Pick up your hire car at Hamburg airport and head to the bustling metropolitan hub of Germany.
"We might not have the international kudos of Berlin or Munich, but with our lakes, shops and hedonistic nightlife we're undoubtedly the greatest city in Germany!"
Berlin and Munich will probably continue to pull in the crowds, but there is indeed weight behind Hamburg's claims. The nightclubs and attractions on Hamburg's famous Reeperbahn might be the first port of call for many visitors, but don't forget to check out the city's other cultural hotspots.
Hamburg is home to 17 universities and the large, multi-cultural student population gives the city a youthful feel.
Hamburg has the highest GDP in Germany, which means there's no shortage of glammed-up wealthy types strolling about town.
Hamburg's lakes are a pleasant place to be in summer, with temperatures over 20 degrees on an average day. Wrap up warm in winter though - the sub-zero temperatures mean snow is a near-certainty.
Surprisingly, you're more likely to find a restaurant or street vendor selling frankfurters or bratwurst, than the beef patty to which the city lends its name.
During the early 1960s a little-known band called The Beatles caused a stir when they played a series of gigs in Hamburg's clubs.
Hamburg's port is the second largest in Europe, behind Rotterdam.
"Hamburg, 1,200 years old, is loved both for its contemporary scene as well as its cultural offerings." - Hamburg Tourist Board.
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The flamboyant city hall was built in the late 19th century and is still home to the mayor and government offices. Its unique architecture also makes it the city's major landmark.
There are plenty of places to park within the city walls.
It's hard to miss this striking 1920s office block - from the corners of Pumpen and Niedemstrasse, it looks just like a massive ship.
Parking is available for visitors.
If you fancy a coffee or a wander around some shops and boutiques, the historic Alster Arcades are well worth a visit.
Use the VINCI Park Deutschland GmbH Parkhaus in Stadtwassermuehle.
Hamburg's vast waterside warehouses are important trading centres. It's worth taking a barge through the Speicherstadt at night to see the buildings lit up spectacularly.
There's limited street-parking available along the canal, so use the ten-storey Speicherstadt car park.
This 19th-century sailing ship has seen some action over the years and it's now a fascinating floating museum.
As it a floating museum, it can only be reached by a passenger ferry or boat. But there is parking available near the Reeperbahn.
This picturesque region of reclaimed marshland is dominated by farms. If you fancy cherry picking, it's home to the biggest fruit orchard in Central Europe.
Head south-east on Jungfernstieg toward Neuer Wall and take the B4. Continue on to the A255, then exit onto the A1 toward Berlin/Geesthacht/A25/A24/Luebeck. Take the A25 toward Geesthacht/HH-Bergedorf/HH-Allermoehe and follow signs for Wentorf/Bergedorf. The journey should take around half an hour.
If the sun's out, it's worth driving to this popular seaside town on the nearby North Sea coast. As well as a great place for a paddle, you'll find some superb seafood restaurants.
Take the A23 toward Husum/HH-Eidelstedt/Heide. Continue on the B5, following signs for Itzehoe-West/Heide, and then onto the A23. Exit onto the B203 toward Wesselburen/Busum/Heide. Turn right at B203 and follow signs for Wesselburen/B203/Buesum/Woehrden. The journey should take just under two hours.
Escape from it all and venture into the shady Segeberg forest, home to the Trappenkamp Adventure Park, which features nature trails and the intriguing "Gnome Wood".
Take the A1 toward Fehmarn/Barsbuettel/Luebeck/Rostock for around 13 miles, then exit onto the A21 toward Bad Segeberg/Kiel. Continue on the B205 and follow signs for Rickling/Fehrenboetel. The journey will take around an hour.
Germany's answer to the Copacabana is the place to be seen on a summer's day. Hang out at the water's edge, or watch the world go by at one of the nearby cafes.
The journey to Elbe Beach should only take half an hour. Head south-east on Jungfernstieg toward Neuer Wall and take the B4. Continue on the Stresemannstrasse and then onto the B431/Bahrenfelder Chaussee. Follow signs for Hannover/Bremen and merge onto the A7 for a mile and a half. Elbe Beach will be on the right-hand side.
" If you don't fancy driving into the centre of the city, use the park-and-ride system outside the city and take the bus in. But you will need a car to drive through the impressive Elbtunnel or some of the bridges over the Elbe. Also, don't miss driving over the Koehlbrand-Bruecke, to get a wonderful view of the harbour and the rest of the city. "