1. If you intend to travel from the airport of Hamburg into the city.....just walk downstairs into the subway area and take S1 into the middle of town (about seven stops, maybe 20 minutes). Cost of 3.50 Euro approximately. The ticket you buy.....is good for the entire city (one-way).
2. The new opera hall (750-odd million Euro spent on the place.....is down next to the harbor. I'd put it on the list of ten things in the city to view. Note, presently, it cost nothing to go up to the observation deck. That might change in a year. It gives you a 360-degree view of the city and harbor. One of the ten places in town you ought to visit.
3. Best way to travel around the city? There is a 5-person ticket (all-day travel) which would cost 48 Euro for 3 days. Just the inner city region, but it's the best deal for subway, tram, or bus travel. Note also, it's good for some of the ferry rides around the harbor.
4. Walking under the Elbe River. Near the harbor area, there is a large building which will take you down 60 feet and allow you to walk UNDER the river.....about a 15-minute walk. It developed about hundred years ago. There is a ferry which could bring you back but it only operates in early morning or late afternoon hours. I'd put this on one of the top ten must-do things in Hamburg. Interesting experience. No cost.
5. Crime? I spent four days walking around the city. It's safe to say that lots of drugs are used....including heroin and meth. I witnessed one idiot on a high who just walked straight out into a street, and did some deer-in-the-headlights stare at some oncoming car. I didn't come across any no-go areas but I would recommend watching yourself while around the train-station or any of the subway areas.
6. Food. Well.....just about everywhere you go....it's seafood of some type or Italian.
8. Weather. It's on the coast, so weather patterns change hour by hour. Bring an umbrella.
9. There are a lot of people around Hamburg area revolution-types.....anti-capitalists.....and prone to violence against the cops, authorities, or structure. Of most German cities that I've been across.....I'd say Hamburg has more per-square-kilometer....than any other city.
This site to the left is near the harbor and part of the planning episode against the G20 summit in early July. You can figure tens of thousands of revolutionary types will be brought in from across Germany to supplement the local folks. Unlike previous years.....this episode may go in a different fashion because there is a new German law that says if you harm a cop in any way.....you could easily get prison time. Some of the anti-capitalists may be enjoyed a year or two in prison after this summit episode.
10. Reeperbahn. This is the seedy part of Hamburg....formerly the party district, and to some degree....the red-light district. My advice is that it's ok to walk around in the daylight hours, and in groups at night. Don't bring expensive cameras or lots of cash with you. There are about a dozen great restaurants in the local area. There's a subway platform at both ends of the district....I'd use them to arrive and depart.
11. Beachfront. If you'd like to take an excursion in June, July or August....for an entire day out of Hamburg, then I might suggest the one-hour train episode up to Travelmunde. Four-star beach....lots of shops. Don't go except in the summer months.
They panhandle....ride the subway and ask for a Euro here and there....and generally just enjoy the free and easy lifestyle.
The public just accepts the situation, and most refuse to pass over money or notice them.
13. Cost of living. The one obvious thing you notice when comparing against other German cities....there's lots of money that has been put into streets, infrastructure, and homes. You can't afford anything much in the inner city area. If you stop for a pizza or beer.....you tend to note that the pricing is 10 to 20 percent more than in most average German cities.
14. The one more odd thing in Hamburg to check out....is the Dungeon. Some capitalists came up with this fake idea and built up a business.....which is mostly a scare-you-type haunted house. Frankly, it's awful stupid but it makes a ton of money from mostly the 12 year old to 20 year old punks. For me, it's a total waste of time and money.