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There are few better ways to get to know the city than by taking a trip on its waters. Alster Touristik operates a variety of picturesque boat trips around the Alster lakes and through the canals. Alster and canal tours leave from a small dock at the Jungfernstieg. The round-trip Alster cruise lasts one hour, costs €11, and leaves every half hour, April 1–October 7, daily 10–6; October 8–31, it leaves every half hour 11–6. The Winter Warmer Trip offers trips with hot chocolate and glühwein (additional charge) several times a day from November through March. Alster Touristik also offers sunset tours through the canals from Jungfernstieg to the bucolic Harvestehude neighborhood May through August and the waters around the historic warehouse district in September. Both tours start at 9:45 and run April through October, costs €14.50. A two-hour canal and Elbe tour costs €16.50 and runs April through October daily at 10:45, 1:45, and 4:45 and November through December daily only at 1:45 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. All tours offer commentary in English.
The HADAG line organizes tours of the lower Elbe to Stadersamd, a fruit-growing region outside Hamburg, lasting two hours each way. Visitors can get off at stops along the way (€5.30 to €8.30 each way). Throughout the year, the boats leave St. Pauli Landungsbrücken Pier 2 at 10 and 2:30 on weekends. Audio commentary is available in English.
Every day of the year, Kapitän Prüsse offers cruises around the Elbe harbor that last 60–90 minutes. The night cruise shows the city in a romantic glow. Cruises are €14 or €15. The boats leave throughout the day from Pier 3.
The Maritime Circle Line tours major attractions on the Elbe. Passengers embark at St Pauli Landungsbrücken's Pier 10 and can hop on and hop off at BallinStadt, Hamburg Harbour Museum, Speicherstadt/HafenCity, and the historic ship MV Cap San Diego. Tickets are €8 and include discounts at each venue. You can buy the ticket at the pier or online.
Alster Touristik (040/357–4240. www.alstertouristik.de.)
HADAG (040/311–7070. www.hadag.de.)
Kapitän Prüsse (040/357–4240. www.kapitaen-pruesse.de.)
Maritime Circle Line (Landungsbrücken 10, St. Pauli, Hamburg, 20359. 040/2849–3963. www.maritime-circle-line.de.)
Rainer Abicht (040/317–8220. www.abicht.de.)
Sightseeing bus tours of the city, all with guides who rapidly narrate in both English and German, leave from Kirchenallee by the main train station. A bus tour lasting 1¾ hours sets off at varying times daily and costs €15. For €25, one of the bus tours can be combined with a one-hour boat trip on the harbor. Departure times for tours vary according to season.
Hamburger Stadtrundfahrt (040/792–8979. www.die-roten-doppeldecker.de.)
Several walking tours are available. Some are only offered April through November, while others run year-round. There are general guided tours of Downtown, the harbor district, and St. Pauli as well as theme excursions, such as the Beatles and Reeperbahn. Unfortunately, most tours are available only in German. To find an English tour, contact the Hamburg Tourism Office.
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