Hamburg Life

Hamburg is a very easy city for students to live in and enjoy a reasonably comfortable quality of life. It’s a diverse city characterised by its association with the Elbe River and one of Europe’s largest ports. This gives the city a slightly rustic charm in some quarters, while also bringing a certain affluence to other pockets of the city. As a result of these associations Hamburg really is a well connected, metropolitan hub with something to suit most lifestyles.


Students from the Mundus Journalism programme have written extensively about their experiences living in Hamburg. Over on the blog you can read about the Open Air Kino that fill Hamburg’s parks on long summer nights, get a taste of Africa in Hamburg, learn about the university and its diverse faculties, get insider tips on the best nights out in St Pauli and just get to know Hamburg a little bit better through the eyes of your fellow students.

Here are some other key things that are useful to know as a student settling into life in Hamburg

The good:

– One of the best things: Public transport is free for students! You just need a valid student ID and transport pass, which will be given to you as part of your enrollment

– Supermarkets are cheap and on almost every corner… they vary from Edeka (more upmarket) to Penny and Lido (budget and a little chaotic to navigate)

– In general, it’s very cheap to enjoy a meal out too – check Sternschanze for several cheap and cheerful eats

– You can get a hot lunch at the university Mensa (food halls) for anywhere between 2 EUR and 4 EUR max

– Hamburg has several beautiful parks including Stadt Park, Planten und Bloomen and a walking track around the Alster lake. There are also dozens of canals with walking tracks along the edges

– You can rent canoes and paddle boats in summer to spend afternoons lazing on the canals

– There is a beach on the edge of the Elbe (take the ferry from Landusbrücken to Elbe strant) which makes for another great summer afternoon

– For Saturday mornings, check out the flohmarkts around city, Berlin isn’t the only city with great markets!

– For getaways around Europe, Ryanair and EasyJet fly regularly from Hamburg Flughafen. Ryanair seems to have particularly cheap flights to Portugal in off peak seasons

– As far as exercise goes, you can by a semester ticket to the university’s sports hall and exercise programme for 50 EUR… this gives you pretty much limitless access to every type of sport and exercise and dance and relaxation programme you can imagine. If you’d rather go private, google ‘Sportspaß’ for an equally cheap gym membership

– There are several boutique and English language cinemas around the city including the Abbaton which is right next to the journalism department in Allende-Platz. The Savoy, in St Georg, also broadcasts live shows from the West End.

– Three times a year the Hamburg Dom comes to town, filling the St Pauli skyline with an ever shifting range of theme park attractions, definitely worth a visit!

– During winter you’ll find Weihnachtsmarkts around the city… these German Christmas Markets are great meeting points for evening get togethers and all serve a range of (cheap!) specialty foods as well as a range of drinks including hot chocolates and the famous gluhwein. The bigger markets also sell a great range of hand craft gifts.

The not so good:

– It’s probably pretty important to note that supermarkets are closed on Sundays, so make sure you plan ahead on weekends! There is however, at least one supermarket at the Hauptbahnhoff and one in Altona that is open.

– Hamburg is big, but not 24-7 style – so public transport can be restricted after midnight on weekdays.

– The streets around the Reeperbahn (Europe’s largest red light street) can be pretty dirty and noisy on the weekend and there are definitely some ‘interesting’ characters on the street itself… you’ve been warned.

– Many shops (particularly cafes) only accept cash, so it’s hard to live in Hamburg if you don’t have a bit of cash on you at all times.

– Banks seem to be well set up for students but if you’re coming with a partner or family, be careful as many have high monthly fees if you’re not a student

– It is essential for all students in Germany to have health insurance. This seems to cost around 80 EUR per month so be sure to budget this into your monthly spending

– You can’t escape Northern Europe’s grey, dark and long winters here – be prepared for blankets of low grey clouds during the winter months and make sure you get out to the weihnachtsmarkts to counter the season with some bright lights and late nights!


Please note: This list is not exhaustive and is intended as a guide and not gospel, all info is subject to change! 

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