Highlights of Hamburg, Germany

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canal, Hamburg, Germany
A canal in Hamburg, called the Venice of the North because of its many canals. Photo by Roberto Kai Hegeler

Considered by many Germans to be the most beautiful city in Germany, Hamburg is also called the “Venice of the North” for its many waterways. It has over 2,300 bridges, more than any other city in the world.

Just a 1.5-hour train ride from Berlin, it’s worth a visit to see this charming city that has rebuilt itself beautifully after suffering mass destruction in WWII.

Here are just a few highlights.

• Take a free guided bicycle tour with HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. Europe’s largest inner-city development, HafenCity is located on the Elbe River and is being transformed into a live, work, play community. Check out the progress on the long-delayed $1 billion concert hall for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, now scheduled to open in 2017.

• Sail or cruise on Alster Lake. This scenic lake is right in downtown Hamburg, with beautiful views of the city from the water.

• Take a Beatles tour. Hamburg is where the Beatles honed their musical skills by playing in clubs here from 1960 to 1962. See where they first appeared as The Beatles as you stroll around the Reeperbahn, a center of Hamburg’s infamous red light district where I was shocked to see elderly women shackin’ their stuff from 2nd-story windows.

• Stroll down its streets and through its shopping arcades. Named a 2011 European Green Capital, Hamburg has more than 100 parks, beautiful tree-lined streets and plans to link 27 square miles of green space around the city. Don’t miss the Alsterarkaden, arched shopping arcades built in the 1840s along the Alsterfleet canal.

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