Germany: 10 must-do things in Bonn during a trip

by Destination(s) Europe
Published: Last Updated on

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Many people reach Bonn via Cologne. The contrast between the cultural (and modern) city of Cologne and Bonn, the former capital of West Germany with its much more bucolic atmosphere, is immediately striking. There’s a laid-back feel to Bonn, but it’s far from boring. Here’s our list of the top ten things to do in Bonn to make the most of your visit.

🎄 When Christmas is coming. Bonn is a beautiful city in winter, but it’s not the only one. In our opinion, these are the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe.

Before diving into what to do in Bonn, let’s address some common questions raised by its visitors (or potential visitors).

How do you get from Cologne airport to Bonn city centre?

The Cologne/Bonn airport, also known as Konrad Adenauer, is well connected to Bonn’s city centre. Travellers can take the regional train (S-Bahn) or the express train (RE) from the airport station to Bonn’s main station (Hauptbahnhof), which takes around 30 minutes. Additionally, express buses leave from the airport, serving various points in Bonn. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also available for those who prefer a more direct (but pricier) journey.

What is the best time of year to visit Bonn?

Bonn, with its temperate climate, is pleasant to visit year-round. However, spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) stand out due to moderate temperatures and colourful landscapes. Spring witnesses the famous Cherry Blossom Avenue in Bonn bloom, providing a stunning display. Summers can be a bit crowded with tourists, whereas winters, although chillier, offer a festive mood, especially during the Christmas market.

What are some must-try food and drink specialties?

Located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bonn offers visitors a range of traditional culinary delights. One of the most well-known is Sauerbraten, a meat stew marinated in a sweet and sour sauce. Reibekuchen, fried grated potato pancakes, are often paired with apple sauce. When it comes to drinks, the region is famed for Kölsch, a light blonde beer from Cologne but also popular in Bonn. While wine isn’t specific to Bonn, the city’s position along the Rhine means it’s close to renowned wine-growing areas where white wine, especially Riesling, is produced.

Is it easy to travel from Bonn to other German cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf, or Frankfurt?

Yes, travelling from Bonn to other major German cities is quite straightforward, thanks to Germany’s efficient and dense railway network. Cologne, for instance, is a mere short train ride away, taking less than 30 minutes. Düsseldorf can be reached in about an hour, while Frankfurt, a major railway hub, is roughly one and a half hours away by high-speed train (ICE).

Which hotel to choose in Bonn?

Given its tourist appeal, Bonn boasts numerous hotels that impress with their comfort, service, and location. The Kameha Grand Bonn, a contemporary establishment offering breathtaking views of the Rhine, stands out for its avant-garde design and luxuriously appointed rooms.

Located by the Rhine, Maritim Hotel Bonn combines modern comfort with a traditional feel. With top-notch facilities, including an indoor pool and several restaurants, it’s not only a pleasant place to stay but also ideally positioned for exploring the city.

Lastly, for those seeking accommodation in the city’s historic heart, the Collegium Leoninum is a former school turned boutique hotel, blending historic and modern design, while being steps away from many of Bonn’s main attractions.

Alright, after addressing those basic questions, let’s delve into what to do in Bonn during your visit.

Visit Beethoven’s House

When the weather is nice, don’t hesitate: head to the banks of the Rhine and rent a bike (10 euros/day) to go further south to Drachenburg Castle. Along the way, you’ll pass through the beautiful Rheinaue Park, with its ponds and diverse wildlife. On your return, cycle up the opposite bank, where beaches, topped with outdoor bars, await. Miles of pure joy. Tried and tested.

Cycle down the Rhine

When the weather is nice, don’t hesitate: head to the banks of the Rhine and rent a bike (10 euros/day) to go further south to Drachenburg Castle. Along the way, you’ll pass through the beautiful Rheinaue Park, with its ponds and diverse wildlife. On your return, cycle up the opposite bank, where beaches, topped with outdoor bars, await. Miles of pure joy. Tried and tested.

Stroll along the Rhine in Bonn

Storm Drachenburg Castle

Well, “storm” might be a stretch since this castle is far from medieval. Construction actually began in 1882, making it relatively new. However, the neogothic-style Drachenburg Castle seems straight out of a fairy tale, overlooking Bonn from atop the Drachefels hill. Various tour options are available at the base of the funicular leading up to it, some including an ascent to the hilltop for a better view of the valley below.

Discover the splendid Town Hall

The Altes Rathaus, located east of the Market Square, has welcomed renowned figures like John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle. Understandably, as Bonn was once the capital of West Germany during the Cold War. The building, with its double staircase, dormer windows, and mansard roof, is also noteworthy for its evident beauty.

Bonn Rathaus

Dive into the Cold War at Haus der Geschichte

Your town hall visit might make you curious about Germany’s Cold War era. Head to the Museum of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany for a trip back in time. Opened in 1994, this place recounts the country’s major events during turbulent decades. It also exhibits personal items of former West German chancellors.

Explore the city by night

Bonn has a mysterious charm that makes nighttime explorations thrilling. While it may not compete culturally with Berlin or even neighbouring Cologne, Bonn has its fair share of night attractions. In the mood for opera or ballet? Visit the “Rhine’s Scala”, also known as Oper der Stadt Bonn. For jazz, the Pantheon Theater is the place. For a recommended bar? Definitely Old Jacob, known for its unique cocktails.

The Old Jacob | Kesselgasse 1a, Bonn

Have a coffee on Münsterplatz

Münsterplatz is Bonn’s largest square, dominated by the towering Bonn Minster. It’s also renowned for its statue of the hometown hero, genius composer Ludwig van Beethoven, erected in 1845 during a festival directed by Franz Liszt himself. Enjoy views of it from the numerous cafes dotting the square.

Admire some beautiful paintings at the Kunstmuseum

Opened in 1992, the Kunstmuseum Bonn displays major paintings of Rhenish Expressionism and post-WWII artworks, predominantly by German artists like Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer, but also features pieces by Robert Delaunay and Richard Long.

Pray (or meditate) in the Bonn Minster

A mandatory stop, Bonn Minster offers both a moment of reprieve and a step back in time. Completed in 1248, the same year the foundation stone for Cologne Cathedral was laid, its tall bell tower and five spires make it unmistakable.

🧳 Must-sees of Baden-Baden. Further south in Western Germany, Baden-Baden is another great getaway destination, offering relaxation and gourmet delights. Check out our article for more insights.

Explore Poppelsdorf Castle and its Botanical Garden

Located in central-east Bonn, the 18th-century Poppelsdorf Castle now houses a mineralogical museum. Recognisable by its elegant three-pavilion facade, reminiscent of French architecture, the castle’s rear boasts a welcoming botanical garden. Under its five greenhouses, nearly 8,000 plant species can be found.

That concludes our top 10 must-do activities in Bonn. If you have more suggestions, feel free to share in the comments. Everyone will benefit!

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