Of tropical heat, whale skeletons and stars

Five scientific centres in Hamburg


Hamburg is a city of knowledge: learning and research are pursued at 20-plus higher education institutions, nearly 100,000 students populate the libraries, auditoriums and refectories of the Hanseatic capital. We visited five places to experience science in Hamburg.


Urs Spindler

Since the x-ray laser European XFEL launched its daily bombardments, new scientists from all over the world have been arriving in Hamburg every week. In a 3.4-kilometre-long concrete pipe stretching from Hamburg to Schleswig-Holstein, scientists accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light in the XFEL. They study materials and molecules with the resulting X-ray flashes. The scientists' plans for the future include a visitor centre so that the public can learn about the laser. For those whose thirst for knowledge just can't wait, we've visited five sites that already make science a tangible experience.

The best thing about it: most of the offerings are free.

Where to satisfy your thirst for knowledge in Hamburg

Stars or city views

Linnéring 1, 22299 Hamburg

Bird tour

Kaltehofe Hauptdeich 6-7
20539 Hamburg
  • Tropenhaus Planten un Blomen

    Tropical heat

    Perfect for the warm-blooded: it's warm and cosy all year round in the Tropical House. If a light flirtation with ferns and the chance to hang out with cacti is your thing, you shouldn't miss this little expedition, starting from the Dammtor city railway station.

    Jungiusstraße 20355 Hamburg
  • Medizinhistorisches Museum

    Bizarre objects

    How times change. Dentists, for example: in the early 20th century, it seems they sometimes accepted walrus tusks in payment - no, it's not a joke. Two of the artistically carved gnashers can be seen in the Medical History Museum at the Eppendorf University Hospital (UKE). The total experience ranges from fascinating to faintly gruesome: wax-moulded reproductions of diseased body parts, known as moulages, may not be everybody's cup of tea. Behind the occasionally bizarre objects, however, lies the enthralling story of how modern medicine developed.

    Martinistraße 52 20246 Hamburg
  • Planetarium

    Stars or city views

    The best moment in the planetarium is when it gets really dark for the first time. Suddenly, all your senses signal to you that there's no dome there any more, only an infinite expanse. Whether you get swept away into the universe or the anthology of the rock band Queen is up to you - the newly renovated planetarium offers entertainment as well as an oasis for the knowledge-thirsty.

    Linnéring 1, 22299 Hamburg
  • Kaltehofe

    Bird tour

    The decommissioned waterworks on the island of Kaltehofe now plays host to a wealth of rare plants and animals - throngs of Hamburg residents can also be sighted on the marked pathways. The inviting footpath leads along the dike and, as of recently, joins a nature discovery trail. Another new feature: there's a viewpoint for watching birds, preferably through binoculars which can be hired easily in the museum shop close by.

    Kaltehofe Hauptdeich 6-7 20539 Hamburg
  • Walskelett im Zoologischen Museum

    Time travel

    A real insider tip is the Zoological Museum at the Center of Natural History (CeNak). It's right by the science institutes in Grindel, the university district, and is worth the trip for the whale alone. To be more precise, the skeleton of a narwhal with two tusks: immediate, vivid evidence of the impressive things our little blue planet can produce.

    Bundesstraße 52 20146 Hamburg