Not even one kilometre in length, and yet rich in contrast: the Reeperbahn is bright and shrill, vibrant and down-to-earth – and so much more than just “the sinful mile”. A hotspot for live music and famous for its party atmosphere, the legendary entertainment district in the heart of St Pauli is always worth a visit, offering anything from glamorous shows to colourful musicals.
The bright flashing lights can be seen from a distance, the music is pumping, and the streets are filled with banter. Anything goes on the Reeperbahn, where night after night thousands of people of all ages, origins and music preferences can be seen cavorting down the road. “Reeperbahn” actually means ropewalk: back in the old days, this was the place where ropes for sailing ships were made. Today, people from different social backgrounds live here side by side – and are joined by over 100,000 tourists every year. This is where local heroes parade, where stag nights are celebrated, and where young bands conquer the stages of the many live clubs. Party people and table dancers, locals and tourists are drawn to the unique atmosphere of this street and its hinterlands. Lined with a plethora of clubs, bars, pubs, shops, musical theatres and other live venues, the Reeperbahn offers a hugely diverse programme alongside must-see locations and great live music from various genres.
Pure nightlife: from cocktails to club culture
The atmosphere on and around the Reeperbahn is electrifying. During the day, the neon signs, fluorescent tubes and colourfully adorned club entrances give you an idea of what to expect once night falls. Clubs such as the Moondoo and the Mojo Club provide new, unique music experiences for party people and concert-goers, and live venues such as the Docks and the Prinzenbar feature both world stars and promising newcomers. International and local DJs make the venues around the Reeperbahn reverberate with their beats, creating an unparalleled atmosphere until the early morning hours. And all those who can do with a bit of refreshment can always have a nice drink or a tasty snack in one of the countless restaurants, quaint football pubs and hip cocktail bars.
The “sinful mile” in all its facets
Music in your ears: for some people, this doesn’t necessarily include sounds. It can also be the refreshing, unique encounters that can be experienced in all different shades on and around the Reeperbahn – e.g. at one of the strip bars, burlesque shows, erotic cabarets or the world-famous Herbertstrasse, where women and individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed. In the “Safari”, now the only erotic cabaret in St Pauli, the actors actually strip in the course of their performance. And when passing other naughty locations, such as the “Ritze”, it is highly likely that you will be addressed by a member of staff outside the building. This can often be an elderly gentleman, who will praise the relevant show and entertain the passing crowds – an old Reeperbahn tradition. Visitors to the Reeperbahn can also browse around the many erotic and lingerie shops and perhaps treat themselves to a souvenir of a special kind.
Legends of music history: the Beatles in Hamburg
In St Pauli, club culture and live music have a long tradition – and are full of stories and legends. Take the Beatles, for instance. In the early 1960s, these four lads from Liverpool got their first gigs in a live music club near the Reeperbahn and soon kicked off their world career. Today, fans can still follow in the footsteps of the Fab Four, as traces of the Beatles can be found in many places, among them the Jägerpassage, the Gretel & Alfons, and the Kaiserkeller. And at the end of the “sinful mile”, the Beatles Platz awaits you with silhouette-like statues reminiscent of these talented musicians from Liverpool. Many of the venues where the Beatles performed in the 1960s are still part of St Pauli’s vibrant music and club culture today and continue to inspire audiences with their unique live atmosphere.
Each year in September, the Reeperbahn Festival attracts thousands of fans of live music as well as countless trade visitors from the music industry. During the four-day programme, more than 600 concerts take place at over 90 festival locations on and around the Reeperbahn. Newcomers and established artists rock the city, and often enough you can experience new talent on their path to an international career.
Good to know:
- Bottle ban on the Reeperbahn: Between Friday night from 10 o’clock to Monday morning at 6 o’clock as well as on the night before and after public holidays, it is prohibited to carry and/or sell glass bottles within the area to the right and left of the Reeperbahn. This is to prevent bottles from being used as potential weapons. Anyone who doesn’t abide by this regulation may have to pay a fine of up to €5,000. So don't be surprised if even beer is sold in plastic bottles at the kiosks and at the petrol stations.
- Due to events in the recent past, the City of Hamburg has decided to enforce a general weapon ban for the Reeperbahn area. The zone to which this ban applies is indicated by yellow signposts with unambiguous symbols. So we would suggest that you leave your Swiss army knife at home or in your hotel.
- Everywhere in the world, where there is a crowd, there will be pickpockets. This is no different on the Reeperbahn, so make sure to keep your handbag closed and your purse tucked away neatly.
- When in a club, bar or pub on the Reeperbahn, make sure to stick with drinks from the drinks menu. This will prevent potential misunderstandings and will make it easier to settle the bill later.
- If you feel that staff on the street are being a bit too pushy, a friendly “No thanks!” usually suffices. After all, they are only doing their job.