As Germany's second-largest city, Hamburg sometimes feels forgotten. Its far north location probably keeps it off many visitors' Eurail destination lists although it can be a very pleasant hub between the cities of Berlin, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. Hamburg's location on the Elbe River and close to the North Sea has made it one of Europe's most important ports for many centuries. When you visit you'll notice that the city feels like a major port and there is water everywhere. With its canals the city actually has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined, but it doesn't really feel like that's true as a visitor.
What to do
Hamburg is famous for being the place where the Beatles played 6 hours a night for months on end in the bars in the city's infamous Reeperbahn district. The area is still loaded with slightly seedy nightclubs and bars and is worth a visit. Monckebergstrasse is the big shopping street that runs from the main train station to Hamburg's impressive city hall building.
The city has an impressive array of museums as you would expect, but Hamburg is also home to more millionaires than anywhere else in Europe and taking a bus tour of the city will reveal some opulent lakeside mansions that are not at all typical in European cities. The harbor itself is rather impressive and walking in this area you'll find some kitchy tourist attractions that may or may not suit your taste.
Hamburg International (code: HAM) isn't one of the cheaper German airports to fly into, but international flights come from all over so check the fares. Discount carriers fly into a small regional airport (code: LBC) from other European cities so if you aren't coming from far away that is an option. Otherwise it may pay to check prices into Amsterdam and Frankfurt as Hamburg is a simple train connection away from both. Hamburg's airport can be reached by city bus, but usually with a transfer. A better option is the Airport Express shuttle that takes about 25 minutes from the airport into the city center.
Where to stay
There is a wide array of sleeping options in the city, but many of the more affordable places are in the St. Pauli area and specifically near the Reeperbahn. This area can be fun, but be aware that it's also home to an active and famous red light district so consider your exact location before booking. There are plenty of hostels in Hamburg as well has hotels in Hamburg, but as usual the better deals can often sell out early so plan ahead.