This small town on the Danube is about 14 miles upriver from the much more frequented port of Passau. Known as the "Little Three Rivers Town," Vilshofen is situated at the entrance of the Lower Bavarian-Upper Austrian Danube Gorge. The captivating four-block, cobblestone old town sits close to the waterfront, with its streets and alleyways framed by a Baroque town tower and the Church of St. John.
What We Love
All-Year Oktoberfest: AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line to visit Vilshofen, and it uses the town as an embarkation and disembarkation point. No matter what the calendar says, passengers can attend an Oktoberfest-style party before heading down the Danube, or find one waiting for them at the end of their cruise. The town puts on the party, and cruisers get two vouchers for beers — served the traditional way in big, Bavarian-style mugs.
Best Known For
Abbey Schweiklberg: The Benedictine Abbey Schweiklberg, with its twin towers, is the dominant sight on the hillside climbing away from the river. The abbey is now home to the Africa Museum.
Taste of History: Vilshofen was the birthplace of Bavarian brewer Josef Groll — who strangely enough became famous for creating a quintessential Czech beer. In 1842, Groll is said to have brewed the world's first golden Pilsner beer while working as a brewmaster in Czechoslovakia — his Pilsner Urquell is still made today. So go ahead and have a second mug of Pilsner. You're drinking history.
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Who It's Best For
Those Looking for Bavarian Charm: This is a quiet town, with only about 17,000 residents. Start with a tour of the abbey up the hill, then just immerse yourself in Vilshofen's alluring historic quarter, which has a small number of boutiques, pharmacies, and eateries.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Sleepy: Once the Oktoberfest tents fold up, things quiet down. You'll find a few restaurants open in the evening but not much else in the way of night life.
John Roberts is a New Jersey-based writer for ShermansCruise who worked at The Virginian-Pilot.