Life in Hamburg

Hamburg may be Europe’s largest non-capital city, but this music metropolis has a village character through-and-through. It’s where bandmates find each other on the street and the details of record deals are negotiated in the bar round the corner.

Ready to become part of Hamburg’s vibrant scene?

They say that if you want to truly understand what Hamburg is all about, you have to head down to the harbour. Hamburg’s port is, without doubt, the focal point that the city has grown around. The behaviours, customs and traditions found here are what characterise Hamburg’s unique spirit – including that of the music industry.

Once you make Hamburg your home, there is nothing better to get a feel for the place than by grabbing a drink and soaking up the sites that mark the River Elbe.


Elphi, as the Elbphilharmonie is affectionately nicknamed, is the newest of Hamburg’s landmarks. Its eye-catching design of a glass ship’s sail built on top of a traditional Hamburg-style warehouse dominates the skyline of the harbour. Part of Hamburg’s rich cultural fabric, the Elphi welcomes orchestras and artists from all corners of the globe for world-class performances.

St. Michaelis Church

For anyone born and raised in Hamburg, the St. Michaelis Church (AKA der Michel) is the OG of Hamburg’s landmarks. The church, which was one of few buildings not destroyed during the World War Two, has been a key orientation point in the city for centuries. Head up the tower to get an impressive view of HafenCity and to start to map out the streets of Hamburg for yourself.


Today a UNESCO world heritage site, Hamburg’s Speicherstadt represents the largest warehouse complex in the world. Built between 1883 and the end of the 1920s, a stroll around the Speicherstadt’s canals offers photo-worthy architecture and a bustling leisure hub filled with museums and sights of cultural interest.

Alter Elbtunnel

Exploring Hamburg’s harbour doesn’t just happen above ground. For those curious, you can travel from the centre of the St. Pauli district right to the South bank of the Elbe river where the docks remain. Open 24 hours a day for pedestrians and cyclists, make sure to check out the terracotta decorations to meet some of the Elbe’s residents!

Many in the music industry consider Hamburg to be the ultimate launchpad into the European scene. Packed full of venues, record shops and more to feed a hungry musical appetite, there are plenty of opportunities for artists to get up close and personal with audiences.

Whether you want to catch up-and-coming artists, test out new material on an eager audience or hit the festival circuit, there are few better cities in Europe to do so.

Reeperbahn Festival

The vibrance, diversity and excitement of Hamburg’s eclectic music scene is best seen at the Reeperbahn Festival – Europe’s largest club festival. Held each year in September, this is one of most important industry meeting points globally. Beyond dozens of networking events, panels and workshops, Reeperbahn Festival also brings hundreds of-up-and-coming acts to play to thousands of fans and international experts – and students from BIMM Institute are always amongst them.


Founded in 1990, Molotow is actually three venues in one. Located directly on the Reeperbahn – one of Hamburg’s prime entertainment districts, this is the place to find up-and-coming artists before they hit the big time. The likes of Alabama Shakes, Peaches, The Black Keys, Sam Fender, Fontaines D.C have all performed here. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be next!

Uebel & Gefährlich

Uebel & Gefährlich is a true institution in Hamburg’s music scene. Techno, jazz, pop – you name it, Uebel & Gefährlich will have it. The venue has won music venue of the year multiple times and is truly a must for anyone who loves music. Make sure to check out their website for the latest programme and to book tickets.

Pony Bar

Hamburg’s Pony Bar is something of an institution within the city. Billed as ‘Hamburg’s smallest cultural centre’, Pony bar is famed amongst the large student population with open mic nights, cosy concerts and rap showcases all on offer. The venue aims to make the arts accessible to all. For this reason, and in their own words, ‘entry is free on principle’.

Living in Hamburg, you’ll never be short of places to party. The party hubs are found in St. Pauli and Sternschanze districts and cater to music tastes of all kinds.

Whether you’re on the hunt for a party that lasts from Friday to Sunday or a place to grab a chilled drink with friends, Hamburg has got you well and truly covered.


Right by Hamburg’s TV tower and trade fair halls lies PAL, a true institution in Hamburg’s techno scene. Parties here run non-stop from Friday through to Sunday and host internationally renowned acts across two floors. Grab your comfiest dancing shoes and head to PAL for a night of thumping bass, beats and techno anthems.

Golden Pudel Club

If the highlight of your night out is the after club-breakfast, then Pudel is the place for you. Just a short distance away from the Reeperbahn, Pudel lies close to the Hamburg Fischmarkt – a true rite of passage for anyone who chooses Hamburg as their home. With just one tiny room, you’re certain to leave Pudel with new friends and warm memories.

Zoë II and Zoë III

Two for the price one: Zoë II and Zoë III lie across the street from one another and are completely symmetrical. Kitted out with Chippendale sofas, golden lampshades and old wallpaper, you’ll soon settle into the cosy atmosphere at either of these bars. And if one is too full, a back-up option is never too far away.

Zum Silbersack

Zum Silbersack is a cult bar of the Reeperbahn scene. First opened in 1949, you can expect all the joys of a no-frills authentic German kneipe: cheap drinks, German schlager and a proud tradition that makes you feel at home. Sticky floors aside, this place is a must-visit if you want to get truly stuck into life in Hamburg.

If you’ve got shopping on your to-do list, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Hamburg. Whether you want to dig for second-hand bargains or kit yourself out with a unique piece for your wardrobe, Hamburg will certainly deliver.

With prime shopping locations found throughout the city, you’ll never be too far away from your next shopping fix.


Found in the centre of the city, Mönckebergstraße is Hamburg’s most-visited shopping street. From large department stores to high-street brands, you’re guaranteed to find what you need here.


Want to pick up some alternative pieces? “Schanze” is the place to go. Filled with trendy boutiques and independent stores, you’ll be able to pick up all kinds of bold, colourful and contemporary clothing here.


Bored of scrolling through Vinted? Time to head down to Hamburg’s most iconic flea market. Every Saturday, the area surrounding BIMM Institute Hamburg fills up with people on the hunt for second-hand treasures. Whether you’re on the hunt for records, furniture, clothes, jewellery or books, this is a real mecca for Hamburg’s bargain hunters.


If you’re on the hunt for some shopping in between class, Karoviertel is conveniently located right next to BIMM Insitute Hamburg. With a mix of boutique, vintage and one-off designers, Karoviertel is also home to some of Hamburg’s best record shops. Make sure to stop by Hanseplatte to grab some hit records straight out of the Hanseatic City.

Hamburg’s restaurant and café scene is amongst the best in Germany. Whether you’re looking for traditional German cuisine or something from further afield, you will find somewhere that offers exactly what you’re looking for.

The city also has a great range of options for all dietary requirements – from vegan to gluten-free. Ready to get your teeth into some delicious grub?

CAI Kitchen

CAI Kitchen takes the best of traditional Sichuanese cuisine and delivers it with a modern twist. 100% vegan, 100% delicious, this is the place to go for dumplings, noodles and more. Just make sure to get down there early as tables fill up fast!

La Casita

A visit to La Casita is sure to transport you to the hustle and bustle of Mexico city. Their expansive menu offers tacos, empanadas and more and packs all the flavour of an authentic taquería. Located directly in front of BIMM Institute Hamburg, it’s a great place to stop off and grab a bite to eat after class.


This cosy restaurant in St. Pauli offers a daily-changing menu of vegan dishes to satisfy appetites big and small. With gluten free options too, this is a safe bet when you need to satisfy lots of different dietary requirements. Big portions that won’t break the bank, you can’t let Happenpappen pass you by.


If you’re in the mood for pizza, Tazzi is the place to be. Since 2018, Tazzi has been offering its guests some of Hamburg’s finest pizza – all Neapolitan-style. With homemade tomato sauce and pizza dough made by hand, pizza doesn’t get much fresher than Tazzi! And if you eat veggie or vegan, they are more than happy to advise you on a variation that suits your dietary needs.

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?

And as a BIMM Institute Hamburg student, you have access to discounted public transport. Just head down to Reception to find out more!


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 15 euros a day. If you want, you can ride for free all day (just make sure you check your bike in at any station within 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 night buses (Nachtbus), 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


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