The southern bank of the river Elbe in Hamburg is dominated by the city's massive port. You will find the Finkenwerder airport, the site of the Airbus aircraft assembly plant there, which is a planespotter's favourite, and further south the district of Harburg, which used to be a separate city and has a long history.
With the river between the South and the rest of the city, public transportation options are fewer compared to other parts of Hamburg. S3, S31 and regional trains connects the South to central Hamburg, moreover Harburg is an important stop for intercity trains between Hamburg and central and southern Germany. Southern Hamburg (actually just south of Hamburg) is also where A1 and A7, the major motorways to Hamburg, meet.
- 1 Container port. Hamburg's massive container ports line the southern bank of the river Elbe. They are most spectacular at night, and the best place to view them from is by driving north along the A7 highway (heading into the Elbtunnel tunnel). They are not freely accessible to the public, but there are bus tours (only in German, about 35 € per person, must be booked in advance) which depart from Hamburg's city centre and, over the course of several hours, drive through the container terminals, with informative commentary.
- 2 Aussichtspunkt Steinwerder, Schanzenweg 12, 20457 Hamburg (Walk through the Alter Elbtunnel). 24h. A viewing platform at the southern end of the Alter Elbtunnel, with great views on Landungsbrücken, the Elbphilharmonie, and Hamburg's harbourfront. free.
Situated just across the Elbe river, 3 Finkenwerder Airport (XFW IATA) would undeniably be the most convenient airport for travellers visiting Hamburg. But unfortunately, due to being associated with an Airbus aircraft plant, for security concerns, usage is restricted to Airbus employees only. For them, two daily flights are available to/from Toulouse, but most of the time the runway is used for freight (up to complete sections of passenger planes using the oversized Airbus Beluga aircraft) or the delivery of new planes.
The runway, as well as the aircraft parking lot, can be observed from the public street Neß-Hauptdeich. The parking lot is on the other side of the street, so a few times a day planes actually cross the street, including the world's largest passenger aircraft A380.
There are public tours of the Finkenwerder plant of about 2½ hours. Tickets cost € 14, reservations are required at least four weeks in advance, payment has to arrive 14 days in advance. You must bring your passport, leave cameras and mobiles at your hotel. Visitors have to be at least 14 years old. Be warned, security is tight, strictly follow the rules.
The plant is located not far from the centre, however, it's on the other side of the Elbe. Using public transport, Airbus is accessible by harbour ferry 68 from Teufelsbrück. The express bus E86 takes you without stop from Altona's train station to Teufelsbrück (and back). You can also take a ride with your bike to the ferry, transport of the bike is without charge on the harbor ferries. Ferry 62 from Landungsbrücken 3 will bring you to the town of Finkenwerder, from there take the number 150 bus to the Airbus bus stop. Bus 150 starts at Altona's train station and uses the Elbe tunnel (not spectacular, but still one of the longest river tunnels in the world), that'd be your third option. To observe the runway, exit bus 150 at stop Neuenfelde, Rosengarten (next one after stop Airbus).
4 BallinStadt Auswanderwelt Hamburg (BallinStadt — History of Emigration), Veddeler Bogen 2 (For a visit take S-Bahn S3 to Station "Veddel". Leave at its southern exit, cross the bus station and the street "Veddeler Straße". Then you stand in front of it.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Originally built in 1892 under the guidance of Albert Ballin, the complex was built to provide medical care and accommodation to migrants, who were emigrating to the United States on HAPAG ships. The complex was converted into a museum, though its original design and layout is not the same because parts of the complex were destroyed. The museum is dedicated to the five million persons who emigrated via Hamburg. It has a computer terminal where visitors can look up information on their emigrant ancestors. At €12 (children: 5-12: €7, family: €25), it's pricey, and the English translations can be sparse and superficial. Unless they can read the German documents, American visitors who have been to museums such as Ellis Island will find much of the content familiar.
Harburg contains some exquisite historic buildings, such as the former town hall (Rathaus), as well as some civic and residential buildings ranging from 15th to 19th century, including some timber-framed houses, rare in the historic centre of Hamburg due to numerous raids, fires and urban reconstructions.
Admittedly, there isn't that much to do in this part of Hamburg except watching a musical. You can go planespotting at Finkenwerder or admire the large container ships and Burchardkai cranes, most spectacular in the night when some are lit up decoratively.
- 1 Theater im Hafen Hamburg, Norderelbstraße 6 (by boat), ☎ . Watch "The Lion King" here. For many Germans this is the must-do when visiting Hamburg.
- 2 Theater an der Elbe. Another musical venue. Currently "Mary Poppins" is performed here.
Shopping opportunities also pale in comparison with the northern bank of Elbe. In Harburg, you can go along the pedestrianized Lüneburger Straße, with some retail outlets. There is a shopping centre in Harburg called Phoenix Centre, built upon a part of the massive industrial complex of Phoenix AG, a large rubber manufacturer. The other two shopping centres are Marktkauf-Center and Harburg Arcaden.
In Wilhelmsburg, the district encompassing the cargo part of the port of Hamburg, as well as in Finkenwerder, you can find surprisingly many restaurants interspersed among the industrial buildings. Many of them specialize in fish served in many ways, often influenced by particular cuisines from around the globe.
- 1 Rollercoaster Restaurant (schwerelos), Harburger Schloßstraße 22, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This "Rollercoaster-Restaurant" is somewhat of a gimmicky place. Your food arrives through a "rollercoaster" in a closed pot. Some of it even does a looping right before your eyes. Portion size is on the small side and prices are normal. mains 9€ to 16€.
The nightlife in the district is severely limited to a few oddball cocktail bars and some clubs in the port area, far less popular than the ones across the Elbe.
Accommodation options are limited and advisable perhaps only to those arriving by car, who want to take advantage of relatively lower prices resulting from the quite remote location.
- 1 B&B Hotel Hamburg Harburg, Theodor-Yorck-Straße 1, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Privathotel Lindtner Hamburg.
- Panorama Hamburg Harburg.