The harbor city is a small area southwest of the city’s central train station. Along small islands, the space is shared between the neighborhoods Strandkai, Uberseequartier, Oberhafen, Speicherstadt, Am Lohsepark, and the city center. The HafenCity may be an adventure to walk around in with no goal, just to see the maritime sights, with cranes, ships, and warehouse buildings that have found new purposes.
But there are also some quirky museums not to miss out on, with one being just outside the HafenCity close to the central train station. These three museums are at a close distance from the central station and can be reached by foot, a total walk of about three kilometers starting from the central station.
The Customs museum
Customs of shipped goods go far back. In the region of Hamburg, this is unequivocally related to the history of the Roman empire and medieval times, when customs were collected along the river Rhine. But the visitor is catapulted hundreds of years into the future, with the challenges and solutions of customs in the 19th and 20th centuries, we see artifacts such as a motorcycle with a sidecar and other technology to move customs officers as well as the uniforms and the evolving technology. This is a chance to connect back to the time of the Cold War, but also further back into previous centuries and stretching back to medieval times, where the river Rhine played a crucial part as a natural border along where the feudal lords collected taxes.
The Prototyp museum
This car museum has found its niche in the racing cars of the 1920s and onward. Several original Formula 3 cars (500cc) are displayed to give a taste of the ingenuity of the racing car hobbyists of the past when even a motorcycle engine could be refitted for a racing car in the 500cc category. For the car aficionado and the curious beginner alike, this museum is an eye-opener to the world of car racing. Don’t miss a glance into the workshop that is in the museum! This is where the museum engineers work on restoring the racing cars of the past. The museum has two levels, the one at the entrance has the older car chassis, including some of the designs of the war era, that gives a glimpse into the world of Volkswagen and how its parts would be repurposed for car racing in the postwar years. This privately owned museum has taken great care to present the enthusiasm of the past race car drivers who often doubled as racing car engineers.
The Museum of Illusions
This is a quick fix for a different perspective on lines, circles, and other shapes, and will surely give a laugh or two. The museum of illusions is a franchise that started in Croatia and has spread over the world. In Hamburg, we find the museum a stone’s throw away from the central train station. The museum is relatively small and if you spend a few minutes at each attraction you can have a full experience within an hour. So it’s perfect to combine with your other activities, or if you are just stopping by shortly in Hamburg. These three museums can be visited in well under a day. So they are suitable to get a taste of Hamburg’s history as a shipping city, as well as its engineering and science fans. All three museums are well within walking distance from the central train station and reach the HafenCity, which also will inspire travel photography. It has unique views of the harbor and waterline. In less than a day, you will be introduced to the local culture and get your bearings in central Hamburg.