The 2,500 year-old Technicolor town of Passau, Germany, is chock-a-block with a rainbow-bright mix of buildings befitting a Mediterranean village, as it was once part of the Roman Empire. Make no mistake — this is still Germany. Nicknamed the “City of Three Rivers,” Passau is where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers join together to form the Bavarian region’s triple threat of charm. Most river cruise ships and luxury barges dock at the waterfront, a short walk from Old Town.
What We Love
People Watching: Here, it's an art — lingering at a café over coffee, wine, and, of course, beer. The pastime is especially popular on Hollgasse, Passau's main cobblestoned street.
Traditional Bavarian Attire: It's not uncommon to spot locals wearing lederhosen and dirndl dresses.
Best Known For
The Fortress: Built in 1219, the monumental Veste Oberhaus fortress stands watch over Passau’s three rivers. It’s now a castle, regional museum, youth hostel, theater, and restaurant. Take the 130 steps to the tower top for excellent views. And yes, you can spy Austria in the distance.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral: Religious or not, you'll find the energy inside one of the world’s largest baroque basilicas is transcendental. It gets even more powerful under the dome when the biggest church organ — 17,984 pipes plus 233 stops — and powerful bell chimes are put to work during lunchtime and evening concerts.
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Who It's Best For
Beer Lovers: This is Bavaria, land of breweries, and Passau has five of its own spread across the city. Take a guided or self-led tour of the biergartens through the Old Town. Soak up the the brews with plenty of grilled Brats.
A Mature Crowd: Passau appeals to visitors who enjoy discovering treasures beyond the city’s somewhat splashy exteriors.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Church Concerts Get Crowded: St. Stephen’s free, lunchtime concerts are very popular (May to October). Get there early to grab a good seat.
Chanize Thorpe is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides and Uptown.