Hamburg lies about 101 km from the open sea on the River Elbe. With 1,7 million inhabitants, it is the second largest city in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the biggest harbour city in Germany (and after Rotterdam the second biggest in Europe) and not a contradiction – it is the greenest city in Germany. 13 % of the city are park and greenland, 23 % protected countryside and 6% nature reserves. However, two thirds of the city are occupied by parks, lakes or tree-lined canals, giving this huge harbour city a refreshal rural feel.

Hamburgs skyline is dominated by the pale green of its copper spires and domes, but a few houses and the churches are just about all that’s left from before the last century. The Great Fire of 1842 was a main cause of this loss, followed by demolition to make way for the warehouse area, and bombing during World War II. Though commerce is Hamburgs strength it has its share of cultural attractions as befits a town that was once the home of Johannes Brahms. Be sure to visit the cathedrals of St. Jacobi, where you can see a distinguished 15th-century altar, and St. Michael, a baroque church with a 440-ft/134-m spire offering a great view of the city. Don’t miss as well the unique Rathaus, a city hall supported by dozens of pillars – it’s really a grand building. Hamburg is also a fun city -make time to enjoy some of the beer halls and explore the St. Pauli district and the various parks such as Alster Lake downtown. Stroll through Hamburgs famous fish market, which sells much more than fish.

The port city of Hamburg with more than 40 mi/64 km of canals and 2 500 bridges has an independent entrepreneurial spirit – it’s the closest thing to a city-state in Germany. It’s still exciting to watch enormous freighters move up the Elbe for loading and unloading.

A day trip can be taken to the cities Lubeck, Bremen or Schwerin or, if you have some more days to spend, to the famous spas located either on the North or the Baltic Sea.