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Location & Living in Hamburg

gateway to the world

Welcome to Hamburg, Germany’s 2nd largest city with nearly 1.8 million inhabitants. Many of them call it “Die schönste Stadt der Welt” (the most beautiful city in the world) or “Perle” (pearl) after a famous song by local singer songwriter Lotto King Karl. There are many reasons why Hamburg is beloved by its citizens. In a 2017 survey it was voted one of the world's most liveable cities. The city is, indeed, famous for its tolerance and open-mindedness - symbolized by the gate in its crest, which has earned it the title "Tor zur Welt" (gateway to the world).

European Green Capital 

Another reason for Hamburg's popularity is that it is manageable and cozy despite its many residents. Its center and its most important neighbourhoods (Kieze) can still be explored by foot and the remainder can easily be reached using one of the ubiquitos bicycles or the outstanding public transportation system. The fact that about 15% of the city is made up of parks enhances Hamburg's attractiveness even further. Two of the most beautiful ones, the "Botanischer Garten" (botanical gardens) and the "Jenischpark" happen to be very close to the International School of Hamburg, which is located in a particularly green area next to an idyllic pond, the "Ziegelteich". Both its greenery and its many green initiatives earned Hamburg the title "European Green Capital" in 2011.

Video by Simon, Grade 11, ISH Film Team

Further information

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Hamburg soon!



Living as an Expat in Hamburg

Thinking of living in Hamburg? Find out here everything you need to know about the city.
Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany. Because of its strategic location on the river Elbe, the city is a famous transportation hub. It is also one of the most important commercial and cultural centers in Europe and a major tourist destination.


Hamburg’s tourist attractions

The port of Hamburg:

The port of Hamburg is known as the Gateway to the World. It is the largest seaport in Germany and you will find many of Hamburg’s most famous tourist attractions in the harbour area. A Boat trip is an excellent way to explore the waterside districts.

The port of Hamburg


The warehouse district of Hamburg called Speicherstadt consists of beautiful red-brick buildings which stand on timber-pile foundations. The district was built from 1883 to 1927 and is located in the port of Hamburg. The Speicherstadt was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage in 2015.


Miniature Wonderland:

The Miniature Wonderland is a perfect place to visit with kids and is located in the Speicherstadt. The Miniature Wonderland is the world’s largest miniature railway with nine theme worlds and 260.000 figurines. 200 different push-buttons bring the wonderland to life. There is also a restaurant on the second floor of the museum which offers pasta, Currywurst, French fries, and other menus. You can visit the miniature wonderland 365 days a year. We recommend you skip the queues by buying a ticket online. Guided tours can also be booked online. Special events are also offered, for example, visiting the miniature wonderland at night.

Miniature Wonderland

The Elbphilharmonie:

The Elbphilharmonie, one of the most acoustically pleasing concert halls in the world, is also located in the port. Besides the concert hall, you will find a hotel, apartments, and restaurants in the building. You can also visit the observation platform for free to get and enjoy the wonderful view of the harbour and the city.

The Elbphilharmonie

Hamburger Kunsthalle:

The Hamburger Kunsthalle is one of Germany’s most popular art galleries. It houses one of the few art collections in Germany that cover seven centuries of European art, from the Middle Ages to the present day. Tours or fun programs for kids can be pre-booked.

Hamburger Kunsthalle

Planten un Blomen:

On a sunny day, the urban park Planten un Blomen is the best place to discover nature. Its greenhouses house plants from Mediterranean climates. Its Kakteenhaus has a broad collection of desert plants. The rose garden is especially beautiful when the roses are blooming in the summer. Water-light concerts or music performances are another highlight of the Planten un Blomen park. As well as a popular ice-skating rink in winter which turns into a roller-skating rink in summer.

Planten un Blomen


The Reeperbahn is an entertainment district in St. Pauli. Restaurants, nightclubs, discotheques, and bars are located at the Reeperbahn. Even the Beatles played in several clubs at the Reeperbahn before they were famous and John Lennon even mentioned once: “I didn’t grow up in Liverpool, I grew up in Hamburg”.


St. Michael’s Church:

St.Michael´s Church is a famous landmark in Hamburg. It is considered to be one of the finest Hanseatic Protestant baroque churches in the world. When you visit the church, you can ascend the 123-meter-high tower, called “Michel” to get an overview of the city.

St Michaels Church

Museum Harbor Oevelgonne:

The Museum Harbor Oevelgonne is home to 20 restored vessels from the period 1880 to 1960. The collection includes German and Dutch barges, bottom ships, fishing boats, and steam tugs.


Tierpark Hagenbeck:

The Tierpark Hagenbeck is one of the most famous zoos in Germany. It was the first zoo that used open enclosures to better approximate the animal’s natural habitats and is home to 510 different species. The Zoo is also well known for breeding rare endangered species like Asian elephants or Siberian tigers. In the Zoo Area “Arctic Ocean” you can visit polar bears, king penguins, sea bears, and walruses. Another big area is a tropical aquarium in which many tropical animals, like snakes and crocodiles, live. The feeding of animals is a special attraction The Zoo can be reached easily with public transport. If you arrive by car, there are many parking spots.

Tierpark Hagenbeck


The Jungfernstieg is a waterfront promenade in the commercial part of Hamburg. Coffees, many shops, and a sun terrace will make your stay worth it.



In Hamburg, you can find 740 playgrounds for kids! The biggest playground is in the Planten un Blomen Parc and is well known for its water attractions. In the Grasbrookpark in the HafenCity the playground is surrounded by interesting buildings and ships. In the HafenCity you will also find a pirate ship for kids. On hot days kids can play with water too. The playground in Alt-Steilshoop is inspired by an apple farm and you can find a horse-drawn carriage, a tractor, and a toy shop there. There is a football field, a basketball court, and outdoor table tennis for older kids.


Automuseum PROTOTYP:

If you are interested in cars the Automuseum Prototyp, in HafenCity, is a must-see. In the museum, you can view over 50 vehicles from all perspectives, without annoying barriers. The "Fetzenflieger" by Otto Mathé, the streamlined racing car by Petermax Müller, and the Berlin-Rome car Porsche Type 64 are the most prominent exhibits. Additionally, you can take a look at objects from the pioneers of motorsport like correspondence, trophies of victory, or key rings. Interactive Media for Kids and a family ticket guarantees a fun experience for everyone.


Dialogue in the dark:

In the museum dialogue in the dark visitors are led through the dark by blind people. Scents, winds, various surface textures, sounds, words, and the sense of touch become essential here. The 60-minute tours take place on mornings from 9uhr - 12.45uhr. The extended 90-minute tours take place on afternoons from 13uhr -17uhr. A Dinner in the Dark can also be booked with a reservation. The dinner begins with a wine reception and continues with a four-course dinner.


The Hamburg Coffee Museum:

In the Hamburger Coffee Museum, you can learn anything about good coffee. The museum is located in the Speicherstadt, which has a long history of storing and processing coffee. Coffee tastings and guided tours make the museum worth a visit.


Chocoversum by Hachez:

Nothing will sweeten up your day as much as the Chocoversum. Every year 150,000 tons of cocoa are imported to the port of Hamburg. In the museum Chocoversum, you can learn everything about chocolate production and create your own chocolate bar. A family ticket makes the visit an attraction for the whole family.


Musicals in Hamburg:

Hamburg is the German capital of musicals. On four large Stage Theatres, Hamburg regularly presents German and European premieres and musicals with a long tradition. Award-winning musicals like CATS, KINKY BOOTS, ROCKY, and HINTERM HORIZONT are just a few examples of Hamburg’s musicals program. The most popular musical is Disney's THE KING OF THE LIONS. The musical has been performed for more than 20 years now and over 11 million visitors have seen the show.


Deutsches Schauspielhaus:

The theater Deutsches Schauspielhaus is the largest theatre in Germany. It is famous for its classical plays. The breathtaking architecture with fresco ceilings, stucco decorations, chandeliers, and luxurious red furnishings.


Hamburg State Opera:

The Hamburg State Opera is one of the world’s renowned operas. The opera, founded in 1678, was the first public opera in Germany. The repertoire ranges from Baroque operas to modern contemporary projects. The state opera is home to Hamburg’s internationally famous ballet and Hamburg’s state orchestra.


Hamburg’s high-quality gourmet is known for its traditional characteristics and the best regional ingredients. Here you can find a list of the best restaurants in town.

  • The Table: Hamburg’s only three Michelin star restaurant the Table is located in the Hafen City of Hamburg. You can experience the best meals of the world cuisine on one of 20 seats at the only table in the restaurant. The whole time the guests of the restaurant can take a look in the open kitchen, where star cook Kevin Fehling prepares the meals with his team.
  • Haerlin: The restaurant Haerlin is located in Four Seasons hotel at the Jungfernstieg. It is awarded two Michelin stars. The Executive Chef Christop Rüffer serves seasonal menus inspired by French and Nordic cuisine and is not afraid to experiment with textures and aromas.
  • Seven Seas: You can find the two-star restaurant Seven Seas in the Hotel Süllberg which is located on a hill. The restaurant offers an incredible view of the river Elbe. Chef Karlheinz Hauser is known for blending traditional French cuisine with diverse and exotic influences from across the seven seas.
  • Jacob’s Restaurant: At Jacob’s Restaurant in Hotel C. Jacob, you can also enjoy the beautiful Elbe and double-Michelin-starred gourmet cuisine. The chef Thomas Martin combines French cuisine with German, Spanish, and North African accents. The restaurant serves authentic dishes prepared with attention to detail and uses only the best ingredients:
  • Se7en Oceans: Located on the top floor of the Europa Passage shopping center, the restaurant Se7en Oceans offers a panoramic view of the Alster. The restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star five consecutive and the restaurant’s specialty is fish and seafood from the world’s seven seas.


Hamburg is known for the city’s famous nightlife and if you want to enjoy drinks in an upscale place, you have many options. Here you can find a few bars, you can enjoy a night in:

  • Clockers: In Paul-Roosen-Straße you’ll find a Bar named Clockers. Clockers is a modest basement joint with fake grass and logs on the walls and a tree branching overhead. Upstairs you will find a room that is like a library, with leather chesterfields and a big bookshelf. If you visit the bar you have to order gin because they distill their own. On their website, you will also find dates for gin tastings.
  • Le Lion: Le Lion is regarded as one of the best cocktail bars in Germany. The décor is elegant and the music is smooth. You can order many different cocktails in the le Lion’s signature drink is called Basil Smash and it tastes like the Italian summer.
  • Skyline Bar 20Up: As you may have guessed the Skyline Bar 20Up is located on the 20th Floor and therefore you will have an impressive view over Hamburg while enjoying drinks. The place has a dress code so it is your chance to dress up!
  • StrandPauli: If you want to feel like on vacation StrandPauli brings you beach vibes sand, wooden decks, palm fronds. In the summer you can perfectly enjoy the hot days there and in winter you can view the sunsets while eating fondue.
  • Atlantic Lobby Bar: The Atlantic Lobby bar in the Hotel Atlantic has already served cocktails for over a century. It’s an elegant bar, with live music from a pianist, chandeliers, and old leather seats.
  • Boothaus: If you like surprises Boothaus will not disappoint you. The bear has no menu, so the bartender mixes you whatever comes to your mind. The food is also excellent there and you can enjoy a view of the river Elbe. Reservations for dinner are commended.


In Hamburg, there are several transportation options. You can take the bus, use your car, ride your bike, go by train or even travel by plane. Also, the city boats and ferries are a part of the public transport system. The public transport tickets can be used for all ferries, busses, and trains. Most trains and buses go every 5 or 10 minutes.

Hamburg Mainstation

Districts of Hamburg

The city of Hamburg is divided into seven districts:

  • Hamburg-Mitte
  • Altona
  • Eimsbüttel
  • Hamburg-Nord
  • Wandsbek
  • Bergedorf
  • Harburg

All districts have their parliament with minor rights to establish laws. The seven districts contain 104 quarters.


Cost of living in Hamburg

Hamburg is in the top 7% of the most expensive cities in the world but Hamburg is also ranked the 10th best city to live in worldwide. The cost of living is 820.20€ per month for one person without rent. The average rent for an apartment is 1.049€. To afford the high costs of living the salaries in Hamburg are also higher with an average of 2.494€.


The Culture of Hamburg

Hamburg was an independent city for a long time till it joined the German Federation in 1815. Needless to say, Freedom is an important topic in Hamburg to this day, whether it be of religious liberty, political orientation, or lifestyle choices. Furthermore, the working spirit is taken very seriously in Hamburg because many famous businesses are located in the city. Besides that, many leisure activities achieve a healthy balance in life.


The education system in Hamburg

No other State of Germany spends more money per student on education than Hamburg. In Hamburg, you can find 224 primary schools and 192 secondary schools. The International School of Hamburg is one of the oldest international schools in Germany and offers education from kindergarten up until the International Baccalaureate.

Concerning higher education, there are 20 universities in Hamburg with a range of internationally renowned facilities. More than 500 study programs offer the perfect study experience for everyone.

Social sciences, engineering, economics, law, art, music, or design are only a few opportunities. You can choose between private and public universities as well. When you study at a public university you do not have to pay college fees. You only have to pay a semester fee of 300–350 EUR per half-year. The semester fee includes a ticket for all public transports.


Learning German in Hamburg

Learning German is essential for making friends, your career in Germany, and feeling at home in Hamburg. Luckily there are many options to improve your German:

  • Taking place in Talk groups can help you to improve your English, when you already know the basics. In the Buecherhallen library, you can enter a talking group spontaneously without any registration.
  • Professional language courses focus on improving the language skills you need for your job and can improve your chances in the labor market. In the beginner courses, you will learn to write professional e-mails and letters, understand texts and instructions, and get informed about job interviews and employment contracts. There are also special courses for nursing or medical professions, as well as for workers in technical or commercial fields.
  • In integration courses specially developed for immigrants. Integration courses are a state-run program funded by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. People who want to participate in a course get tested before. The test results are used to determine the course that fits your level of knowledge. Youth integration courses or Integration courses for parents are specially made for the targeted groups and focus on other topics than the normal courses. Each integration course consists of a language course and an orientation course. The language course teaches communicative skills to master everyday life in Germany. In the orientation course, you will learn about the history, culture, and political system of Germany.
  • Language learning apps can be also helpful for learning German because they can be used at anytime and anywhere. The apps Linguee, Der Die Das, Duolingo, or Memrise are only a few options.
  • The ISH offers the Mother Tongue Programme, which supports both students who cannot be provided with formal tuition in their mother tongue during school hours as well as students who wish to take a mother tongue language course as part of the curriculum.



What is it like to live in Hamburg?

Hamburg is considered a very livable city. It is also called an international city. According to statistics, 50% of Hamburgers have an immigration background. The people are open-minded, international, friendly, and helpful, and it is easy to meet people in Hamburg.


What are the pros and cons of living in Hamburg?

There are several pros and cons of living in Hamburg. However, most residents are convinced that the pros of living in Hamburg stand out.


  • Hamburg is a safe place to live in.
  • Hamburg is called the green city of Germany with a lot of trees and nature in general. Also, the air is clean.
  • You will find many job opportunities with good salaries in the industrial city.
  • Hamburg is a happy place. It is in the fourth position among the happiest cities in Europe.
  • Hamburg offers uncountable free-time activities.


  • Hamburg has a very maritime climate, which means not only frequent, often inconvenient rain.
  • There is a lack of parking lots in some areas, but the public transport system is very good and runs around the clock.


What advice would you give to someone who is moving to Hamburg?

  • Appendorf, Winterhude, and Blankenese are seen as the more luxurious areas. There you have an awesome view of the river and can visit the parks.
  • Recycling is taken very seriously in Germany, so you should look at the recycling policy.
  • The Bureaucracy in Germany is very strict and should be taken seriously otherwise problems can be caused.
  • Sometimes it makes sense to ride a bicycle in Hamburg because the traffic can be very slow-moving.

Is the Healthcare system in Hamburg steady?

Hamburg is among Europe's leading cities in the healthcare industry. The healthcare system in Germany operates on social insurance, the expense of which is shared between employees and their employer. The German social system includes health, long-term care, pension, unemployment, and accident insurance.

Is the weather in Hamburg really that bad?

The weather in Hamburg is similar to the weather in most German cities. The winters are cold and the summers are hot but partly cloudy and rainy. Over the year, the temperature typically varies from 30°F/ -1 °C to 73°F/ 22°C. The hottest month in Hamburg is July. In a nutshell, the weather is not that bad with the right clothes for rainy days.