PopulationMetro: 2,115,000
Germany’s second city is a creative wild child with global impact.

Hamburg is both Europe’s second-largest harbor and a serious contender for Venice of the North, with a latticework of canals and a lake that elevate the city into visually stunning territory.

A new vision for the Elbe riverfront will further beautify the city. The landmark that tells the story is the new $933-million Elbphilharmonie, a spectacular concert hall that combines 19th-century warehouses with the crystalline architecture and acoustics of the future. The hall surely contributed to Hamburg’s #35 ranking in our Google Trends subcategory.

Or perhaps it was the surrounding neighborhood of HafenCity, Europe’s biggest inner‐city urban development project, which has transformed almost a square mile of tumble-down docks along the city’s port into a buzzing shopping and residential area in the past decade (final completion is due in the late 2020s). It includes the historical Speicherstadt area, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Zaha Hadid’s Riverfront Promenade, an elevated affair that connects Hamburgers to the Elbe Waterfront through amphitheatre-style access points.

CITY PERFORMACE
Place
Place 35
Product
Product 26
Programming
Programming 11
People
People 50
Prosperity
Prosperity 47
Promotion
Promotion 12

Hamburg also ranks #28 for its Messehallen Convention Centre. But this is one hopping tradeshow venue, helping the city rank #21 for global nightlife with the help of Messehallen’s gritty St. Pauli neighborhood, with its football stadium, cocktail bars and innovative bistros. Nearby is the Reeperbahn, Europe’s largest red-light district and home of strip clubs, bars and nightclubs.

It’s also where the Beatles played, performing some 300 concerts and spending more than 12,000 hours on stage here. John Lennon famously said, “I grew up in Hamburg.” Between the Fab Four, the Elbphilharmonie and Hamburg’s Museum Mile, which takes in five major galleries and every school from classic to contemporary, Hamburg’s #41 spot for global Culture subcategory comes as no surprise, if even a bit disappointing.