There is much to offer expats thinking of living in Hamburg in terms of culture and the arts. The Kunsthalle has an impressive permanent collection of art, from medieval times right up to the contemporary period, and it also attracts special exhibits from renowned international artists.
Hamburg is also home to a Maritime Museum, charting the city’s history as a shipping and trading hub, and Spicy’s Spice Market pays tribute to one of the city’s oldest trading commodities: spices from around the world. One of the biggest attractions in Hamburg is Miniatur Wunderland, home to the world’s largest model railroad, a model airport, and several geographically accurate model cities.
In addition to the museums and galleries, Hamburg has much to offer outdoors, and expatriates can enjoy the city’s many green spaces and surrounding countryside. Many residents of Hamburg enjoy relaxing or walking along the banks of the river or nearby Alster Lakes, particularly in the summer when the days are especially long, due to Hamburg’s far north latitude.
Life in Hamburg further means you’ll always be near water. There are many water sports to enjoy, including kayaking, sailing, swimming, rowing, or ice-skating in the winter.
The school system in Hamburg is administered by the State Ministry of Schools and Vocational Training. The public school system has 245 primary schools and 195 secondary schools. Public school education is free and students must complete either 11 or 12 years of education, depending on the institution. The school year runs from August 1st to July 31st.
More central funds are spent per student on those living in Hamburg than any other state in Germany. Despite this, the standard of education is poor in comparison, with the Hamburg region being outperformed by most other states in Germany. Some of this is attributed to the high number of children on welfare and from immigrant families.
In addition to the public schools in Hamburg, there are two international schools and a French school. The International School of Hamburg (ISH) is a co-educational, independent day school from kindergarten to 12th grade. It was founded as a British Army School and is now one of the most expensive and highly-regarded private schools in Germany.
The Hamburg Public Transport Network (HVV) operates a comprehensive network of regional and commuter services on rail and bus around the city and its surrounding areas. There are also harbor ferries included in the system, making getting around very easy for any expat living in Hamburg.
The city has four underground lines (U-Bahn) and six above ground suburban lines (S-Bahn), along with nine regional services that quickly move commuters in and out of the city. At the weekend and on public holidays, the busiest U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines continue service throughout the night, which is a vital route home for those living in the suburbs.
Many residents living in Hamburg choose to get around the city by bike. This is a great way for expats to explore the city. Hamburg is very bike-friendly, with separate bike lanes, wide roads and many parks and car-free areas. If you don’t bring your bike with you, Hamburg has an excellent public bike system – StadtRAD Hamburg. Bikes are kept in docking stations across the city where you can borrow a bike and return it to any other station. You need to register a credit or debit card to use the system, and then the first 30 minutes of every journey is free.