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This delightful ancient city on the Danube might surprise you
Passau glows in autumn splendor
With autumn at its peak, it's hard to decide which is more colorful: the forest surrounding the ancient city of Passau or the multi-hued buildings sprinkled throughout its Old Town. Founded as a Roman provincial town in the first century A.D., Passau remains one of the most picturesque towns in Bavaria.
Passau’s unique position at the confluence of three rivers made it an important shipping route in the early Middle Ages. Today, the city is one of the highlights of many Danube river cruises that either begin or end here. Framed by a castle on the right and a monastery on the left, Passau’s historic Old Town in the center actually resembles a floating ship!
Passau is a city of around 50,000 inhabitants, 12,000 of whom are students who attend its esteemed university to study law, business, economics, computer sciences and mathematics. This youthful element adds to the pulse of the city, resulting in an eclectic variety of special events, concerts and festivals throughout the year.
Don’t be surprised if you're served a Weisswurst and pretzel as part of your breakfast buffet. This particular sausage is indigenous to Bavaria and can be found on the menu throughout the day. It’s always best dipped in a hearty mustard, accompanied by a salty Brezel and a local beer.
A young child delights in the bubbling waters of the magnificent fountain in Passau’s Residence Square. You’ll appreciate the fact that you can easily walk to all of the city’s historic squares and monuments. Take an evening stroll, when the city is beautifully lit, for an unforgettably romantic visitor experience.
If watching the Danube flow by from Passau's shores doesn’t quite fill your need for adventure, you can always rent a kayak or canoe and experience the force of the river yourself. Passau is also a stop on the Danube bike trail. The stretch from Passau to Vienna is one of the most popular trails and can easily be cycled in about a week.
Like many European cities, Passau has many pedestrian zones for locals to enjoy the picturesque cobblestone streets and neighborhoods, without the inconvenience of constantly being on the lookout for traffic. These zones encourage leisurely shopping during the day, then offer romantic spots to gather for drinks and meals during the evening hours.
One of the most beloved and traditional meals of this region is Kaese Spaetzle, a delicious dish of homemade egg noodles oozing authentic Swiss cheese and a crisp topping of caramelized onions. Served with a fresh green salad, it's a simple, but magnificent meal that we recommend you try when visiting Passau.
Built in 1219 by Passau's princes in order to control commerce across the rivers, the magnificent fortress Veste Oberhaus is a must-see when visiting Passau. You'll marvel at Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and artwork as you tour the buildings and grounds. The climb to the top of the fortress, on a lovely forest path, is the most picturesque way to reach the castle.
The majestic St. Stephen's Cathedral is located at Old Town’s highest point. This baroque cathedral was built in 1688 by Italian architect Carlo Lurago and is adorned with exquisite frescos and interior decorations by 17th-century Italian artists.
In addition to being a splendid example of baroque architecture, St. Stephen's also boasts the largest cathedral organ in the world. Concerts are held regularly, and the eight large bells in the church tower ring out their joyous song throughout the day and evening.
In Passau, you can enjoy delectable baked goods and sweets at various venues, either seated at a traditional coffee house, or on the run at a local bakery. Made with the freshest of ingredients from local sources, these delicious pastries will definitely satisfy any sweet tooth.
It’s hard to resist all the romantic photo opportunities you’ll encounter as you explore the city of Passau. This couple used the walls of an ancient fortress as a picturesque backdrop for their vacation portrait.
A stroll along Passau's several river promenades is a perfect way to admire the city's architectural beauty in a tranquil setting. Nighttime walks are especially lovely, when special lighting casts a golden glow on the city's many bridges and monuments.
It’s not too late to book a trip to the Passau Christmas Market, either on your own or as part of a cruise ship itinerary. Enjoy traditional food, music, shopping and an unforgettable holiday ambiance. The market and festivities run from November 29-December 23.
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