11 Jun 2021

Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Hamburg Red-Light District Safely

Hamburg is a major, multi-cultural hub of Germany, being second only in size and population to Berlin. The city is also notorious on the world stage for its wild nightlife and racy Reeperbahn, which is located in St. Pauli.

Reeperbahn street sign.

The Hamburg red-light district is one of the best entertainment spots in all of Germany. Thousands of tourists and locals alike gather on its streets every evening to enjoy the extensive variety of hotspots the Hamburg red-light district offers. Of course, there are shadier adult clubs and cinemas you might expect in a red-light district, but there are also many ‘tamer’ venues to explore. From casinos, bars and eateries to theatres, live music and discos. No matter your interest, there’s something for everyone up for a good time! The Hamburg red-light district also may have something to do with why Hamburg is a popular stag/bachelor destination…

However, there is more than meets the eye to the Hamburg red-light district. The Reeperbahn is steeped in a history of sex and scandal which cannot be discovered alone. You need an insider expert on the Hamburg red-light district to truly discover the shocking secrets of the city’s nightlife. A popular and safe way to experience Hamburg’s red-light district is a St. Pauli and Reeperbahn tour. These are also great ways to orientate yourself in the region; you may even find the perfect venue to finish your evening during the tour! You can find tickets to several entertaining Hamburg red-light district tours right here on the easyGuide website. Discover more about this unique and exciting activity later in this guide.

Reeperbahn casino

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If you want to find out more about what to expect from the Hamburg red-light district, or unsure about taking a guided tour of the Reeperbahn, keep reading our quick guide to the Hamburg red-light district!

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What to do in the Hamburg red-light district?

The Reeperbahn, the start of which is marked by a uniquely shaped building called the ‘Dancing Towers’, is a few minutes walk from central St. Pauli train station.

The entire district is best explored on foot. This is so you can swerve through the dense crowds and find a hangout spot to suit you. Different ambiences linger outside each venue, so you can get a feel for what might await you inside. From seedier, sexier establishments, to rock and roll joints, to classic European cheesy discotheques. Some are built for you to dance the night away, whilst others are more audience-based with stage shows and live music.

Crowds in the Hamburg red-light district at night.

If you are particularly interested in music, Germany is renowned for its edgy music scene. Many Hamburg clubs showcase classic German underground music. Interestingly, the Beatles performed at Große Freiheit, a Reeperbahn venue, when they were just starting out! You can also chill out at one of the late-night restaurants, cafes and budget eateries for a bite to eat and a break from all the Reeperbahn action.

The History of the Reeperbahn

The Hamburg red-light district has a fascinating past; it certainly isn’t covered in many history books for a good reason! Hamburg is a port city, meaning it was also a prominent party hub. Hamburg built a reputable red-light district for the many sailors who frequently passed through the city. Although bridges and brothels are most often associated with Amsterdam, Hamburg easily revivals the Dutch city, with an abundance of both.

A black and white photograph of the Hamburg red-light district.

A guided tour of the Hamburg red-light district is the best way to discover the Reeperbahn’s twisted history. Your personal guide will dish the dirt on the best tales, myths and legends of the Reeperbahn, including the story behind Hamburg’s ‘Jack the Ripper’, the ‘Nutella’ gang and even the history of Hamburg’s notorious sex workers!

The most infamous street in the Reeperbahn is Herbertstraße. Before prostitution became fully legal in Hamburg, this was formerly the only street in the city where sex work was tolerated. Today, Herbertstraße is renowned for having Hamburg’s most expensive sex workers. This street is also notorious for its highly exclusive entrance policy. Understandably, under 18’s are forbidden from entering. However, women are similarly banned from stepping foot onto Herbertstraße. Large metal barricades at either end of the short street ensure this rule is obeyed.

There is a crude local lore which tells of the rather gross, if not a bit funny, consequences that women who ignore the strict men-only Herbertstraße rule may be subject to. A Hamburg red-light district tour guide will be more than happy to dish the dirt on that!

Top-rated 18+ tours of the Reeperbahn and St. Pauli

St. Pauli Highlights Tour – Above 18 Only

A comprehensive tour of the ‘sinful mile’ of Hamburg. You’ll get to check out the top spots of the Reeperbahn; tours also end with a complimentary mug of beer or liqueur shot so you’re ready for the night. Explore the colourful Kiez neighbourhood, famous sites and historical landmarks whilst your guide amuses you with anecdotes, insider information and the latest Reeperbahn news and developments.

a street in Hamburg's red light district

Red & Blue Light Reeperbahn Guided Tour – Above 18 Only

Discover the deep, dark secrets of the legendary Hamburg red-light district. Your expert guide will escort you around all the hushed corners and infamous neighbourhoods of the Reeperbahn. You’ll find out all sorts of crazy information, facts and stories surrounding the city’s nightlife from your guide’s entertaining commentary. From The Beatles’ Reeperbahn experience to the most expensive rooms of St. Pauli and even the history of Hamburg’s sex workers!

Sex & Crime Tour in St. Pauli – Above 18 Only

Book onto this top-rated tour and brace yourself for a night of unravelling secrets, scandals, myths and histories behind the Hamburg red-light district. You’ll also get to dive into a few venues, including the celebrity-favourite “Zur Ritze” bar for a complimentary mug of beer and short drink, as well as the boxing cellar where Mike Tyson and the Klitschko brothers trained. Your guide will reveal exclusive stories of Hamburg with a tasteful touch of humour, and also provide recommendations on the best Reeperbahn clubs and discos to visit with exclusive discounts.

The famous Reeperbahn Police Station.
Infamous Reeperbahn Police station, seen in many popular films and TV shows

Top-rated tours of the Reeperbahn and St. Pauli for all ages

Reeperbahn Neighbourhood Tours – All Ages

On this tour, suitable for all ages, you’ll get the opportunity to learn all about St. Pauli’s colourful history. You’ll pass many famous, or infamous buildings, landmarks and cultural hotspots. Parts of the tour focus on Hamburg’s more ‘adult’ history, although it is explained tastefully and mindful of any younger visitors. You’ll also be shown famous St. Pauli locations used in film and television sets. Tours include a visit to the entrance of Große Freiheit; this cool club is where the Beatles performed in their early career.

Elbphilharmonie opera house in Hamburg at night.
Elbphilharmonie

Guided Tour of Elbphilharmonie & St. Pauli – All Ages

Not only do you get to discover the secrets of St. Pauli, but this tour also begins with an exploration of Hamburg’s modern landmark, the majestic Elbphilharmonie, with a local guide. Elbphilharmonie is one of the largest and acoustically most advanced concert halls in the world and its architectural design is easily one of the most innovative in Europe. You’ll even get to visit the eighth-floor viewing platform for stunning panoramic views of Hamburg!

The tour then gives you the opportunity to take Hamburg’s underground tunnels towards St. Pauli. Here, an expert guide will show you around the Reeperbahn. Moreover, this tour includes a visit to cult bar “Zur Ritze” for a complimentary beverage.  

Popular venues in the Hamburg red-light district

Grosse Freiheit 36 – Visit the Grosse Freiheit 36 website

Grosse Freiheit 36 is one of the most well-known clubs in Hamburg, and indeed the world thanks to its previous famous guests. Crazily, the Beatles often performed at this venue during their early days. Grosse Freiheit 36 has been a staple of Hamburg nightlife for several decades. Inside, expect to hear music ranging between dance, rock, reggae and metal. It also hosts many festivals, concerts and gigs.

Docks – Visit the Docks website

Docks opened in the early 1900s as a cinema, before it transformed into a concert hall. It has a capacity of over 1500 and has welcomed some of the greatest bands of all time, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath. At the weekends, Docks transforms into a disco, with trance, techno, house and also R&B music. It is popular with young people and college students.

Gruenspan – Visit Gruenspan website

Between red walls and tall columns in stucco, the Gruenspan is a historical Club in Hamburg, open since 1968. The club offers alternative rock and metal music as well as hip-hop, soul and commercial reggae If you’re after a legendary party in a simply stunning venue, definitely one to check out.

Buddy’s – Visit Buddy’s website

Buddy’s s one of the most versatile clubs in Hamburg, with disco, house, electronics and also classic ’70s and ’80s rock. However, the biggest asset of Buddy’s is that admission is free. A rarity for a German nightclub.

Hafennbahnhof – visit Hafenbahnhof website

Located by the river Elbe, Hafenbahnhof is certainly more chilled than other venues on this list. It offers a varied and alternative music program each week. Its speciality is live jazz but it also hosts DJs and plays soul, indie and ’60s music too.

Kulturhaus 73 – visit Kulturhaus 73 website
Several floors make up the Kulturhaus 73; it is a very lively musical and cultural venue. Inside there is something to cater for all interests; events include concerts, dances, jam sessions, theatre, film screenings, projections of “Tatort”, Foosball tournaments and more. It also serves up great snacks too.

St. Pauli district of Hamburg across the river.
St. Pauli

Thank you from easyGuide

We hope you found our guide to the Hamburg red-light district. Don’t forget you can find tickets to the top attractions, activities, experiences and tours in Hamburg here.

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