Nicknamed the “Gateway to the World”, the Port of Hamburg is the largest in Germany and the second-busiest port in Europe. It was founded in 1189 by Frederick I due to its strategic location along the River Elbe and enabled Hamburg to emerge as a leading trade city in Central Europe.

Today the Port of Hamburg (the Hamburger Hafen) is home to many of the city’s most famous attractions and ideally explored by boat tours that depart from Landungsbrücken. This rich historical setting is home to modern bars, musical theaters and museum ships, as well as a floating boat church.

Stroll along the pedestrian walkway that leads through the port’s 19th-century Speicherstadt Warehouse District where tobacco, coffee and spices were once stored. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest warehouse district in the world and was built as a free zone for the transfer of goods. It’s crisscrossed by canals that are flooded during high tides, with small barges taking tourists through its historic streets to admire the Wilhelmine brick Gothic architecture that is renowned for its turreted roofs and elaborate gables. The Speicherstadt is a particularly atmospheric area to explore at night when the red-brick buildings and steel bridges are beautifully illuminated.

Another landmark in the Port of Hamburg is the Köhlbrandbrücke, a 3.9-kilometer-long bridge that connects the harbor area on the island of Wilhelmsburg. It was designed by civil engineer Paul Boué and architect Egon Jux, with its inauguration taking place in 1974.