There are so many interesting places in Hamburg, which are still on my bucket list. Of course, the Northern German city is having some really big tourist destinations like the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. More than that, though, there are a couple of really interesting special topic museums. For example, I liked the German Food Additives Museum quite a lot. Another example is the German Customs Museum, which I visited in July 2021. Here is my review.
German Customs Museum – Location & Admission
The German Customs Museum – or Deutsches Zollmuseum, how the place is called in German, is located in the beautiful Speicherstadt area. It features a couple of touristic destinations – the key one is definitely Miniatur Wunderland. There is a bus station, Bei St. Annen, around the corner (lines 6, 602). The closest Underground Station is Meßberg. There are some parking opportunities around, but I would generally rather go for the public transport when visiting central Hamburg.
The opening times of the museum is Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00 hrs. Adult admission is amazing 2 Euro. Fun fact: the museum is in fact an outpost of the German customs administration. Thus, the people in the museum, including the reception / ticket desk are real custom officials.
German Customs Museum – The Visit
You visit most museums from bottom to top – I would recommend to do it vice versa if you visit this place in the Speicherstadt. The upper level deals with the history of customs and is the perfect first step to your visit. Most of the documentation is German and English – as there are a lot of exhibits which are related to Germany, some basic knowledge of the language is still favorable.
The historic collection part is really interesting and starts with very early ages and more and more heads to more recent times. I especially enjoyed to learn how customs worked during the Middle Ages. I also felt that it is good that the museum did not skip the Third Reich time and how the Nazis changed the mission of the customs to a more military one.
A quite significant part of The Customs in the Past how the English visitor guide is calling the upper floor is about the work of the customs on the German border between 1949 and 1990.You lean a lot how customs played a key role to avoid smuggling and to prevent people from fleeing, especially from East to West.
The Customs Today
The lower floor is about the tasks the Zoll (German name of the customs) is fulfilling today. They even had a customs finding of the month there. The museum introduces you to drug prevention, illegal prevention or copyright / trademark frauds. There are a lot of other topics, like fighting against smuggling cultural objects or protection of species. Last, but not least, the museum introduces you to the European collaboration of the different customs authorities.
German Customs Museum – Services
The staff was absolutely friendly and helpful. The museum does not drive any special services apart from luggage lockers. In non-Covid-19 times, you may also visit a ship, which is at quay in front of the museum.
German Customs Museum – My View
The Deutsches Zollmuseum or German Customs Museum is a very clear candidate for my “Hidden Gem” ranking at the end of 2021. The museum is not that large, but still easily worth a 60 minute visit. The presentation is excellent and there is a lot of information. I felt it is really illustrative. Definitely a place I recommend to visit – and a well-deserved Top Pick!