Visiting Passau, Germany on a River Cruise

Passau, Germany
Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)

Passau is called the Dreiflüssestadt (City on Three Rivers) because it is situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz, and Inn Rivers.  Once an important medieval center for the salt trade, today Passau is considered the economic, cultural, and communications center of southeastern Bavaria.  What can you do while in Passau?  If you love history, cathedrals, architecture, great food and beer, then you’re going to have an amazing time in Passau like I did on my recent Viking River Cruise.



Passing Through A Uniworld Ship

But first things first!  This was the first time I had to walk through another river cruise ship in order to get onto dry land.  This was a Uniworld river cruise ship and it was très fancy!  We needed to exit our ship, walk across their ship and out, which made me feel like I was doing something sneaky and wrong, but I wasn’t — really!

Fine Feathered Friends In Passau

Passau, Germany
A fine feathered friend in Passau

Who was there to greet me in Passau?  These little feathered friends who were walking down the sidewalk in front of me.  Hey duck – how’s it going? You’re a duck.  I like that.  Say “hi” to your mother for me all right?

Veste Oberhaus

Passau, Germany
Veste Oberhaus

Off in the distance I spotted Veste Oberhaus, a fortress founded in 1219 that today serves as a museum, hostel, and restaurant.

Walking Through Passau, Germany

Passau, Germany
Passau, Germany

A walk through Passau means meandering its cobbled lanes, underpasses, and archways.

Passau, Germany
Cobbled lanes and archways

Of course, you’re also enjoying and appreciating its architecture, like its baroque churches and patrician houses.

Passauer Glasmuseum

Passauer Glasmuseum: Inside this yellow and building is the largest collection of European art glass. Opened in 1985 by Neil Amstrong (yes that Neil Armstrong), the collection includes more than 30,000 pieces of glass and crystal of the baroque, classical, art-nouveau and art-deco periods.

Altes Rathaus

Passau, Germany
Another view of Altes Rathaus

I was immediately drawn to Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), whose beginnings date back to the year 1298. It is built in the Venetian style and the hall itself dates back to 1405.

Rose of Jericho

The Rose of Jericho: While walking up to Market Square, I noticed a basket of what looked like dry yarn. That’s not yarn, but the Rose of Jericho (asteriscus pygmaeus), a plant that grows in the Dead Sea Valley close to Jericho in the Judaean Desert. It has the ability to preserve its seeds for years and miraculously come back to life after receiving water. Now you’ll understand its other name,  “The Resurrection Plant” in reference to the resurrection of Jesus.

Market Square

Passau, Germany
Market Square

We didn’t have a plan or a goal for discovering Passau as we decided to let Passau lead us and it certainly did.

Our first discovery was Market Square, a square behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral with a lovely baroque fountain that seemed to change its appearance within seconds of these two shots.

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View from Market Square on the back side of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Dom St. Stephan

Passau, Germany
Dom St. Stephan

Dom St. Stephan (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) looms over the entire city but its ominous presence pales in comparison to the hordes of tourists all looking to get that one perfect shot.

TSG Tip: Did you know that this church houses the world’s largest church organ?

Ok, well it’s not one organ, but a total of five organs played from one keyboard or more specifically, 17,974 organ pipes, 233 stops, and four carillons.

View of Passau, Germany

Passau, Germany

After leaving the crowds at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, I found my favorite spot in Passau located along this cobble lane with great views of the countryside.

Passau, Germany
Walking along in Passau, Germany
Passau, Germany
Passau, Germany
Passau, Germany
More views in Passau, Germany
Passau, Germany
Graffiti in Passau, Germany

When you think that it can’t get better than that, it does.  It was as if someone left this message just for me!

Final Thoughts

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Passau is a mix of old and new with many modern conveniences, including an abundance of shops and restaurants available for its 50,000+ residents. But on this day I embraced the culture and history of Passau before heading off for lunch, which is where we’re headed next.   

Have you been to Passau, Germany? Read more about my experience in Passau and other destinations here on the Travel Shop Girl website.


I was a guest of Viking River Cruises for this cruise, but as always — all opinions and photographs are my own.

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