Hamburg is my favorite city in Germany and is unlike any other. It has canals, bridges, and historical buildings. It even has the world’s biggest warehouse district that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bonus: Hamburg has an insanely cool culture.
Hamburg isn’t close to Frankfurt, Munich, or Berlin. It is closer to Amsterdam than the other bigger German cities. The Hanseatic city of Hamburg is in Northern Germany and the River Elbe goes through it.
Having visited Hamburg a few times, one of the best times I had in this city was with my toddler. Surprisingly this city has a lot of kid-friendly attractions.
So, if you are looking for a fun travel destination or a city break with your kids, I highly recommend Hamburg. It can rain anytime in Hamburg so some of these children’s activities are indoors. Here’s what you can do in Hamburg with kids:
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Chocoversum Chocolate Factory
So how to spend a rainy day in Hamburg with children and still have fun? Visit the Chocoversum chocolate museum and make your own chocolate at the end of the tour at the Hachez chocolate factory.
Chocoversum has toured in both English and German. Of course, there are more tours in German language so the tours in English sell out very quickly.
It is free for children under 5 years. Of course, at least one parent can accompany the children. But if your kids are older than 7, you can also let them do this tour without you and meet them at the reception when the tour ends.
Our tour was in English and lasted for 90 minutes. The tour started with a taste of Hachez chocolate and ended with a chocolate-making session where we could decide exactly what kind of chocolate to make and what to put inside.
I made a bar of dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt. I realized that “less is more” with chocolate making, so it comes out better if you put less toppings.
Get to Landsbrücken building in St. Pauli and from there enter the walking path along the Hamburg Harbour. The harbor area is a fun place for a walk because you will see massive ships, containers, and some iconic buildings on the other side like the Elbphilharmonie.
Walking along the harbor is one of the top things to do in Hamburg. My daughter enjoyed it a lot because she got to see Rickmer Rickmers, a massive museum ship that’s permanently anchored here. Rickmer Rickmers is Hamburg’s iconic landmark and it is a sight your child will remember for sure.
There’s a famous kid-friendly restaurant here called Brücke 10, where my daughter ate fried fish. My husband and I ate Krabbenbrötchen – small shrimp in a bun, a German North Sea delicacy.
So is it raining when you’re in Hamburg? In that case, I suggest Miniatur Wunderland, which is perhaps Hamburg’s most famous attraction and it is not just for children but for the whole family.
Miniatur Wunderland is an exhibit of miniature versions of different cities and geographical areas along with the detailing of their locomotives. It is the world’s largest model railway and you can see trains going through tunnels, along miniature Alps, and on tiny bridges. The beauty is in the details and your children will love them.
Even if your children don’t have any interest in trains or airports, they will develop it after seeing the world’s largest miniature railway with stations and airports at Miniatur Wunderland
Miniatur Wunderland is in the Speicherstadt district, which is the world’s biggest warehouse district and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Walk on the bridge that’s right behind the building where Miniatur Wunderland is situated. This spot as per me is Hamburg’s prettiest and it photographs well. I have also mentioned it in my Hamburg Instagram spots post.
Ice cream outside Rathaus
No matter where you go in Hamburg, at some point, you will cross Rathaus – Hamburg’s iconic City Hall building which is in the city center (Hamburger Innenstadt).
I travel often with my little girl and I do know that famous buildings aren’t exactly exciting for children, but it is your job to make it exciting for them.
Show your children the big clock that’s on this building. You can take them inside and ask them if the interiors remind them of Harry Potter movies. Take them behind the building and show them the fountain.
When all of the above fails, let them enjoy a nice cone of ice cream that you can buy from one of the stands in front of Rathaus.
This one is for slightly older children because the ones under 5 might get too scared.
Hamburg Dungeon is a place where you can take your children on a rainy day because it is indoors. It is not just a fun place for children but they will also learn about Hamburg’s history.
This same tour is on both GetYourGuide (GYG) and Viator, so you can book it from whichever website you prefer.
Actors perform a skit inside Hamburg Dungeon and showcase historical events such as the Black Plague, the Inquisition, and the Great Fire.
Don’t expect too much history because it is more of small bits here and there with some fun stuff. It is supposed to be scary in a fun way.
Do you know that there is a tunnel that goes under the Elbe River? I found that fascinating and I’m sure your children will too. FYI: it requires a bit of walking, so if you are with small children then you can bring a pram or a cycle with a seat.
The entry for the Elbe Tunnel is from Landungsbrücke, where you will go on a lift to reach the tunnel. You can bring your bicycle with you on the lift.
Walk to the other end of the Elbe Tunnel and you will arrive at Steinwerder, which is on the other side of the Elbe River.
The Elbe Tunnel closes at 6 p.m., so please plan your time in a way that you can come back to Landungsbrücke before it closes.
Boat Tour from Landungsbrücken
Children love getting on boats and my little girl had a lot of them when we did a boat trip. There are boat tours that start at different times of the day but we picked a night boat tour to see the lights.
If you are going to Hamburg with kids in summer then keep in mind that the sun sets as late as 10 pm. So the night boat tours start at 9:30 pm in summer, which might be too late for small children. We did it anyway with our 4 year old and she somehow stayed in a good mood.
It was exciting for my little girl to see massive container ships, and how things lit up with warm lights. She also saw a theater entry area from the boat that was playing Disney’s Frozen or Die Eiskönigin.
Even if you are booking this tour on a hot summer day, please know that it will get very cold at night and Hamburg feels even more cold because it is a windy city. But the good thing is that the indoor sitting area was warm.
International Maritime Museum
I don’t recommend a lot of museums for children because I know that not everything would be interesting for little ones. The reason I’m recommending Hamburg’s International Maritime Museum is because there is an exhibit with one million Lego blocks inside. It is the Queen Mary II ship.
Apart from the famous Queen Mary II, there are 40,000 exhibits in the museum relating to Hamburg’s maritime history over the last 3000 years. Your children will also meet pirates and learn about many things.
There is an entire floor that’s dedicated to Marine Biology where your kids can listen to underwater audio samples.
The entry is EUR 17 and is free for children below 7 years of age. Just make sure to carry their ID proof. There is also a “family ticket” for EUR 20 for 1 adult and up to 4 children.
Planten un Blomen
Planten un Blomen means “Plants ‘N Flowers”, and is a relaxing park area near the University of Hamburg with different sections where children of all ages will have fun.
There is a play area for children, mini golf, and also a skate park. There are fountains, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, lakes, and restaurants. Planten un Blomen also has Große Wallanlagen, which is the remains of Hamburg’s city walls.
If you are visiting in the summer months then carry a picnic mat and a few snacks. You can put up your mat facing the lake. There’s something special here for every season.
In the winter months, you can also enjoy ice skating in Große Wallanlagen of the Planten un Blomen park.
Discovery Dock (temporarily closed)
Discovery Dock is temporarily closed, but I’d like to mention it as an option in case it opens up at the time of your visit. It is next to the iconic concert hall – Elbphilharmonie.
Discovery Dock is a one-of-a-kind interactive exhibit of Hamburg’s port. There is a 3D Port model where your children can see water traffic, wear VR headsets, and load the containers. The tours are for 50 minutes each and are in both English and German.
Harry Potter Musical
Most children (and adults) are Harry Potter fans and you will be happy to know that you can watch a musical performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in Hamburg at “Mehr! Theater am Großmarkt”.
The Harry Potter music in Hamburg doesn’t take place on Mondays and Tuesdays. The tickets aren’t cheap and they are the most expensive on Saturdays. It is worth noting that it is performed only in the German language.
If you’re going to Hamburg to celebrate your child’s birthday and would like to watch this musical with them, then it is a good idea to book the tickets from before because they do sell out on certain dates.
Not every kid is a Harry Potter fan but all children are definitely Disney fans. There is Disney’s Lion King, Frozen (Die Eiskönigin), and Hercules that are performed at Stage Theater an der Elbe in Hamburg.
Treasure Hunt through HafenCity (Children Over 12)
HafenCity is one of the areas of Hamburg that you would definitely want to explore. It is built on a river island of the Elbe River. The Warehouse district Speicherstadt and the Elbphilharmonie concert hall are both a part of Hambnurg’s HafenCity.
If you are in Hamburg with children over the age of 12, you can participate in a fun way to explore the HafenCity by participating in a treasure hunt. You will go on a puzzle-filled route in HafenCity and see the city’s landmarks.
This treasure hunt is for 2.5 hours, is top-rated, and can be booked on both GetYourGuide (GYG) and Viator. I normally use GYG but I understand that Viator is more popular amongst Americans.
When you book this tour, you will get riddle equipment and a guidebook, which will lead you through the game, and also a bottle of drinking water for the way.
I’m an adult and yet I love scavenger hunts. I’d love to do this with my little girl when she’s older.
Tierpark in German means “Animal Park”, so Tierpark Hagenbeck is Hamburg’s zoo and aquarium where you can spend almost an entire day with your kids.
Tierpark Hagenbeck is owned and run by the Hagenbeck family and it was one of the first places where animals were kept in moated and open enclosures.
Expect to see crocodiles, seals, penguins, African lions, leopards, zebras, Siberian tigers, elephants, kangaroos, walruses, and orangutans to name a few. There is also a restaurant inside the Tierpark.
I will be honest, we didn’t visit Tierpark Hagenbeck on our 3 days in Hamburg but I’d still like to mention it in case you’d like to.
See the Swans of Alster Lake
Alster Lake is in the city center and you can arrive here from Rathaus very easily. There are two Alster Lakes and they are artificially formed by the Alster River.
Sit next to the lake on one of the benches to show your children swans. There are benches around the lake and many 20-somethings year old sit here with music and Astra beer.
You can also book a sunset boat ride on Alster Lake in case you didn’t book the boat cruise that’s from Hamburg Harbour. This tour is on the outer Alster Lake and occurs at sunset time. If you are going with small children, then you have to carry them on your lap on this boat.
Keep in mind that it is a small sailing boat and not like the massive boat that’s used for the harbor cruise, so it is more suited for slightly older children who can sit back patiently and enjoy.
For smaller children, pick this boat cruise instead of the sailing one.
How to move around in Hamburg?
Hamburg isn’t tiny so you can’t cover this city by walking, especially if you are there with children. Here are the top ways to move around in Hamburg.
App Based Scooters / Bikes
One of the easiest ways to move around in Hamburg with kids is by renting app-based bikes with child seats. For smaller distances, you can also use a scooter but don’t forget to carry a helmet. We used both Tier and Bolt app-based services. We often found bikes with child seats.
S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains
Hamburg has an amazing system of public transport and local trains play an important role. Both S-Bahn and U-Bahn cover more than 150 stations together and you can reach just about anywhere using just these trains.
My 4-year-old loved bus rides in Hamburg because these buses have bookshelves from where you can borrow books to make the journey fun. Back in 2017 when I first visited the city, I wrote a post about interesting things about Hamburg and buses with bookshelves featured in it.
Where to Stay in Hamburg with Kids?
Having stayed in three different Superbude rooms all over Hamburg, I’m in love with this chain of boutique hotels and hostels. All of the Superbude hotels are amazing and if you are visiting Hamburg with family then Superbude Altona will be the best fit because it is in a quieter neighborhood.
We had booked a “paradise suite” in Superbude Altona and they had put up our child’s bed right next to ours and the arrangement was very comfortable for us.
Is Hamburg kid-friendly?
Yes, Hamburg is surprisingly very kid-friendly with many outdoor play areas and indoor attractions for children for all the seasons. There are memorable things to do for children in Hamburg such as visiting a chocolate factory, seeing the world’s biggest model railway in Miniatur Wunderland, or just a boat cruise along the harbor.
Which area to avoid in Hamburg with children?
Hamburg has the biggest Red Light district in Europe and it is in Reeperbahn. If you are visiting Hamburg with kids then avoid this area. Hamburg is also a party city and Reeperbahn plays an important part in it. I also have a post about Hamburg’s nightlife on my website.
How many days are enough in Hamburg with kids?
In my experience one tends to travel at a slow pace with children and in that sense, book enough time and stay here for at least 2-3 nights to enjoy what the city has to offer.
Do people speak English in Hamburg?
Hamburg is a German city but has an international culture and more people speak English than in other German cities.
If you speak English and are going to visit a German city, Hamburg is one of the easier ones to navigate and understand because of its international culture.
Closing Thoughts on Visiting Hamburg with Children
Just the way I had mentioned in my Amsterdam with kids guide, I say the same for Hamburg that you should try your best to rent a bicycle or a bike with a child seat. I did lots of Bolt bikes with Kindersits (child seats) that were parked in the city center. Bolt is an app-based bike rental company that’s popular in Europe.
If you have bigger children then you will be able to travel easily on trains, buses and on foot. Take things slow and don’t stress about doing everything possible.
A pro tip for traveling with children is to let every special activity be a surprise so that if by chance it isn’t possible, they won’t be heartbroken. In my experience, children get very disappointed when we adults build up excitement for a fun activity for them and it doesn’t happen. When that happens they might have a tantrum or a sudden anger outburst.
Prepare a bag with enough snacks and water to keep them hydrated and full.
Disclosure: I collaborated with Superbude Hamburg in 2017 and 2022. However, all opinions expressed in this article are my own.
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