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Both Hamburg and Berlin seem like amazing cities to visit. They’re so similar yet so different and choosing between the two is no easy task.
Hamburg vs Berlin? A common question amongst tourists and it’s no easy decision.
Luckily for you, I am a full-time traveller and have visited Germany multiple times. So, I have weighed up every angle of the two cities and compared them.
🇩🇪 When planning a trip to Hamburg, I recommend using:
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels: Booking.com
💵 Hostels: Hostelworld
🗺 Tours & Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
🚗 Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
🏥 Travel Insurance: Safetywing
💻 VPN: Surfshark
Hamburg vs Berlin: The Basics
As I said, it’s a pretty tough decision choosing between Hamburg vs Berlin. While comparing the two, it’s important to start with the basics. Costs & Prices; Weather; Food, and Culture are 4 of the key things to consider, right? Let’s delve right into comparing the two cities and see who comes out on top in each of these categories.
After assessing the pros and cons,
I will declare a winner of each category!
Costs & Prices
From my experience, Hamburg is neither cheap nor expensive. It’s just pretty standard pricing across the board.
That being said, flights to Hamburg are usually incredibly cheap. You can often get flights from anywhere in Europe to Hamburg for less than €30.
Top Tip: Germany uses the Euro, which is the currency of the European Union. As of February 2023, $1 USD is equivalent to €0.94 and £1 is equivalent to €1.14.
Once in Hamburg, prices are as expected. Meals cost €10-15 per person, accommodation costs €80-100 for a decent room, and attractions cost €20-30. In my opinion, these prices are pretty universal and would be the expected prices in any city you visit.
So to sum up, as I stated at the start, Hamburg is neither cheap nor expensive.
Although Berlin is definitely one of the cheaper capitals to visit in Western Europe, it still experiences the “capital tax” as I call it. Meaning things are more expensive, simply because it’s the capital.
There isn’t much difference in terms of meals and attractions but accommodation prices are the real difference in cost for Hamburg vs Berlin.
Accommodation in Berlin will likely cost €100-120 for a decent room, slightly more than it would in Hamburg. It’s also not as easy to get cheap flights to Berlin.
That being said, I still wouldn’t consider Berlin expensive, it’s just simply a tiny bit more expensive than Hamburg. So there’s only one winner when it comes to Costs & Prices.
Winner – Costs & Prices: Hamburg
When it comes to weather, Hamburg is very hit or miss. You can either have a beautiful sunny day with blue skies or a misty grey wet day. And there’s not much in between.
Hamburg’s weather varies drastically throughout the year and across the seasons. As the city is so north, it experiences weather similar to Scandinavia in the winter. There’s a lot more rain in Hamburg than in Berlin too.
The best time to visit Hamburg in terms of weather is between May and September when it’s the summer months and it’s generally warmer. When I visited Hamburg in February, there was one sunny day and the locals kept telling me that it was an anomaly haha.
The weather in Berlin is pretty similar to that of Hamburg. Warm summers and cold winters. After all, Germany is notorious for cold winters and getting a lot of snow.
That being said, Hamburg experiences a lot more precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) in the winter than in Berlin. So even though the temperatures are similar, Hamburg is a lot wetter.
The best time to visit Berlin is also in the summer months when the sun is shining and it’s warmer. To properly compare the weather of the two cities, I’ve created a table showing the average monthly temperatures.
|Month||Hamburg Average Daily Temperature||Berlin Average Daily Temperature|
|January||1.5°C / 34.7°F||0.5°C / 32.9°F|
|February||2°C / 35.6°F||1.5°C / 34.7°F|
|March||5°C / 41°F||5°C / 41°F|
|April||8.5°C / 47.3°F||9.5°C / 49.1°F|
|May||13.5°C / 56.3°F||14°C / 57.2°F|
|June||16°C / 60.8°F||17°C / 62.6°F|
|July||18.5°C / 65.3°F||19.5°C / °F|
|August||18.5°C / 65.3°F||19°C / 67.1°F|
|September||14.5°C / 58.1°F||15°C / 59°F|
|October||10°C / 50°F||10°C / 50°F|
|November||5.5°C / 41.9°F||5.5°C / 41.9°F|
|December||3°C / 37.4°F||2°C / 35.6°F|
In terms of choosing a winner, there’s not much difference between the two but even though the temperatures are almost identical, Berlin comes out on top due to having less rain and snow.
Winner – Weather: Berlin
There’s not much difference in food between Hamburg vs Berlin as they are both in the same country. Germany’s traditional foods will be the same across both cities.
So instead of comparing the actual dish options, I’ll compare how good the cafes and restaurants are.
Hamburg has lots of nice restaurants and cafes, and lots of hidden gems too. When I was there, I found a pizzeria which was rated 4.7/5 on Google but we were the only ones in the restaurant. It was delicious too!
I know I said I wouldn’t compare the actual foods but it would be impossible not to mention Berliner doughnuts. They’re mouth-wateringly good and really tasty. And there’s no better place to have them than in Berlin itself.
As with Hamburg, Berlin also has an abundance of really good restaurants and cafes. There are more options in Berlin than in Hamburg, which makes sense as it’s the capital city and also a much larger city.
So when it comes to food, Berlin once again takes the victory courtesy of Berliner doughnuts and the variety of restaurants available.
Winner – Food:
Hamburg’s culture is an incredible one. The music and theatre scene in Hamburg is huge, some of the best performances in the world take place in the city. It’s definitely something to consider doing during a trip there. The operas are particularly popular. There’s also a huge Beatles culture, as it’s where they did some of their earliest professional gigs.
Being the second largest city in Germany, Hamburg is extremely multicultural with nearly all nationalities being represented within Hamburg. Having such a variety of nationalities, cultures and languages come together is part of what makes Hamburg so appealing.
Hamburg is also known as the “Free City” which represents liberty and freedom. This makes the atmosphere in Hamburg really interesting and its history is mesmerising. Hamburg didn’t pay taxes for centuries and this is how the name came around.
In the modern world, Hamburg is one of the richest cities in the world. There are 40,000 millionaires in Hamburg. There are under 2 million people in Hamburg, meaning 1 in 45 people are millionaires. It’s a mind-blowing statistic.
When it comes to architecture, Hamburg is very similar in design to Danish and Swedish cities, as it’s so close to the 2 countries. But there are of course some very traditional German buildings too. The combination makes Hamburg uniquely pretty.
Hamburg’s festivals are also some of the best in all of Germany. Hamburg DOM is often considered one of the most colourful festivals around. It’s a large fair held in central Hamburg 3 times per year attracting 10 million visitors annually. Attending is so much fun!
Hamburg is a city filled with culture and you can really see the pride the locals have for their city. If nothing else, the nickname “The Gateway to the World” is a fascinating one, and definitely worth visiting Hamburg to find out more.
Berlin’s culture is one of the most famous in the world. It’s the home of modern art and film. The schools of art are some of the best there are, and the film industry is top-quality too.
The history of Berlin is much more well-known too, having been a city heavily involved in the Cold War. The Berlin Wall for example is one of the most famous things that happened throughout the war. You can still visit the remains of the wall and the East Side Gallery is indescribable. The amount of history that the wall represents is unbelievable.
Going back to the art scene, it’s estimated Berlin has more than 20,000 artists living in the city. There are also over 600 art galleries in Berlin. So if you are interested in art, Berlin is the place to go for you. People travel from all over the world to visit the art scene. And many foreign artists move to Berlin to call it home.
Berlin’s culture is so different to the rest of Germany, it’s almost like it’s a whole new country entirely.
The nickname “The Gray City” could not be more ironic, as the vibrant nature of Berlin is so colourful. From the graffiti on the walls to the music and art scene, it’s a city that is packed with colour. You really wouldn’t think it was in Germany, you would think it’s South America as it’s so vibrant.
It’s really hard to choose between Hamburg’s and Berlin’s cultures as the two are so different and it really depends on what culture you are looking for. I also don’t think it’s right to say that one is better than the other, as it’s a completely personal preference.
Winner – Culture: Draw
Hamburg: Top 5 Things To Do
When choosing between Hamburg and Berlin, you’ll want to know what each of the cities has to offer as things to do. I’ll begin with Hamburg and as you can see, there are lots of attractions for tourists visiting the city.
1. Visit Miniatur Wunderland
Hamburg is home to so many museums, but one of the best is Miniatur Wunderland. Ironically, this miniature railway set is the largest in the world, and one of Germany’s biggest tourist attractions.
You could spend a year in this place and still have little details you missed. The attention to detail is so impressive and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time visiting.
The museum is divided into countries and you can walk around miniature Germany, Switzerland, Austria and many more countries. Even as far away as Brazil! It’s such a unique experience and I can’t recommend it enough.
2. Make your own chocolate at Chocoversum
Chocoversum is Hamburg’s very own chocolate factory. You can take tours of the factory and learn about the process that turns cocoa into chocolate, starting right at the beginning with a cocoa pod.
Along the way, you can try cocoa/chocolate and everything in between. Not to mention you also get to make your own chocolate and customise it with whatever toppings you want!
It makes for a really good time and you can see why it is such a popular thing to do in Hamburg.
3. See Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
During my time in Hamburg, one of my tour guides described Elbphilharmonie as the landmark of Hamburg. It makes sense, it’s the huge glass and brick building on all of the postcards, magnets, keyrings, etc.
It’s one of the most visually appealing buildings I have seen and it’s clear to see why it’s such a huge attraction. It’s a concert hall too, so there are regular live music performances, particularly opera.
Elbphilharmonie also has a plaza from which you can get a gorgeous view over the city of Hamburg and also the port. This leads nicely onto…
4. Walk around the Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District
Around the port of Hamburg is the Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District. This area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s made up of old warehouses from hundreds of years ago, which functioned in Hamburg’s port.
Nowadays, the warehouse buildings are mainly used as museums. Miniatur Wunderland is in one of them, for example. The area is really pretty and it makes sense to be a protected area. It’s a part of Hamburg’s history and culture.
5. Take a boat tour of the port
A fifth but excellent thing to do in Hamburg, continuing in the area around the port, is to hop on a boat and see the city from a new perspective.
There are lots of boat tours in Hamburg and they offer a great way to explore the iconic harbour/port of Hamburg as well as see Hamburg from a unique angle.
🚢Interested in taking a boat tour of Hamburg? Book your Hamburg boat tour quickly before they sell out!
Berlin: Top 5 Things To Do
As we continue comparing Hamburg vs Berlin, it’s now time to take a look at some things to do in Berlin. Berlin is a lot more landmark-sightseeing-based compared to visiting attractions in Hamburg.
1. Visit the Reichstag
The Reichstag is one of the most famous buildings in Germany. The German parliament building has a detailed history and any history-lover will know everything that has taken place in the Reichstag.
For any other type of tourist, it’s simply an iconic and impressive building. The architecture is extraordinary, it’s definitely one of the best-looking parliaments in my opinion.
You can also go inside the dome and get a pretty cool view too.
2. See the remains of the Berlin Wall and East Site Gallery
As mentioned throughout this post, Berlin plays a big role in the history of both World Wars and the Cold War. You can see the remains of the Berlin Wall which once divided the city into East and West Berlin.
The feeling around the remains is a unique one. Everyone can sense the history the wall represents.
East Side Gallery is on the longest surviving part of the wall and features lots of graffiti and paintings. The most famous art is of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing.
3. Pay respects at the Holocaust Memorial
Something you may wish to do during a trip to Berlin is to visit the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe and pay respect to those who wrongfully lost their lives in the dark past of Germany.
The memorial is designed to remember those victims, and warn against anything so wrong ever happening again.
You can walk amongst the concrete slabs and pay your respects as you wish.
4. See Brandenburg Gate
Arguably the most known landmark in all of Germany, Brandenburg Gate is a must-see during a trip to Berlin.
The gate is a 230+-year-old gate was also a symbol of division during the Cold War, but now stands as a sign of peace and togetherness.
Aside from the meaning, the gate is a stunning landmark that you have to see in Berlin.
5. Explore Museum Island
Museum Island is an “island” in Berlin which has 5 museums on it. It’s been deemed one of the most important museum sites in Europe.
The island is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning Hamburg and Berlin both have reasons to visit for World Heritage Site seekers.
The 5 museums on the island feature some of the most precious archaeological discoveries and antiques in the world, particularly from the Roman and Greek eras.
Hamburg vs Berlin: Which is better for Travelling?
Deciding between Hamburg vs Berlin may come down to which is better for travelling. There are 4 main things to consider here: Public Transport, Accommodation Options, Nightlife, and which of the cities is better on a budget. Once again, I’ll decide whether Hamburg or Berlin deserves to take the win for each section.
Which Has Better Transport: Hamburg vs Berlin
For the most part, Hamburg’s transport is really good. There are lots of transport options in the city. Namely walking, cycling, bus, train, and even underground trains.
Hamburg HBF, the central station, also connects trains and buses heading all across Germany and beyond.
That being said, the best way to get around Hamburg is by walking. There’s not really a need for public transport, as everything in the city is pretty close together.
But the option is there if you need it. It’s worth saying that Deutsche Bahn, the German train company, is known for being late and unreliable.
Berlin’s transport is excellent. Take away the unreliability of the Deutsche Bahn and you have one of the best public transport systems in the world.
There are so many ways to get around. Walking, cycling, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses and trains.
It’s also very affordable. As is Hamburg to be fair. And both cities’ transport is easy to use, with ticket machines available in 5 different languages.
Berlin HBF, Berlin’s central station is one of the most well-connected stations in all of Europe. You can even get direct trains as far as Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria.
This one has to go to Berlin, but only because it’s the capital city so it’s naturally more well-connected than Hamburg. The transport within each city is pretty similar as Germany’s public transport is the same across the country.
Winner – Transport: Berlin
Which Has Better Accommodation Options: Hamburg vs Berlin
When it comes to accommodation options, Hamburg has more than enough. There are so many hotels, hostels, guest houses, and other places to stay in the city for tourists.
When it comes to residency, it’s very hard to get a permanent house or flat in Hamburg. It often takes months just to find somewhere that is willing to take you. Your landlord picks you, rather than you picking your landlord.
But for tourists, there are lots of options and you won’t be short of choice in Hamburg when it comes to hotel options.
The prices are also pretty reasonable as discussed earlier, and in line with prices for accommodation in any city in Western Europe.
Berlin definitely has more accommodation options, which is natural as it’s a larger city. But I wouldn’t necessarily say this means the accommodation options in Berlin are better. It just means there are more hotels to choose between.
The hotels are also more expensive due to Berlin being a more popular city to visit and also as it’s the capital city.
One thing I will say is that if you are a budget traveller, there are definitely better hostel options in Berlin vs Hamburg.
So for accommodation options, I’m giving the win to Hamburg as the hotels aren’t worse quality but the prices are a lot cheaper. Hamburg wins this category.
Winner – Accommodation Options: Hamburg
Which Has Better Nightlife: Hamburg vs Berlin
Hamburg’s nightlife is more focused on concerts, theatres and operas than clubbing. But there are definitely still incredible options in Hamburg for bars and clubs. Germans love their beer, after all!
Reeperbahn and the surrounding area is the best place for nightlife in Hamburg. There are so many nightclubs, bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a drink and a dance.
Hamburg’s nightlife is really good and has even been described as one of the best places in the world for a night out.
Even though Hamburg’s nightlife is really good, Berlin’s is simply next-level. The city is famous for its outstanding nightlife.
It’s cheap, has something for everyone, and has some of the best bars and clubs you’ll ever visit.
When it comes to nightlife in Germany, Berlin is the capital. No pun intended!
Due to the vibrant art culture and abundance of young people who move to the city, the Berliners really know how to party resulting in an amazing nightlife experience.
This is a really close one. Hamburg’s nightlife is great, but Berlin’s nightlife is AMAZING. You’re guaranteed to have a good night in either city, but Berlin will be the best night of your life.
Winner – Nightlife: Berlin
Which Is Better On A Budget: Hamburg vs Berlin
This section is honestly pretty similar to the Costs & Prices section. Hamburg is definitely the more affordable of the two.
That’s not to say that Berlin cannot be done on a budget, backpacking Berlin is possible for sure.
But comparing Hamburg vs Berlin, Hamburg is the cheaper of the two options, and therefore the better city for visiting on a budget.
That being said, Hamburg does have more paid attractions whereas Berlin’s are mostly landmarks which are free to see.
Nonetheless, if you are on a budget, Hamburg is the option for you.
Winner – On A Budget: Hamburg
Hamburg vs Berlin: FAQ
Hamburg is somewhat similar to Berlin. Both cities have amazing landmarks and architecture throughout the city, both have excellent nightlife scenes and good public transport. But there are also lots of differences too.
There are many reasons why Hamburg is so popular. The landmarks attract millions of visitors each year. Miniatur Wunderland is one of Germany’s most popular attractions. The city is pretty affordable to visit, flights are always cheap for a city break. Amongst other reasons.
Hamburg and Berlin are neither cheap nor expensive. They’re both pretty average when it comes to prices, but out of the two, Hamburg is slightly cheaper. Berlin is the capital so it will have higher prices naturally.
There’s no fair way to decide which city is “better” to visit. Both cities offer unique selling points and different travellers will prefer different cities. Hamburg is much more affordable and has more attractions whereas Berlin has more landmarks but is slightly more expensive.
It depends on what you want to get out of visiting the city. If you want to do sightseeing and see famous landmarks and buildings, Berlin is the choice for you. If you enjoy attractions, museums, etc. then Hamburg is the choice for you.
Final Thoughts: Hamburg vs Berlin
And there you have it, a complete comparison of Hamburg vs Berlin. The table below highlights the winner of each category throughout this article.
|Costs & Prices||Hamburg|
|On a budget||Hamburg|
As you can see, Hamburg won 3 categories, Berlin won 4 categories and the cities drew on 1.
Although Berlin technically wins 5-4, take these results with a pinch of salt.
Make sure to consider what you care about, and what you want to get out of visiting either of these cities.
There’s no “right” way to travel and it’s entirely up to you how you do it.
Some people prefer Hamburg. Some people prefer Berlin. That’s life.
Hopefully, this post will allow you to weigh up the selling points of each city and make a decision between Hamburg vs Berlin. Make a decision that suits you, not that I have made for you.
Whichever city you choose, have a great trip. 🙂