Hamburg houses on the lake shore

Hamburg: Wind, Water, and Wide Green Spaces


Germany’s greenest city invites you to enjoy a city break in close touch with nature: with its countless Hamburg parks, nature reserves, beaches, open-air food stands and its unique urban shore, Hamburg ensures a relaxing and yet highly diverse holiday experience.

In Hamburg, inspiring urban environments and soothing greenery go hand in hand – sustainable hotels, retail shopping and gastronomic venues included.

No need for lengthy journeys, complex planning, or rushing. With its 31 nature reserves, Hamburg is one of the greenest cities in all of Europe, allowing visitors to enjoy urban flair combined with beautiful nature experiences.

So why not venture out for a hiking trip in the nearby Harburg Hills, followed by a refreshing shandy at the legendary Strandperle with a view of passing container ships. Or take a leisurely walk around the 200-year-old Planten un Blomen Hamburg park and pop over to the adjacent Karolinenviertel afterwards for fair fashion and natural cosmetics. Or how about an extended bike tour along Hamburg’s urban shore?

With a fresh tailwind, you can cycle alongside giant container ships, from the stairs quarter of Blankenese via the Oevelgönne beaches and past the St Pauli Fischmarkt all the way to the city centre. You can stop over at the Landungsbrücken for a fresh fish roll, or enjoy a cool drink on the Elbphilharmonie’s Plaza at sunset.

Hamburg is a thriving green pearl, with numerous bodies of water, a continuous fresh breeze, tree-lined streets, and residents who love their city just as much as Hamburg’s guests do. Hamburg offers an excellent climate especially in the summer months – and not just in terms of temperatures, but also in terms of street food locations, outdoor cafés, and lush green getaway destinations within easy reach.

Hamburg parks and outdoor spaces – a world of outdoor experiences

Hamburg has actually more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam. Little wonder though when you consider the countless canals and tributaries of the Alster Lake and the Elbe River. In Hamburg’s urban ecosystem, water and nature are embedded in a unique way. If you feel like discovering the city from an entirely new angle, you can rent a stand-up paddle board or a canoe at the Alster Lake in the city centre.

From there, you can make your way along the Alster canals that will take you to green residential areas and to Stadtpark Hamburg, the city’s green lung and a much-loved location for open-air events – and all this while enjoying summery temperatures and a refreshing breeze.

Hamburg provides a laid-back holiday experience – not only on the water, but also on land.

A relaxing summer in the city can also take the shape of browsing around the city centre, strolling through the countless inner-city parks, or chilling out on Hamburg’s waterfront. That’s because Hamburg’s retail opportunities go well beyond shopping centres, and because Hamburg parks includes Europe’s largest Japanese garden as well as Europe’s most extensive park cemetery. And because Hamburg is one of the few cities that has its very own urban beaches.

The city’s cultural life is being rebooted cautiously and, due to current circumstances, Hamburg’s cultural venues will not be overcrowded this summer.

But that’s just fine, because Hamburg’s locals have their own way of enjoying a long summer’s night: in the countless street cafés, or at one of the beach clubs, beer gardens and open-air restaurant terraces – some of these with a maritime view of the Elbe, and others with a view of lush greenery on the banks of the Alster.

Day trips from Hamburg

And all those wishing to get away from the urban environment can simply get a train from the central station to the countryside just on Hamburg’s doorstep.

In the matter of one hour, you can reach the seaside resorts on the Baltic Sea as well as the national parks and the Wadden Sea on the North Sea. The unspoilt nature around the Lauenburg Lakes to the east is also worth a day trip, as are the extensive hiking areas of the Lüneburg Heath in the south of Hamburg.

And even as a stopover on the way to the Baltic Sea, the North Sea or the route to Denmark, Hamburg is the ideal place to enjoy two or three days of urban flair combined with wind, water, and wide green spaces.

For all those who can’t wait to start planning their next Hamburg trip, we have compiled our very own…

Top 10 Hamburg tips revolving around water, wind, and wide green spaces

Süllberg (Blankenese)

With an altitude of 75 metres, the Süllberg hill in Blankenese arguably offers the best view over the Elbe River and the North German lowlands – including a star-studded terraced restaurant and a beer garden.

Falkenstein shore (Rissen)

A hearty beach walk within the city boundaries, with some of the world’s largest container ships passing you by.

Jenisch Park (Nienstedten)

On the slopes above the Elbe, Hamburg shows its somewhat stately face: just off the elegant Elbchaussee, this landscaped Hamburg park, which was designed as an English-style country estate, invites you to enjoy a picnic with a view of the Elbe – and to explore the art exhibits of the Jenisch Haus and the Ernst-Barlach-Haus on-site the premises.

Coast by east (HafenCity)

At a prime location in the HafenCity district and with an unobstructed view of the Elbphilharmonie, this restaurant offers Asian-inspired food, with a window front that can be opened and an eye-catching interior wall that is entirely covered by green plants.

Canoeing and kayaking on the Alster

Perhaps the best and most eco-friendly option are the GreenKayak boats as these combine paddling pleasure with environmental protection. Make sure to stop over at the Café Canale, where you can be served coffee and cake through a hatch while remaining in your vessel.

AlsterCliff (Harvestehude)

This prominent venue directly on the Alster Lake is all about seeing and being seen. Guests can choose between the indoor café and the wooden jetty.

Strandperle (Oevelgönne)

The ultimate Elbe experience. Look at the ships passing by, dig your feet into the sand and dream away the afternoon with a delicious fish roll in your hand.

Strand Pauli (St Pauli)

This beach club creates the perfect holiday atmosphere, including a St Pauli off-scene flair and a fabulous view of the shipyard on the other side of the Elbe.

A cycle tour along the Elbe and Hamburg’s urban shore

Enjoy the tailwind on your trip from Blankenese in the west to the Elbphilharmonie in the HafenCity, with plenty of opportunities for ­refreshment along the way. Join this bike tour.

Elbphilharmonie Plaza (HafenCity)

A must for all guests since 2017, the Plaza viewing platform provides a unique panoramic view of Hamburg – with a steady west wind and best enjoyed at sunset.

It’s more than parks – Hamburg is a sustainable city

What is one of the main components of a city break in close touch with nature?

Well, nature itself.

Today, metropolitan regions are increasingly taking steps to ensure that nature and natural resources are used in a responsible manner. In Hamburg, a fresh breeze can also be felt when it comes to sustainability, as the city’s ecosystem of fair fashion, regional and seasonal cuisine, as well as sustainable mobility and upcycling projects continues to grow and thrive.

Using the ICE, you can travel to Hamburg in a climate-friendly way, and thanks to Hamburg’s extensive and eco-friendly public transport network, including port ferries and the StadtRAD bike rental system, even families don’t need a car to get around. In fact, Hamburg’s local public transport system is entirely CO2 neutral.

Quite aptly, Hamburg Tourismus has launched the digital “Hamburg CARD Green”, which can be easily downloaded to your smartphone. The Hamburg CARD Green offers unlimited mobility, ensuring free travel by underground, suburban rail, buses and port ferries throughout your stay – in addition to countless opportunities to explore the real Hamburg. What is more, the card offers discounts at numerous (mostly sustainable) attractions across Hamburg.

For example, from the Steinstrasse bus stop in the old town, lovers of regional cuisine can walk over to the Hobenköök – a market hall with Hamburg delicacies and an adjacent restaurant.

Even sustainable overnight stays are easy in Hamburg: the Raphael Hotel Wälderhaus at Inselpark Wilhelmsburg, for instance, offers a holistic holiday experience amidst a forest atmosphere.

And all those who would like to spend the night in a super central location will find sustainable accommodation at the Scandic Hamburg Emporio.



Join the green scene! Our eco-friendly packing guide.


Are you a scruncher, folder or a roller?

Oi, mind out of the gutter! We’re talking about packing. More specifically, how you can be greener and more ethical with what goes into your backpack when you travel. 

Buzzkill guys, but by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. 

As travelers and all around decent human beings, we have a responsibility to protect the rivers, beaches, mountains and oceans that have given us so much unconditional and unqualified love over the years. Which means thinking about what you’re taking with you from your world, into theirs. 

The good news is, both big brands and start-ups are responding to travelers’ desires for more eco-friendly and sustainable travel gear. Here are just some of our favorite green products that are currently out there. 

STAnd up, Go Green, Do Good.

Refillable toiletry bottles

Those handy travel-sized toiletries that we love so much? Great for short trips and getting around the 3oz hand luggage rule, but a nightmare for the oceans and landfill sites where the miniature plastic bottles end up. Invest in refillable bottles instead. We love GoToob by Humangear. Fresh shades, BPA-free and a lifetime guarantee.

Mineral suncream

Some of the chemicals and parabens in sun-cream are not only bad for your skin, but also for the oceans and reefs that you swim in. Using a mineral-based sun-cream like JĀSÖN will not only protect your skin, but also the environment. There are no artificial colours or animal by-products, and the packaging is bio-degradable and packaged in recycled and/or recyclable containers. Now that’s hot!

Bamboo toothbrushes

That plastic toothbrush that you replace every six months? That toothbrush never disappears. The plastic can’t decompose, which means all your toothbrushes are out there in the world somewhere.

Go for a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush instead, like Humble Brush. Their ‘Go Humble, Give Smiles’ project also means that for every brush you buy, a child in need will receive a toothbrush, oral care or hygiene education. Plus, bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so you won’t get any of that nasty bacteria that hang out on your plastic brush.

Refillable water bottles

Barbie was wrong, plastic is not fantastic. Rivers, coastlines and railway verges clogged with rubbish and plastic bottles are a familiar sight for many travellers. Which is exactly where your single-use plastic bottle will end up.

Take a refillable bottle away with you. We are OBSESSED with Dutch-brand Dopper. So many reasons… not least the dreamy shades of neon corals and cool aquas, BPA-plastic free bottles that are recyclable when you’re done, and a wicked ethos where 5% of the company turnover is pumped into their projects. Oh, and a removable cup that looks – to us – much like it’s designed specifically for wine.

Soaps and sanitizers

Just what the doctor ordered for every eco-warrior, there’s not a single occasion when we don’t have Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer in our hand and man bags. Kills 99.9% of germs, smells incredible, and doesn’t strip your skin like normal anti-bac.

We’re also all over Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid soap. You can use this stuff for literally everything when you’re away – face, body, hair, food, laundry, dishes. It comes in ten lush scents, is made with organic and fair-trade ingredients, and is packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.

Bamboo sarongs

We know what you’re thinking, another bamboo product. And what about the effing pandas, you monsters!

Okay, this does raise an important issue about checking that the natural products you’re buying are responsibly sourced. However, bamboo consumes much less water than cotton and doesn’t need high quality arable land to grow, which makes it much more sustainable. It’s also 60% more absorbent than cotton and it’s super soft (like a panda), making it the perfect travel accessory.

We love Karavan’s Bamboo Peshtemal. Bus blanket, top sheet, sarong, towel… you genuinely have to try one to appreciate how fast they dry out, way faster than a travel towel. Plus, they look sheet hot! Here at STA Travel HQ, they’re a staple for every trip.

Reusable tote bags

Did you know that carrier bags are illegal in Rwanda? Yep, totes ahead of the game.

You’re probably the kind of person that wouldn’t use a single-use plastic bag at home, right? So why would it be any different when you’re away? Take a foldaway reusable tote with you, also great for doubling as a beach and laundry bag.


The key to backpacks and being sustainable often comes down to longevity and not upgrading your backpack every few years. Find a size and shape that works for you, and you’ll have your beloved pack a lifetime. (On a personal note, this author’s Osprey side-loader is on its 20th year and just about to visit its 89th country. Old school).

However, there are also brands out there such as the mountain legends VAUDE, who now offer environmentally-friendly backpacks that are ethically produced and made from sustainable materials. Check out their awesome Green Shape eco-range.

Sustainable clothing

It’s perhaps fair to say that once-upon-a-time, if you wanted to buy ethical clothing, you had to be into a certain, look? We’re personally down with the whole boho hemp vibes, but if you’re not, brands like Patagonia, Lulu Lemon, and Tentree are doing sustainable gear that does good and looks good. have a whole section of their site dedicated to gear that’s sustainable in some way.

We could go on…got your own eco-packing and green tips?

We want to hear them! Shoot us an email at 

Want to consume less and do good on your travels. Why not add in one of our conservation trips to your next big adventure? See here. Want to buy a eco-friendly gift for your friend? See our top picks