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15 Best Things to Do in Bonn, Germany

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Sitting on either side of the banks of the Rhine River, surrounded by natural borders, the German city of Bonn has a pleasant seat. Formerly the capital of West Germany, it’s an artistic and cultural hub with world-class museums, attractive green spaces, and ancient history. Bonn is also the birthplace of a certain classical composer, Ludvig Van Beethoven.

The Beethoven House is one of the city’s most popular attractions, as is the Beethoven Monument on Münsterplatz. Created by master sculptor Jacob Daniel Burgschmiet and funded by Franz Liszt, it is a focal point for Ludwig lovers everywhere.

But Bonn attracts more than classical music fans, as it boasts some of the finest museums in the country. The “museum mile” can easily go toe-to-toe with Museum Island in Berlin, and the sheer variety of Bonn’s educational and historic institutions is worth a visit alone.

Bonn is surrounded by what is regarded as the most beautiful section of the Rhine Valley. There are plenty of historic buildings to explore, including Bonn Minster, the old city gate, the nearby Godesburg Castle, and Schloss Drachenburg.

Also famous as the birthplace of Haribo, the gummy bear company Bonn is full of surprises. History, art, nature, and culture come alive in this city. Here, we look at the best things to do in Bonn, Germany.

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Bonn Minster
  • Park to visit – Rheinaue Park
  • Free activity – Haus der Geschichte
  • Activity for kids – Art and Exhibition Hall
  • Activity for adults – Beethoven House
  • Place to eatBrauhaus Bönnsch
  • NightlifeThe Old Jacob
  • Place to stayMaritim Hotel Bonn

Things to Do in Bonn, Germany

1. Get Classical at the Beethoven House

Beethoven-Haus Bon
Nieuwenkampr / Adobe Stock

Address: Bonngasse 20, 53111 Bonn

Fans of classical music (or music in general) will want to visit Bonn at the birthplace of the city’s most famous son. The Beethoven House is a museum dedicated to the life and works of Ludwig Van Beethoven, who was born here in December 1770.

Housed in 12 rooms across three floors, the house displays paintings, portraits, manuscripts, and artifacts relating to the great composer. One of the highlights is Beethoven’s pianoforte, which he last used during his years in Vienna.

On some weekends, the museum hosts concerts where you can enjoy period music played on instruments from Beethoven’s time. Check the museum website for a cultural events program.

Beethoven fans should also consider this private Bonn walking tour, which follows in the composer’s footsteps. The city has a few Beethoven-related points of interest, including the Beethoven Monument in the Münsterplatz. And for accommodation, the aptly named Beethoven Hotel is right down the street.

2. Admire the Historic Bonn Minster

Bonner Münster Architecture
Sina Ettmer / Adobe Stock

Address: Münsterpl., 53111, Bonn

One of Germany’s oldest churches, Bonn Minster, dates back to 1040 and is one of the city’s most significant historical landmarks. As known as the Minster of St. Martins, it was completed in 1248 in a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The church is steeped in history and stands on a Roman temple and necropolis site. Two Roman Christians are thought to have been martyred there around 235 AD. Two large, granite heads sit before the Minster, representing these soldiers beheaded for their faith.

Inside, you can admire the Baroque decoration, and there is a delightful courtyard garden at the center of the Basilica complex. It makes a fine place to escape the world and reflect for a while – whether you’re religious or not.

The Minster is just one of several stops you can experience on this hop-on-hop-off bus tour of the city. If you’d prefer to walk, this private guided tour also includes a visit to this dramatic landmark.

3. Learn Some History at Haus der Geschichte

Haus der Geschichte building exterior
Jpetersen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Address: Willy-Brandt-Allee 14, 53113, Bonn

In a city with several museums, perhaps the stand out is Haus der Geschichte. One of the top attractions in Bonn, it’s officially called the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, which translates as the House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Across some 43,000 square feet, you’ll find a collection of over 7,000 exhibits exploring contemporary German history. From 1945 until the present day, you’ll discover some fascinating historical insights. And the interactive media ensures an educational and engaging experience.

Learn about Germany’s contrasting blocs, the German Democratic Republic in the east and the Federal Republic of Germany in the west. Delve into the history and impact of the Cold War and marvel at Germany’s fight for reunification.

It is one of the top museums in Germany, and it doesn’t cost anything to enter, which makes it one of the best things to do in Bonn for free. Don’t miss it.

See Related: The Museums in Cologne

4. Take a Stroll at the Poppelsdorf Palace and Botanic Gardens

Botanical Garden in Bonn and Poppelsdorf Palace
eugen_z / Adobe Stock

Address: Meckenheimer Allee 169, 53115, Bonn

A short distance south of Bonn’s city center, you’ll find the striking 18th-century Poppelsdorf Palace. On the grounds, there’s the University of Bonn Botanical Gardens. The two together offer a great way to spend an afternoon in Bonn.

Built over the ruins of a castle, Poppelsdorf Palace was remodeled in 1715 with inspiration from the Palace of Versailles, one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe. Damaged by Allied bombing during the Second World War, it was rebuilt around 1955 using a simplified blueprint.

The palace grounds were remade into a botanical garden containing over 3000 species of plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers. You’ll find tropical greenhouses, a turtle pond, a crop garden, and more.

Admission to the gardens is free. If you don’t fancy walking, this Bonn bike tour is a great way to see the palace and grounds, with a refreshing ale at a beer garden on the River Rhine when you’re done.

See Related: Gardens in Europe to Visit

5. Visit the Old Town Hall & Market Place

Bonn Altes Rathaus, Building
Sina Ettmer / Adobe Stock

Address: Markt 2, 53111, Bonn

Bonn Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is a charming 18th-century building constructed in the late-baroque style. Today, it serves as the office of the Lord Mayor or Mayoress, once the focal point of the former capital.

Nearly destroyed in air raids during World War II, the city hall has been renovated several times. The external double staircase is noteworthy and has hosted many historic events, including visits by John F. Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle, and Queen Elizabeth II.

A popular food market occurs in the square almost every day, making it ideal for people-watching. When the weather is fine, try Miebachs Bistro for outside seating.

Although entering the beautiful Altes Rathaus is not permitted, you can still admire it from afar. For a place to stay, ACHAT Sternhotel Bonn couldn’t be better positioned—right on the Marketplatz, with views of the town hall and square.

See Related: German Christmas Markets to Visit

6. Get Artsy at the Art and Exhibition Hall

Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn
Ungaroo – Udo Ungar / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: Helmut-Kohl-Allee 4, 53113, Bonn

One of the most visually striking museums you can visit, the Art and Exhibition Hall is a Bonn landmark in its own right. The full title is a mouthful: Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. But you can call it Bundeskunsthalle for short.

This institution is as eclectic as they come, showcasing a myriad of works from the ancient to the present day. While there isn’t a permanent in-house collection, rotating exhibitions focus on the global marriage between art, culture, and science.

There’s an ever-changing annual program of events, lectures, exhibitions, and workshops. The three distinctive cones represent the artistic triumvirate of architecture, painting, and sculpture. The planted rooftop terrace provides an oasis of serenity in the city.

Admission is free for anyone aged 18 and under, which makes it one of the best things to do in Bonn with kids. This Bonn Regio WelcomeCard will get you into one exhibition for free, as well as a host of other discounts and free travel in the area.

7. Relax at Rheinaue Park

Pond and Scenery at Rheinaue Park
Vladimirs / Adobe Stock

Address: Ludwig-Erhard-Allee 20, 53175, Bonn

Bonn lies on the banks of the Rhine River, and aside from taking a sightseeing boat tour, one of the best ways to enjoy the waterfront is to visit Freizeitpark Rheinaue. A favorite green space of locals, the park is on either side of the river and covers nearly 400 acres.

Since its inception in 1979, the park has become a popular spot for picnics, dog walking, hiking, cycling, and rowing. There’s also an amusement park, a boating pond, and a beautiful Japanese garden where you can enjoy a tranquil moment.

The boating lake freezes over in winter, which makes it a wonderful place to go ice skating. Other seasonal events occur in the park throughout the year, including the city’s largest flea market. It runs from April to October on the third Saturday of the month.

If you don’t fancy exploring the park on foot, you can cover more ground with this Rheinaue-guided Segway tour. For somewhere to stay in the area, the Kameha Grand Bonn offers four-star accommodation with Rhine views.

8. Figure Things Out at the Arithmeum

Arithmeum Building

Address: Lennéstraße 2, 53113, Bonn

As someone who suffers from a form of dyscalculia, you wouldn’t catch me dead at this next attraction. But that’s not to say it’s one of the best museums in Bonn. Founded in 2008, the Arithmeum is a mathematics museum, dedicated to calculating in the past and present.

Its permanent exhibition displays around 1,200 calculating machines, the world’s most extensive collection of such instruments. There are also around 4000 slide rules, with some exhibits dating back to the 14th century.

A must for academics, mathematicians, problem solvers, and curious minds, the Arthmeum offers four floors of fascinating arithmetic-related artifacts. Hands-on experience gloves are provided to examine the exhibits.

There is a small entrance fee, and guided tours are available. Part of the University of Bonn, you should also visit the stunning Kurfürstliches Schloss close by, which has been the university’s main building since 1818.

9. Get Natural at Museum Koenig

Museum Koenig exterior in Bonn
dihetbo / Adobe Stock

Address: Adenauerallee 160, 53113, Bonn

The Alexander Koenig Zoological Research Museum is housed in an impressive building complex on Bonn’s museum mile. One of Germany’s premier zoological museums, it opened in 1934, funded by naturist Alexander Koenig.

Koenig donated his private collection of specimens when the building was constructed and gifted it to the German government in 1929. Today, it houses an important natural history collection, including extensive taxidermy displays. You’ll also find habitat recreations, including deserts, European temperate climates, and the African savannah.

The museum is also a key research institute for understanding and interpreting our planet’s rich biodiversity. Up there with the world’s best natural history museums, animal lovers should look to spend around two hours exploring the collection.

Tickets cost around six Euros unless you hold the Bonn Regio WelcomeCard, which is free. The aptly named Living Hotel is right next door and provides the ideal base to visit all the key locations on the museum mile.

10. Think Pink With The Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in Bonn, Germany
majonit / Adobe Stock

Address: Heerstrasse, Bonn, Germany

While it is a more seasonal attraction, one of the best things to do in Bonn, Germany, is to witness the stunning cherry blossoms every spring. Perhaps more famous as a reason to visit Japan, springtime in Bonn offers rewards.

Planted during the 1980s, the trees are found all over the city. But it’s on Heerstrasse that you’ll get the quintessential Bonn blossom experience. Also known as Cherry Blossom Avenue, the pink canopy and the cobblestones below combine to create an other-worldly ambiance. Breitestrasse is also a good location, running parallel.

The best time to see the trees put on their show varies, but late March to early May is recommended. They should reach peak bloom during the first two weeks of April.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any hotels on either street, but Hotel Aigner sits between the two. And Max Hostel is nearby for comfortable accommodation on a budget.

11. Marvel at the Modern Art Museum

Kunstmuseum Bonn Building
phantomlord78 / Shutterstock.com

Address: Helmut-Kohl-Allee 2, 53113, Bonn

No museum mile would be complete without a modern art gallery. Kunstmuseum Bonn takes up the mantle and is one of Germany’s finest collections of contemporary art.

Founded in 1947, Kunstmuseum Bonn displays temporary exhibitions and its permanent collection. The work is focused on post-war German art, as well as Rhenish expressionism. It boasts some 9,000 exhibits, many from Germany’s leading expressionist, August Macke.

The current building, opened in 1992, is considered significant in Bonn Museum architecture and Germany as a whole. The nearby Bonn Marriott is one of the best hotels in the city.

Elsewhere, art fans can also visit the August Macke House. The former home and studio of the expressionist master is now a gallery dedicated to his work. Check out their website for opening times and a schedule of events.

12. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at the Haribo Factory

Inside the Haribo Factory
harry_nl / Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Address: Friesdorfer Str. 125, 53175 Bonn

Did you know that the happy world of Haribo originated in Bonn? If you’re a fan of all things gummy bear, you owe it to yourself to visit the Haribo Factory when you’re in town. I have several family members who would consider this the number one attraction in Bonn.

Founded by Hans Riegal in 1920, the name Haribo is derived from the first two letters of his forename and surname and the first two letters of the city. You’ve just double-checked that, haven’t you?

Although the original factory is long gone, and the Haribo Factory isn’t actually a factory, it’s still worth seeing this giant Haribo store. Although the original factory wasn’t too far from this location, Haribo does not offer tours of any manufacturing locations.

Inside the store, you’ll discover all your colorful favorites and unusual and hard-to-find candies. In addition to candy, they also sell Haribo souvenirs, a must for die-hard fans. You’ll feel like a kid in a sweet shop.

13. Get Antiquated at the Rhineland Museum

LVR Museum, Architecture
saiko3p – stock.adobe.com

Address: Colmantstraße 14-16, 53115, Bonn

Don’t let the modern facade fool you; the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn is one of the oldest museums in Germany. The building was completely renovated in 2003 and houses an ancient collection of Roman antiquities.

Located short of Bonn’s main train station, the LVR-Landesmuseum features notable busts, figures, and rare artifacts divided into historical themes. It was originally founded back in 1820 by decree of the Prussian State Chancellor.

The well-preserved skeletal remains of Neanderthals are one of the museum’s highlights. The museum explains how humans migrated, settled, and lived across Europe through the centuries.

Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn is a must for anyone interested in ancient history. It might be a little “dry” for children, and some would consider the layout chaotic. I recommend picking up an audioguide to get the most out of your journey into the past.

14. Leave the City Behind at the Siebengebirge Nature Park

Castle on Hills at Siebengebirge, Germany
kathomenden / Adobe Stock

Sometimes, the best thing to do in a city is to get out of it. Situated in the middle of the Rhine, Bonn is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery of the Rhine Valley. The Siebengebirge Nature Park is a great place to start.

Small but perfectly formed, the park offers plenty to see and do for visitors. Volcanic rock formations, extensive beach and oak woodland, vineyards, and abundant flora and fauna await. And there’s an excellent selection of well-marked trails for hikers of all abilities.

Siebengebirge Nature Park also offers historical points of interest hidden amidst its greenery. Löwenburg is a 12th-century fortress with great views of the valley, and Heisterbach is a 13th-century Baroque abbey. Both sites are in ruins but are well worth exploring.

If you’re looking for places to stay in the park, it doesn’t get much better than the Steigenberger Grandhotel & Spa Petersberg. It is a luxurious five-star retreat boasting wonderful views of the surrounding hills and the Rhine River.

15. Be Wowed at Drachenburg Castle

Aerial view of Drachenburg Castle's turrets and rooftops
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Drachenfelsstraße 118, 53639 Königswinter, Germany

Schloss Drachenburg isn’t a castle but a private villa made to look like a palace. It sits a few miles outside Bonn city center, in the shadow of the Drachenfels hills.

Like something out of a fairy tale, Drachenburg Castle is a grand 19th-century dwelling that was astonishingly completed in just two years. Completed in 1884, it was made at the behest of wealthy banker Stephan von Sarter. Yet he never actually lived there.

The gardens are immaculate, and the northern tower has an incredible view if you have the energy for the climb. Inside, the decor is typically decadent, and there’s a good restaurant on-site if you’re feeling peckish.

This spectacular display of wealth makes for an excellent day trip from Bonn. Or you could try this private guided tour if you’re coming from Cologne. Alternatively, this nearby vacation rental is within walking distance.

FAQs

What is Bonn best known for?

Bonn is the former capital of West Germany and is best known as being the birthplace of classical composer Ludvig Van Beethoven.

Is Bonn an expensive city?

Compared to Munich and Berlin, Bonn is considered an inexpensive city.

When should I visit Bonn?

The best time to visit Bonn is during cherry blossom season, from late March to early May. Advent through to Christmas Eve is also popular when the market square is beautifully decorated.

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