Although it is more than 100km inland, Hamburg is Germany's largest port. This major northern German city which rose to prominence as a trading centre has become one of Germany's richest cities. Nowadays, however, it is known mostly for its bustling port and red-light district.
However there is much more to Hamburg which many visitors discover to be a surprisingly pleasant city with many parks and outdoor areas. Alsterparks, Municipal Parks, Hirschpark... there are 25 more parks in Hamburg, as well as 900 kilometres of rambling paths. Almost every street has trees and bushes - avenues and parks are as much a feature of Hamburg's cityscape as arms of the river and bridges.
Hamburg is Germany's only major city centred on a lake. One can walk round the Outer Alster or follow the Alster rambling path from Fuhlsbüttel Dam to the North. Sailing and surfing in the city centre - in which other city is that still possible? There is aslo the possibility of greeting the overseas ships along the River Elbe. With its tiny front gardens and the museum harbour, the old pilots and skippers district of Oevelgönne is a little picturesque world of its own.
One of North Germany's most attractive rambling routes runs from here along the bank of the Elbe in the direction of Teufelsbrück to the classy stairway quarter of Blankenese. There is always something going on here; more than 13,000 ships move along the Elbe each year. It is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.
Hamburg's port is fast, versatile and still growing. Containerships and occasionally windjammers, white banana freighters and sedate tankers, nimble tugboats, barges and launches chug up and down the Elbe, day and night. It is quite easy to get to the port: cross over to the other side of the Elbe on foot and free of charge through the old Elbe Tunnel at the St. Pauli Landing Stages.
The city is also home to numerous museums. The Kunsthalle is to get an extension costing 60 million marks, while the Deichtorhallen - the former wholesale flower market halls from the turn of the century - have already been renovated and are being used for large-scale exhibitions of modern art.
Hamburg's skyline is dominated by the six towers of the main churches and of the Town Hall. From Hamburg's baroque landmark - St. Michael's Church - one gets a great view of the port, the Alster and Old Hamburg.
St Pauli Landungsbrüken, Hamburg
Tel (040) 30 05 12 00