Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and remains to be one of the country's most prized metropolitan areas for the economic importance of its ports. Hamburg is located on the river Elbe in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein and has direct access to the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Since the Elbe is traditionally the lifeblood of the city, many of its attractions, festivals, and much of its history revolves around the great river.
Hamburg hosts several large events annually. Hafengeburtstag celebrates the anniversary of Hamburg becoming a free port. Hafengeburtstag takes place in early May and is a large draw for Germans across the country. Alstervergügen, an international festival that takes place in August, presents fireworks displays, sailing, and watercraft events. The single largest fair in north Germany is Hamburger Dom, which takes place three times a year; from March to April, July to August, and November to December. The festival allows Germans to enjoy their fair weather with rides such as roller coasters and Ferris wheels and other attractions.
Hamburg is a popular destination for its stage productions, particularly large musicals and plays. Ballets, variety shows, cabarets, concerts, and circus-like performances are also plentiful in Hamburg, cementing the city as a strong player in the stage arts worldwide.
Hamburg Port is a large tourist attraction as well as being the economic backbone of the city. There are tours available all year long. A site that no visitor to the city will want to miss is the Elbe Tunnel, which runs underneath the river all the way across. Museums, shops, and cafés line the harbor, making it a fantastic spot to spend the day or even multiple days.
Families will enjoy Carl Hagenbeck's Tierport; one of Europe's most respected and respected zoos. It houses over 2,000 animals and has a variety of elephant, dolphin, and other wildlife exhibits and shows.
Visitors to Hamburg interested in more risqué affairs will possibly be drawn to the city's red light district of St. Pauli. The city has made advances to capitalize on the notoriety of the area and it is now a viable and mostly respectable place for legitimate night life. The area is well-policed and is considered exceptionally safe. St. Pauli now boasts upscale bars, taverns, nightclubs, and restaurants in addition to the seedier offerings for which it has become famous. Reeperbahn is the name of a famous street here. The name is derived from the term "rope street," which it was called because it used to be a major manufacturer of strong hemp rope.
Hamburg is a shopper's paradise, with upscale malls and shopping arcades almost everywhere. Mudsberger Centre is a very popular point for shopping as well as another located Rathausmarkt and Jungferstieg. Credit cards are not always as accepted in Germany as in other countries, such as the United States, so it is probably best to plan ahead. It is little surprise that Hamburg offers shops and distributors of fine items, as it is called home by more millionaires than any other city in Germany.