Home to the famous German composer, Ludwig van Beethoven, the city of Bonn was the capital of Germany before it shifted to Berlin. The city is served by Cologne-Bonn Airport which handles mainly cargo flights but also have domestic and international passenger flights served by both budget and international carriers. Few know that many international carriers do offer a cheaper option to fly to Bonn then to other more popular parts of Europe such as Schipol, Charles De Gaulle or Heathrow. It is also possible to reach Bonn by trains and the city is well served by efficient highway systems in Germany. During your visit, don’t miss these top things to do!
Beethoven in a nutshell
Being the hometown to this famous composer, it is not hard to see his footprints everywhere in Bonn; from monuments to souvenirs, it is obvious that the city truly cherishes his achievements. There is even a festival to celebrate this famous musician. Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770, in Bonn, Germany. He stayed in Bonn till 1787 where he moved to Vienna to widen his musical career. A world famous composer and musician, he was well known for widening the musical scope of sonatas, symphony and concertos while combining vocals with musical instruments in the classical and romantic era.
A musical prodigy since his earlier years, he studied violin and clavier from his father and also underwent lessons in playing the organ. Although his hearing abilities have declined over the years to deafness, his greatest works were composed towards the last ten years of his life. Some of his famous compositions include Fur Elise, Grand Fugue and Moonlight Sonata.
More Information about Beethoven
1a. Beethovenfest - The Beethoven Festival
Undoubtedly this is the most important and significant festival in Bonn and the holy grail for all classical music lovers. The festival was first held in 1845, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birth. With over 70 concerts by international orchestras, ensembles and soloists, performing in more than 20 locations around the town and its region, The Beethovenfest is dedicated to the music of Beethoven and his achievements.
Usually held around September to October yearly, the festival has a series of indoor and outdoor concerts for all. Not all of the events require purchase of tickets, especially so for the outdoor musical event; they are free for all to immense in the classical music world.
Website: Beethoven Festival
1b. Beethoven Haus - the birthplace of Beethoven
Located conveniently in the city center of Bonn, this is definitely a must-see while you are in Bonn. The Beethoven Haus offers insights and interesting facts and information about the life of Beethoven and his works. At the same time, visitors can experience life back in 1700, with exhibits and display from the past. The Beethoven Haus is open to both adult and children with a myriad of activities to participate in. The Beethoven Haus is open from 10am or 11am to 5pm or 6pm, depending on the day of week and month. Guided tours are available either on reservation (with a fee) or on the spot (free of charge), and the tours take about 45 to 60 minutes.
Address: Beethoven-Haus, Bonngasse 18-26, D-53111, Bonn
Website: Beethoven Haus
1c. The Beethoven Monument - an icon in Bonn City
The Beethoven Monument is a large bronze statue standing at Münsterplatz in the city center, with the background of the German post office, an iconic architectural building. The monument was unveiled on 12 August 1845 where the first Beethovenfest was created to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. The monument is a 3-5 minute walk from the Beethoven Haus and is definitely a must-see for all Bonn visitors. There are cafes around the plaza where you can take a rest and have a cup of coffee or beer while lazing your afternoon away.
Address: Munsterplatz, Bonn
Website: Beethoven Monument
2. Bonner Munster - the oldest church in Bonn
Intricate stained glass, detailed artwork and statues; the Bonner Munster or Munster Basilica is a work of art not to be missed. Lying in the open plaza on the East end of the basilica are large sculpted heads of the Roman martyrs, Cassius and Florentius, the patron saints of Bonn. Located also within the Munsterplatz, most visitors will visit this Basilica with the Beethoven Haus and the Beethoven Monument as it is all within walking distances.
Although not as famous as other cathedrals in Europe, the Bonner Munster has its own character and its intricate building artwork constantly draws visitors around the world. An altar and crypt containing the tomb of the patron saints are within the tranquil interior of the church. There are also free guided tours available by the staff of the church.
Address: Gangolfstr. 14 | Gangolfstraße 14, 53111 Bonn
Website: Bonner Munster (in German)
3. Brauhaus Bonnsch - the best local Himmel und Erde
Good beer and great food is what most diners will comment. Centrally located, diners can easily access the restaurant from anywhere in Bonn City. Forget about a candlelight dinner or fine dining, the restaurant is a typical German beer house serving authentic German dishes and carefully handcrafted beer. This restaurant serves the best Himmel and Erde in town, meaning heaven and earth which is actually any meat served with potatoes. The best part is that the restaurant actually serves vegetarian options, making it convenient for all. It’s all German interior with wooden furnishings, which will make this place an Instagrammable restaurant.
Address: Sterntorbrücke 4, 53111 Bonn
Website: Brauhaus Bonnsch (in German)
4. Atles Rathaus - the old town hall of Bonn
Nearly every city in Germany has a town hall. This old town hall in Bonn is in Bonner Marktplatz, the main square in the city beside the busy market. Not just another important architecture in Bonn, the town hall has been destroyed and rebuilt with renovations from past events.
Besides the numerous photographic opportunities at this location, the market adjacent sells all kinds of interesting souvenirs and food stuff for visitors. The whole street down the town hall is also filled with many shops for visitors to do some shopping. Throughout the year, the square in front is filled with street buskers performing or there will be some weekend markets or events going on. This location will not be missed as it is right in the center of the town.
Address: Markt 2, 53111 Bonn
Website: Altes Rathaus
5. Bonn University Botanic Gardens - historic flora and fauna
Better known as the Botanical Gardens of Bonn, these gardens have an area of about 9 hectares (22 acres) of which 6 are opened to the public, while the rest are for the University’s research purposes. The gardens were originally castle grounds for the Archbishop of Cologne in the 1300s, and when the University of Bonn was founded in 1818, the gardens were primarily used for scientific botany research by disciplines in the University.
In the present day, the garden has about 8,000 plant species, including endangered local species such as the Lady’s Slipper Orchids and the rare Sophora Toro Miro from Easter Island. There is also a greenhouse area holding flora that needs special temperature conditions. Not only is it good for a nice stroll with nature, there are occasionally events and activities for visitors to know more about the plants in the gardens. The gardens are opened daily except on Saturdays. Do note that they have special opening timings for different seasons so do check their website before visiting.
Botanische Garten der Universitat Bonn
Address: Poppeldorfer Allee, 53115 Bonn
Website: Botanic Gardens
6. Enjoy a beer with views at Alter Zoll
An old bastion with a good view of Bonn to The Rhine. The name Alter Zoll actually refers to the customs house, which was located here in the Middle Ages. The two cannons from the times of the Napoleonic wars remind visitors of its history as a military fortification. Today, filled with chestnut trees around, the location is a good place for relaxation and drinks, with a Biergarten located right in the sight itself. Serving fresh beers with a long menu of local food, choices are wide. The price is reasonable as it is a favorite hangout for university students. Come here during the night to catch the beautiful night scene of the city of Bonn and soak in the atmosphere of a vibrant German beer garden.
Address: Brassertufer / Konviktstraße, 53113 Bonn
Facebook: Alter Zoll
7. Shop for souvenirs at Marktplatz
A trip to Bonn will not be complete without some shopping, and any type of shopper will find a walk through the Marktplatz or the Bonn Market Square truly rewarding. With hundreds of boutiques retailing fashion items to electronic gadgets, strewn along the market are also cafes and restaurants for shoppers to take a break. It’s located in the old town center, with the Altes Rathaus just at the southeastern side of the square.
The marketplace is always filled with locals and tourists going for a meal or shopping. This location is also a favorite spot for the many activities from Sunday markets to open air exhibitions and fairs, sometimes with occasional pop-up markets with sales of local specialties. When it comes to year-end, the marketplace changes into a Christmas market selling all kinds of Christmas decorations and goodies.
Address: Markt, 53111 Bonn
Website: Marktplatz (in German)
8. German National Museum of Contemporary History
The Contemporary History Museum (Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) really demonstrates the history of the last century and is really worth the visit. Being one of the most popular museums in Germany, it attracts about 1 million visitors every year. It presents the German History from the last century with very objective viewpoints.
In its permanent exhibitions, the museum features information and exhibits from 1945 until the present, while the temporary galleries feature different types of topics. The museum’s slogan of “Experience History” aims to present facts and information from the past to the visitors. You will need a full day to walk through the museum, and the best part is admission is free!
German National Museum of Contemporary History
Address: Willie Brandt Allee 14, 53133 Bonn
Website: Museum of Contemporary History
9. Freizeitpark Rheinaue - recreational area for everyone
“Rheinaue” is the common name by the locals to address this recreational area in Bonn. Once an underdeveloped area, the grounds of this park were created during 1979 for the Federal Garden show, and since then it has been used for visitors for a day to relax. Located within the town, this park is not only filled with lush greenery, it has a few sights such as the totem pole and Bismarck tower. With such a large space, the park is also home to many activities and events such as the flea markets held on every 3rd Saturday of the months of April to October and numerous musical concerts during the summer.
Address: Center of Bonn City Area to both sides of the Rhine
Website: Freizeitpark Rheinaue
Immerse in the German culture in Bonn
With these top things to do in Bonn, you can be sure a holiday spent in the town will be worthwhile. Immerse yourself into the musical world of Beethoven and enjoy authentic German food and beer, not forgetting the abundance of shopping opportunities. Enjoy Bonn!
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