Bremen, together with a smaller nearby town called Bremerhaven forms its own German state, which means they also have their own parliament and certain laws. This privilege was given to the cities due to their strong bonds with the Hanseatic League, in which many German cities were involved as well. Besides rich history, Bremen has so much more to offer and I really recommend visiting it. Since I moved to Germany I have been taking trips in this area quite often so I´ve visited Bremen on a few occasions. Therefore it is now finally time to post a few words about what you can see and do there. Read more below.
MARKTPLATZ | the most known square in the old part of Bremen
I suggest starting your visit on the most known and the largest SQUARE IN THE CENTER OF BREMEN´S OLD TOWN, which is easy to be found when followed the signs for “ALTSTADT”. Around the square you will also find some of the most known buildings and other attractions in the city, for example the BREMEN ROLAND statue, historically important building SCHÜTTUNG, the CATHEDRAL and of course the TOWN HALL to name just a few, so the square simply a must see.
On certain days of the week there is a fruit, vegetable and flower MARKET held on the square and it goes by the name FREIMARKT. This is also the venue for December´s CHRISTMAS MARKETS which I hear are lovely in Bremen. If you are keen on taking GUIDED CITY TOURS, there are quite a few and also one which takes you around this specific square. If not, you can just sit and enjoy a coffee in one of the cafes while people watching.
RATHAUS | one of the most beautiful city halls in Germany
The star of MARKTPLATZ main square is surely the magnificent GOTHIC CITY HALL, which is also on UNESCO´s World Heritage list. It measures 40 metres in length and 8 in height, and besides being an eye-cather from the outsode, it also features a very nice interior space. Occasionally free CONCERTS are held in its halls as well. Unfortunately it was being renovated in the tie of my visit so we only got to see a glimpse of the facade.
BREMEN ROLAND | a statue of the protector of Bremen city
There is another important feature locate don the main square, a statue called BREMEN ROLAND, which is, together with the city hall, also listed as an UNESCO heritage site. The statue is dedicated to Roland, paladin of the first Holy Roman Emperor and hero of important battles. It is presented as a protector of the city and the symbol of the new Europe. It is also the first example of such statues, which appear in other towns as well.
SCHÜTTUNG | beautiful merchants house
This magnificent 500 years old building built in the Renaissance style standing just opposite the city hall on the MARKTPLATZ was once the MAIN MERCHANTS HOUSE and it still today, houses the CHAMBER OF BREMEN COMMERCE. It is also the home of German´s oldest society club called Club zu Bremen, existing over 220 years.
STADT MUSIKANTEN | unique bronze sculpture of “the town´s musicians”
Another one of the most known Bremen sculptures was created based on a tale and it features 4 BRONZE ANIMALS ON TOP OF EACH OTHER. On the top we have the ROOSTER, which stands on a CAT, which stands on a DOG that stands on a DONKEY. This statue is located at the city hall as well.
SCHNOORVIERTEL | the oldest part of Bremen
SCHNOOR or SCHNOORVIERTEL as it is also called is an interesting MEDIEVAL AREA of Bremen, in fact this is also THE OLDEST PART OF THE CITY. It used to be home to poorer people, but it is transformed into a pleasant place for ARTISTS AND CREATIVE PEOPLE nowadays. For everyone interested more in this neighbourhood, you can take a special GUIDED TOUR focusing on this part of the city.
BÖTTCHERSTRAßE | one of the most interesting streets in the city
ONE OF THE MOST KNOWN STREETS in Bremen is leading down from the main square MARKTPLATZ pass the Schüttung building towards Weser river and you surely don´t want to miss walking here. Today, this is also called the STREET OF MUSEUMS and it is full of other tourist attractions, despite the fact that it is only 100m LONG.
At the entrance gate to the street you can´t miss a large flat GOLDEN SCULPTURE called „LICHTBRINGER“, which in German means “the light bringer”, later on you should look up and admire the beautiful „GLÖCKENSPIEL” porcelain bells (more about these soon), you can visit LUDWIG ROSELIUS MUSEUM or a more special PAULA BECKER-MODERSOHN MUSEUM, dedicated to single woman. There are also two other historically important hoses, HAUS ATLANTIS and HAUS ST. PETRUS.
HAUS DES GLÖCKENSPIELS | “the house of bells”
Probably the most interesting attraction in the famous BÖTTCHERSTRAßE is called HAUS DES GLOCKENSPIELES, meaning the house of playing bells. They ring every hour between 12:00 and 18:00 and three times a day in the first three winter months of the year. If you can, I really suggest being here when they play as it is somehow special – while playing the WOODEN PANELS featuring seafarers and aviators appear on a rotating mechanism in the tower.
Originally there were 30 MEISSNER PORCELAIN DECORATIVE BELLS set up between the two buildings with house numbers 4 and 5, but they were ruined in a fire during the WWII and replaced later on with 30 new white bells which you can see today.
SCHLACHTE | the old part of Bremen along Weser river
While in Bremen you simply can´t miss a stroll down the PEDESTRIAN ZONE IN THE OLD PART OF THE TOWN which stretches along the WESER RIVER. Once this was an important PORT, but because the gateways are rather small and the more modern ships are too big to enter nowadays, this are has been transformed into a LIVELY SOCIAL AREA with loads of RESTAURANTS, BIERGARTENS and so on.
This very relaxed yet vibrant part of the town is the perfect place for lunch, dinner or just a couple of drinks in the shade of lush trees on a hot summer day. If you have the time this is also the place to take a SCENIC BOAT RIDE ON THE WESER RIVER.
CHURCHES AND CATHEDRALS
The most known must be the BREMEN CATHEDRAL, also called ST. PETRI DOM, located at the main town square MARKTPLATZ and built in Roman-Gothic style. Its history dates back about 1200 years and you can go up to one of the TWO 90m HIGH TOWERS for some of the best views on the city. Not only the exterior, also the interior is interesting – you can also see 8 MUMMIES resting in glass tombs in the cathedral´s basement chambers.
Otherwise here are some other places you can visit: ST. STEPHANI CHURCH, ST. JOHANN CHURCH, ST. MARTINI CHURCH, LIEBFRAUENKIRCHE and BRIGITTEN CONVENT.
MUSEUMS | best museums to visit in Bremen
Besides all the other attractions already mentioned you can also visit a bunch of MUSEUMS in Bremen. If you visit the city only for a day or two you might not have time to visit all of them of course, and if I had to pick one my choice would be the the UNIVERSUM, which opened its doors back in 2000. Other museums include ÜBERSEE MUSEUM (showing ethnographic and historical pieces from all over the world), FOCKE MUSEUM (representing the history of Bremen city), KUNSTHALLE (for all art lovers), LUDWIG ROSELIUS MUSEUM (private collection in the oldest house on Böttcherstraße street) and BREMEN GESCHICHTENHAUS (representing life in Bremen back in the old times).
DAS VIERTL | a lively, non-touristitc neighbourhood
For everyone wanting to visit a less touristy area you can head over to the more hipster part of the town called DAS VIERTL. Check out the streets Steintor, Ostertorsteinweg, Sielwall and Am Dobben, the area is just about 15min walking from the MARKTPLATZ where most of the other historical attractions are located. But here, the vibe is more relaxed, there is lots of restaurants and cosy cafes, students and young people, STREET ART and much more. A different, true feel of the city away from the tourist crowds.
RHODODENDRON PARK | a beautiful park with botanical gardens and an old wind mill
Almost a hundred years old, this beautiful RHODODENDRON PARK is a great place to visit on a hot summer day and especially in Spring and Summer time when everything is at bloom. There is also a BOTANICAL GARDEN on this location with plants from all over the globe and a nice OLD WIND MILL from 1888 – today, there is a fancy restaurant on the top of the mill.
BECK´S BREWERY | one of the most known German breweries
ONE OF THE MOST KNOWN GERMAN BREWERIES has its seat in Bremen for over 140 years already. All the beer lovers can attend a GUIDED TOUR OF THE BREWERY (the entry fee for adults is around 15€), which of course ends with a BEER TASTING, so you will not leave thirsty.
DAY TRIP TO BREMERHAVEN | modern marina and interesting museums
Not too far from Bremen, you can visit BREMERHAVEN, the other city in this German state. Bremerhaven is famous for its MODERN MARINA and HOTEL as well as some of Germany´s finest MUSEUMS, for example the AUSWANDERER MUSEUM.
We were most impressed by KLIMAHAUS which is an awesome place, taking visitors to various countries and 8 destinations different climate zones. Meaning you will walk through a room which is set as a tropical jungle, but also through real icy landscapes. Truly unique and also great for kids. At the end of the day, don´t forget to snack on one of the FISH SANDWICHES in the marina.
DAY TRIP TO CUXHAVEN | well-known coastal town at the Wadden sea
Just a short hour drive from Bremen and you are up on the northern coast of Germany, in one of the most known tourist centres in the area, CUXHAVEN. Here, there are lots of LONG WHITE SANDY BEACHES with those traditional “STRANDKORB” beach baskets, restaurants, hotels, children´s playgrounds and everything else you might need. But the most interesting for us, as usually, was the nature around – this is also the place where you can explore the UNESCO´s World Heritage site called the WADDEN SEA. You can take GUIDED ALKS AND TOURS or explore it on your own, just make sure you don´t wander off to far from the coast.
We also loved the KÜSTENHEIDE area, which is a protected sand dunes landscape, full of lovely pink heath fields. You can also take trips to the islands NEUWERK or HELGOLAND. More about Helgoland below.
DAY TRIP TO HELGOLAND ISLAND | the smallest nature reserve in Germany
While visiting this part of Germany I recommend a day trip to the country´s SMALLEST NATURE RESERVE, a wild island HELGOLAND, which mostly reminds us of Iceland, Ireland or Norway much more than it resembles any other place in Germany. Therefore it is really unique.
It´s land area is only 1m² which makes it easy to go around on foot, you can take the 3km long round hiking trail called KLIPPENRANDWEG. Along the way you see amazing RED CLIFFS, with LANGE ANNA being the most known ones, MEADOWS and SHEEP, nordic BIRDS NESTING ON THE CLIFFS, lighthouses, cute houses sandy beaches and more. On the smaller, uninhabited neighbouring island you can also see the SEAL COLONY. Reaching Helgoland is easy with fast boats from CUXHAVEN, BREMERHAVEN, WILHELMSHAVEN, HAMBURG or BÜSUM. Read my full post about this amazing island by clicking the button below.MORE ABOUT HELGOLAND
So much about Bremen and around from my side, this is a great idea for a (longer) weekend trip if you happen to live in Germany, otherwise make sure you include a stop while road tripping this part of the country, even if it´s just for a day. Ever since I moved to Germany I make sure to make a couple of trips up to the coast a year and it never disappoints me, I´m sure it will not disappoint you as well.
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