Hamburg has all the ingredients for a productive, restorative and enjoyable workation. With more parks than any other German city and more canals than Venice or Amsterdam, it is a place where urban life means nature. At the same time, it is a historic and culturally diverse city where there is always something to do to fill your leisure time, and where everyone is welcome.
The city has an outstanding modern infrastructure for remote working, with free public wifi and an easy-to-use transport system. If you want to mix up your environment there are a range of creative workspaces to use, whether it is a vibrant coworking space or rustic laptop café.
After taking a fulfilling workation in Hamburg, we have compiled this guide to help you make the most of your remote working escape in the green waterfront city. We’ve also included a suggested itinerary for a one-week workation in the city.
This site contains links to travel services we love, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you. We were hosted in Hamburg with assistance from the city’s tourist board, who arranged complementary accommodation and entry to some of the attractions featured here. Our opinions are our own, and we always give honest travel recommendations.
In this article:
Why Hamburg is the perfect place for a workation
Hamburg is a city that is buzzing with creative energy. It has an innovative, forward-thinking essence about the place, while being built on the long historical roots of a centuries-old busy harbour and industrial port.
This blend of history and modernity is attracting entrepreneurs, startups and remote workers from all over the world. There is so much to explore and learn about the city, and the imaginative working environment it provides is guaranteed to invigorate you. This balance is perfect for taking a fun and productive workation.
We were amazed by the creative ways old spaces in Hamburg are being transformed for new purposes. One of the city’s newest iconic structures, the Elbphilharmonie, is a concert hall designed in glittering curvaceous glass on the foundations of an old commercial warehouse. This kind of repurposing is also extending to workspaces, with a number of historic buildings being converted into coworking hubs.
As well as the innovative use of space, Hamburg has all the basic foundations for flexible remote working. Its compact city centre is very easy to get around, the standard of living is high, connectivity is fast, and it frequently tops Germany’s Smart City Index.
But it is the integration of nature into the city that really gives Hamburg an edge as a workation destination.
The wellbeing benefits of green and blue space
When you’ve spent time in Hamburg it’s easy to see why it is known as the ‘green waterfront city’. It is perched at the confluence of the Elbe and Alster Rivers, and is interwoven with canals and lakes. These waterways define the city’s landscapes and give it a very calming quality.
Studies have shown that being close to water is great for physical and mental wellbeing. And Hamburg has been built entirely around water. You can begin your working day with a morning jog on the lake, take a walk on the harbour or in the pond-dotted parks during your break, and feel refreshed and restored.
You are never far from nature in Hamburg. Green spaces are integrated throughout the city as well as water. In between neighbourhoods you will find woodlands, nature reserves and sprawling parks.
The city has won awards for its environmental standards, and this is really noticeable in its excellent air quality. We almost felt as though we were in the countryside! This isn’t just because of the natural spaces, but also thanks to the climate-friendly tech that is being incorporated into the city’s buildings infrastructure and transport system.
Lots of micro activities to fill your breaks and days off
When on workation we always like to be in a place that we can get to know slowly while dipping in and out of work. One thing we enjoyed about Hamburg is that there are a lot of short, fun experiences you can mix into a working day.
This could be an hour’s harbour cruise or exploration of a museum, or maybe just a walk around the warehouse district or through the Old Elbe Tunnel to see the city view from the far side of the river.
Central Hamburg is quite compact, so it’s quick to get from one place to another by foot, bicycle, or maybe one of the e-scooters you will see around the streets. All of this makes it easy to have a flexible workation itinerary and build a mixture of fun activities and restoration time around your work schedule.
Where to stay in Hamburg on workation
Finding the right accommodation for a workation depends a lot on what is important to you. If you want to work at the place you are staying, then you need somewhere that has the right setup and facilities. But if you plan to work elsewhere, at coworking spaces and cafés perhaps, then you can focus more on location. That’s how we like to do it.
On our Hamburg workation we stayed at Motel One Hamburg Am Michel, one of a chain of affordable and comfortable hotels mainly in Germany. The location of this particular hotel is brilliant for exploring Hamburg, as it is on the threshold of the city centre and the lively St Pauli district, and just a short walk from the harbour. It’s also right near a metro station, so it’s easy to reach when you first arrive and convenient for exploring further afield.
A great added bonus of this hotel is it has a comfy lounge and bar area with power points and good wifi. We used this space to catch up on photo editing when popping back to the hotel, and enjoying a nightcap when we returned in the evening. You could easily spend a few hours here getting work done if you need to.
If you want to stay somewhere with a more focused workspace in your room, then the eco-friendly Scandic Hamburg Emporio is a good option, nestled between the city centre and Planten un Blomen green parks. The rooms here have a relaxing water-themed design, and every one has a work desk and air cooling system. It also has free wifi, a gym, and is close to a metro station.
Places to work remotely in Hamburg
A thriving coworking culture has grown in Hamburg over recent years, and there is a great network of spaces you can use flexibly around the city. Many offer day rates or other short-term packages, which is ideal for taking a workation.
We visited two of the coworking spaces in Hamburg with day rates to find out more about this scene. We found that the remote working community in Hamburg is very friendly and welcoming. The spaces we visited were also full of creative flair, and provided different settings for switching up your work environment.
BEEHIVE Coworking Spaces has three workspaces in Hamburg. A day pass here is just €15 or a week pass is €59. It’s quick and easy to book online, giving you access to all three sites.
The BEEHIVE location at St Georg is right by the main station, set in a restored century-old listed building. It has been designed to pay attention to the historic features while still feeling modern, For example, on the ceiling of the lounge space there is a beautifully reimagined version of a mural that had previously been destroyed. You can work in here or in the colourful hot-desking area, one of the relaxed meeting rooms or a private booth – the choice is yours.
Mindspace Hamburg is another workspace that has made impressive use of an old industrial building. You can buy a day pass here for €25 or a multipass, which works out cheaper and gives you flexible access for 4, 8 or 12 days over a 30-day period.
This coworking space is integrated into a huge complex spread across several floors. The main hot-desking area is in a large high-ceilinged hall, with an inspiring mural and industrial features woven into the decor. On different floors there are chic coffee bar settings, relaxed lounge areas, booths in the style of old phone boxes, and many other working and meeting spaces in between, decorated with stacks of vinyls, hanging bicycles, and a giant map on one of the walls.
Coworking in Hamburg on your workation lets you really embrace the city’s creative spirit. It’s also a way to connect with people and find community.
Laptop cafés and coffee shops
Hamburg has a vibrant coffee culture that has origins going back centuries. Germany is the largest importer of green coffee beans in Europe, and as the busiest port, many of these pass through Hamburg. The country also has the largest coffee roasting indutrsy on the continent, and you will find many coffee roasters around Hamburg as well as cafés that curate international blends.
In modern times, the coffee scene has collided with the remote working scene, and it’s a common sight to see laptops open in cafés around the city. Many coffee houses have plugin points and free wifi, and suitable spaces for working. We visited several of these and compiled them in a review of cafés in Hamburg for a working coffee.
Sternschanze is a bohemian neighbourhood of Hamburg, filled with independent cafés and bars. Many of the walls and buildings here are smothered in street art and graffiti. Trees line the wide cobbled roads, plants hang from balconies above, and a large green park adjoins the urban area. It’s a creative, laidback place to spend a while working and exploring at your own pace.
Café Kostbar is at the heart of Sternschanze. You will feel at home in this characterful bistro café tapping away on your laptop for a couple of hours over a freshly blended juice. There’s lots of space inside, many seats have power points, and the free wifi is fast. It opens early so you could come for a working breakfast, or have lunch and stay for a while afterwards.
Back in the city centre, Nord Coast Coffee Roasters is a rustic café that serves some of the best coffee in Hamburg. The wifi doesn’t even need a password here, and most tables have plugin access. It’s a popular place, so try and come at quieter times of the day if you can. We came early and queued for breakfast, but the wait was well worth it, as the food was delicious and it was full of positive ambience to start the day.
Over in the lively St Pauli district, Café May is a place you can work with a relaxed atmosphere over a coffee and homemade cake. A large room towards the back has comfy chairs and sofas near power points, with interesting modern artworks hung on the walls. The café doesn’t have wifi, but you can connect to a public network or just get your head down on some offline work.
Look out for Public Coffee Roasters around the city too. Four of these cafés are dotted around Hamburg, and they’re nice, chill places to plug in and work with a delicious cup of coffee.
Exploring Hamburg in your leisure time
Whether you have full days to spare on your workation or just the odd free afternoon, there is so much to explore in Hamburg, and amazing food to discover too.
City walks among nature
A reinvigorating way to use your downtime in Hamburg is to simply wander among its natural features. The sprawling Planten un Blomen Park (which translates as ‘plants and flowers’) is a lovely spot for a mindful stroll, paying attention to the manicured gardens and water features.
Then there are the waterways. Walk westwards along the Elbe and you will reach some gorgeous views back towards the harbour. Head inland in the opposite direction and you can discover the canal-riddled Speicherstadt, the warehouse district, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And on the far side of the city centre, the Inner and Outer Alster Lakes are surrounded by parklands and vegetation for a relaxing walk.
Explorational activities: getting to know Hamburg
There are many ways you can explore Hamburg more actively on your workation. Whether you’re into museums and galleries, architecture spotting, boat tours, live entertainment or bar-hopping, there are endless options to fill your time. Our rundown of things to do in Hamburg brings together several ideas.
Whatever your interests, you are guaranteed to be blown away by Miniatur Wunderland. It is home to the world’s largest model railway system, and so much more. You will discover incredibly intricate landscape models of cities and mountains, with trains, cable cars and even planes running among them.
After spending a good 2–3 hours exploring the models at Miniatur Wunderland, we wound down with a one-hour harbour cruise. These run every half-hour from the harbour front and will take you through the docks, up-close to the spectacular Elbphilharmonie building, and around the warehouse district and HafenCity, all with scenic views of the city from the water.
For a stunning panoramic view of the city, you can pay €5 to ride the lift to the top of the 75-meter viewing tower at the St Nikolai Memorial. This was once the largest church in the city, but was mostly destroyed in World War II. The entry fee also gives you access to a history museum in the basement.
Discovering the multicultural cuisine
The coming and going of so many millions of people through Hamburg’s port over the centuries has brought influences and ideas from all over the world. This is reflected in the amazingly diverse food scene in the city.
Hamburger and currywurst shacks are commonplace around the city, but these are also mixed in with a wide array of international restaurants bringing cuisine from all over the world.
Hamburg has its own traditional delicacies, too. Fish sandwiches are a popular snack-on-the-go. These come with many fillings, whether you prefer herrings, shrimp, crab or fried white fish. At Brücke 10 on the harbour front you can enjoy your choice with a great waterside view.
On our first night in the city we had a memorable tapas meal at Taparia Mar Salgado in the Portuguese Quarter. If you take a walk at night along Ditmar-Koel-Straße, you can take your pick from dozens of Portuguese restaurants.
Suggested one-week Hamburg workation itinerary
Everybody’s ideal workation is different. It could be a few days, a week, or even a month – there is no perfect length or plan. You can use the ideas in this article to build your own itinerary.
To give an example of how you might plan your time, here is a suggested one-week itinerary for a workation in Hamburg. It includes a few food recommendations, but also space to explore for yourself:
- Day 1. Arrive in Hamburg and check into your hotel. No pressure on today. If you have some spare time, familiarise yourself with the city by taking a walk on the harbour front, around the Speicherstadt and up to the Rathausmarkt.
- Day 2. Go for a morning walk in Planten un Blomen Park before heading to BEEHIVE St Georg Coworking for a day’s work. Relax in the evening and watch the sun set on the harbour.
- Day 3. Have a working breakfast at Nord Coast Coffee Roasters. Ride up the lift at St Nikolai Memorial for the views, then spend the rest of the morning exploring Miniatur Wunderland. Have a fish sandwich from Brücke 10 for a late lunch, then take a harbour cruise. Afterwards, walk through the Elbe Tunnel and see the views from the far side of the river.
- Day 4. Take a morning run on the Alster Lakes, before working at BEEHIVE St Georg for the day. Try a local hamburger or currywurst on your lunch break. Head to Sternschanze in the evening for a meal and a few craft beers.
- Day 5. Free day. Relax, take a few walks, or maybe explore some of the city’s museums and art galleries. Have a couple of café stops along the way.
- Day 6. Have breakfast at Amber Café. Spend the day coworking at BEEHIVE. Finish off with a meal in the Portuguese Quarter and a final evening walk on the harbour.
- Day 7. Check out of your hotel and head to the airport. If you have any spare time, stop off in Sternschanze for a final walk around the neighbourhood and some lunch/coffee.
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Have you spent time working remotely in Hamburg? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
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