Hamburg See And Do
The area known as the Altstadt is centered on Rathausmarkt. Here, you can visit the 647-room Rathaus (Rathausmarkt; 49-40-428-312-470), one of the most interesting city halls in Germany, and the baroque Hauptkirche St. Michaelis (Englische Planke; 49-40-376-780), located just a few blocks west, which has sweeping views of the city and port from its elevator-accessible tower. Stroll down to the port, one of the busiest in the world, and take in Hamburg's oldest fish market, which dates back to 1703 and is teeming with locals and visitors alike.
Tel: 49 40 428 131 200
This art museum's collection spans from the 14th century to the present. Don't miss the work of Master Bertram, Hamburg's first known painter—the altarpiece he painted in 1379 for the St. Petri Church is on display here. If the old masters aren't your scene, you can also find the work of late-19th-century Impressionists such as Manet, Renoir, and Monet, as well as the more modern work of Munch, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, and Warhol.
A tangle of streets in the bohemian St. Pauli district down by the riverbank, the Reeperbahn is notorious throughout Europe as one of the Continent's biggest red-light districts. The area is fascinating—unsavory, but nonetheless safe. Prostitution is regulated, and the streets are always full. The "upscale" Herbertstrasse is gated to admit men only and features scantily clad ladies beckoning from storefront windows, a civilized spectacle compared with the scene on the streets closer to the river, where the come-ons are much more aggressive. The Grosse Freiheit packs more sleaze into its two blocks than do most cities: It's the home of anything-goes shows, though the posters and decor seem to date from a simpler age of shock and are almost kitschy today.
2 Lokstedter Grenzstrasse
Tel: 49 40 530 033 0
Founded in 1848, this sprawling zoo was the first to introduce moated—rather than gated—animal exhibits, and is now home to over 360 species. It boasts a tropical aquarium, a large playground, and pony and elephant rides. Bring along fresh fruits and vegetables to feed the elephants and giraffes, and share any snack you've got on hand with the goats in the petting zoo. The Tierpark is also a botanical garden—so avid gardeners can scope out the scenery while making the rounds.
A mini-railroad connects this quartet of parks—the Grosse and Kleine Wallanlagen parks, the Planten un Blomen flower garden, and the Alter Botanischer Garten—all of which are meticulously well-kept. Within this complex, you'll find ice-skating and roller-skating rinks, restaurants, and gorgeous greenhouses. Planten un Blomen is at its most beautiful on summer evenings. Stroll through the tranquil Japanese Garden (the largest one in Europe) toward the small lake and watch a color light show brighten its waters (49-40-428-232-125; www.plantenunblomen.hamburg.de).