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Things to See in Passau Germany

Things to See in Passau Germany


Tucked away in southeast Germany on the scenic Danube River, Passau was built on its ancient medieval roots and flourished as a buzzing port town. Arriving in Passau for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking you had landed in Italy instead of Germany.  Passau is strategically located at the confluence of the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers, near the Czech and Austrian borders. This City of Three Rivers is a popular stop on any Danube River Cruise itinerary.  It is a picturesque and worthwhile place to visit, with lots for tourists to see and do. It was our first stop on our Viking River Cruise.

A devastating fire in 1662 caused severe damage to the city. Italian Baroque masters were brought in to rebuild the town.  The city of Passau is located where two of the rivers meet, so it’s no stranger to flooding.  In fact, 2013 brought the worst flood disaster the city had seen in more than five centuries.  The marker on the wall lists the different water levels of the past floods.

Water Flood Markers in Passau

As soon as we left the ship with maps in hand, we followed our guide through the winding cobbled streets towards Old Town’s highest point—Stephansdom or St. Stephan’s Cathedral named for the patron saint of Passau.

Passau Gardens

First, we passed a beautiful garden of flowers and plants.  Our guide mentioned that it was an old burial site.  At the end was a tunnel so narrow that a bus could hardly fit through it.

Passau Tunnel

The Parish Church of St. Paul

The Parish Church of St. Paul is a beautiful pink colored building which dates from the early Middle Ages. It’s the oldest parish church in Passau. A statue of St Paul stands outside.

Passau Germany

The Parish Church of St. Paul

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Besides housing what might be the biggest church organ on the planet, St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its three characteristic green onion-domed towers is another of Passau’s highlight attractions.  The cathedral contains one of the largest church organs in the world with an astonishing total of 17,974 pipes. If you are there at midday between May and September, you can enjoy an organ concert performed by these mighty pipes for a half hour. Be warned, these performances are very popular: you need to get there early to get a seat because the cathedral can get packed.

St. Stephen's Cathedral Passau

St. Stephen's Cathedral PassauSt. Stephen's Cathedral PassauSt. Stephen's Cathedral Passau

Der Passuer Tolpel

This strange figure that can be seen on the wall close to St Stephen’s Church attracts a lot of attention and speculation concerning his history. The most quoted says he was once atop the tower of the church but a fire in the late 17th Century was the cause of his fall to earth.  Since his return to the precincts of the Church in 2003, he has become a landmark on the trail of tourist attractions .

Der Passuer Tolpel

Passau Town Hall

Passau’s Town Hall is situated near the banks of the Danube River. The outside of the town hall is covered with paintings. There is also a little courtyard with a statue within the town hall complex. Like much of Passau, the old town hall was rebuilt in the 17th century by Italian baroque masters after a devastating town fire.

Passau Town Hall

Passau Town Center

Veste Oberhaus

Veste Oberhaus is a medieval fortress that dates from 1219, it sits up top of the hill overlooking Passau below.  It contains a regional history museum.  We were told it’s a fairly steep climb to get there, but the views over Passau and the three rivers confluence from there are spectacular.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to go this time around since we were tight on time.

Veste Oberhaus Veste Oberhaus

Danube River Cruises

Tourism revolves around people arriving on river cruises, but since Passau is close to the Czech Republic and Austria, coachloads of tourists arrive from these countries as well. Passau is also a popular holiday destination for Germans. At the Donauschiffahrt pier, you can book Danube riverboat trips and excursions. There are also many river cruises from Passau all the way to the Black Sea, and a steamer service to Vienna.

Town of Passau

Wear your most comfy walking shoes to amble along the cobblestone streets — many of which are closed off to vehicles — and enjoy views of 17th century churches and quaint houses.

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Her travels allow her the opportunity to pursue her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.


  1. Kerri
    October 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I just love Germany and towns on the Danube. It was interesting to read about the floods as well, not having been to this particular town. Looks stunning, as usual, and I shall remember this for my next German adventure.
    Kerri recently posted…Les Ombres: a great restaurant with an epic view of the Eiffel TowerMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:20 am

      I was surprised when I saw how bad some of the towns off the Danube river were flooded back in 2013 by the raise of the water. I spoke with a lady who said she was stuck in her apartment for two weeks without electricity, while they waited for the waters levels to drop.

  2. Lindsay
    October 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    What a beautiful town! I’ve only been to Berlin and Koln, but have been meaning to get back and explore more of the country! Thanks very much for sharing this post! A river cruise sounds lovely! Ps – love your POV in your last shot – that is one beautiful scene 🙂

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:21 am

      It’s our first time on a river cruise, and we get to visit new towns each day which I really love doing. Tomorrow I’m off to Budapest.

  3. Juliette @ Snorkels To Snow
    October 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Oh wow Passau looks beautiful! And as for St Stephens – the interior looks absolutely stunning! What incredible work that must have been put into that church. Pass looks like a beautiful place to visit!
    Juliette @ Snorkels To Snow recently posted…Scuba Diving at South Sea Island, FijiMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:36 am

      The interior of the cathedral is magnificent. When they play the organ the sound is piped out from different areas of the church and it sounds like surround sound.

  4. Mar Pages
    October 3, 2016 at 12:39 am

    Passau looks gorgeous! Although the floods are unfortunate its so interesting that they recorded it, I can’t imagine being caught in one that reached that great a height. I’d love to take a river cruise as well.

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

      I’m amazed that the city looks so great even after this devastating flooding back in 2013. It’s a charming little town and the people are very friendly.

  5. Helena
    October 3, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Passau looks stunning! Germany has always been high on my list (my ancestors are from tbeee) but I just haven’t made it over to that side of the world yet. Great shots and great bits of information (as always!)
    Helena recently posted…My Yearly Visit to TomakinMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Germany has many little charming towns along the Danube river, we visited a few of them. I hope you get the opportunity to visit Germany soon.

  6. Natasha Amar
    October 3, 2016 at 6:18 am

    Passau looks great, I love towns with medieval forts and cobblestone streets. A Danube River cruise sounds like fun, I experienced it for the first time this summer on the Danube in Serbia and enjoyed the experience.
    Natasha Amar recently posted…Exploring Iceland’s Highlands: Landmannalaugar Day TourMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Some of the medieval castles they built were fascinating inside. I can’t believe all the wealth these people had back then.

  7. melody pittman
    October 3, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I loved this cruise. I’m doing the Danube in early spring and did the Rhine a few years ago. Hoping to add a few others to my itinerary as well. Isn’t it just amazing to wake up in a new place each and every day? I just love that. Passau is gorgeous and your photos did it justice. Have fun!
    melody pittman recently posted…La Belle Amie Wine VineyardMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:48 am

      It’s our first river cruise and we love it! Everyday I wake up in a different country and town. The river is so calm that you don’t even feel like you are in the water. I hope to take another cruise next year, maybe China.

  8. jarrod
    October 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Wow, Passau looks incredible! I have fond memories of Germany, I don’t ever remember going to any of these beautiful places. The Danube River Cruise look like fun!
    jarrod recently posted…Why Travel Sucks!My Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 3, 2016 at 10:50 am

      I highly recommend taking a river cruise at least once in your lifetime. I’m going to share some of the other stops as well. The only downfall is the internet hasn’t been the best to work.

  9. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    October 4, 2016 at 3:48 am

    I’ve been wanting to take my mom on a Viking River Cruise for ages now! We’re definitely interested in the Danube one. Beautiful photos. Can’t wait to follow along with you!
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted…Spending 24 Hours In Seville: The HighlightsMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 5, 2016 at 9:22 am

      It’s a much relaxing way to see some of the great sights along the Danube river. I just wish we got to spend more time in each city.

  10. Christine | The Traveloguer
    October 4, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Passau looks so pretty! I had never heard of it until now. I love Germany.

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 5, 2016 at 9:25 am

      It’s a small little town known for its baroque architecture, including St. Stephen’s Cathedral which you must visit.

  11. Charles McCool
    October 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I went on a Viking River cruise from Passau but did not allow any time to see the place before. Looks like a should really return!
    Charles McCool recently posted…5 Minutes with Mar PagesMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 5, 2016 at 9:28 am

      When we got on the ship in Passau is was a totally different location. The ship moved that afternoon and we docked here. It’s a much prettier area, and much more to see.

  12. Gypsycouple
    October 5, 2016 at 5:16 am

    Have only touched the major cities of the region but it seems a repeat trip to visit the smaller towns should be part of our plans soon! Thanks for sharing this wonderful gem. Oh, and the pics are beautiful!

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 5, 2016 at 9:30 am

      We really enjoyed stopping in all these little towns along the river that I never heard of.

  13. Anne Klien ( MeAnne)
    October 5, 2016 at 6:06 am

    I never been to Germany yet but the list of towns and cities to visit is getting longer. I will definitely adds Passau.

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 5, 2016 at 9:33 am

      It was my first time in Germany. We visited several of the towns along the river and they were all very beautiful and charming,

  14. Vivian Lee
    October 7, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Ah I dint know about this place earlier, seems like a lovely charming town to spend a day or two! Will keep this in mind, thanks you for sharing!

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 10, 2016 at 4:09 am

      One day is sufficient to see all the sights. The main attraction is the basilica.

  15. Kerri
    October 17, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    What a lovely little European gem! I’ve only been to Berlin so it would be nice to escape the city next time.

    • Carmen Edelson
      October 19, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      It’s a very charming town on the river. That I think is worth seeing next time you go to Germany.

  16. tony
    January 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Great pictures and stories. Passau is one of Europe’s hidden gems. I linked to your blog from mine at zzlangerhans/

    • Carmen Edelson
      January 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Tony! It is a hidden gem that is worth a visit when you travel to Europe.

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