Bonn is on both banks of the Rhine and although it is not as well known to tourists as the larger cities in Germany, visitors will find plenty of things to do here. The pattern of the city’s life is set by its old and famous university; its former role as a seat of government (transferred to Berlin after reunification); the busy commercial life; and its attractive surroundings – particularly on the river, with a view of the nearby Siebengebirge. Bonn is also famous as the birthplace of Beethoven, a compound characterized by a variety of attractions and events, the most notable of which, BeethovenFest Bonn, runs from mid-September to mid-October. Bonn’s attractions include its many museums, many of which are located at the University of Bonn or along the city’s tourist-friendly Museum Mile.
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1 Bonn Minster
The venerable Bonner Münster Cathedral, dedicated to Saints Cassius and Florentinus, who were thought to have been executed on this site, is one of the finest Romanesque churches on the Rhine. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, it is also one of Germany’s oldest cathedrals. Highlights include the 11th-century eastern crypt, the attractive 12th-century cloister and the unique crossing tower. In 2017, when engineers and archaeologists assessed the structural needs in preparation for major renovation works, they discovered the long-forgotten tomb of Siegfried von Westerburg behind a slate panel in the crypt to the west. He was Archbishop of Cologne from 1275 to 1297 and first granted Bonn the right to a congregation.
Address: Gangolfstraße 14, 53111 Bonn
2 German National Museum of Contemporary History
Four years after the return of the German capital to Berlin, the first exhibitions at the German National Museum of Contemporary History opened the painful years in which Germany was a divided country. The museum covers the years from the end of World War II to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany. It compares life in the East and West with photos, films and artifacts how the two post-war German states developed . Exhibits highlight the Berlin Wall, the Berlin Airlift, the Iron Curtain, and Final Reunification. Slightly illogical, yet interesting, artifacts from Roman Bonnare displayed on the ground floor of the museum. Some signage is in English, and much is self-explanatory, but the free English-language audio tour is worth asking for. The museum is located on Museumsmeile (Museum Mile) in Bonn, once part of the former West German government district.
Address: Willy-Brandt-Allee 14, Bonn
Official site: www.hdg.de
Bonn has done much to nurture its ties to Ludwig van Beethoven, one of Germany’s most respected composers. A focal point of “Beethoven City” is the birthplace of the great composer, Beethoven-Haus, where he was born in 1770. Established in 1889 as a museum, the attraction also has a collection of rare artifacts and documents, a research center (including rare recordings), and the Chambers Music Hall, which hosts a program of Beethoven-themed concerts and events. Tours are available. Also of interest is the Beethoven Monument , a large bronze statue erected in Münsterplatz in 1845
Address: Bonngasse 24-26, 53111 Bonn
Official site: www.beethoven-haus-bonn.de/sixcms/detail.php?template=portal_en
4 Bonn Botanic Gardens en Poppelsdorf Palace
Bonn Botanic Gardens (Botanischer Garten Bonn), with an area of about 16 hectares, owned and operated by the University of Bonn, can trace its roots back to 1340 when it is built as part of a castle garden. They were transformed into their current Baroque style in 1720, and the Rococo Poppelsdorf Palace was added in 1746. Today, the garden is home to more than 11,000 species of plants, including many endangered local species. Highlights of the outdoor gardens include numerous species of woody plants in the large arboretum, as well as plants arranged by geographic region. Guided tours and educational talks are available.
Address: Meckenheimer Allee 171, Bonn
Official site: www.botgart.uni-bonn.de/o_inter/engl01.php
5 Altes Rathaus and the market square
Bonn’s Town Hall, an elegant white building with gold trim, forms a backdrop to Bonn’s bustling market square. The scene is especially picturesque in December when the Christmas market fills the square with lights and music. From December 1 through Christmas Eve, the beautiful old town hall becomes a giant Advent calendar, with a new window every day. The surrounding streets and squares form one of Bonn’s smartest shopping areas .
6 Museum Koenig
Museum Koenig – or to give it its full name, the Zoological Museum Alexander Koenig – is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Opened in 1934, the displays cover a diversity of wildlife and their habitats. A highlight is the excellent ‘Our Blue Planet’ exhibit, which showcases ecosystems through a range of fascinating dioramas, including the African savannah, tropical rainforests and polar regions. Tours are available.
Address: Adenauerallee 160, D-53113 Bonn
Official site: https://www.zfmk.de/en
7 The art and exhibition space
Established in 1992, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany features numerous excellent exhibits related to the country’s rich cultural history, as well as its role in science, technology and the environment. Exhibits come from all over the world and change regularly, so be sure to check out the museum’s website before visiting.
Address: Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4, 53113 Bonn
Official site: www.bundeskunsthalle.de/en/home.html
8 Bonn Museum of Modern Art
Founded in 1947, the Bonn Museum of Modern Art (Kunstmuseum Bonn) hosts numerous temporary and permanent exhibitions. Highlights of the permanent collection include works in the Rhenish Expressionist school, as well as post-war art from all over Germany. It contains one of the most comprehensive collections of August Macke’s works, with paintings, watercolors and drawings, and a collection of works by his contemporary Max Ernst, a key artist in the development of Surrealism. Another point of attraction is the collection of more than 5,000 post-war prints, as well as unique video art.
A seven-minute walk from the museum, on the banks of the Rhine, are the old parliament buildings (Bundeshaus), now home to the World Conference Center Bonn, which hosts many national and international conferences.
Address: Friedrich Ebert Allee 2, 53113 Bonn
Official site: www.kunstmuseum-bonn.de/en/information/news/
9 The Rhineland Museum
The Rhineland Museum (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn) has a rich collection of antiquities, including rare Frankish and medieval works of art and paintings. The museum, one of the oldest in Germany (it can trace its roots back to 1820), is mainly about local history dating back to prehistoric times and Roman settlements discovered in the area. Most of the displays are dioramas of life in those days gone by. Also of interest is the German Museum (Deutsches Museum Bonn) with its numerous scientific and technological displays.
Adres: Colmantstr. 14-16, 53115 Bonn
Official site: www.landesmuseum-bonn.lvr.de/en/ueber_uns/ueber_uns_1.html
10 The Arithmeum
Founded in 1697, the University of Bonn is home to a variety of new and old museums and collections. One of the newest and most interesting – especially for those interested in the science and technology of numbers – is the Arithmeum, a fascinating museum dedicated to mathematics. Based on a collection of 1,200 antique calculators and rare books on the subject dating back many centuries, the museum is also notable for its spectacular steel and glass structure, designed to represent “the transparency of science.”
Address: Lennestrasse 2, 53113 Bonn
Official site: https://www.arithmeum.uni-bonn.de
11 Academic Museum of Antiquities
The Academic Museum of Antiquities (Akademisches Kunstmuseum) – another of the University of Bonn’s fine museums – was founded in 1818 and is famous the world over for its large collection of plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures. Originally used to teach students at art schools across Europe, many of these plaster casts date back to 1763. Other highlights include more than 500 statues, as well as more than 2,000 original sculptures by some of Europe’s leading artists. Also of interest is the university’s Egyptian Museum , home to a collection of 3,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Address: Regina-Pacis-Weg 7 53113 Bonn
12 August Macke House
August Macke Haus opened in 1991 and is dedicated to the famous expressionist who lived there between 1911 and 1914. Highlights of the museum include reconstructed interiors, artifacts, and documents passed down through the artist’s family, as well as frequent temporary exhibitions. Tours are available.
Address: Bornheimer Strasse 96, 53119 Bonn
Official site: www.august-macke-haus.de/en/
Where to Stay in Bonn for Sightseeing
Many of Bonn’s tourist attractions are close together in the old town, including the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn Minster, the Academic Museum of Antiquities, the Opera House, the Hofgarten, and several historic churches. The main train station (bahnhof) is close by, as is the Rhine and the walking path along the river. Several museums are located in the south, close together on Willy-Brandt-Allee. All these highly-rated hotels in Bonn are within walking distance of the city center:
- Luxury Hotels : In a historic building overlooking the market square and near the Bonn Minster, SternHotel Bonn has well-appointed modern rooms and many restaurants nearby. Located next to a park near the Minster and Train Station, Collegium Leoninum Hotel offers spacious rooms, free Wi-Fi and a pleasant courtyard garden. Ameron Hotel Koenigshof Bonn is located not far from the shopping street and pedestrian zone, with smartly furnished rooms and free Wi-Fi. It is located next to a park and near the river.
- Mid-Range Hotels: InterCity Hotel Bonn is located near the minster and with a connecting tunnel to the train station. It offers very modern, simple rooms with free Wi-Fi and free public transport tickets. Derag Livinghotel Kanzler is located next to the natural history museum and halfway between art museums and minster, close to the Rhine and the restaurants and cafes of Südstadt. Hotel Mercedes is located near the Hofgarten and the river, not far from the train station and the minster.
- Budget Hotels: Although a 15-minute walk from the train station and the minster, the Ibis Bonn is opposite a bus stop for Koln/Bonn Airport and has free, high-speed Wi-Fi. The very modern B&B Hotel Bonn is a 25-minute walk from the center and offers small rooms, but free Wi-Fi and parking. Also north of the center and with free Wi-Fi, Hotel Baden is about a 10-minute walk from the Beethoven-Haus and has a choice of nearby restaurants.
Other picturesque places to visit near Bonn
There are a number of attractive places to visit near Bonn. It lies at the beginning of the most beautiful part of the Rhine Valley, which extends south past Koblenz, at the junction of the Rhine and Moselle. To the north are the river cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf. Germany’s westernmost city of Aachen lies on the borders of both Belgium and the Netherlands. A short distance away are the Belgian city of Liège and the Dutch city of Maastricht.