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Given its prime position on the Elbe, its status as a major port city, the various canals cutting through the city, and the centerpiece Alster lakes, you can be certain that Hamburg offers a multitude of opportunities to explore the city from the water.
The city has numerous ferries plying the Elbe in its transportation network, which means that for the price of a transportation day ticket, you can hop on-hop off these water routes as you wish.
The classic tour is #62 to Finkenwerder, an area with a small village atmosphere that’s enjoyable to explore by foot before returning to the mainland by ferry – or make a half-day trip out of it by packing a picnic lunch or dinner along. The ferry makes a number of stops along the coast, giving you the opportunity to walk on the beach or enjoy a beer or fish sandwich from the small restaurants along the shoreline, a lovely diversion when the weather is agreeable.
Ferries depart every 15 minutes from Landungsbrücken.
Total travel time: one hour.
Cost: day tickets from 5.80€.
ATG offers basic trips around the Alster all year long. If you’d prefer a short trip, it’s possible to pay per station; otherwise, purchase a round-trip or day ticket.
Cruises depart from outside S-/U-Jungfernstieg.
Cost: round trip 8.50€, day tickets 12€.
ATG also offers extended versions of its Alster tours, which include an additional hour-long excursion through Hamburg’s canal system.
Runs March through October.
In good weather, however, you may prefer to rent a small boat – a canoe or even a swan-shaped paddle boat – to explore the canals at a slower pace. Try Bootsvermietung Dornheim in Winterhude; prices start at just 9€ per hour for a two-person boat. Closest station: U-Saarlandstrasse.