In recent articles in the blog, we’ve culled the best of Hamburg’s budget nightlife and recommended the coolest and cheapest beds the city has to offer. Now we’re pulling it all together with a handy list of seven ways to save a few more euros on your Hamburg travel adventure.
Hamburg is an inexpensive bus ride from Berlin (starting from fares as low as €9) or train ride from Copenhagen (starting from€29 euros). We recommend booking those train tickets early, and booking them directly through Germany’s rail website: bahn.de.
If you’re flying, use our flight finder tool to find inexpensive intra-European flights. Again, book these as far in advance as possible to find the real deals.
Lodging could easily be your biggest expense, but staying in Hamburg doesn’t have to be expensive. Remember that hostels aren’t just for “youth” anymore. All five of the hostels we recommend in this list are central, modern and offer private rooms. If you’re willing to bunk it, you can really find some deals.
At the Hostel am Stintfang, for example, the rooms not only have fantastic harbor views, but breakfast is also included in the price of your stay. Save a few euros by bringing your own towels.
Hamburg’s public transportation company, HVV, offers daily or weekly transportation passes, which will save you significantly over purchasing single tickets during your stay. A flexible weekly ticket for one person costs just €26 (less than nine single trips or five “9 AM” day tickets, which are only valid after 9 AM on weekdays or all day on weekends).
Solo travelers will save more by purchasing “9 AM” day tickets at €6 for trips spanning one to four days; pairs and groups up to five people are best served with “9 AM” group tickets for €11 per day.
Whether the widely-promoted Hamburg CARD is a better choice than simply buying a transportation pass will depend primarily on how many paid attractions you are planning to see during your visit and how much of a rebate those attractions give cardholders. The card offers:
• Unlimited free travel by city bus, train and ferry.• Discounts on city tours and boat tours.• Up to 50% savings on museum and attraction tickets.• Up to 26% off theater tickets.• Up to 25% off in participating restaurants.
As with all tourism cards, you will need to do a bit of math to make sure this option in fact saves you anything over regular transportation passes and normal entrance fees. The Hamburg CARD is sold to individuals and groups of up to five. Prices are:
• Individual card: 1 day €9.50; €3-day 22.90; €5-day €38.50• Group (up to 5): 1 day €15.50; €3-day 39.90; €5-day €64.90
A solo traveler in the city for one day will pay €9.50 for the card, which is €3.50 more for a Hamburg CARD than a HVV 9 AM day ticket. If she buys a five-day pass for €38.50, she’ll pay €12.50 more than for a 7-day HVV ticket, and might not see the additional value of such a card, especially if she doesn’t visit many paid attractions. However, she’s likely to make up the €5 difference in discounts on the 3-day card.
Groups up to five people may indeed save, especially if they are always traveling and sightseeing together—the additional cost of €4.50 (1-day), €7 (3-day), or €10 (5-day) could easily be reclaimed in discounted admission prices over the course of their stay.
Ferry line 62 is a classic route that is included with the Hamburg CARD. Photo: Reading Tom
Once you’ve got either your Hamburg CARD or your HVV day ticket, you’re covered on the numerous ferries plying the waterfront. The classic #62 heads from Landungsbrücken to Finkenwerder and back every 15 minutes. The journey takes around an hour without disembarking. From the ferry, you’ll have great, close-up views of the riverside docks, including the Blohm + Voss repair stations, as well as any large ships also sailing into town. The 62 also takes you past some of Hamburg’s most amazing villa homes.
It is recommended, however, to hit land whenever the mood strikes you—whether for a beach walk for refreshment to the Strandperle cafe from Neumühlen/Övelgönne or at Dockland/Fischereihafen for a climb up the ship-shaped Dockland office building for the view from its rooftop terrace.
View a map of all available ferry services here.
Hauptbahnhof Hamburg is a good place to find cheap food options. Photo: Hamburg S.
When (or preferably before) hunger or thirst strikes, pop into a grocery store rather than purchasing the same items from a restaurant, cafe or kiosk. While Hamburg is no London when it comes to convenience foods in grocery stores, the selection available at most grocers is more than enough to sate your appetite with a plenitude of options.
• pre-made salads with assorted toppings and dressings (and even plastic silverware) cost €1-3• a variety of sandwich buns and pastries start at 10 cents a piece• sliced meats and cheeses start at €1 for 100 g• two servings of cooked chicken breast cost around €1.50• yogurt, cottage cheese or pudding cost 30-40 cents• snacks such as pretzels, chips, gummi bears or chocolate from 40 cents to €1• beers are around €1 with deposit and wines start at €2• bottled water (1.5 L) is just 35 cents including deposit!
Grocery stores are really an adventure in themselves, letting you see and sample the widest variety of products available at the lowest cost. And it’s way easier to “splurge” in a grocery store, knowing that whatever you’re buying costs at least half of what it would cost in a cafe or restaurant!
For travelers, it’s useful to know about the centrally-located supermarkets in Hamburg’s train stations. They’re not only convenient because you’ll likely be passing through on your travels, they are also notably open on Sundays when all other shops are closed! Edeka at Hauptbahnhof (inside the station above the trains) is open daily from 7 AM to 11 PM, and Lidl at Altona train station (on the middle level between the train and S-Bahn platforms) is open Monday-Saturday 7 AM to 10 PM, Sundays 10 AM to 8 PM.
Read more about our infatuation with German grocery stores here.
You’ll find plenty of cheap eats in Hamburg like bratwurst along the Reeperbahn. Photo: Remon R.
Erikas Eck is famous for their giant portions, Erikas has daily weekday lunch specials at low prices. But Erikas really shines after midnight, when every sandwich is only €1 euro—a perfect pit stop on a long night out on the town.
Conveniently located near Hamburg’s main train station is Lades, which serves up some of Hamburg’s best Döner Kebap (under €4) or rotisserie chicken and sides (under €6) and many varieties of tea for just €1.
You’ll find our recommendations for inexpensive places to grab a beer or cocktail in a variety of Hamburg’s coolest neighborhoods here.
What’s your secret for reducing spending in Hamburg? Share your tips in the comments!