Here you will find information for visitors to the ship welcoming facility Willkomm Höft on the Elbe in Wedel near Hamburg.
A few kilometres outside Hamburg is a special sight for tourists in Hamburg. It is the ship welcoming facility Willkomm-Höft on the Elbe.
All ships calling at the large port of Hamburg come to Hamburg from the North Sea through the Elbe. The Elbe between Hamburg and the North Sea is very wide, in some cases over a kilometre. This means that most of the large container ships and other giant ships of the world’s oceans can sail on the Elbe as far as Hamburg. A few kilometres before Hamburg, they pass the small town of Wedel in Schleswig-Holstein on the Elbe. Since the 1950s, there has been a ship’s welcome here called Willkomm Hoft, and everyone in Hamburg and the surrounding area knows this attraction.
When a ship passes on the Elbe, three flags are raised in welcome. The flags of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Germany. The ship’s national anthem is played over the loudspeakers. In addition, information about the ship, such as nationality, size, length, year of construction, ship’s name, shipping company and so on, is played over the loudspeakers.
The whole thing takes place outdoors on a visitor platform built into the Elbe. There are also loudspeakers in the large and well-known restaurant and café “Neue Schulauer Fährhaus” behind it. In a room in the restaurant is also the speaker of the ship’s welcoming station Willkomm Hoft. Among other things, he plays the national anthems. Today he has a computer for that. He also has old cassettes with over 150 national anthems from all over the world. You can buy them from him. You can watch the man who does the ship welcomes in Wedel near Hamburg on the banks of the Elbe at work. You can also watch the flags being hoisted. These are in front of the restaurant. The man on duty who does the greetings is also called the greeting captain. His workroom is called the “command centre”.
The restaurant “Neue Schulauer Fährhaus” is rather upmarket. You should expect to pay 40 to 50 euros for a meal with drinks. There is also coffee and cake and a bit more. The Schulauer Fährhaus restaurant also has a large ballroom. From the restaurant you can see the Elbe and the ships through large windows. In summer there is also a large beer garden. From the beer garden you can also see and hear the ceremony and get a good view of the ships on the Elbe. The restaurant is open every day from 11:30. On Sundays there is a great breakfast buffet.
There is always a lot going on on the platform at Willkomm Höft. Many visitors wait for the ships and the ceremony. This is the best place to see the ships. All ships to and from the port of Hamburg have to pass here. Small ships are not welcomed. But several large ships usually pass by every hour and receive a ship salute. So you rarely have to wait long. Most of these are container ships, almost all cargo ships. Some ships also greet you back by light signal. Another highlight for visitors to the Willkomm-Höft ship greeting facility. Another highlight are the very rare cruise ships. When very famous ships, such as the passenger ship Queen Mary 2, call at the Port of Hamburg, many people come especially to Wedel to the Willkomm Hoft to greet the ship.
To our knowledge, it is the only such ship welcoming facility in the world.
Approach Ship’s Welcome Willkomm-Hoft Wedel near Hamburg
You can easily reach the ship’s welcome in Wedel from Hamburg by public transport. Take the S-Bahn 1, for example, from the main station, Jungfernstieg, Reeperbahn or Altona to the Wedel terminus. Then take bus 189 in front of the Wedel S-Bahn station and get off after a few minutes at the bus stop “Wedel Elbstraße, Willkomm Höft”. Bus 189 continues for about half an hour to the S-Bahn station Blankenese in Hamburg. This is also a station on S-Bahn 1, about halfway between Wedel and Hamburg city centre. So you can take a long S-Bahn from Hamburg and a short bus and change in Wedel. Alternatively, you can take a shorter S-Bahn and longer bus and change at Blankenese. Both take about an hour from Hamburg (Reeperbahn). Bus 189 runs every 10 minutes during the day from Monday to Saturday, and every 20 minutes on Sundays. The S-Bahn S1 also usually runs every 10 minutes.
There are parking spaces in Wedel near Willkomm-Höft, mostly for a fee. Wedel is in the district of Pinneberg in Schleswig-Holstein. The small town is built together with Hamburg and is only a few kilometres from the city limits of Hamburg. The ship welcoming facility is in the Schulau district. A well-known ferry also runs across the Elbe from the Willkomm-Höft in Schulau. That is why the restaurant is called Schulauer Fährhaus.
Opening hours Willkomm-Hoft ship welcoming facility.
In summer, the ship welcoming ceremony with national anthem, flag hoisting etc. takes place from 8 am to 8 pm. At other times of the year between 8 a.m. and sunset.
Entrance fee and gastronomy
You can visit the ship welcoming facility Willkomm Höft free of charge.
The prices in the Schulauer Fährhaus restaurant behind the Willkomm Höft are rather high (upmarket gastronomy). Main courses cost about 22 to over 30 euros. A Coke or a beer costs about 5 euros.
However, there are some kiosks nearby with fast food and the like. We ate delicious fish sandwiches there, typically North German (about 3.80 euros).