Backpacking Hamburg: Hamburg On A Budget Guide 2024

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Hamburg is a beautiful city and on the German bucket list of many travellers.

Is backpacking Hamburg possible? Can you visit Hamburg on a budget?

As a full-time traveller and someone who loves backpacking and budget travelling, I wondered about these things before heading to Germany.

Now, after spending some time in Hamburg, I feel confident to provide this guide on how to save money and visit Hamburg cheaply.

🇩🇪 When planning a trip to Hamburg, I recommend using:
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels:
💵 Hostels: Hostelworld
🗺 Tours & Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
🚗 Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
🏥 Travel Insurance: Safetywing
📱E-SIM: Airalo
💻 VPN: Surfshark

Backpacking Hamburg

Hamburg is visited by 4 million tourists every year. The city has some amazing attractions and beautiful sights that attract people from all over the world.

I spent 4 days backpacking Hamburg and I can assure you that it’s definitely possible to visit Hamburg on a budget.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. And that’s what this guide is here for, to help you save money during your trip. Throughout my 4 days, I spent approximately €50 per day, which is pretty standard for backpacking any city in Western Europe.

The €200 includes my flights and accommodation too. So €200 for 4 days backpacking including transport, accommodation, food and activities in Western Europe is pretty good in my opinion. Compared to the hundreds, if not thousands, normal travellers would spend for a similar trip.

Here is a breakdown of how my budget was spent to help you understand how to construct your budget for backpacking Hamburg.

Return flights from Dublin€40
3 Nights in a hostel€60

As you can see, it’s a pretty even split across the 4 categories. You could definitely do it cheaper than me too, I paid for 2 activities: Miniatur Wunderland and Chocoversum. Whereas you could opt for completely free activities.

But let’s go into further detail about how you can visit Hamburg on a budget.

How To Get To Hamburg On A Budget

As with backpacking anywhere in Europe, to get there cheaply you first need to be somewhere in Europe itself. You aren’t going to get a €30 flight from New York to Hamburg, for example.

But in my opinion, if you are coming from further afield (America, Canada, Australia, etc.) then you should try and visit multiple places in Europe in one trip. Hamburg is a great city, but I personally wouldn’t fly for 10 hours+ there and 10 hours+ back just to see one place.

From Europe, there are usually flights to Hamburg for cheap regularly from lots of different countries and airports. For example, I got return flights (just hand luggage) for €30 from Dublin Airport to Hamburg.

I use SkyScanner as a flight search engine to find the cheapest flights possible. If you can be flexible with your dates, you can find even better deals. It’s one of my best tips for saving money while travelling.

A picture of a Ryanair plane, the budget airline I used when backpacking Hamburg.

➡️Use SkyScanner to find the best prices for your flights to Hamburg or anywhere else around the world you plan to fly to.

Another option for reaching Hamburg while in Europe is by taking a Flixbus which offers really cheap buses all across Europe. For example, you can get a bus from Amsterdam to Hamburg for as low as €15! It’s another really good way to save money travelling.

Where To Stay While Backpacking Hamburg

Finding the right area of Hamburg to stay in when backpacking Hamburg is extremely important. In my opinion, it’s always accommodation that saves or breaks your budget. Make sure that it saves yours!

For example, staying in a hotel with a view of Speicherstadt is going to be a lot more expensive than staying in a hostel in a cheaper part of the city.

When it comes to Hamburg, the best part of the city to stay in is near Hamburg HBF, the central station. Not only is the area more affordable, but it’s also a nice area and within walking distance of all of the main sights and attractions.

The best hostel in this area is A&O Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. This is the hostel that I stayed in during my time backpacking Hamburg, and had a really positive experience. The rooms are nice, the staff are friendly and as I said, the area is amazing. From A&O Hauptbahnhof to Speicherstaft, for example, is less than 20 minute walk. This hostel is so good that I wrote a full A&O Hostel Hamburg review.

If you are a family or couple, or simply don’t enjoy staying in hostels, one of the best budget hotels in the area is Generator Hamburg. Located right beside the central station, you are in the perfect area. And with a rating of 7/10 on Booking, you are staying in one of the best budget hotels in all of Hamburg.

➡️ Best budget-friendly hotel in Hamburg: A&O Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
➡️ Best hostel in Hamburg: Generator Hamburg

Where To Eat While Backpacking Hamburg

There’s not really an area of Hamburg that is known for its cheap food, it’s more just a case of looking for good but cheap restaurants and eventually, you’ll get lucky.

This is what I did during my trip and found an incredible pizzeria selling delicious pizzas for €8.

A picture of the pizza I had while backpacking Hamburg

For lunch or snacks, I recommend visiting a REWE. You can get some really tasty pastries like croissants for like 69 cents. It was really cheap! You can also find some German brands for cheap like Haribo and Kinder.

How To Get Around Hamburg On A Budget

The best way to get around Hamburg when visiting the city on a budget is by walking. This is one of the best ways to save money while travelling anywhere in the world.

That’s why it’s best to stay near the central station, as it’s within walking distance of all of the sights.

Hamburg’s main attractions are all relatively close together. Speicherstadt, the harbour, Elbphilharmonie, Miniatur Wunderland and more are all less than a 5-minute walk from each other.

There is Uber in Germany and Hamburg, but it’s a lot more expensive than normal taxis, so I would avoid it at all costs to keep the budget down.

A picture of Elbphilharmonie.

This makes Hamburg a really walkable city so it’s a great way to save money while backpacking Hamburg, as it’s completely free. It’s also worth noting that Hamburg is safe so you can walk around the city, even at night, with peace of mind.

Another option for getting around Hamburg is to cycle. It’s a very cycle-friendly city and there are lots of bike lanes around the city, pretty much every road has its own cycle lane. You can also use the city bikes for 30 minutes for free!

A picture of some bikes standing against a railing. Bikes are a good way to get around the city when backpacking Hamburg.

10 Free Things To Do In Hamburg

When visiting anywhere on a budget, you’ll want to find cheap and free things to do. So here are 10 free things to do in the city that make Hamburg worth visiting.

1) Visit St. Nikolai Memorial: St. Nikolai Memorial, once St. Nikolai Church before getting bombed during World War 2, is a beautiful steeple and memorial. It’s technically an open-air church but it now acts as a memorial with only ruins, walls and the steeple remaining. The bells still chime throughout the day though and offer a pretty unique free concert.

2) Step inside St. Michel’s Church: St. Michel’s Church is the most famous church in Hamburg and for good reason. It’s stunning, both outside and in. You can enter the church for free and admire the impressive white decoration. It’s possible to go up to the top of the church for a view over Hamburg but this costs €8. This leads nicely onto…

3) See the view from Elbphilharmonie Plaza: For a free view over Hamburg, head to Elbphilharmonie and go up to the plaza. Tickets are free from the ticket booth at Elbphilharmonie, you have to pay if you book online but not if you just turn up and ask for a ticket. The view is incredible, you can see the harbour and the city. Wow!

A picture of the view from Elbphilharmonie looking into Hamburg where you can see St. Michel's Church.

4) Walk around Speicherstadt: Hamburg’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Speicherstadt, is amazing. The area is so unique and walking along the paths, between the warehouses is a wonderful experience. It’s one of the best free things you can do in Hamburg for sure. The warehouses are so visually pleasing, you can really understand why it’s a protected area.

5) Go through the Alter Tunnel: The Alter Tunnel runs under the River Elbe and is one of the must-dos while backpacking Hamburg. You can walk through the 426-metre tunnel for free. The 110+-year-old tunnel is an iconic statute of Hamburg and anyone visiting the city should travel underneath the river through the tunnel at least once during their trip.

6) Go inside Hamburg Rathaus: One of the most attractive buildings in Hamburg is the Rathaus. The oxidized copper roof makes it good for the eye. Even better, you can go into the Rathaus and explore the interior. You can even have a meal in the restaurant.

A picture inside Hamburg Rathaus

7) Stroll through Planten un Blomen: Hamburg’s botanical gardens, Planten un Blomen, offer some really nice paths to walk along. The flowers and plants on display are gorgeous and the atmosphere is so peaceful. The University of Hamburg also has an exotic plants section where you can see some unique plants from around the world. All free, of course.

8) Take a free walking tour: When visiting anywhere in the world on a budget, one of the best things to do is always to take a free walking tour. I use FreeTour to find the best free options, normally they have 100s of reviews. Although it is a free tour, you are generally expected to tip your guide. But €5 per person is enough, and definitely a bargain too!

A picture of St. Nikolai Memorial which you see during a Hamburg free walking tour while backpacking Hamburg.

9) Cycle the city: Hamburg’s city bikes, StadtRAD, are completely free for the first 30 minutes. So you can get around the city quickly for free! After this, they only cost €0.08 per minute. The fact that you can do it for free is amazing. There’s also nothing stopping you from using a bike for 30 minutes, stopping, and getting a new one.

10) Have fun at Wutzrock Festival: A 3-day festival held in Hamburg each year with campsites, barbecues and music, of course, Wutzrock Festival is completely free to attend and enjoy. If you happen to visit the city while it’s taking place, be sure to check it out.

Backpacking Hamburg: Top Tips

You’ll want to be as efficient with your money while backpacking Hamburg. To help you achieve this, I’ve come up with 6 top tips which are specific for visiting Hamburg on a budget. I am a backpacking site after all!

You can get a harbour tour for a fraction of the price: Hamburg Boat Tours typically cost about €20 per person. Instead, what you can do is get a HVV ticket for Ferry 62 from Pier 3 in Hamburg Port for only €6. The ferry sails past all of the main sights and you can hop on and off as you please.

A picture of a canal in Hamburg's port area.

Tips are not mandatory: Tipping in Germany is a voluntary action. It’s not like America where 20% is added automatically. Of course, it’s a nice gesture to tip exceptional service, but it’s not expected nor mandatory as it is in other parts of the world.

You still need travel insurance: This is a unique case of spending money to save money while travelling. While backpacking Hamburg, you don’t want to end up in a hospital and have a bill for thousands and thousands, instead, it’s clever and safer to pay for travel insurance. I personally recommend SafetyWing as it’s great for health and travel insurance.

Take the train from the airport: The best way to get from Hamburg Airport to Hamburg HBF cheaply and efficiently is by taking the train. It costs €3.90 and takes about 30 minutes.

A picture of the train you get from Hamburg Airport to Hamburg HBF.

Don’t stay too long: To keep your budget tight, you don’t want to spend more on accommodation than you need. If you are wondering how many days in Hamburg are enough, the answer is 3. 3 days allow you to see the main sights and attractions of Hamburg.

You can drink tap water: Tap water in Hamburg is completely safe to drink and actually tastes quite nice too. Buying bottled water can add up quickly so drinking tap water is a great way to save money.

Backpacking Hamburg: FAQ

Below are some related questions to backpacking Hamburg along with my answers.

Is Hamburg cheap for tourists?

Hamburg is neither cheap nor expensive. It’s just average for a Western Europe city. You can expect to pay about €80 a night for a hotel room, €10-15 for a meal, etc.

Is Hamburg an expensive city?

Hamburg is not expensive. But it’s not cheap either, it’s somewhere in the middle. You can expect prices to be pretty in line with the rest of Western Europe, with accommodation averaging €80 per night, for example.

How much money do you need for Hamburg?

When it comes to spending money while backpacking Hamburg, I recommend about €35 per day. This allows for €15 for food and €20 for attractions. You’ll want to do some attractions while in Hamburg like Miniatur Wunderland, for example.

How to do Hamburg on a budget?

To do Hamburg on a budget, you first need to get there cheaply. Using SkyScanner or FlixBus is a great way to do so. Once in the city, you want to stay in a hostel which costs a fraction of the price of a hotel. Then, stick to mainly free activities like a Free Walking Tour or Elbphilharmonie Plaza.

Backpacking Hamburg: Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete guide to backpacking Hamburg.

Visiting Hamburg on a budget can be done if you are conscious of your budget and ensure you get the best prices for accommodation, flights and food.

Be sure to make use of all of my advice and tips throughout this article. They will definitely come in useful.

Most importantly, have a great trip. Hamburg is incredible!