For some, they are an indispensable part of the daily commute across the Elbe river. Others value them as an affordable alternative to traditional harbour cruises. The ferries in the Hamburg port provide a unique view of the city: gigantic ships and famous landmarks are around every river bend for the mix of tourists, commuters and port workers on board. Hamburg’s seven ferry lines make stops at 20 different piers and are used by approximately nine million passengers each year. The ferries are operated by the HADAG sea tourism and ferry service company.
The most frequented ferry in Hamburg
The HADAG ferry line 62 is likely the most popular ferry in Hamburg. Passenger numbers grow constantly. Right from the start at Landungsbrücken pier 3 in the neighbourhood of St. Pauli, the 62 ferry carries its passengers downstream past some extraordinary sights. The first stop is the famous
Fischmarkt market. After gaining speed again, the ferry passes by the Cruise Centre Altona as well as the fascinating architectural gems at Dockland. At the Oevelgönne museum port you’ll not only find an anchored fleet of traditional ships, but also one of the nicest strolls Hamburg has to offer along its most central beach. Those who choose not to disembark are in for a treat as well, as they find themselves spirited across the Elbe river to Finkenwerder where the 62 stops on the Elbe’s southern bank.
Picturesque riverside landscapes
In the suburban neighbourhood of Finkenwerder, travellers might change onto a 64 ferry for a trip to the not-all-that-spooky Teufelsbrück (lit. ‘devil’s bridge’) pier, located halfway between Altona and Blankenese. From there, one can take yet another ferry to the south bank. Airbus, one of the city’s largest employers, has its own pier there. From here you can either go back by ferry or use the opportunity to make a cycling trip back into the city. Bikes are allowed on all ferries and a vast grid of Veloroutes makes cycling another fun alternative for experiencing the city.
See the port up-close
Of course, a ferry will never offer the same experience as a professional harbour cruise. Nevertheless, hopping aboard a ferry is always worthwhile, even if you don’t have a concrete destination in mind. The massive container ships and international cruise vessels are stunning sights, particularly up close. Ferry line 61 carries you deep into the port. Via Waltershof, the ferry reaches its final destination at Neuhof, just north of the mighty Köhlbrandbrücke bridge. The 73 carries you through the port and into the Wilhelmsburg quarter, after making a stop at the musical theatres opposite the Landungsbrücken piers. Other ferry lines include the 75 that circles back and forth between the Landungsbrücken piers and Steinwerder on the opposite side of the river. The 72 makes a stop at Arningstraße and then below the towering Elbphilharmonie music hall.
Down the Elbe river - powered by electricity
The HADAG fleet consists of 26 ferry boats. This includes older ships from the 1960s as well as newer models. A good portion of the ferries even use a modern engine that is powered by a mix of both diesel and electricity. By means of modern technologies for after-treatment of exhaust fumes, particle filters and catalysers, emissions are reduced by a significant margin. Renovation processes are ongoing, with the clear goal to become Germany’s first zero emission ferry service. See this link for more information.
For schedules, please see this link.
Note: while a ferry trip through the harbour is highly recommended, be mindful of commuters at peak times of service. It’s best to plan your trip outside of peak commute times so as not to overload the system.