidelberg is an extremely safe city (even by German standards). However, women walking alone at night should take the usual precautions they would do anywhere else. Walking along the northern Neckar banks at night would not be advised, except in groups, particularly by the Studentenwohnheime (dorms). The shrubs are thick and it is very dark.

Usually there won’t be any problem. If you are a bit ‘paranoid’ you can take a Taxi. If you are from New York, you might think they are cheap – if you are from East-Europe or Asia you will feel like they are ripping you off… use as needed. There are also “Frauentickets” available for women, you can buy these coupons for €8 and they will cover the fare for anywhere in the city.

Don’t walk on bicycle lanes! – Really don’t! (they are often painted in red, but always separated from the pedestrian lanes by a white line): Heidelberg has more cyclists than motorists, and many of them have a rather cavalier way of riding. The southern parallel street to Hauptstraße (called Plöck) is the main traffic channel for student cyclists between Bismarkplatz and University Square. During the day it can be such a buzz, it’s already a sight worth visiting. But watch out: Many cyclists feel safe from the tourists there and lose all their good manners.

Sleep

Budget

  • Steffi’s Hostel HeidelbergAlte Eppelheimer Str. 50 (Just walk straight out of the station and cross the big street and the tram rails in front of you. On the other side there’s a modern building, where you enter a shopping arcade (Kurfürstenpassage – Jack Wolfskin / Backpacker Store). Again you walk straight ahead through the passage and leave it on the opposite side. From the exit you can already see a big brick stone building in front of you. Here on the third floor above the Lidl supermarket, Steffis Hostel Heidelberg is situated.) ,   Check-in: 10AM – 1PM and 5PM – 8PM, check-out: until 12Dorms from €20, everything included.
  • Youth Hostel Heidelberg (Jugendherberge Heildelberg), Tiergartenstraße 5.  Large well maintained hostel, on the eastern bank of the Neckar River, 25 min walk away from the central rail station. Public transportation: take bus 32 from central rail station towards north (Sportzentrum Nord), get off at Jugendherberge stop. Dorms from €28,30 including breakfast and linen, various concession apply. Towels can be rented from the reception for additional €2.
  • Hotel ISGIn the suburb of Boxberg about a 15 minute taxi ride from central Heidelberg. Fitted out in the Bauhaus style the rooms are comfortable enough (and the bathrooms are excellent) but there is nothing to do in Boxberg.
  • Hotel Restaurant Scheid.  is a nice, quiet, reasonably priced hotel in the suburb of Schriesheim, a short tram ride north of Heidelberg. Schriesheim is built on a hill so if you are hitting the clubs, don’t forget about the late 30 min. night walk up the hill from the tram stop (Schriesheim Bahnhof).
  • B&B HotelRudolf-Diesel-Str. 7 (corner of Speyerer Str.) (Bus 33 from the train station to Rudolf-Diesel-Str. stop) ,   Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00The opposite of what the words “B&B” usually mean – new, efficient and impersonal. About 1 km from the station in the direction away from the old town (it’s walkable), in an industrial zone (across from a car dealership, between a NATO installation and a disused rail line), this concrete box with a free parking lot provides surprisingly quiet, modern rooms with all amenities (including free WiFi). For truly sociofobic (or after midnight) it is even possible to check in without interacting with staff – a terminal in the lobby will take your credit card and issue the code for opening your room door; when it’s time to leave, there’s no key to turn in. If bed (comfortable) and breakfast (uninspired; €8) is indeed all you’re after, this is the place. Don’t believe Google Maps – they will send you to the wrong end of Rudolf-Diesel St., and eat in town before heading home – there are no decent restaurants around. Singles €54.

Mid-range

  • The RitterHauptstraße 178 ,   The Ritter is the oldest building (1592) in Heidelberg that has outlasted all fires and wars that have haunted the city over the times. It can get a little noisy considering its location directly at the heart of the Altstadt. Also a picturesque photo opportunity. Double occupancy: €118 to 206.
  • Hip HotelHauptstraße 115This was revamped in 2005 as a boutique hotel. Each room is modeled after a famous city, the most interesting room being the Zermatt (for Heidi and skiing fans).
  • Hotel Neu HeidelbergIn the west of Heidelberg’s center. 3 star hotel with a restaurant, breakfast buffet, terrace, garden, WiFi, bicycles for guests, free parking, various int. tv channels, etc. Easily reachable by car and public transportation.
  • NH Hotel Heidelberg1km west of the edge of the Altstadt, in an old brewery. However it’s been totally renovated and fitted out in a modernist decor, all glass, wood floors and exposed metal. Some of the rooms are very pleasant, though the ones overlooking the main road can be noisy. Food in the bar is disappointing.
  • Crowne PlazaA fairly standard anonymous business hotel just off Bismarckplatz. Rooms near the lifts can be extremely noisy, so are best avoided.
  • Hotel Holländer Hof Heidelberg.  Neckarstaden 66. The hotel has a unique view of the Neckar River and the Philosopher´s Walk. It is just opposite the Old Bridge.

Splurge

  • Europäischer HofA classic privately owned five star hotel just on the edge of the Altstadt. Pleasant atmosphere and attentive staff. Most of the rooms look out over the courtyard and are therefore admirably quiet.
  • Hirschgasse HeidelbergHirschgasse 3.  Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12AMThe oldest hotel in Heidelberg and the oldest student dwelling house in Germany. It was first mentioned in a love story in 1472 and is nestled in a little side valley of a select residential area opposite the Heidelberg castle. An impressive walk along the River Neckar will take you to the Altstadt on the other side of the river. Mark Twain wrote about this in his book “A Tramp Abroad.” The rooms are all unique and will delight Laura Ashley fans and the ones seeking a good shot of authentic romantic ambiance. It comes along with two restaurants: the historic Mensurstube with regional dishes and over 250 year old tables, even Count Otto von Bismarck carved his name into. The elegant Le Gourmet is a classic French restaurant with attentive but yet uncomplicated service and will delight your credit cards with a good value for a swipe. A vineyard only a stone’s throw away from the hotel “Sunnyside upon the Bridge” provides a good local Riesling or Late Burgundy. from 125 to 335.

Hotels Heidelberg: Popularity

Hotel Stars Discount Price before and discount Select dates
Staycity Aparthotels Heidelberg ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Holiday Inn Express Heidelberg City Centre View Isaan Hotel Deals
Lotte - The Backpackers View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Panorama ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
sevenDays Hotel BoardingHouse ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Heidelberg Exzellenz Hotel ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Leonardo Hotel Heidelberg ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Goldene Rose View Isaan Hotel Deals
Qube Hotel Bergheim ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Leonardo Hotel Heidelberg City Center ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals

Go next

  • Bertha Benz Memorial Route – Follow the tracks of the world’s first automobile journey (Mannheim – Pforzheim – Mannheim) back in 1888, leading right through Heidelberg
  • Darmstadt
  • Small cities on the Bergstraße between Darmstadt and Heidelberg: Weinheim, Heppenheim, Bensheim and Zwingenberg
  • Heilbronn
  • Karlsruhe
  • Mannheim
  • Schwetzingen
  • Dilsberg / Neckarsteinach – has four small castles in a row. Dilsberg’s castle has a well which is accessible by a tunnel. Neckarsteinach’s railway station is 20 mins away taking the S1 or S2 train from Hauptbahnhof or Karlstorbahnhof. From there it is a 5 km walk on a forest trail to Dilsberg, a medieval village with a town wall. The Dilsberg youth hostel is in the old city gate.

ja日本語

Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Now based on Mallorca, Spain.

Germany

Magdeburg | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Magdeburg in northern Germany was founded by Charlemagne in 805AD, making it 1,200 years old. Its original name was Magadoburg, probably from German for big, ‘magado’, and ‘burga’ for fortress. Emperor Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor, lived in the town for most of his reign and was buried in the cathedral after his death. Over the centuries, it has been ravaged by war and destruction as a result of its position as an imperial seat, Prussian fortified town, and as a Hanseatic city.  It was heavily bombed in the Second World War, and a RAF bombing raid on the night of 16 January 1944 destroyed most of the city.

Germany | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
3,238,054
Confirmed
0
Confirmed (24h)
81,693
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
2.5%
Deaths (%)
2,865,000
Recovered
19,700
Recovered (24h)
291,361
Active

1990 saw the city become the capital of the new state of Saxony-Anhalt in the reunification of Germany, with the city center rebuilt in a modern style. After reunification, most of the basis of the economy was shut down, and it faced decline in the population as a result of people seeking lucrative jobs in western Germany.  The city however, is known for reinventing itself, and for preserving its cultural heritage. Today it is a beautiful city on the Elbe River with its economy geared towards services, and hosting nearly 20 000 students at its top rated two universities, as well as research centers. It has great sights, including its parks which make it the third greenest city in Germany, and new shopping malls and other attractions; and its proximity to Hamburg, Leipzig and Berlin counts in its favor too.

The Best Time to Go

The best months are between May and September, where the temperature averages between 10 and 20°C (50 to 68°F); although in July and August it can get up to 24°C (75°C).  The months from October to April are colder, averaging between 0 and 10°C (32 to 50°F) . The coldest time of year is in January, when it can get as low as -2.1°C (28°F).

Sunshine hours are from 1.3 hours a day in December and 7.7 hours a day in June. July is the wettest month, experiencing rain, sleet, hail or snow over an average of 14 days. Frost mostly occurs in January.

Getting Around in Magdeburg

With regard to public transportation, there are S-Bahn trains, buses, trams and ferries in Magdeburg. The benefit is that they are all unified in a linked transport system called Marego, so they all use the same tickets.

Riding the tram is probably the best system for tourists to use, as the stops are located at the main attractions, and in busy areas. Magdeburg boats 10 tram lines, plus one which is brought into service during heavy traffic times, or for special events. Waiting times vary greatly, and depend on the time, day, and location. In the city centre you rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes, even on a Sunday; while the further out you go, you can wait for between 10 and 20 minutes. Timetables are provided at every stop. If you’re lucky, you might catch a communist-era one, and experience the rattles of the past.

The buses run every 20 minutes, and cover all areas of the city. As with the trams, extra buses are laid on at heavy traffic times and special events. Timetables are at every stop too.

Two ferry services operate Elbe river crossings, the Fähre Buckau and the Fähre Westerhüsen. They run from March to October on Tuesdays to Sundays between 10am and 6pm.

The main train line runs through Magdeburg from the north to the south. The train stations are marked with a logo of a white S on a green circle. The trains run every 30 minutes, and are the fastest method for crossing the city.

Public transportation at night means you need to look at the schedules, as it is more limited. Taxis are of course an alternative.

Major Attractions and Sights

The Gothic Magdeburger Dom (Cathedral of St. Maurice and St Catherine) is the most well-known sight of the city. It was constructed on the site of a Roman cathedral between the years of 1209 and 1520. It is the highest church building in eastern Germany at 104 meters. It has stunning and unique sculptures, notably the ‘Twelve Virgins’ at the northern gate.

The 11th Century Romanesque abbey Kloster unser lieben Frauen (Cloister of Our beloved Lady) is an iconic building in Germany. Among other things, it has an art gallery.
Johanniskirche (St John’s Church) is worth going to see. After sustaining serious damage during WWll it has been recently rebuilt as a multipurpose centre.

The Town Hall dates from 1698. It stands in the place of the original which stood on the marketplace since the 13th Century until its destruction in the Thirty Years’ War. The ‘new’ building was built in the Renaissance style. It has since been renovated, and was reopened in 2005.

In the city centre near the Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen and the cathedral is the Grüne Zitadelle (Green Citadel), a pink house designed by the famous architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. There are also ruins of the stronghold of the Prussian Empire.

The Kulturhistorisches Museum (Culture Historical Museum) on Otto-von-Guericke-Straße is home to the famous statue, the Magdeburger Reiter.

The city center overall, is a delight for architecture fans, and features some neo-classicist buildings dating from the Communist era, as well as modern marvels built since reunification.

Magdeburg is one of the greenest cities in Europe and the third greenest city in Germany, so riding a bike in Magdeburg is a pleasant experience. Since most of the streets have cycle tracks on the sides you will not have any problems with taking your bike into the city. You are permitted to take your bike with you on all the public transportation; however, you may have to purchase an extra ticket for the bike. A very nice way to explore the idyllic nature in and around Magdeburg is using the Elberadweg. This cycle path leads you all the way along the river Elbe and invites you to explore the unique biosphere reserve around Magdeburg. Signs guide you along the path and show you directions and distances to other towns, villages, and attractions. Many restaurants and beer gardens are right next to the river, as well as some nice hotels, playgrounds and parks.

There are several different river cruises offered by the Magdeburger Weiße Flotte GmbH.
They include: a 1.5 hour cruise along the skyline of Magdeburg; a river cruise from the city centre to the town of Schönebeck; an evening cruise; and cruises along the waterway. Tickets can be bought at the tourist information centre, or onboard.

In recent years, the museums in Magdeburg have regularly featured excellent exhibitions on a whole host of subjects related to art, culture and learning. New collections and exhibitions have also been established and the top-flight Technology Museum has opened with no expense or effort spared. The three other major museums are the Cultural History Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Art Museum in the Convent of our Lady.

Magdeburg also offers high-caliber entertainment at its opera house, Schauspielhaus theatre and puppet theatre, and there are many independent theatre groups and German-style cabaret performances to enjoy.

In the Elbauen Park the Millennium Tower is a popular draw card; it houses an exhibition on nature and the history of humanity.

The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a navigable aqueduct in Germany that connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal, and allows ships to cross over the Elbe River. At 918 meters, it is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world. Construction of the water link was started as early as in the 1930s, but due to WWII and subsequent division of Germany the work remained suspended till 1997. The aqueduct was finally completed and opened to the public in 2003. It truly is a sight worth seeing.

Shopping in Magdeburg

With 2.5 square meters of retail space per inhabitant, Magdeburg’s city-centre shopping area is one of Germany’s top destinations for shoppers.

There are numerous shopping malls all over the city. In the CBD you have Karstadt, which was a mall during the cold war and is therefore the oldest of the city with its building still representing socialist architecture. After the reunification, the city center got several new shopping malls. The biggest of them is called Allee Centre and has 3 floors. Also located in the city center are the Ulrichshaus and the City Carré. You will also find numerous stores (as well as bars and cafés) along the road Breiter Weg, which used to be one of the largest shopping streets in Europe before WWII and has now regained most of its popularity with modern architecture.

Strolling along Magdeburg’s traditional shopping boulevards Breiter Weg and Ernst-Reuter-Allee, visiting the many shops in the districts of Neustadt and Sudenburg as well as weekly markets will yield some local goods.  The city’s most centrally located market is at the Old Market (Alter Markt) in front of the Town Hall. Market days and times are Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and on Saturday, 9am to 1pm. The market is closed on Mondays. Special attractions are the so-called “Farmers’ Market” which takes place every Tuesday as well as the “Green Market” every Saturday. Produce on sale includes: homemade sausages and cold cuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, dairy products, cakes and pastries, poultry products, household supplies, lingerie, gifts, and textiles.

If you feel hungry or peckish, there are a number of snack stands offering light meals and snacks to accommodate your needs. Easy access is provided by public transport, and parking places are available in Julius-Bremer-Strasse as well as behind the Karstadt building.

Eating Out in Magdeburg

Hasselbachplatz square and the surrounding streets are lined with dozens of pubs, bars and restaurants plus one of the best-known currywurst bars in Germany, ‘Curry 54’. The Mediterranean restaurant Liebig is popular with all walks and ages. The trendy bar-café-restaurant has a large outdoor terrace, and serves substantial breakfasts, global fare and cool cocktails.

Bingöl Grill on Breiter Weg is a budget legend to lovers of Turkish food and Döner. Clean, with decent service, real silverware, porcelain plates and prices that rival big fast food chains. It’s open until late at night, making it ideal if you need to grab something solid after a night of partying.

Several Thai and Vietnamese restaurants are available.

Nightlife in Magdeburg

The Hasselbachplatz is the place to start a night out in Magdeburg. Here you will find a big variety of bars and small clubs, a lot of stylish bars and also alternative pubs with long opening hours on weekends.

A premium spot is the Jackelwood, located in the Sternstraße just south from the Hasselbachplatz, with billiards, kicker and a lot of other games. There are quite a few more bars on this area so check them out and you will find one that appeals to you. And you will always get something to eat at the Hasselbachplatz. For very late night drinking pop in at the COCO in the Otto-von-Guericke-Street (50m) from Hasselbachplatz

An amazing night at the theatre – with a difference! – can be had at the fabulous Theater an der Angel. The company is owned by Matthias Engle and Ines Lacroix who performed in the Neil Simon comedy Der letzte der feurigen Liebhaber.

Of local Interest

In the Elbauen Park at Easter, you can go along and watch a huge bonfire of firewood. A snowman made at Magdeburg’s theatre workshops is placed on top, and the lighting of the bonfire is said to be banishing winter from the park.

Hassel Night Line takes place on the Hasselbachplatz – a twice-a-year street festival with open-air stages and music on every narrow street.

September 2011 saw the inception of the Kaiser Otto Festival.

September also sees the popular annual summer theatre at the Puppet Theatre in the courtyard, which combines puppet shows and theatre plays.

In October is the Magdeburg Town Festival. On the ‘festival mile’ you’ll find show stands, market stalls, carousels and different stage programs by many entertainers, including from regional TV and radio stations. The ‘mile’ runs from the cathedral to University Square.

Also in October is the Magdeburg marathon.

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Erfurt | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Erfurt is one of the oldest German settlements and it dates back to the prehistoric area. Traces of human remains have been found in the city dating back to 100,000 BC. It’s the capital of the Thuringia region and has a colorful history having experienced being a part of the French Empire, the Prussian Empire, and the Electorate of Mainz.

Germany | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
3,238,054
Confirmed
0
Confirmed (24h)
81,693
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
2.5%
Deaths (%)
2,865,000
Recovered
19,700
Recovered (24h)
291,361
Active

Erfurt is the city closest to the geographical heart of modern Germany, enjoying a location on rolling plains. Whilst the city itself is decisively urban, the surroundings retain a charming and rustic identity where traditional rural life is evident. In the Middle Ages, the city was a highly important trading town, and many of the old buildings and market areas are still standing and in use today. A mark of its antique significance is its university which was founded in 1379, and where Martin Luther was a student.

Best Time to go to Erfurt

Temperatures range widely in Erfurt. For those who love the harsh, cold winters of Germany visit Erfurt in January or December as the temperatures drop below freezing. Bargain breaks in winter are attractive to those that love the crispness in the air and the lack of tourists. If there happens to be snow, the forests of Thuringia, outside the city, are certainly a very pretty sight.

In the summer, temperatures generally hover around the 70 degrees Fahrenheit mark, at their height. It’s never unbearably hot and wandering the pretty streets and parks of Erfurt is very pleasurable.

Getting around

As the capital of the region, driving into Erfurt is a viable option if you are travelling around Germany. It lies on two large federal motorways in the north and the east, so there are four main ways into the city. It’s strongly recommended you avoid the city centre. Not only is it difficult to get directly to your destination, it’s almost impossible to find a parking space.

A large train station sits close to the centre of the city, with direct lines to other major cities like Dresden and Berlin. It’s possible to use Erfurt as a base to explore some of the other major cities in the area – Leipzig is an hour away, Weimar just about 15 minutes and Halle, the birthplace of Handel and the home of some lovely castles, can be reached in about 45 minutes. The Erfurt Hauptbahnhof offers local trains going to the smaller towns in the Thuringia region.

The Erfurt-Weimar Airport services the region and offers daily flights around Germany, as well as to prominent holiday destinations around Europe. If you are just flying into the city there are trams offering a direct connection to the train station and city center. Take tram number 4.

Unlike many tourist destinations, it’s unwise to opt for transport around the city centre. Since the centre of the city is the oldest part, the streets are naturally extremely narrow. Walking is definitely the best way to get around central Erfurt

The tram lines are amongst the most advanced in Europe. Erfurt has had a long time to make their tram system one of the best in the world as it’s been in place since 1883. Trolleybuses act as a supplement to the tram system and enable you to get where you need to go quickly and easily.

Transport generally grinds to a relative halt after midnight, but there are night buses every hour for people who need to get to the train station, or the center of the city. If this isn’t ideal, the only other option is to take advantage of a taxi, which visitors say are quite expensive.

Cycling is perfectly acceptable in Erfurt’s narrow streets. Expect to see a lot of cyclists around the city center as it’s generally the fastest way to get around.

Major Attractions and Sights

Find your way around the city with a guidebook from the tourist office which is located on Benediktsplatz in the city center. Erfurt’s romantic Old Quarter is Germany’s largest heritage site so lovers of history and architecture will find much of interest here.

The city’s narrow streets are an attraction all their own, harkening back to Erfurt’s historical past. Many central streets are open to pedestrians only, and are lined by delightful old merchant’s houses, many of them tall with brightly colored facades. A number of green areas with charming little bridges crossing the Gera River complete the distinctive northern European look and flavor.

The Erfurt Cathedral is an old 13th century Catholic church built by St. Boniface. It evolved into a church in the gothic style and now possesses beautiful stained-glass windows, a candelabrum shaped in the form of a bronze man, and choir stalls dating back to the 14th century. If you visit the city in August you can witness the Domstufen-Festspiele classical music festival which takes place in the square in front of the cathedral.

Severikirche, a huge 5-naved church known to date back to before the 12th century stands next door to the cathedral and together the two dominate the cityscape, making them the most well known attractions of Erfurt.

The Alte Synagoge is another exciting attraction for history buffs. Its roots date back to the 12th century, which makes it perhaps the oldest Jewish synagogue in Europe. In the 14th century, it was converted into a storehouse before being left to ruin for many years. It was eventually refurbished and now stands as a museum. Learn about the history of this exciting monument and the people who worshipped here with a visit to the museum. One of its exciting exhibits is the 600 pieces of jewelry unearthed in the Jewish quarter, including a Jewish marriage ring dating back to the early 1300s.

The Zitadelle Petersberg sits on the hill north of the Dom, and is the most well preserved town baroque fortress in central Europe. It is a unique example of European fortress construction built on the site of a former Benedictine monastery. Guided tours of the underground passages are always popular.

Another of the significant and actually quite remarkable sights of Erfurt is the Krämerbrücke. This medieval bridge sits across the River Breitstrom and originally had a church at each end. Today the Agidienkirche still functions as a church. The bridge was built in 1325 and is covered with 32 buildings, all of which are still inhabited.

Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, studied in Erfurt as a student and lived there as a monk in the early 16th century. If you want to learn more about Martin Luther – one of the most important figures in European religious history – the must-visits are the old university buildings, the Augustinekloster (monastery), Georgenburse (student’s living quarters), and the Luther Stone. Guided tours of the city always include much reference to him and his associations with Erfurt.

Other buildings that might be included on an itinerary are the impressive Town Hall, the Former Governors Residence (dating from 1711) which is now the Thuringia Chancellery, St. Barthelomew’s Tower, and the Woad Storehouse, where once the blue dye was made.

The Egapark is a place to take a break from the busyness of the city center. The large botanical gardens are a romantic location and there are greenhouses featuring beautiful little plants, a Japanese rock garden, and even a horticultural museum with fantastic views of the whole garden from the top floor.

The Erfurt Theatre has recently been renovated and plays host to a variety of exciting operas and plays. Look at the official website of the theatre for more information on what’s on. Remember to book in advance to view some of the more popular shows to avoid disappointment as they tend to sell out quickly.

Shopping in Erfurt

Anger 1 is in the city centre and is a grand shopping mall spanning four floors. Expect to find many common chains inside Anger 1, including clothing stores, electronics chains, and groceries.

Thüringenpark, Nordhäuser Straße is open every day from 10am to 8pm, except Sunday. This is another shopping centre just outside the city centre. It contains a post office, drug store, and even a German bank. It’s always worth a visit during the city’s holidays as special events and themes are always held here.

Within the city itself there are plenty of local stores to take advantage of. The Krämerbrücke is the main place to purchase souvenirs as local artists and craftspeople sell their wares on small stalls and in small shop windows. It’s a small sanctuary away from the massive apparel corporations dominating Erfurt’s shopping scene.

The best time for shopping is definitely in December, when Wenigemarkt is taken over by the Christmas Market. Enjoy traditional crafts, street entertainment, wonderfully intricate Christmas decorations and plenty of warming drinks and snacks.

Eating out in Erfurt

Erfurt is a great place to sample some of Germany’s national foods. The famous Thuringia Bratwurst is sold throughout the city.

Before embarking on a trip to a local restaurant in Erfurt, take note tipping isn’t a mandatory practice. If you can’t spare an extra few Euros don’t worry about it. Most servers are more than happy if their customers simply round-up their meal to the nearest Euro. Of course, if the service and the meal were particularly scrumptious don’t be afraid to give them a larger tip.

Lovers of traditional Thuringia foods should visit Feuerkugel in the centre of Erfurt where the menu is eminently affordable. Visitors report how the restaurant has an extremely friendly atmosphere with helpful and welcoming servers. Expect to find potato casserole, bratwurst, and of course, German beer to wash your meal down with.

Übersee is a small café and bar located on the banks of the Gera River. It’s the perfect location for a bite to eat during a long day of sightseeing. As well as traditional German drinks, the café offers a different special every day.

FAM (Feines am Markt) is the ideal option if you want good food without any of the fuss. On the outside it looks like an unremarkable location, but the food more than makes up for it. The breakfasts have been reported as a marvel to behold.

A large number of Asian Restaurants are in the city center of Erfurt including Kebab and Arabic restaurants.

Nightlife in Erfurt

Erfurt offers plenty of evening entertainment with small bars and loud clubs, mostly located in the city center.

Engelsburg is an interesting venue as there are so many sides of it to experience. Relax with a beer in the Steinhaus pub, dance in the medieval cellar or visit the Café DuckDich upstairs, where avid culture lovers discuss the latest developments in the art world.

Musikpark deserves a visit purely on the basis of its special offers. It normally plays rock and house music, but on Thursdays, there’s free entry until midnight and if you pay 6 Euros you can drink as much as you like. Weekends are themes, changing every week and the ti me to enjoy an extensive list of cocktails.

A visit to Hemingway adds a touch of sophistication to a night out in Erfurt. Personal drawers with cigar humidors are given to each visitor. There are 148 types of rum and an unbeatable range of 30 daiquiri cocktails. In the Africa Lounge there are stuffed elephants and other animals. Feel as if you’ve just stopped off from a safari at a local inn with some authentic African music to go along with it. This is truly an atmosphere like no other!

Of local Interest

You might notice that there are a lot of steeples in Erfurt with no churches? This is because they were demolished to build the dominating Zitadelle Petersberg.

Erfurt is such a historically rich city because the bombing campaigns of World War II largely avoided the city. It’s meant where many historical attractions from the middle ages were destroyed elsewhere in Germany, Erfurt remained relatively untouched.

Erfurt holds quite a grizzly reputation as being the place where the JA Topf & Sons crematoria manufacturer created special ovens for use by the Nazis in death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau. A memorial and museum to the victims of the Holocaust now stands in the place of the company’s former headquarters.

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Hamburg | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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The dynamic city of Hamburg is not only the second biggest city in Germany, it is home to one of the biggest ports in Europe and has a well-earned place as the wealthiest city in the country. Perched on the banks of the majestic River Elbe, the free and Hanseatic city is situated just over 100km away from the North Sea and boasts a booming population of a whopping 1.8 million residents.

Germany | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
3,238,054
Confirmed
0
Confirmed (24h)
81,693
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
2.5%
Deaths (%)
2,865,000
Recovered
19,700
Recovered (24h)
291,361
Active

The long-time international socialite of Germany, the city has always strived for independence, and has long been known as one of the most vibrant and successful international ports, trading successfully since the middle ages; proving to itself and the world of its ability to continue to be a tenacious achiever in its own right, and proudly touting the nickname of Boomtown Hamburg.

Today, the city is perched on the fringes of what is now one of the most valued and important harbours in all of Europe and has resolutely built a status that has managed to flourish through much adversary and devastation. Notwithstanding the major business background, the city is also the home to the vivaciously beating heart of the German media world.

Sprawling mansions, opulent villas and expansive townhouses are evidence of its wealth and stature as history dictates it, despite large parts of the city being destroyed in the air raids that devastated many parts of Germany in the Second World War. Much of the heritage has been restored to its former glory as the city was rebuilt, and historic buildings and architecture are a testament to the pride the citizens take in their incredible city.

The city just oozes charm as students and media executives rub shoulders with the super wealthy, and the city has managed to put itself into a class all on its own.

Best Time to Go

Germany itself has a decent climate all year round, making it the perfect destination for every type of traveller to visit. And because of Hamburg’s close proximity to the ocean, it is a destination that will suit those visitors who don’t really deal with the cold and snow in the winter, as it has a more oceanic climate. The weather is generally mild all year round, and snow is rare. Although the summer months of June, July and August are hotter than the rest of the year, you don’t get the soaring temperatures as you would say in Munich.

It rains for more than half the year, with averages of 130 days of rainfall recorded annually. But summer temperatures a cool and mild with highs reported no much more than around 21°C (70°F) during the peak of summertime.

Summer is the best time to go would be between the months of May and September, but be prepared to pay seasonal prices for everything. Hotels and air fares are sky high and there are queues to get into everything.

If you are not a fan of crowds, then fall would be the best time to go; the crowds have died down a bit and the prices are not so steep. December, January and February are cold, but Christmas sees a tourist boom as people flock into the city for the festive season. Even so, don’t think you can leave a winter holiday booking to the last minute, this is Hamburg, and it is always busy.

Getting Around in Hamburg

Being in Germany, Hamburg has an excellent public transport system; everything is on time and works like clockwork. There is a fantastic bus and train network that for the most part has service right throughout the night, especially on weekends. During the week in the outlying areas, you may find that there is no service after 11pm, so you would just need to check before you hop on.

The buses arrive and leave from the Rathausmarkt which is near the town hall and there is a special nachtbus or night bus service that will cover the service between the outlying areas and the center of the city. You can get tickets from the vending machines at the train stations and there are some at the bus stops as well. The bus drivers are very helpful and knowledgeable and will tell you which kind of ticket that you need to buy in case you are not sure. For visitors, the Hamburg Card is very handy, as it includes entrance to museums, sights and the public transport system and can be bought from all the bus drivers and ticket offices.

Public transport is very busy before 9am and between 4pm and 7pm; it is more comfortable for tourists to plan your day around those times. Bicycles are a very popular way to get around the city, especially during the summertime. Bike rental shops are all over the city and some hotels offer the facility too. Dedicated bike lanes make it simple to navigate your way around on your own, but maps are available from the tourist information centers.

Major Attractions and Sights

Miniatur Wunderland, is the world’s largest model railway and is broken up into 5 distinctive sections. You can see the breathtaking, miniature landscapes of Hamburg, America, Switzerland, Southern Germany, the German coast, the Alps and Scandinavia. There are working mechanized ships on real water, complete with a fully functional airport display with airplanes that can fly.

The Hamburg Zoo is a privately owned family zoo that was started in the early 1900s by Carl Hagenbeck Jnr, in his time a prominent wild animal merchant and trader. There is an entire rainforest, sea and desert in the zoo’s colossal troparium. There is a dolphin show, plenty of places to eat, lots of playgrounds for kids and enough to keep an entire family busy for the day.

Speicherstadt is an historic area that was used as a warehouse district, and when the ships used to come into port and offload their cargo the district was heaving with aromatic spices, silks and coffee. Unfortunately there are not tours through the inside of the buildings, but the experience and ambience of the district is worth the trip.

Planten un Blomen is a delightful park that is a favorite among visitors to the city. The summer time is obviously the best time to go and visitors can enjoy water, light and music shows. In winter they open an ice rink. The park is absolutely beautiful and perfect for a day’s outing with the kids.

The Rathaus (Town Hall) is bigger than Buckingham Palace, and this colossal town hall is one of the most popular sights in the entire city. A tour through this stunning historical landmark takes almost an hour and is worth every minute. The opulence, lavish interiors and majestic state rooms were inspired by the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

The Hamburg Dungeon is a must see for anybody out for a bit of a thrill, although perhaps not suitable for younger children as the adventure could be quite scary. A theme tour and grizzly presentations, demonstrate most graphically the darker, foreboding times of the city of Hamburg. Be whisked away into time and experience floods, fires and executions.

Chilehaus is an architectural feat of genius, and the brain child of architect Fritz Hoger who was commissioned to build it for a wealthy merchant. Brown bricked, the Chilehaus has been designed to resemble that of a massive ocean liner, complete with terraced balconies fashioned to look like decks, and was built in 1942.

Shopping in Hamburg

When it comes to shopping, Hamburg has it all, and be prepared to part with plenty of hard earned cash. Meander through the main shopping district as a start, in the middle of the city – the Mönckebergstraße. And if you really want to splash out on designer gear then head off to Gaensemarkt.

There is a brand new mall at the Alster Lake, just around the corner from the town hall, called the Europa Passage which is a must-go destination for any retail therapy enthusiast.

If you are after vintage and second hand treasures, then the best place would be to head out to Hot Dogs Marktstrasse, Kleidermarkt and Kurze Muhren.

Hamburg has quite many shops which claim “Second Hand”, but are more of an outlet. It’s still worth a visit though.

Eating Out in Hamburg

Foodies will be delighted with the choices and range of cuisine available in the steamy city. Traditional Hamburg dishes to try are Birnen and Bohen und Speck, or pears cooked with bacon and green runner beans, bratkartoffeln – pan fried slices of potatoes and pannfisch, which is pan fried fish. Order lots of zitronenlimonade to wash it down with – half beer and half lemonade, and you are good to go.

When it comes to desserts, you are in pastry heaven. Put the diet on hold and feast on a local favorite the franzbrotchen – a flat croissant like pastry that is filled with sugar, cinnamon and raisins and quite unique to the city.

Another favorite is thick, juicy ‘’hamburger’’ patties called frikadelle, served with vegetables and potatoes with gravy, rather than in a hamburger bun and are absolutely mouth-watering.

Try Lühmanns Teestube, which is a fantastic sidewalk café perfect for a scrumptious meal, and famous for their pastries and baked goodies. The Delta Bistro is quite pricey, but worth a bit of a splurge and has some fantastic local meat dishes, some say the best in the city. Hamburg has a great number of Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.

Nightlife in Hamburg

When it comes to a good night out on the town, you can be sure that these German folks know exactly what’s for what. And no matter what your music taste, you will be able to find a cozy corner for a chilled beer or a dance floor that will tickle your fancy until the wee hours.

There are lots of festivals and open air concerts on during the year, and are very popular during summer, so if you are looking for something with a bit more culture that just one cocktail after another, you may just be in luck. Everything from opera, orchestral concerts, and trendy lounge clubs to underground grunge clubs – Hamburg has it all and then some. And with the public transport system being on hand right through the night, you don’t have to worry about finding a taxi back to your hotel when you are all partied out.

Try out Lago Bay which is located between Hamburg City Beach Club and Hamburg del Mar. You’ll find it a trendy place for a cocktail and to lounge around at the pool; make your way to the Moroccan lounge next door once the sun goes down.

Strandpauli is a great lively place to head out to for a relaxed evening overlooking the harbor. Tango the night away under the thatched reed roof, let your toes sink into the sand and feast on sausages, washed down with plenty of beer and cocktails.

Of Local Interest

There are cultural, historical, music and arts festivals held throughout the year in Hamburg, and there is something on in the city for every season. Summer happenings are hugely popular as many of the events are held outside, the weather is great and people are out and about. The end of the year is also popular as there are some very special traditional markets that are held here in the run up to Christmas and the festive season in Hamburg is effervescent. There are loads of beer festivals, sporting events such as the International German Open Tennis held here every year in July, and the Hamburg Harley Days Festival which is a must-not miss for motorcycle fans from around the world, is held every year in the city in June.

The Wutzrock Festival

Every year, the Wutzrock festival is great for all music lovers and heaven for rock music enthusiasts. It is in close proximity to the city and the best part is that the entrance to the open air festival is completely free of charge.  Normally held over the last weekend of August, it is located at the Eichbaumsee, which is situated conveniently next to the train station.

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