AbstractAir pollution by aerosol particles is mainly monitored as mass concentrations of particulate matter, such as PM10 and PM2.5. However, mass-based measurements are hardly representative for ultrafine particles (UFP), which can only be monitored adequately by particle number (PN) concentrations and are considered particularly harmful to human health. This study examines the dispersion of UFP in Hamburg city center and, in particular, the impact of passenger ferryboats by modeling PN concentrations and compares concentrations to measured values. To this end, emissions inventories and emission size spectra for different emission sectors influencing concentrations in the city center were created, explicitly considering passenger ferryboat traffic as an additional emission source. The city-scale chemical transport model EPISODE-CityChem is applied for the first time to simulate PN concentrations and additionally, observations of total particle number counts are taken at four different sampling sites in the city. Modeled UFP concentrations are in the range of 1.5–3 × 104 cm−3 at ferryboat piers and at the road traffic locations with particle sizes predominantly below 50 nm. Urban background concentrations are at 0.4–1.2 × 104 cm−3 with a predominant particle size in the range 50–100 nm. Ferryboat traffic is a significant source of emissions near the shore along the regular ferry routes. Modeled concentrations show slight differences to measured data, but the model is capable of reproducing the observed spatial variation of UFP concentrations. UFP show strong variations in both space and time, with day-to-day variations mainly controlled by differences in air temperature, wind speed and wind direction. Further model simulations should focus on longer periods of time to better understand the influence of meteorological conditions on UFP dynamics.