Life in Hamburg

Welcome to the creative port city that’s known as Germany’s ‘Gate to the World’. Hamburg is an electrifying place for emerging musicians. John Lennon once said, “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg.”

This is a confident and fun city. However, Hamburg is never far from rebellious undertones, as expressed in Sternschanze’s colourful graffiti, or on stage at one of St. Pauli’s many alternative clubs.

Apart from its great music scene with famous clubs, live venues and influential music companies, Hamburg is known for being a city of trade and business. Hamburg’s GDP is the highest compared to all other federal states in Germany, and 70% of Hamburg Music Industry GDP is generated by Live Events, Record Labels & Songwriting/ Publishing. Over 12,000 employees contribute to Hamburg’s music industry making it one of Europe’s capitals for music and creative output, and a vital touring destination for global artists each year.

Music video director, touring musician and all-round legend, Daniel Prieß shows us his top 5 staple venues in Hamburg.

St. Pauli

Explore the alternative district that’s famous for streets like Große Freiheit and Reeperbahn, which are lined with clubs, bars, independent shops, street art… and the kind of places that have made it known as ‘Germany’s most sinful mile’. Even so, this district has got some of the best bars that the city has to offer, as well as it’s very own football team (St. Pauli FC with their skull and crossbones logo). You’ll also find the best music venues like Molotow and Mojo Club – and our BIIMM Institute Hamburg campus, of course. 

St. Pauli is famous for being where The Beatles first started gigging. And if you’re a mega Beatles fans, you can join walking tours that call in at all the clubs and bars that John, Paul, George and Ringo called their locals.

Look out for: The doorway in the Reeperbahn district where John Lennon nonchalantly leans on the cover of his solo album, Rock n’ Roll.

"Hamburg is a very exciting city, especially music-wise. You have the opportunity to go to a great concert every day of the week, which is super nice. Also, I love the fact that Hamburg is surrounded by water. The harbour is a really nice place to have a seat, refresh your mind or write some lyrics".
Ronja Pöhlmann, Songwriting

Nobistor 14

Founded in 1990, this is actually three venues in one. It’s located directly on the Reeperbahn and is the place to find DJs, indie and rock music.

Strand Pauli
St. Pauli Hafenstraße 89

As close as Hamburg gets to the Caribbean, this is a St. Pauli beach bar - and a true Hamburg gem. This bar offers deck chairs and sand overlooking the river.

The Elbstrand
Övelgönne, right on the Elbe river

A beach in Hamburg that’s sure to become one of your favourite spots. It’s one of the best places to see the port of Hamburg – and get a tan in those summer months.

Uebel & Gefährlich
Feldstraße 66

This amazing gig venues is based in none other than the same World War II bunker as our BIMM Institute Hamburg college!

Platz der Deutschen Einheit

This 360-foot concert hall lies on the bank of the Elbe and has been designed to look like a great glass galleon floating down the river. If experiencing one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world sounds like your kind of thing (or you want to impress the parents when they visit), then this is definitely worth a visit.

Every genre of music has lived and breathed in Hamburg, including the German indie-pop movement Hamburger Schule, which gained commercial success via bands such as Blumfield and Tocotronic. 

More recently, it’s a city that’s seen amazing acts come, conquer and flourish. In fact, did you know that the Black Keys played one of their first concerts in Germany at Hamburg’s Molotow? Or that Adele played a solo show in her early years in Grüner Jäger? They’re just two of the many venues we collaborate with here at BIMM Institute, which form a core part of Hamburg’s live music scene!


Hamburg has a lot of clubs. You’ll experience a mix of both long-established and current ones, and all with a variety of different music genres. The two centres of Hamburg’s nightlife are St. Pauli and Sternschanze districts (nicknamed Schanze). If you like to party, there’s no way you’ll have a boring weekend in these two areas. 

Open mic nights are a huge thing in Hamburg – and the perfect excuse for you to get on stage yourself. Pooca bar, Grüner Jager, Kleinraumdisko (K.R.D), Good Old Days Bar, Mutter and Stellwerk are just a few of the bars that have live music nights.

Birdland holds jam sessions every Thursday for free, and their ‘Birdland Vocal Session’ (an open stage for singers) on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

““I always felt like Hamburg was the place to be for me, and now that I’ve moved here, I couldn’t imagine living and studying anywhere else. Hamburg, to me, is one giant inspirational melting pot. It’s a unique place I think, and especially for the indie music industry, it’s maybe the best city in this world.”
Marc Feldes, Music Business

Hamburg’s Festivals

Hamburg is not just a ticket for emerging musicians and future music business entrepreneurs. It also hosts a number of incredible music festivals throughout the year.  

Reeperbahn Festival

Taking place over four days in September, Reeperbahn is the perfect way to check out St.Pauli’s live music venues. Acts from all over the world come together to play the Reeperbahn strip. Last year, the festival hosted over 800 events and around 500 different concerts. It’s one of the world’s most important music industry meeting places. And every year, BIMM students have their own showcase to show the industry what they’re made of.


International and local artists play live in Hamburg’s district of Wilhelmsburg for the one and only Dockville Festival. This three-day event offers a unique mix of music and art and is based on the banks of the Elbe river on Europe’s largest river island. Past acts have included Hot Chip, Future Islands, Editors, Wild Beasts and James Blake.

There’s certainly no shortage of where to eat in Hamburg. Just try not to mention hamburgers! Yes, it might have been the inspiration behind the meat and bun combo, but there’s so much more deliciousness in Hamburg. 


Bullerei on Lagerstraße is a restaurant and deli that serves an array of German meat and traditional delicacies. Be warned though; this probably isn’t the best place to head to if you’re vegetarian or vegan. 

Pauline in St Pauli is definitely one of the best places in town for breakfast. We’re talking French-style cafe and bistro full of croissants and waffles. This is definitely the place to head to for Sunday brunch. 

Of course, you can’t come to Hamburg and not try the seafood! And where better place to try it than aboard a ship? Feuerschiff LV13 is a refurbished vessel that serves regional dishes and freshly caught seafood – and it’s quite cheap too. It’s also docked right next to the Elbphilharmonie – the ideal place to head to for a drink with a view. 

The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter that’s known for its amazing acoustics. You just have to get a free ticket at the entrance, and then you can head upstairs to the plaza and sit back with your tipple of choice.

Pauline, Hamburg

The Mönckebergstraße and Europapassage are shipping centres at the Alster (in the city centre) and ideal if shopping is on your to-do list.

If alternative clothes are your thing, you’d definitely want to head to Schanzenviertel. Clothes might be on the pricey side, but they’re definitely worth looking at.

If you class yourself as a bargain hunter and are bored of scrolling through Depop, then you’ll want to make your way to the iconic Flohschanze flea market every Saturday. Records, furniture, clothes, jewellery, books – whichever second-hand treasures you’re after, you’re sure to find them here.

record store set hamburg
Tadt park, Hamburg

Of all Germany’s big cities, Hamburg is the one with the largest green area (540km squared to be exact), so there’s definitely a chance to immerse yourself in nature. 

Stadtpark is definitely a favourite of ours. And, if you want a side of music with the great outdoors, you can climb up to the planetarium and experience an incredible view while listening to the performances going on inside. If you’re after some extra magic, Jenisch Park in Othmarschen is pretty special. It’s Hamburg’s oldest landscaped park. 

And what about the perfect spot for a picnic and sunshine beers? Planten un Blomen makes a pretty ideal spot. It offers different themed gardens, such as a rose garden and Chinese garden. 

Did you know that eight percent of Hamburg consists of water? Make sure to head down to the beaches by the Elbe for some salty, fresh air. The Elbstrand is perfect for escaping the city for a day. If you fancy a snack, you can grab a traditional Fischbroetchen (pickled herring in a bread roll) at the Strandperle and enjoy the sunset over the water.

Hamburg’s main mode of transport is the  U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (tram). There are four U-Bahn underground lines and six S-Bahn suburban lines that link Hamburg to other cities. It also has six ferry lines that serve the harbour and the River Elbe. Ferries depart every 15 minutes, and you can use the same ticket across the bus and U-/S-Bahn services. Handy right?


Hamburg is a city that’s made for cycling. You can sign up to StadtRAD Hamburg: a local city bike programme that means you can hire a bike at over 120 service points around the city. The first 30 minutes are free, after which you’ll be charged 0.08 euros per minute, or 12 euros a day. If you want, you can ride for free all day (just make sure you check your bike in at any station with half an hour).


Hamburg has an extensive range of bus services to make getting around easy. There’s the MetroBus (around 25 different lines), express buses (SchnellBus with around ten different routes), sprinter buses and regional buses. Hamburg also has a Nachtbus (night buses) which are the perfect way to get around once U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains have stopped for the night.


Hamburg has U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (tram). The U-Bahn trains tend to run more frequently (every two to ten minutes), while the S-Bahn trains tend to be every 10 to 20 minutes.


Hamburg has its own airport. The S1 S-Bahn connects the airport directly to the city centre and takes approximately 25 minutes. 

Any Questions?

For any questions regarding Hamburg student life or if you’d like more information on how to apply to BIMM Institute Hamburg please contact our Admissions Team on +49 (0)40 874 09 632 or email [email protected].


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