Of all the stops on my recent trip down the Danube with Viking Cruise Lines, visiting Passau was the one I wasn’t excited about. There are many online resources listing great destinations in Europe to explore. Passau, in my mind, wasn’t one of them. To be fair, I knew nothing of the town, so I prematurely wrote it off as a nothing more than a place for my river cruise ship to refuel. I would’ve missed out on visiting Passau and left with this thought if it wasn’t for the three days of cruise food in me. Yes, because of a little self-shame and a couple of extra pounds, I decided to get off the boat for a day of visiting Passau. In the process, I found my favourite stop on the Danube. Here’s why:
Turns out Passau is a pretty big deal. With its strategic location where the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers meet, Passau has been historically significant for centuries. Although it established itself as an important trading post, it does come at a cost. As I strolled the narrow streets of Passau I started noticing markings on some of the buildings. Turns out, this town has seen a flood or two in its day, and significant ones at that. With the swelling of the three rivers, Passau has, at some points, been an incredible 40 feet underwater! With such a risk of getting soggy, why would anyone want to live here? In short, it’s gorgeous.
To the Tip
To take in this beauty, I headed down the peninsula. With the merging of the Danube and Inn, you can actually see where the different coloured waters mix. On my day visiting Passau, it was a little cloudy, so this interesting site didn’t translate in pictures. Let me tell you, though, that it happens and it’s pretty great. The black water of the Inn meets the green of the Danube and creates a significant divide and is a site to see.
Check out these Pipes
After stopping for coffee in the city square, I continued on through the tight alleys to the impressively white St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home of the largest pipe organ in Europe. At noon, you can take in a half-hour concert (or one-hour concert in the evenings) but be warned, the music is intense. Like an octopus mashing chords while a hummingbird plays some crazy runs intense. Clearly, I don’t get organ music, and I am a musician. It’s cool to hear and see nonetheless.
Above it All
Looming over Passau is the fortress Veste Oberhaus. Since 1219, this strategic stronghold has helped guard over the city and was utilized by various rulers, including Napoleon. You can easily climb up to the fortress from the trailhead at the end of the Luitpold Bridge, or, for €1.80, you can take a shuttle from the town hall square. Not that the climb is long or gruelling, but the bus fare does get you €1 off the €5 entrance price to the fortress grounds. Inside, you will find a couple of small museums dedicated to the fortress’s past and the culture of Passau. Also, this panoramic vantage point is worth the climb or bus ride alone.
- READ MORE: Down the Danube with Viking River Cruises
Prost to Passau
I capped off my surprisingly great day visiting Passau with a dark German beer above the city. Located a short five-minute walk from the fortress is the new Das Oberhaus bar and restaurant. There, you will find a wonderful spot to reflect on finding such a wonderful town.
Prost to visiting Passau, a great Europe destination on the Danube.
What say you?
Thoughts on the visiting Passau?
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My time visiting Passau has been brought to you by Viking River Cruises. The experience, opinions, and postcard views are my own.