Vienna vs. Hamburg 6 : 2 – Another city comparison

The harbour city Hamburg or beautiful Vienna – Who is leading the race?

Nach Berlin und München haben wir jetzt auch die Stadt im Norden Deutschlands etwas genauer unter die Lupe genommen. Doch wo lebt es sich nun besser? In unserem neuen Städtevergleich präsentieren wir euch in 6 Punkten die spannenden Ergebnisse und finden heraus, warum Wien auch dieses Mal nicht zu schlagen ist.

After Berlin and Munich, we have now taken a closer look at the famous city in the north of Germany – Hamburg.  Where are living conditions better and where are the people more open-minded? In our new city comparison, we will present you the exciting results and why Vienna can’t be beaten again.

1. Location & weather – Where is the weather better?

Hamburg is located in the north of Germany at the confluence of the Alster and Bille in the Elbe, which ends 110 kilometres northwest in the North Sea. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and, at the same time, the second smallest state of our neighbouring country. The Hanseatic city has one of the largest harbours in Europe. The close distance to the water also influences the prevailing climate. The typical weather there is called “Hamburger Schmuddelwetter” what means grey clouds, drizzling rain and strong gusts of wind most of the time. In general, Hamburg is located in the warm climate zone and the west winds create the maritime climate.

Exactly 743.59 kilometres (linear distance) separate the harbour city from the Austrian capital. Vienna is literally located in the heart of Europe. The city stretches along the banks of the Danube and is situated on the eastern edge of the Alps. Not only the location of Vienna is convincing, but also our much more friendly climate. While in Hamburg, you have to put your rain coat on on almost 129 days a year, in Vienna you only need it on approximately 94 days. (Source: World Meteorological Organization) If you prefer really warm summers you should go to Vienna. While the average maximum temperature in Hamburg is about 22.4 °C in July, the city centre of Vienna shows an average high temperature of 26.2 °C in the same month.

Vienna is located in the middle of Europe, is close to the water as well as to the Alps and convinces with its much warmer climate.

The current score: Vienna vs. Hamburg  1  :  0

Danube Vienna

2. Life – Who offers the better living conditions?

Both cities attract tourists from all over the world and they can enjoy varied cultural and leisure activities there. But what does it mean to live there?

Hamburg is a very impressive city with red brick houses, an overwhelming harbour with huge container ships, delicious fish specialties and of course, the infamous Reeperbahn. Hamburg has 1.743 million inhabitants (2013) and is the second largest city in Germany. This of course also has an influence on the costs of living there. According to an analysis of the real estate portal “ImmobilienScout24”, rents in Hamburg increased more than 12% between 2010 and 2014. In Vienna, rents only rose by 4% over the same period. If you want to find a cheap apartment, you have to look outside of Hamburg because in most of the districts you hardly get a shared flat under 500 Euros. (Source: Hamburger Morgenpost 2014)

What does it cost to study in both cities? Even if there have been no more study fees in Hamburg since 2012, the amount to pay for one semester is about 300 Euros. Although this also includes the semester ticket for the public transport system, it seems very expensive compared to Vienna. Students in Austria can count themselves lucky because as EU citizen they don’t need to pay any study fee during the minimum period of study (+ 2 tolerance semesters).

Also in terms of innovation, the city of Hamburg looks quite bad next to the Austrian capital. According to the current Innovation Cities Index 2016/2017, Vienna is the third most innovative city in Europe. Hamburg, on the other hand, landed on the 40th position. For all those who are planning a semester abroad r would like to gain international work experience in Austria, the ActiLingua Academy offers special courses for university preparation as well as for an internship at an Austrian company. 

A clear victory for Vienna!

The current score: Vienna vs. Hamburg  2  :  0

Living in Vienna

3. Leisure activities – Where does it never get boring?

Hamburg is said to be the “gate to the world” and regarding its harbour, which has always been a significant international trading hub, it might be true. But there is much more to discover in Hamburg. Starting from the historical “Speicherstadt” and the modern harbour quarter with the new “Elbphilharmonie” over to the “Landungsbrücken”, the “Reeperbahn” in St. Pauli and finally to the green shores of the Alster. If you like something more extraordinary you will feel comfortable in the “Schanzenviertel”. The Hamburg scene district meinst du This trendy district of Hamburg has a special charm with its many small shops, restaurants, cafés and its small party mile. Here you will meet many students and young people who are having a good time.

In addition, Hamburg is the third largest musical metropolis after New York and London. Highlights, such as the musical “The Lion King” staged right in the heart of the harbour, attract visitors from all over Germany and other parts of the world. But also the rest of the art and culture scene offers a multifaceted program. In the International Maritime Museum for example you can slip into the role of a captain while testing the ship simulator. In the Spice Museum located in a historic warehouse you will find more than 900 exhibits and samples, which tell the tale of the global spice trade over the past five centuries. What you should not miss while being in Hamburg is the traditional fish market, which takes place in Altona on every Sunday.

Vienna, however, is the world capital of classical music. Classical music is the heart of our music history and the work of the great composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Beethoven or Gustav Mahler is still noticeable. You can visit a classical music concert almost every day. The mix of old traditions and modern influences makes the charm of Vienna and that convinces everyone.

A day in Vienna could start with a ride in our famous ferris wheel, which is located in the “Viennese Prater”. Your city tour should continue in the first district of Vienna where you have to try one of our many coffee specialties in a typical Viennese coffeehouse. From the imposing St. Stephen’s Cathedral it is only a short walk
to “Heldenplatz”, where the “Vienna Hofburg” is located. Once you are there, you should have a look inside the Spanish Riding School and meet the world-famous Lippizaner horses. For all the art lovers the next stop is the “Albertina”. The museum houses the art collection of Duke Albert, which belongs to one of the most important art collections worldwide. Another highlight in the art scene is the viennacontemporary, Austria’s international art fair, bringing together artists from all over the world and promoting cultural exchange. And of course our “Museumsquartier” which is not only one of the world’s largest art and cultural centres, but also has become a popular recreation and leisure hotspot in the city.

If you would like to get a little foretase of what is expecting you here in Vienna, you should check out this video. 

However regarding the leisure offer, both cities have earned a point.

The current score: Vienna vs. Hamburg  3  :  1

Museumsquartier ViennaDonaukanal Vienna

4. Feel-good factor – Harbour flair vs. imperial flair

Hamburg lives with and from the water. 8% of the total urban area is covered with water. Did you know that in Hamburg there are more bridges than in Venice? To be precise, more than 2470 bridges span the many canals and waterways, which characterise the cityscape of Hamburg. One of the most important landmarks of Hamburg is definitely the harbour. During a walk along the “Elbe”, you will experience a very special atmosphere. You can watch the large container ships entering the harbour and even them being unloaded. You will also pass the museum ships “Rickmer Rickmers” and “Cap San Diego” and from there it is only a short walk to the “Landungsbrücken”. From here, the harbour tours depart as well as the ferries, which bring you to the opposite bank of the river.

In Vienna, on the other hand, you can walk in the footsteps of the Habsburgs, visit magnificent baroque castles or walk along the unique Ringstraße. For a date with the former Emperor Franz Josef you have to go to the Burggarten. Here you will find a statue, showing the emperor in his typical monarch’s uniform.

The former summer residence of the emperor and his wife “Sisi” is located outside the city centre in a beautiful park. The Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most popular photo motives among tourists, because one can still walk through the former ceremonial rooms and the well-preserved salons. For a second you will feel like being put back into the 19th century. Behind the Schönbrunn Palace, there is a little hill with the “Gloriette” (the former tea salon of Empress Sisi) on top. If the weather is good, you should take a walk up there and experience a splendid view over Vienna. The park of Schönbrunn is also home to the oldest remaining zoo in the world.

If you like to spend a lot of your time outside, Vienna is a great place to be. 280 imperial parks and gardens enrich our cityscape and improve our very good air quality. There are many recreation areas like the Prater, the Lobau or the Wienerwald, which invite you to enjoy beautiful walks and hikes. At the ActiLingua Academy we offer a wide range of activities, which will make your stay something special. 

Now it is a matter of taste. The feel-good factor is guaranteed in both cities and that is why this round ends in a tie.

The current score: Vienna vs. Hamburg  4  :  2

castle Belvedere

Gloriette Schönbrunn

5. A mentality check – The cold people of Hamburg vs. the moody Viennese

It is said that people in Hamburg are very cold personalities. But why is that? To strangers they seem unapproachable and an open-minded behavior is greeted with mistrust in North Germany. Perhaps this has something to do with the local patriotism, which is constantly noticeable there. The people of Hamburg love their hometown and are very proud of it. That may also explains why “Hamburg meine Perle” (EN: Hamburg my pearl) is written on almost every souvenir. One assumes that the weather also has an influence on the mood of people who are living in Hamburg. When it rains and storms outside the willingness to do something declines to a low point, which usually happens quite often in the northern parts of Germany. But once you have won the heart of a north German, you’ve got a friend for life.

What about the Viennese? We enjoy life, we don’t like to get in a hurry and it is our passion to complain about everything. Actually complaining is part of our tradition. Changes or replacements face resistance and we are not afraid to state this very clearly. That is also why some buldings in Vienna have gotten special names. The famous “Looshaus” without any decorations is a central building of the Viennese modernism but we just call it “the house without eyebrows”. Another example is the Viennese Secession, which is only known as “Krauthappel” among Viennese because of the golden cupola at the roof of the building.  The latest big discussion was about the transformation of one of the biggest shopping streets into a car-free zone. But we are known for our special kind of humour and thankfully no one takes it personally when we are making fun of something. One of our favourite words is self-irony, which is also a fixed part of our everyday life. We know our strengths but we also know when it’s better to be silent. We do not take life and ourselves too seriously. In fact, we are very peace-loving and know how to wrap someone around the finger. Not without a reason we are known for the Viennese charm.

Even if people in Hamburg have a big heart behind their hard shells, in Vienna it is definitely easier to get involved into a conversation with strangers.

The current score: Vienna vs. Hamburg  5  :  2

Vienna vs Hamburg

6. Culinary treats – North sea shrimps vs. “Wiener Schnitzel”

The north German cuisine is characterized by a varied fish offer from the Elbe and the North Sea. At most of the snack bars you can get delicious fish rolls instead of kebab or other fast food. A typical dish is the “Hamburger Aalsuppe”(EN: eelsoup), even though people are still discussing whether eel really is one of the main ingredients. Actually, the soup was considered as a meal made from leftovers. Apart from fish in all variations, the people in Hamburg like the mix of sweet and sour. They like to cook with fruits and another popular dish is “pears, beans and bacon”. For dessert they love to eat “Rote Grütze”, which is a sweet dish made out of red summer berries.

The Viennese people prefer the simple cooking style. We love the hearty and traditional cuisine. As a starter, we like to eat beef soup with semolina dumplings or liver dumplings. The “Wiener Schnitzel”, the “Fiakergulasch” (EN: goulash) or the “Tafelspitz” (EN: boiled fillet of veal) are still one of our favourite dishes. The Viennese cuisine is also known for its variety of pastries, which are best enjoyed in typical Viennese coffeehouses. While people in Hamburg meet up at the fish market, in Vienna we go the Heuriger where all generations meet in order to enjoy the quaint atmosphere and have a good glass of wine. Our Viennese delicacies are in great demand throughout the world, which is why we are the only city in the world, which is the namesake of its own eating style, the “Viennese cuisine”.

Both cities like the hearty simple cuisine, but these strange combinations of salty, sweet and sour ingredients do not meet everyone’s taste.

The current score: Vienna vs. Hamburg  6  :  2

Viennese cuisine


Each city has its regional particularities. Whether the harbour of Hamburg and its close distance to the water or the imperial Vienna with its magnificent buildings. A clear advantage of living in Vienna is the better price-performance ratio. Here students can get a nice room for 300 Euros and they need to pay far less for a semester at the university. Young people who want to study or work in a German-speaking country will easily get connected with others in Vienna. No matter how grumpy the Viennese sometimes seem, they are always happy about the exchange with people from all over the world.


 How does Vienna score against other German cities? Have a look at the Vienna – Munich city comparison or the Vienna – Berlin city comparison.

If you would like to do a German course in Vienna and discover the most beautiful parts of Austria, here you can find all our courses as well as the cultural and leisure program.