Without the Elbe river, Hamburg wouldn’t be the economic power it is today. At approximately 100 km from the North Sea, the Elbe has been the city’s gateway to the world, at least since the days of the Hanseatic League. It’s safe to say Hamburg owes its multicultural vibe and worldly character to this mighty river.
Boat and ferry tours
The Landungsbrücken Piers are a great point of departure for an exploration of the Elbe river. For the price of a regular public transport ticket, HVV-ferries take visitors to the industrial port, the Elbe river beaches or to the musical theatres on the south bank.
Old Elbe Tunnel
The Old Elbe Tunnel, built in 1911, was the first river tunnel on the European continent and is considered a historic masterpiece of civil engineering. Today, it’s best admired on foot or by bicycle. On weekends, the tunnel is closed to traffic, making it a calmer time to pass through. On the other side, you can continue on to discover the district of Wilhelmsburg.
Cycling enthusiasts can also enjoy the 23 kilometres of the Elbewanderweg path which leads from Wedel past the nature reserve Wittenberger Heide to Blankenese. You’ll pass beautiful Övelgönne and eventually reach the Landungsbrücken piers. There are plenty of shortcuts, and return ferries depart from many points along the way.
In summer, the Elbe beaches (Elbstrände) around Blankenese are a beloved location to spend sunny days sunbathing, barbecuing, or simply enjoying the view of the container port on the other side. Along the beach a small path leads past several cafés and restaurants. The 'Strandperle' (lit.: beach pearl), in walking distance of the Övelgönne ferry stop, is considered the mother of all urban beach clubs. Today, clubs like Hamburg City Beach Club, Lago Bay, Hamburg del Mar and StrandPauli provide a relaxed summer atmosphere with a view over the Elbe.
Also worth mentioning is the 'Alter Schwede' – a 217t stone pulled out of the Elbe River. This colossal rock was found during dredging work in the river in 1999.