12 Things to do & Photograph in Passau, Germany
THINGS TO KNOW WHEN VISITING PASSAU
The second stop on our Danube River cruise was the Bavarian city of Passau located near the Austrian border. Passau is a town that lies at the junction of three rivers, the Danube, and its tributaries the Inn and Ilz and despite its city status, it has a small population of 50,000 people.
Although Passau wasn’t my stand-out destination on the cruise itinerary it proved to be one of my favourites. It’s a laid-back and charming sort of place and somewhere that I could see myself living If I could speak the language and be high enough to avoid the occasional floods – There are downsides to being The City of Three Rivers!
When Is the Best Time to Visit Passau
The weather in Passau is typical for Europe so you can hope for Sun in the summer and snow in December and expect rain at any time! We arrived in August and although the town is on the itinerary of several cruise lines it was still quiet and easy to explore, see the sites and take photographs. So, unlike other popular towns on the Danube, I wouldn’t necessarily avoid the summer months and the nice weather will add to the pleasure of walking around the town. The Christmas market in December is well worth a visit and many cruise lines feature Christmas itineraries and the possibility of a covering of snow can only add to the experience and beauty.
Getting to Passau
We arrived via a cruise ship and that’s a fine way to arrive anywhere. All the cruise lines dock near the centre of Passau so you are right where you need to be and cruise travellers have the option to break up their sightseeing and get back to the ship for lunch or a break if needed. However, the drive from Munich is only two hours and Passau has its own train station, a twenty-minute walk into the centre of town.
Getting Around Town
Passau is very walkable and much of the town is pedestrianised. There are several areas with cobbled streets and if you plan to hike up the fortress make sure you have some comfortable shoes or trainers. It’s easy to cover the town on foot in a day although two days would give you the opportunity to take a little more time and enjoy the food and beer on offer.
THINGS TO DO IN PASSAU
1. Photograph your Visit and Memories of Passau
As a photography enthusiast for most of my life, I love to capture my travels and memories of the places I visit. It gives me a focus (excuse the pun) for the trip and who knows if I will tread this path again. Passau is very photogenic, So, whether, like me, you’re the sort of person who carries a camera everywhere or you just have your cell phone you will find something of interest around every corner which will inspire you to record your time in the town.
2. Walk along Artists Alley
The Höllgasse or "Artists' Alley is one of the many cobbled paths in Passau that lead down to the river. Some of the cobbles are painted in bright colours and following them through the narrow streets leads you to the area where artists, craft shops and galleries are located. If you're looking to pick up a souvenir of your visit it's a delightful place to explore and I loved the painted cobbles.
3. Walk Along the River Promenade
Passau is defined by its three rivers and a walk along the river promenades will give you a feel for the city and its geography along with a few more photo opportunities. To the south of the city is the Innpromenade" and to the north is the Fritz-Schaffer Promenade. On foot or by bicycle, the walk along the rivers will take you through parks and tree-lined streets with their shops, bars, and restaurants and of course wonderful views across the rivers. If the weather is good, you can stop for a break and watch the world go by before heading off to the end of the path where you will be able to see the meeting of the three rivers.
4. Take a Climb to the Fortress
The Veste Oberhaus is a thirteenth-century city fortress set in St Georgsberg mountain between the Danube and the Ilz. The fortress now holds a museum and there are some great photo locations from several observation points looking over the city and its rivers. You can walk/hike to the fortress by crossing the bridge over the Danube and then the busy Angerstrase road on the other side before following the signs to the mountain pathway. If you do not fancy the climb there are shuttle buses available in Passau.
5. View the Meeting of the Three Rivers
Passau is known as the “city of the three rivers” because it lies at the intersection of the rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz. The water from the Inn comes from the Alps and is green whilst the Danube is blue (at least sometimes) and the Ilz is black. You can see the intersection and the merging of the different waters in one of three ways. Firstly, you can walk along the promenade (Innpromenade or Fritz-Schaffer), until you reach the viewpoint, secondly, you can climb up to the Veste Oberhaus for a magnificent view over Passau and finally why not opt for a river cruise and see the interaction from the comfort of a boat.
6. Visit the Old Town Hall (Rathaus)
The old town hall I located in a square in the heart of the medieval city and is a typical German building complete with a clock tower and mechanical clock. The square itself is a good place to take a break and enjoy a beer if time permits and take some photographs of the tower and buildings.
7. Try the Bavarian Beer and Food
It’s not difficult to find somewhere to eat and drink in Passau and during my walk around the city, I came across many inviting cafés, bars, and restaurants serving typical Bavarian food and locally brewed beer. There are plenty of outdoor seating areas, terraces, and beer gardens to enjoy the afternoon sun with a drink or two.
8. Explore the Old Town Streets and Alleyways
The old town hall and square are at the centre of the town but there are many side streets, alleyways and squares that also deserve your attention. Wandering the streets without a plan and following your instincts will take you to quiet cobblestone streets with wonderful architectural details and without so many tourists there is time to appreciate the rich tapestry of the city and take some photographs.
9. Visit the Glass Museum
Interested in seeing the largest collection of bohemian glass in the world? The hotel Wilder Mann houses the museum which has some 30,00 pieces of glassware with examples of art, engraving and unique designs. Don’t be put off because the entrance is via the hotel lobby.
10. See the Largest Organ in the World at St Stephen's Cathedral
St Stephens cathedral is a beautiful building in the highest part of the old town. The cathedral was almost destroyed in a fire in 1662 and was rebuilt with an Italian design by the architect Carlo Lurago. The interior is just as impressive and has the largest church pipe organ in the world. Sadly, I did not hear it on my visit despite visiting the church on two occasions.
11. Take a Cruise on the Danube
Several riverboat cruises depart from the Fritz-Schaffer Promenade on the north side of the city. Starting from about 12 Euro they can take around an hour and make for a fantastic way to view Passau and the surrounding area. More information is available here.
12. Hire a Bike
A bicycle is a fun way to explore the city and bicycle further afield if you have the time. The Danube cycle path passes through Passau and the Bavarian countryside is within easy reach for exploring on a bike. If you are visiting the city on a river cruise it's highly likely that the cruise line will have several bikes available for its passengers or can arrange to have them made available to you. For more information on hiring a bicycle check out this link.
IS PASSAU WORTH VISITING?
Definitely! Passau is a small city with a big heart and lots of charm. The city is a captivating blend of history, culture, and medieval architecture that draws you into its streets and squares. Exploring the city will reward you with many memories of this Bavarian delight.