Is Tap Water in Hamburg Safe To Drink?

Updated on February 8, 2024  

is tap water in hamburg safe

Is Hamburg tap water safe to drink? It's a common question among travelers venturing to this vibrant city.

After all, it's easier and more convenient if you can drink straight from the tap, instead of having to purchase bottled water when traveling here. 

But while Hamburg is undoubtedly a popular destination - it's essential to know the safety of the local tap water before gulping it down.

In this blog post, we'll delve into water sources, treatment processes, potential contaminants, and everything you need to know about drinking tap water in Hamburg.

Quality Of Tap Water In Hamburg, Germany

Sources And Treatment Of Tap Water

The source of tap water in Hamburg, and how its treated, play a significant role in its safety and quality. These standards throughout Germany tend to be similar, and it's generally known that German tap water is one of the highest quality globally. [1]

Hamburg gets its water from groundwater wells and the River Elbe. Before it flows from our faucets, the water is treated at local plants to make it safe. They use filtration and disinfection methods to clean the water.


The plants get rid of harmful germs and chemicals. Things like lead, nitrate, and atrazine are removed or reduced to safe levels.

The treatment includes adding minerals for health benefits. Magnesium, calcium, and potassium help keep our bones strong. After cleaning it up, they send this pure water through pipes across Hamburg.

Every drop of tap water comes out clean enough for us all to drink without worrying about getting sick.

Testing And Monitoring Of Water Quality

The safety of Hamburg's tap water is dependent on rigorous testing and monitoring.

It must meet Germany's stringent water regulations, which are some of the highest standards in the world when it comes to drinking water.

These standards span safety, smell, taste and even the color of the water!

Local utilities in Germany usually conduct various analyses at different stages, including real-time sensors, sampling raw water before treatment, assessing treated water before entering distribution networks, and even performing random tests throughout homes and businesses.

Compliance With EU Drinking Water Standards

Hamburg's tap water is subject to strict compliance with EU Drinking Water Standards, ensuring that it remains both safe and reliable for consumption by locals and travelers alike. [2]

Besides following EU guidelines, the German government has put in place a Drinking Water Ordinance as part of its laws. [3]

This involves taking proactive steps to provide very pure water using methods like filtering, disinfecting, and advanced purification techniques.

This means if you're in Hamburg, you can confidently fill your bottle from any public fountain offering potable water, or request tap water in restaurants without worrying about getting sick. 

Is Tap Water In Hamburg Safe To Drink?

Yes, tap water in Hamburg is safe to drink. The water undergoes rigorous testing and adheres to strict regulations, ensuring it meets the standards set by the German authorities.

In fact, a survey revealed that 42% of citizens in Hamburg prefer tap water over bottled water, indicating a high level of trust in its quality. [4] With no specific concerns raised about its safety, drinking tap water in Hamburg is convenient for residents and visitors alike.

Potential Contaminants And Their Levels

Potential contaminants in Hamburg tap water are routinely monitored by the municipal authority. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Tap Water Database provides detailed results for chemical contaminants in the city's tap water, offering transparency to consumers. [5]

Levels of various potential contaminants are closely tracked by authorities to ensure that Hamburg’s tap water meets EU drinking water standards.

This effort guarantees that residents have access to safe and clean drinking water while being informed about any potential risks associated with certain substances found in the supply.


Health Risks Associated With Tap Water Consumption

Although tap water in Hamburg is considered safe to drink, it is important for travelers to be aware of potential health risks associated with consuming tap water.

Some contaminants can still be found in tap water even in locations with very stringent water purification processes. They include lead, chlorine, pesticides and other harmful chemicals that may cause illness or long-term health problems.

To ensure your safety when drinking tap water in Hamburg or anywhere else in Germany, you can filter your tap water using a travel filter or buying bottled water.

You should also avoid drinking from unmarked fountains or sources where the quality of the water may not have been tested.

In restaurants across Germany, including those within the city limits of Hamburg, it's common for diners to choose bottled mineral water over tap water. This is because both still and sparkling bottled mineral water are highly popular among both locals and tourists.

Drinking Tap Water In Hamburg

Pros And Cons

Drinking tap water in Hamburg comes with various pros and cons.

One major advantage of drinking tap water is that it's much cheaper than bottled water and can help reduce plastic waste while traveling.

However, some travelers may prefer bottled water because of how it tastes, or they're concerned about potential contaminants in the pipes of older buildings.

But, if you're sensitive to mineral content or unfamiliar with a new source of tap water, you may experience stomach upset after drinking it.

Filtering Tap Water

If you prefer the taste of bottled water or are concerned about tap water quality, you may want to consider filtering your tap water in Hamburg.

Hard water is a common issue in Germany that can leave a strange taste and limescale residue on surfaces.

I stumbled onto this simple and affordable portable filter, and it does improve the taste and quality of tap water whenever I travel. Although sometimes it's still more convenient to buy bottled water!


Bottled Water Options

If you prefer drinking bottled water over tap water, there are plenty of options available throughout Hamburg.

Most hotels and grocery stores sell a variety of bottled water brands, including local German brands like Gerolsteiner and Apollinaris, as well as international brands such as Evian and Fiji Water.

However, keep in mind that buying bottled water can be expensive and has a large environmental impact due to the production of plastic bottles.


Tap Water In German Restaurants

While tap water in Germany is safe to drink, it may be a surprise to some travelers that Germans tend not to order it when dining out. This is because Germans generally prefer carbonated mineral water or other drinks with their meals.

However, if you do choose to ask for tap water in a German restaurant, don't be surprised if the waiter gives you an odd look, insists they don't serve tap water, or charges you for it.

It's important to note that this cultural preference doesn't have anything to do with the safety of German tap water – it just comes down to personal taste and tradition.

How To Ask For Tap Water In Germany

When in Germany, if you don't specify that you want tap water, you'll likely be presented with mineral bottled water.

In German restaurants, you can ask the waiter for "Leitungswasser bitte" which means tap water please.

However, keep in mind that most Germans don't drink tap water and may find it unusual if you do. If you're staying at a hotel or vacation rental, check with the front desk or host about the quality of the local tap water and if they recommend drinking it.

Despite these considerations, it's good to remember that German tap water is among the cleanest and safest in the world according to WHO standards.

Plus, choosing tap over bottled reduces your impact on plastic waste production.

Can I Drink Water From The Bathroom Sink In Germany?

If you're a traveler staying at a hostel, Airbnb or hotel in Hamburg, you may only have access to the bathroom sink. Luckily, it's generally safe to drink the water from there.

However, many Germans still avoid drinking tap water altogether.

It may be psychological - since tap water, or Leitungswasser, means 'plumbing water' in German, which doesn't bring up a nice image.

There's also the matter of taste. Hamburg's water hardness is said to be six times harder than average!

Conclusion: Should You Drink Tap Water In Hamburg?

In conclusion, tap water in Hamburg is considered safe to drink. The German government strictly regulates the quality of their tap water and it meets EU drinking water standards.

While Germans generally prefer bottled water or carbonated beverages, tap water is accessible and affordable for visitors.

One drawback is that Hamburg's water may be too hard for some palates.

Filtering options are always available for those who want an added layer of protection.

Key Takeaways

  • Tap water in Hamburg is sourced from groundwater around the Elbe and undergoes stringent treatment processes, meeting high drinking water standards, including those set by the EU.
  • While tap water in Hamburg generally poses no health risks, low levels of potential contaminants may exist. Portable water filters are thus common among some travelers.
  • Although Germans generally prefer bottled water, it should be noted that German tap water is among the safest and cleanest worldwide according to WHO standards.
  • Drinking tap water in Hamburg can help reduce plastic waste while traveling compared to buying bottled mineral waters which can also be expensive and have a large environmental impact.


1. Is tap water in Hamburg safe to drink?

Yes, tap water in Hamburg is considered safe for human consumption, as it meets the strict standards set by the European Union and German authorities.

2. What measures are taken to ensure the safety of tap water in Hamburg?

The city's water supply is sourced from deep wells and treated with advanced filtration and disinfection technologies, which remove any harmful bacteria, viruses or chemicals that could pose a risk to public health.

3. Are there any situations where tap water in Hamburg may not be safe to drink?

In rare cases when contaminants such as pesticides or pharmaceuticals are detected at levels higher than recommended limits, local authorities issue precautionary advisories informing residents of potential risks associated with consuming untreated tap water.


1: BMUV: Drinking Water, retrieved from
2: European Comission | Drinking Water, retrived from
3: Contents of the Drinking Water Ordinance | BMG, retrived from
4: HAMBURG WASSER drinking water study: Hamburg citizens prefer tap water | Aqua Publica Europea, retrieved from
5: EWG Tap Water Database | Ecwa Hamburg, retrieved from

About the Author

Stephan Drescher, founder of, is a German travel expert and insider, providing trusted tips and advice for a perfect trip to Germany. Born & bred German.