Expats in Hamburg: Keep your finger on the pulse of the city

As an expat in Hamburg, it goes without saying that you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the city. That's how it works even with no German!


5 minute read
Updated on 19 Dec 2023

As an expat in Hamburg you've uncovered Europe's best kept secret: The Hanseatic city captivates its locals with more bridges than Venice, Amsterdam and London combined and strikes a balance between laid-back Schanzenviertel flair and the élite Eppendorf.

It goes without saying that as an expat in Hamburg you will want to keep your finger on the pulse of your new home base rather than just hovering in the bubble of internationals. To tell you the truth, German language skills certainly unlock a new level in your life as an expat in Hamburg; however, your limited German proficiency won't cut you back on going to the cinema or theatre and yet on top, you can easily stay up to date with the happenings in the city.

Expat in Hamburg: Your culture corner in English

Once in Hamburg, you've arrived in a true musical hotspot of Germany. With more than 45 theatres you get a wide range of performances, some of which are shown in English.

There’s more: besides theatres, you won’t have to miss out on latest blockbusters in cinemas neither!

Four theatres you can't miss as an expat in Hamburg:

  • English Theatre of Hamburg: In fact, the English Theatre made its debut in Hamburg. The theatre performs all its plays in English to foster international communication through language and the art of theatre.

  • Thalia Theater: Once a month the Thalia Theater opens its curtain to international audiences who can follow the performance with English (and Turkish!) subtitles.

  • The Hamburg Players: Interested in comedy theatre and classical drama? This gem of high quality theatre ensemble will cast a spell over you. And incidentally it's the oldest English speaking theatre ensemble!

  • The University Players: Amateur, oh yes, but full of talent! The University Players belong to the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Hamburg and perform twice a year. Get a full dose of classics to modern performances in English.

Never miss a movie with these English-speaking cinemas

Just five years ago it was almost impossible to find films in their original language, simply because in Germany every series, every film gets dubbed. Now, five years later, you could watch one film in the cinema every night, all of them in English and some even in Spanish, Korean or another language.

From the tiny cinemas to the big auditoriums, we've got them all for you!

  • Abaton Kino: Next to Hamburg University, the Abaton Kino offers a wide range of films. From festival favourites to documentaries, all of them are always in their original language. You're from Spain in Hamburg? Then you'll probably find films in Spanish, even in French or Turkish at the Abaton cinema!

  • Lichtmess Kino: It's possibly the smallest cinema here, which only opens its curtains a few times a month. You'll find real gems that you won't find in any other cinema.

  • Metropolis Kino: Find smaller new releases from different countries and rotating film series that play for days, weeks, months or years.

  • Savoy Filmtheater: Niche films are great, but you really shouldn't want to miss the new James Bond 007. Savoy Theater is the hub for English language movies, from blockbusters to older nostalgic films. When you think that's all there is to it, the vibe of Savoy cinema hits you: when you drop into the luxurious seats, order the cocktail, you wish the film to never end.

That's how you pick up the news as an expat in Hamburg

Oh boy, you just wanted to jump onto Mönkebergerstraße to grab the brandnew sneakers you've laid an eye on until you notice that the street is blocked off? What a pity, you might not face this situation if you kept up to date with the latest news from around Hamburg.

Honestly speaking, if you don't put in some effort as an expat in Hamburg to catch up on the political and social affairs to know what's going on, you might struggle to step out of your international bubble and join German community. To be honest, there are fewer stumbling blocks in your path!

So, how do you stay on the ball when it comes to the news in Hamburg? Obviously, sources are more limited without speaking German, yet as an expat in Hamburg there are enough sources you can follow:

  • Local.de: Clear advantage of a big city: Most medias put a whole page about your city at your fingertips. On Local.de there's one page with all the news from Hamburg!

  • Deutsche Welle: Just like Local.de, Deutsche Welle also dedicates an extra page to Hamburg. Straightforward and critical, Deutsche Welle gives you the tools to form a reflected opinion.

  • Hamburg News: Hamburg News keeps you up to date with all the latest developments in Hamburg's economic hub and its economic structures. The go-to magazine for expats in Hamburg who wish to boost their career.

Set up your support system as an expat in Hamburg

A foreign city, a foreign language: It goes without saying that you ought to have like-minded people around you, not least to feel completely immersed in one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. Are you wondering how you can build up your support system of expats in Hamburg?

Oh, lucky you! In Hamburg you are spoilt for choice!

With so many international companies based in the port, Hamburg has a huge international community.

So finding friends or simply networking will be a piece of cake for you.

There are several ways to find expats in Hamburg, especially in Facebook groups:

So, when will you set up your next expat meeting?

Speaking German scores you extra points as an expat in Hamburg

Should you as an expat in Hamburg even strive to break through language barriers? Well, to be honest, you can survive as an expat in Hamburg without knowing German. However, if you want to do more than just survive, settle in and bridge the gap between the international bubble and the German community, then German is vital as an expat in Hamburg.

You're lucky that Hamburg is full of expats - and so naturally it's teeming with offers for language courses. We have selected the top 3 language courses for you:

  • Evolanguage: Evolanguage focuses on intensive German courses to prepare expats in Hamburg or students for university or business in everyday life. You can polish up your German within 80 units in 4 weeks for 550€. Even better: the course is valid for a German visa!

  • Goethe Institut: Little surprise that the Goethe Institut with its highly qualified teachers has landed first place for the best language teaching institute in 2019. The Goethe Institut truly is a gem among language schools. For 699€ you get 3 hours (45 minutes) twice a week for 10 - 12 weeks. It' s the perfect place for expats in Hamburg to learn German while working.

  • Sprachschule Aktiv: The Sprachschule Aktiv runs evening courses for expats in Hamburg to help them dive into their new life in Hamburg with a solid level of German. For 219€ you can take a four-week course with 270 minutes per week.

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