The free Hanseatic city of Bremen on the lower Weser, the capital of the state of Bremen, is one of the largest seaports and centers of overseas trade in Germany. The state of Bremen also includes the port of Bremerhaven , just 60 kilometers north of Bremen and the point where the River Weser flows into the North Sea (both cities are popular places to start sightseeing boat trips). In addition to being an important industrial and commercial centre, Bremen has long been an important cultural centre. Important events in the city’s cultural calendar include the Freimarkt, a fair that has taken place almost continuously since 1036; the Vision Parade Techno music festival; and the International Youth Symphony Orchestra of Bremen.
1 Bremen market square at the stand of Roland
Bremen’s picturesque Marktplatz features many of the city’s attractions, including the lovely old Town Hall with its five-and-a-half-meter statue of Germany’s most famous knight, Roland. Built in 1404, the statue – the oldest of many such monuments scattered around the country – remains a symbol of the city’s freedom and independence from the church (the statue defiantly faces the church). It is also the site of the city’s popular Christmas market, as well as the Freimarkt , an ancient fair that has taken place here almost continuously since 1036.
Address: Am Markt, 28195 Bremen
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2 The town hall
Bremen’s beautiful Old Town Hall is a brick-built Gothic structure built in 1410 in the city’s Marktplatz, with its lavish Renaissance façade added in 1612. Recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the building has one of the most elegant banquet and reception halls in Germany: An impressive 40 meters long, 13 meters wide and eight meters high, its most notable feature is a large painting of the Judgment of Solomon dating from 1537. Regular free concerts are held every Thursday evening, including vocal soloists and organ recitals. Also of interest is a richly carved spiral staircase, while a bronze group of the Bremen town musicians can be found under the northwest tower.– a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster – which appear in an old folk tale.
Address: Am Markt 21, 28195 Bremen
3 The Cathedral of St. Peter
The Cathedral of St. Peter in Bremen – known locally as St. Petri Dom – dates from the 11th century, with additions in the 13th and 16th centuries. The exterior, with its two 98-meter towers, was restored in 1898, while the richly decorated baroque pulpit was a gift from Queen Christina of Sweden in the 17th century. The Bleikeller, or Lead Cellar, contains a number of mummified bodies, and displays of other items related to the tombs can be seen in the Museum in St. Peter’s Cathedral . A nominal entrance fee is required to visit the cathedral tower, but it’s worth it for the view.
Address: Sandstrasse 10-12, 28195 Bremen
Converted into a street lined with museums between 1926-31, Bremen’s narrow Böttcherstrasse is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Although it’s only 100 meters long, the many examples of unusual Expressionist architecture make it a lot of fun to explore (you can’t miss the entrance – look for the Lichtbringer, an impressive gold sculpture above the “secret” arch). A must-see here is the wonderful Paula Becker-Modersohn Museum, the world’s first gallery dedicated to the art of a single woman and housed in a specially designed Expressionist brick building. Highlights of the collection include photographs, paintings, and documents related to the artist, as well as displays from her contemporaries. Also of interest to art lovers is Roselius-Haus, built in 1588 and home to the Ludwig Roselius Museum with its fine examples of German art from the Gothic to the Baroque. Afterwards, visit the street’s many unique shops and galleries, as well as the famous Glockenspiel House with its triple chime.
Address: Böttcherstrasse, D-28195 Bremen
Official site: https://www.boettcherstrasse.de/de?page=/94&%3Baid=&%3Blang_id=2
5 The Schnoor District
The charming medieval district of Schnoor is the oldest part of Bremen. Now the haunt of artists, it is full of old 15th to 18th century houses once populated by merchants and fishermen. In addition to the district’s many cafes and craft shops, other highlights include the Schifferhaus, or Shipper’s House , built in 1630, and the pretty Landherrnamt dating from 1856 and once home to the state government. Also of note here is St. John’s Church , a 14th-century brick Gothic church.
Address: Hutfilterstraße 16-18, 28195 Bremen
6 Bremen Art Gallery
The Kunsthalle, in Bremen’s Old Town, contains numerous fine 17th-century Dutch paintings, as well as many old German masters dating as far back as the 15th century. Other highlights include the collection of French and Dutch paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, works by painters from the famous artists’ colony of Worpswede, and more than 200,000 drawings and prints. Guided and audio tours are available in English, and a first-class restaurant with a terrace is located on site.
Address: Am Wall 207, 28195 Bremen
Official site: www.kunsthalle-bremen.de/home-en/#&panel1-1
7 The German Maritime Museum
In the old harbor of Bremerhaven – just over 60 kilometers north of Bremen – is the German Maritime Museum (Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum), a beautiful museum dedicated to the country’s rich maritime history. Notable in his exhibits is a ‘Cog’ in Bremen, an old Hanseatic merchant ship; a World War II Mark XXI submarine; the four-masted tall ship, the Seute Deern ; and the old paddle steamer, the Meißen . Also of interest is a 112-meter-high radar tower with a viewing platform, as well as exhibits related to European shipping from prehistoric times to modern times. Afterwards, spend time exploring Bremerhaven in particular the harbor area with its busy fishing port.
Address: Hans-Scharoun-Platz 1, 27568 Bremerhaven
8 Het Rhododendron Park and Mühle am Wall
Established in 1933, Bremen’s 114-acre Rhododendron-Park is a wonderful place to explore whether you’re a nature lover or a gardener. In addition to its huge collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, it features a nearly 8-hectare botanical garden created in 1905 with plant species from alpine regions, as well as from Asia, Australia and America, and more than 1,000 endemic species, some even endangered. Afterwards, visit Bremen’s Old Town Walls with the town’s moat and a lovely old mill, the Mühle am Wall, built in 1888 and now a listed building and restaurant.
Address: Deliusweg 40, 28359 Bremen
9 Universe Science Center
One of Bremen’s newest attractions is also one of its most interesting architecturally. Resembling a large, partially opened clam — or a grinning whale, depending on where you stand — and made of more than 40,000 metal tiles, it’s home to some 250 fascinating hands-on exhibits focused on humanity, the earth and the cosmos. A recent addition to the attraction is EntdeckerPark, which includes the Turm der Lüfte , a 27-meter high tower with a beautiful view of the surroundings.
Address: Wiener Strasse 1a, 28359 Bremen
Official site: https://www.universum-bremen.de
10 Het Übersee-Museum Bremen
The Übersee-Museum Bremen – or Overseas Museum – has many excellent collections related to natural history, trade and ethnography, including displays focused on the South Seas, Australia and Asia. The building itself is a listed building, and highlights of the museum include exhibitions on Bremen’s import and export trade. English-language brochures, educational materials, and audio guides are available with ticket purchase, and guided tours in English are also available.
Address: Bahnhofsplatz 13, 28195 Bremen
Official site: www.uebersee-museum.de/en/
Where to Stay in Bremen for Sightseeing
We recommend these great hotels in Bremen with easy access to the city’s top attractions:
- Dorint Park Hotel Bremen: luxury hotel on the lake, quiet park-like setting, classic decor, sauna and heated outdoor pool.
- Atlantic Grand Hotel Bremen: mid-range price, excellent location, well-appointed rooms, rooftop lounge, wellness spa.
- Motel One Bremen: 3-star hotel, modern and stylish, bicycles for rent, comfortable beds.
- Ibis Styles Bremen Altstadt: Budget rates, convenient Old Town location, streamlined space theme.
Day trips from Bremen
About an hour’s drive from Bremen, Cuxhaven is a popular spa town on the North Sea on the west side of the Elbe estuary. From 1394 to 1937, the city belonged to Hamburg and is one of Germany’s most important fishing ports with a busy harbor and a fish market. At the northernmost tip of Cuxhaven’s Döse district is the Kurpark with a sea lion pool, bird meadow and a large wooden spherical beacon, the city’s symbol and emblem. Other attractions in Cuxhaven include Schloss Ritzebüttel , with a defensive tower built around 1300 and enlarged in 1616, and the Wreck Museum, in the Stickenbüttel district of Cuxhaven, with objects recovered from ships and the history of sea rescue services. For more local exhibits, visit the Municipal Museum in the Neoclassical Reyersches Haus . In the shallow coastal waters northwest of Cuxhaven are the islands of Neuwerk and Scharhörn. Administratively, both islands belong to Hamburg, but they are most easily reached from Cuxhaven by boat or at low tide in a horse-drawn carriage or on foot (see tide times). Originally a defensive tower in the 13th or 14th century, Neuwerk’s 35-meter-high lighthouse offers spectacular views from the top. Nearby you can visit the “Cemetery of the Nameless”, with the graves of unknown sailors.
Once part of Britain, the island of Helgoland (Helgoland in German) lies in the Deutsche Bucht (Helgoland Bay), some 70 kilometers from Cuxhaven on the Elbe estuary. In 1890, the British gifted Heligoland to Germany in exchange for Zanzibar, and this small archipelago is now a popular holiday resort, attracting visitors with its mild climate, fresh sea air, modern spa facilities and duty-free shopping. Helgoland consists of three parts: Unterland , in the southeast, is home to the island’s village and spa facilities, and to the north, an aquarium and a heated outdoor seawater swimming pool. Mittelland is higher in rebellion and was formed when British bomb tests collapsed part of the island in 1947.Oberland , rimmed by sandstone cliffs and connected to Unterland by a lift and steps, is a flat, grassy triangle of rock reaching a height of 58 meters above the sea. At the northern tip of the island, you can hike along a panoramic cliff path to view rock formations such as Lange Anna (“Big Anna”), a reddish-brown sea stack, and Lummenfelsen , a haven for many species of seabirds. About a mile east of Unterland is the island of Duin where residents and tourists base themselves on the white sandy beaches. Daily ferries to Heligoland depart from Cuxhaven at the mouth of the Elbe estuary.