Big, boisterous and bold, Hamburg is the largest port city in Germany, and boy does it show! This is a metropolis with plenty of attitude, not to mention history, up its sleeve. Once the epicentre of the powerful Hanseatic League, its trading tendrils swallowed up the whole of the Baltic basin, and then Europe, and then the Indian Ocean beyond. Over the years, that’s helped forge an electrifying, multicultural melting pot where you can be bopping to underground jazz one moment and sampling fine Japanese sashimi the next. Hamburg is also undeniably German: Just wait for that grand Rathaus and the half-timbred beer halls of the Altstadt, underpinned by the gritty glee of the red-light Reeperbahn district and the striking dockland depots of the UNESCO Speicherstadt docks. It’s amazing stuff.
Hamburg currently has thousands of Airbnb properties between its vibrant streets and happening port areas. They include all sorts of listings, from fully fledged family pads to cutting-edge penthouses close to the business hubs of the city. This guide can help you decide what area’s best for your break, and even has a few hot tips on the finest Airbnbs Hamburg has to offer.
Airbnb is perfectly legal in Hamburg. However, the service isn’t without its restrictions. German law states that entire properties can only be rented out for a maximum of 60 days in any one year, and all owners must register their places with the local authorities. Despite reducing the number of rentals on offer via the platform, these limitations should have little effect on the experience you’ll have as a traveler. That said, you might be asked to present your ID and fork out a little extra to cover a tourist tax when you arrive, but that’s just the same as in a traditional hotel.
Where should I stay in Hamburg Airbnb?
Straddling the courses of the Elbe River just shy of the German coast, Hamburg makes its mark with a bustling Altstadt(1) (Old Town) core and the iconic Speicherstadt(2) district, now a UNESCO area famed for its warehouses. Nightlife hits a zenith in the gaudy and unrepentant Reeperbahn(3), known as one of the most hedonistic quarters in all of Europe. Beyond that, the hipsters find coffee joints and shopping galore in pretty Altona(4), while Blankenese(5) has relaxed Airbnbs with leafy gardens and lovely views.
The area has a little bit of everything
Well connected to public transport
Lacks a little of the charm of other old town areas in Germany
The historic kernel of Hamburg is a gorgeous place to base yourself. Between the watersides of the Nikolai Canal and the bustling platforms of Hauptbahnhof Hamburg (the city’s main train station), you’ll find a medley of handsome Renaissance and Neo-Gothic churches and buildings. The main point of action has to be the Rathausmarkt, decorated with one of Germany’s most magnificent and majestic townhalls. Coming off that is vibrant Mönckebergstraße, with its high-street shopping, electronics stores, and gallerias. To the south are more restaurants and bars, which is where the action shifts later on in the evening.
Not loads of Airbnbs – this is an old industrial quarter, after all!
Prepare to be amazed, because the Speicherstadt boasts UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its jaw-dropping industrial architecture. The whole area was purpose built in the late 19th century to handle the trade that came in off Hamburg’s huge port. It was, and still is, the largest warehouse district in the world. So, expect to see soaring redbrick depots rising from the canal sides. Some are still used to keep cocoa, timber, carpets, silks – you name it. Others have been converted into chic flats or intriguing museums that chronicle the city’s former trading empire.
No guide to Hamburg could possibly be complete without at least a mention of the rough-around-the-edges Reeperbahn. One of Europe’s most infamous nightlife hubs, it’s the age-old Red Light district that just loves to stay up late, pack in the hedonism, and do things a little differently. By day, you’re likely to be left unimpressed by the tacky shopfronts. By night, it’s a haze of neon and cabaret shows, go-go bars and pumping discos. No wonder they call it the “sinful mile!”
Altona was actually Danish for much of its history, which goes a long way to explaining the unique Scandinavian look of its urban architecture. But the district was duly added to Hamburg in the 1930s, and now dominates the western half of town. For visitors, its highlights are in the blocks nearest the Altstadt. Those include hipster-favourite Sternschanze, where dive bars, music joints, and vintage clothes abound. Alternatively, look to laid-back Othmarschen for urban beaches on the Elbe and more homey, spacious Airbnbs.
If you want to check off the old industrial areas and the famous Altstadt of Hamburg but don’t want to be stuck in the city, green and leafy Blankenese has you covered. To find it, you’ll need to follow the meanders of the Elbe River westwards out of town, to where low, sylvan hills rise against the water’s edge. Once a small fishing settlement, the place later became a hub for Hamburg’s rich merchant families. Expect to see grand villas dotting the streets, with a light touch of wine bars, chilled bistros, and refined coffeeshops.
There’s an air of the retro cool about this chic and designer flat that sits in the districts just to the north-east of the Altstadt. You’ll be greeted with a curious mix of cacti prints and real-wood parquet floors, whitewashed walls and Scandinavian-inspired minimalism. There’s also a small kitchenette for those nights in, along with a flat-screen TV and walk-in shower.
Okay, so you won’t be in the hustle and bustle of downtown Hamburg if you plump for this full-on villa, but you will enjoy the peace and calm of Rissen, an area of forests and creeks that caps off chilled Blankenese. In total, the house can sleep groups of 12. But the capacity doesn’t mean compromise on quality, because there are luxury and high-tech interiors with all electronics controlled by iPads!
You’ll score 165 square metres of living space in this family-sized basement apartment. It’s got four bedrooms and room for groups of up to nine. All sleeping quarters are stylish and modern, while the living spaces include a chic, minimalist lounge with a huge flat-screen TV. Location wise, you get to enjoy the waterfront scenes of the Outer Alster area, which is calm and tranquil, yet still near the main sights of Altstadt and Speicherstadt.
This inviting urban pad is purposely set up to host large groups of 14. It’s only got four bedrooms, but sleeping is spread between a series of bunks and doubles. On top of that, you get an enclosed al fresco patio-deck with its own pub-style eating area and games tables. The location is also a doozy, particularly if you’re looking to tap into the happening nightlife of the Reeperbahn, which is just a short walk to the north.
Airbnb isn’t just for self-catering apartments and private homes, you know. Stylish B&Bs and guesthouses also list on the service, which means you could pick a stay in one of the well-rated rooms of the HENRI Hotel. It’s a boutique lodging in the heart of Hamburg’s Mitte area (the downtown), with its own bohemian library, spa facility and gym. Ready to be pampered?
Airbnb is generally considered to be a slightly cheaper way to go than hotels in Hamburg. That’s not just because you can save cash on nightly rates. It’s also because the service lets you book properties that have enough space for everyone in your travel party, which means you can divide up the total price of the stay. In addition, lots of Airbnb places have self-catering, helping to reduce outgoings on the ground, and there are often enticing discounts for those that rent for a week or more (between 25-50% is normal on Airbnb!).
Picking a flat instead of a hotel in Hamburg isn’t without its downsides. If you’re used to the high level of service you get in more traditional styles of stay, you might prefer to chase a booking somewhere like the Scandic Hamburg Emporio Hotel. It’s less than a kilometre from the grand Rathaus and the main square of the city’s old town, has a lobby bar, a spa and a fitness centre. Nice.
Planning a weekend away in Hamburg? Want to see the majestic Rathaus and the historic warehouses of the old Hanseatic League? Keen to party the night away in the Reeperbahn? This guide has you covered when it comes to picking the perfect Airbnb. Leaving Hamburg? Check out our guide: How to go from Hamburg to Berlin!