Boat ride on the Elbe river with Barkassen – Meyer

Last updated Nov 19, 2021
Boat ride on the Elbe river

A boat ride on the Elbe river is a must for everyone that is visiting Hamburg. It is a great way to see the city from the water and there are several different tours to choose from. We got to join a one-hour tour with Barkassen – Meyer and it was a really nice tour and we got to see parts of the city in a different way. The only problem was that the tour was in German (as most of them are).

Boat ride with Barkassen-Meyer

We are on time, even asking inside the office if we are in the right place. Sure thing! We buy ice cream and wait for the tour to start. The tour that is promising us to show us the real size of the harbor with all its bridges and nice buildings. It’s a great day and I am ready to take notes and to get some fun facts about everything we are looking at. Yes, I’m a total nerd when it comes to statistics and fun facts that are not taken from google.

Boat ride with Barkassen-Meyer in Hamburg
Boat ride with Barkassen-Meyer in Hamburg

Other people start coming and it doesn’t take a long time before the boat is ready to leave. 2019 is also a special year for Barkassen – Meyer, they are celebrating 100 years. This must be a great achievement and an awesome quality stamp since there are a lot of different tour operators that offer these kinds of cruises.

The Grand Harbor tour – one hour on Elbe river

The Grand Harbor Tour is the company’s classic tour that might change each day. The changes are made due to the tides or other special events that might occur. This is a really popular tour and soon we are ready to go. My pen and paper (yes I don’t take notes on my cellphone) are ready! And then it all starts in German. I am patiently waiting for the same information (or at least some information in English) but nothing is coming. People start to laugh and I can clearly see that everyone is having a great time.

The Grand Harbor tour - one hour on Elbe river

After about 15 minutes, I go up to the guide and skipper and ask them if they have any information in English. After a minute of searching, I get a tour guide in English. This is a great booklet with lots of useful and interesting information. The problem is that I can’t seem to find where we are and what we are looking at. I also see that there is an app with an audioguide in English. I quickly try to download it but have no luck entering the app – apparently, I need some sort of code.

Nice boat ride on the Elbe river

I notice that I’m starting to get frustrated. I mean, the guide clearly knew that we were not speaking german. Why didn’t he give us the information sooner, or at least inform us that the tour is in German?! I decided to just enjoy the rest of the tour without making any notes. The other people on the tour are laughing at the things that are being said to them and after a while, I am really enjoying the tour – even though I can’t understand the information. The booklet is in my lap but I don’t want to read it now – I want to enjoy the tour!

Nice boat ride on the Elbe river

Mini is happy snapping pictures like crazy and I also start to really enjoy the sights and appreciate the tour. Sure, I would have loved to have the tour in English but there’s nothing I can do about it now. After an hour we are back where we started. I ask our guide about taking the same tour but in English and he tells us to go to pier six and talk to the main office.

This is how you do the Elbe tour in English

After the tour, we head to the head office and I explain that we took the tour and that we didn’t understand a word. Turns out that, if you want the audioguide in English you need to come here first. It doesn’t look like you can get it on your iPhone as the booklet says. Here, they have special devices that you can borrow and take with you on the trip. They don’t offer any guided tours in English – except for the audioguide.

Hamburg from the Elbe river
Boat ride on the Elbe river

According to the man working behind the desk, Barkassen-Meyer is the only company that offers audioguide in English. That turns out not to be true since there are other companies that offer tours in English too. Don’t get me wrong, the tour itself was awesome and something that we really recommend to anyone that is visiting Hamburg. But, make sure that you get the audio guide or the information that you need to be able to enjoy the tour just as much as the German-speaking crowd.

Fun facts about the Elbe river

After the tour, I got to read the booklet that I got from the company. It is loaded with information about Hamburg and lots of sights that you might want to visit. Here are some fun facts about the river Elbe:

  • The river Elbe is the fourth-longest river in Europe. It has a length of 1 165 kilometers and it’s 15 kilometers wide at its mouth.
  • About 870 of the 1 165 kilometers are navigable.
  • The river is flowing through several countries. 727 kilometers run through Germany.
  • The Elbe river runs through the following German cities: Dresden, Magdeburg, Hamburg and Cuxhaven where the river flows into the North sea.

Information about tours with Barkassen-Meyer

Address: Landungsbrücken 2 & 6. Make sure to go to number 6 if you want information in English.
Departure time: April – October 11:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:00. On weekends and public holidays, there are additional tours at 10:00 and 13:00.
Price: 1-hour tour 18 € per adult. For the 2 hour tour 28 € per adult.

You might also like to read our post about renting a boat in Gdansk.

Collaboration with Germany


  1. Amy Aed

    This looks like so much fun! I haven’t been on a boat in a while and I miss it.

    Have a great week 🙂
    Amy x Wandering Everywhere

    • Annika & Mini

      It was really great! We can recommend it whole hearted!


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