Discover Hamburg by boat and you'll get a whole new perspective on this water-rich city. With the mighty Elbe river at its doorstep, the Alster lakes in its midst and beautiful canals traversing its districts, Hamburg truly is a city for water-lovers.
The easiest way to get in on the action is by taking a ferry at Landungsbrücken piers. These ferries are part of Hamburg's public transportation system, which means your HVV ticket is valid on the water, too! The most popular ferry line is No. 62 towards Finkenwerder island: the 30-minute trip takes you along the most important waterfront sights. Disembark at Övelgönne to explore the Elbstrand beach or stay put to enjoy the full cruise.
Canoes, SUP and pedal boats
When the weather allows for it, renting paddling gear from an operator along the Outer Alster Lake (see map) is probably one of the most rewarding outdoor activities you can have in Hamburg. Whether you're manning a canoe with a group of friends, testing your balancing skills on an SUP-board or splashing away in a pedal boat: Hamburg's tree-lined canals are bound to inspire. Bring some snacks and you'll be having a picnic on the Alster lake in no time. Mind though!
Harbour boat trip
A harbour boat trip on a traditional Barkasse (former dockworkers ferry) is another classic Hamburg water experience. Guided tours are operated from the piers at Landungsbrücken and take you to the industrial docks, the historic Speicherstadt warehouses, and modern architecture highlights such as Hafencity Hamburg and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg concert hall.
Alster boat trip
To explore the lush, canal-side backyards of Hamburg's rich and famous, take an Alster-boat from Jungfernstieg wharf. The canals off the Outer Alster Lake offer access to tremendous real estate and might disclose some gardening mishaps. Choose from various themed routes, e.g. the Fleetfahrt (canal tour) which takes you under the numerous bridges between harbour and Alster. Unfortunately, the white boats of the Alster fleet do not operate in Winter.
As the Alster is not officially considered a waterway you can hire a dinghy and go sailing without having to obtain a license. However, a sailing class might be the safer option. Several clubs along the shore offer classes for all ages.