During my Viking River Cruise from Bavaria to Budapest, we stopped in the beautify city of Passau. The city was founded by the Celts over 2000 years ago, making it one of the oldest cities in Bavaria. It is found in the Southeast of Germany and is the last town on the scenic Danube before the border with Austria.
The city rests at the confluence of three rivers, Inn, Ilz and Danube, hence the nickname “City of Three Rivers.” These three rivers and gentle hills combine to form a magnificent cityscape.
It has northern Italian-style buildings and homes that are intermingled with trees to offer you a romantic setting and an atmosphere that can take you from the present world to revisit history.
For over 400 years, it was part of the Roman Empire, but in 739 AD it became an Episcopal seat. It was an independent entity for about 600 years till 1803 when it was later annexed into Bavaria. Due to its strategic position, the city grew to great economic and political powers.
Created in the 17th century by Italian baroque masters, the city features some picturesque places, soaring towers, captivating boulevards and romantic lanes. Here is our list of the top things to do in Passau.
If you are looking to capture a fantastic view of Passau, then you have to make your way up to Veste Oberhaus. Veste Oberhaus is a fortress that was built in 1219 on the mountain crest of St. Georgsberg. It is currently a museum, youth hostel, a restaurant, as well as an open-air theater dating to 1934.
From the old town cross the Luitpoldbrücke bridge, and cross the street. There are staircases built into the mountain that lead you up to the fortress. From here, go right as there are two paths. It’s a very short hike, and before you know it, you are at the entrance of the fortress. If you turn around there, you will have an epic view of Passau.
You can then roam the fortress grounds, visit the museum and on the way out (a different exit) you will get an even higher view of the city. I highly recommend this!
If you are looking to try the most delicious chocolate in Passau, then Café Simon is the place for you. It’s been a local favorite since 1903. People rave about their food and coffee, but in reality, this is a must stop for any chocolate lover.
Café Simon also provides you with an excellent break from sightseeing. It is a traditional café that apart from the great chocolate, offers you a wide selection of coffee and cakes. You can attend gingerbread demonstrations and tasting as a part of your walking tour.
It’s also a great place to shop for cookies to take home as souvenirs. Café Simon is located on Rindermarkt street, right in front of St. Pauls church.
Surely, you wouldn’t want to visit a historical place like Passau and not know the real history. The Roman Museum is a combination of a Museum and an archaeological site. There’s an educational film that has a virtual reconstruction of Passau in the Roman period and also over 600 exhibits that try to explain the Roman rule of over 400 years.
The Museum is a little tricky to find since it’s located on the side of River Inn, a distance from the town. To reach there, you can take a bus across the bridge, or you can even walk from the main district. Walking will take you about 20-25 minutes.
The St. Stephens cathedral features the largest Catholic Church organ in the world and is the biggest organ in Europe with its 17.974 pipes and 233 stops. The organ is outstandingly unique and has a technical marvel. An organ concert there lasts about 30 minutes, and all the time you will be awed by the paintings on the ceiling, the altar and the beautiful statues.
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The organ concerts are usually played at mid-day every day for 30 minutes from May to October, except on Sundays and holidays. There are also evening concerts on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. that last for 45-60 minutes. These, in my opinion, are a must attend!
When in Passau and looking for a typical cuisine, Wirtshaus Bayerischer Lowe is the place for you. It’s in a central location in the city center with a beer garden on a thoroughfare.The place is beautiful, spacious and has a good touch of tidiness.
There are heavy and long wooden tables, typical Bavarian decorations and some friendly, wieselflinkles staff. It offers you a cozy, Bavarian audience and it’s excellent for families.
The food served here is as well great when looking for an occasion for a hearty bread time. The price/ performance ratio is exceptional, and you’ll walk out of there satisfied. The local beer also tastes great, and if you want to eat fast and uncomplicated, this is the place for you!
The heavenly ladder is a 321 step staircase that stretches from the Passau Innstadt to the hill-top of Pauline’s Fathers’ Monastery Mariahilf. It provides you with a mildly challenging adventure to access the top of the hill, but at the same time, it’s a unique experience. You will see pilgrims kneel and pay at each step, and the sight of Passau from above is just captivating.
Through all the steps, you will be able to admire the sacred images, photos and prints before you reach the monastery at the top. The church is well kept and has a beautiful simplicity in the interior. It provides you with a lovely atmosphere where you can sit and think all you want to think.
Passau is also called the Dreiflüssestadt, or simply “City of Three Rivers”. This is because three rivers flow in the city. These rivers still happen to confluent within the city, making it one of the places you want to visit in Passau.
The three rivers have different colors and where they meet, the white, black and teal swirl together like paints on an artiste’s palette. The three beautiful colors alone are enough to make you think of jumping in despite the rainy weather and incredibly fast currents.
The Schaibling Tower or Schaiblingturm has stood as a silent witness of the medieval fortifications of Passau. It is located at the banks of river Inn and it was a fortified tower back in the 14th century.
The tower’s name is derived from the conical shape of its masonry: disc- Schaibling. It was part of the old salt boat harbor in Passau. Now, it is definitely one of the famous landmarks of Passau you would want to visit on your trip in Passau. Make sure you take a few photographs of this historical tower and carry the memories with you!
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Passau offers you a perfect mixture for the ultimate experience you’d want in a tour. From the ancient buildings, vast history, the rich Bavarian culture and the scenic beauty, the look and feel of the city always makes you want to commit as much of the experience to the memory as possible. Passau is definitely worth a visit and once you get an opportunity, jump on it!
What did you think of of the top things to do in Passau, Germany? Leave a question or comment below!
If you plan to visit the city, I can recommend using Viking Cruises from Bavaria to Budapest – this was how I travelled during this visit.
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Hi David – I am just looking at your amazing photos and comments on Passau. Throughly enjoyed. My husband and I are flying Ak to Munich – train to Passau. We have 3 days to look around Munich then 2 days in Passau before we start our cycling adventure to Budapest.
After viewing your site Im getting very excited. Have done a lot of research give you 10/10
We thought about cruising but we love cycling………. we are both in our 70s so have to make the most of it 🙂
Mayda and Marty Kalesays:
We are going on a rive cruise in September. We land in Munich around 10:30 am on the 21 and must be at the boat in Passau by 4PM on the 22. We are trying to decide if we should spend the night in Munich and explore the city or go straight to Passau. Any suggestions?
We are traveling Viking in November from Budapest to Passaeu along the Danube. Your website is very helpful. I look forward to researching your sight more. Thank-you!