Passau is a city in Bavaria, Germany, close to the Austrian border. Nowadays, Passau is known for its historic buildings, its university, and its location at the three rivers, and for the last German train station before Austria.
Passau has a population of around 50,000, and an additional 8,000 when university is active. The city is situated at the point where the river Inn and the river Ilz meet the Danube (Donau), and therefore is often called the "Three River City" (Dreiflüssestadt). It is approx. 2,000 km (1,200 mi) upstream from the estuary of the Danube, at the Austrian border, and enjoys a small but thriving local tourist trade.
The area of Passau was first settled by the Celts, who were living in southern Bavaria ages before the Romans came and founded a fortress here because of the excellent strategic position of the peninsula of Passau. Later on, the fortress grew and Passau became a real city. Much of the money in the city was made from the salt trade with nearby Bohemia (in the present-day Czech Republic), with the salt coming from Bad Reichenhall near Salzburg. In the middle ages, Passau's Saint Stephen's Cathedral was the head of the regional church district, which extended all the way to Hungary. Most of the old buildings have survived to this day and are still in active use.
Like much of Bavaria, it's also predominantly Catholic. If you look very closely, however, you can spot Protestant churches.
Most tourists arriving in Passau are on river cruises along the Danube, but there are also many buses that arrive here from all over Germany and Austria. Because Passau is not far from the Czech Republic and Austria, you are many Austrians and Czechs here to work or shop. Although most tourists are native German speakers, you will get around town without much of a problem with only English, given the large number of students.
- Linz International Airport (LNZ IATA), 80 km (50 mi) to the south-east of Passau in Austria, is the closest airport to the city, but also the smallest and least likely to host international flights, with the exception of flights from London Stansted.
- Munich International Airport (MUC IATA), one of the busiest airports in Europe is 150 km (90 mi) to the west of Passau and is most likely the place you will arrive, if you are on a flight from outside Germany. You can take a bus to Freising train station and from there a train to Passau (2 hr 20 min). Taking only the train is less convenient: the quickest way is to take a S-Bahn to Neufahrn, then another to Freising before taking a regional train to Passau (2½ hours). Taking the S-Bahn to Munich and then a train to Passau is longer as it involves a significant journey in the wrong direction. You'll save time by driving.
- Nuremberg International Airport (NUE IATA) is situated 200 km (120 mi) to the north-west of Passau and has mostly domestic and a few European connections. That seems quite far away, but given the excellent train connections from Nuremberg to Passau by ICE high-speed trains, that might even beat Munich Airport in terms of travel time to Passau.
Passau Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) is located by the River Danube, only 300 m (330 yd) west of the city centre. Due to its location along a high-speed mainline, the city sees quite a lot of train traffic, most notably the hourly ICE high-speed trains between Frankfurt, Nuremberg, and Vienna, as well as direct hourly express trains to and from Munich, Wels, and Linz. There are also regional trains to towns and cities in the Bavarian National Forest.
Passau is on the German A3 autobahn (which continues into Austria, as the A8) with three exits, Passau-Nord (115), Passau-Mitte (116), and Passau-Süd (117), and is also well connected to the German and Austrian federal highway network.
Passau is a regular port of call for river cruises on the Danube, and also has regular scheduled connections to Regensburg, Linz, and Vienna.
Passau is located along the Danube Bike Path (EV6), a very popular European long-distance cycling route.
Passau is a little spread out, but most places you will want to see are within walking distance, and buses run frequently (until 23:00) and are fairly cheap. On the other hand, if you walk 20 min from the city center in the right direction you are in Austria. You can catch taxis, but they can be a little pricey.
- 1 Fortress Veste Oberhaus (Veste Oberhaus), Oberhaus 125, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Mar-Nov M-F 09:00-17:00 & Sa Su 10:00-18:00. The fortress was built in 1219 by Passau's Prince-Bishops in order to control commerce across the rivers. During the Napoleonic Wars the castle was one of the strongholds against the Austrians (Bavaria sided with Napoleon at the beginning of the war). Due to several changes over the centuries today's castle consists of gothic, renaissance and baroque parts. Today the fortress houses a museum focussing on the history of Passau and its surroundings. It also offers one of the best views over the city and the confluence of the rivers. Adult €5, concession €4.
- 2 [dead link] Glass Museum (Glasmuseum), Schrottgasse 4, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 13:00-17:00. The museum focuses on the most important era of glass manufacturing from 1650-1950 with exhibits from Baroque, Rococo, Art Noveau, Art Deco, and Modernism. Friedrich Dürrenmatt once called it the world's most beautiful glass house. Adult €7, concession €5.
- 3 Mediaeval Pillory (Pranger), Marktplatz (Hals). At the market place of the Hals district of Passau, a little outside of town, there is a reproduced pillory, a mediaeval form of punishment in which people were exhibited, secured by their hands and neck, to be publicly humiliated and taunted by passers-by.
- 4 Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus), Bahnhofstraße 28, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Mar-Oct: M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa Su 10:30-15:30; Nov-Feb: M-F 09:00-16:00, Sa 10:30-15:30. The Old Town Hall was completed 1405 in Venetian style and has ever since kept its design. The interior is designed in a baroque style. It still houses parts of the city administration.
- 5 St. Michael's Church (Jesuitenkirche St. Michael), Schustergasse, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mar-Sep: M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa Su 10:30-15:30; Oct-Feb: M-Th 9:00-17:00, F 09:00-16:00, Sa 10:30-15:30. This baroque church on the river banks gives Passau its typical looks of an Italian town. The church was completed in 1678 and is one of the main centres of the Jesuits in the region. free.
- 6 St. Stephen's Cathedral, Residenzplatz 8, ☏ . 07:00-18:00. The cathedral is a baroque building, finished in 1688, but the earliest church on the site was already mentioned in 450. It is the center of the Bishopric of Passau, which during the Holy Roman Empire extended as far as Hungary and was the Empire's largest diocese. St. Stephen's is the largest baroque cathedrals north of the Alps and has the biggest cathedral organ in the world. From May to October there are organ recital every day (besides Sunday) at noon and evening concerts every Thursday at 19:30. free.
- 7 Three Rivers Confulence Point (Dreiflüsseeck), Ortsspitze. At the Ortsspitze ("Tip of the Town") at the eastern end of the old town you have the view of the point of confluence of the three rivers, Danube, Inn, and Ilz.
- [dead link] Mariahilf Monastery.
- 1 Beer festival (Maidult und Herbstdult). A week in May & Sep. Passau has two beer festivals, one in May and one in September, that last one week each.
- 2 Danube Bike Path (EV6) (Donauradweg). The Danube Bike Path is a European long-distance cycle route, that begins further upstream the river, but the section between Passau and Vienna is the most travelled by far. The surface and signage along the route is very good and there are many places that invite the cyclist to stop and have a wine or beer.
- Ilztalbahn. mid-May to mid-October. Scenic trains from Passau to Freyung in the Bavarian Forest
- 1 University of Passau (Universität Passau), Innstraße 41, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The University of Passau is well known in Germany for its law degree and the international business programmes. There are German as a foreign courses at the university, as well as other external pay-for courses. Studying at a university in general is free in Germany - that includes all foreigners.
There's a bunch of tourist shops around Passau, so you can easily find some original Bavarian Lederhosn or a Bavarian hat to take home as a souvenir.
In and around the central shopping mall as well as in close-by Bahnhofstraße you will find the typical highstreet shops like H&M, Orsay, New Yorker and C&A, several shoe shops (Sutor, Görtz 17, Roland), home decoration stores (Butlers, Depot) as well as several book shops. On the first floor of the book shop Pustet there's also a nice little cafe where you can chill out and enjoy a cup of Cappuccino whilst having a read.
Passau has quite a lot of restaurants in the city and the competition means that you are unlikely to get a bad meal. You can regularly find some good deals (like pizza or pasta and a glass of wine for €5.50). It is, however, much more expensive than eating at home, so locals don't eat out every night.
The breweries and pubs often serve food as well as beer. See the Drink section below.
- Veste Oberhaus.
Passau has 5 breweries. Every pub or restaurant seems to be associated with one of them. The beer is delicious and cheap.
Like the rest of Germany, buying alcohol out is more expensive than buying it at the supermarket. Service has a big price tag here. The student pubs are almost as cheap as a supermarket, though.
There are a few beer gardens in Passau, and a couple that pass the "real beer garden test". That being, you can bring your own food to them regardless of whether they sell food themselves or not. Beer gardens developed because breweries used to plant trees atop their underground cellars (mostly laying a bit outside of the city) to keep them cool, and the result was a really nice atmosphere to relax with a beer in hand. Beer gardens tend to open in the spring and close in the fall as the weather cools again.
- The Hacklberg Brewery. It has a nice restaurant full of classic Bavarian dishes that will fatten you up in no time. It also has a large beer garden in the warmer months. To get there you have to cross the Danube and turn left, staying on the second street closest to the Danube. Seven beer taps.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are the nightlife nights. On Thursdays, you have bar-trivia at the Irish Pub "Shamrock" where your group can win €60 (or up to €120 with the jackpot). Questions are in both English and German. "Shamrock" is owned by a Welshman, and the employees all speak English as do most of the clientele. The barmen and waitresses come from all across Europe (France, USA, Australia, Poland) and make fascinating drinking companions.
Close to the Shamrock there's Hossi's Bar, which is a popular small cocktail bar and Cubana, which is always busy on weekends.
Some more drinking spots can be found in the part of town known as Innstadt (an old, picturesque part of town across the river Inn): Colors, Joe's Garage and Bluenotes.
The oldest and probably still most popular club in town is Camera, which is located very centrally in a basement close to McDonald's.
- 1 Camping-Passau, Halser Straße 34, ☏ , ✉ KaFriedl@kabelmail.de. The campsite is right next to the river Ilz and has its own jetty. It is open from the beginning of May to the end September. Because of the narrow roads, it is not possible to bring motorhomes or caravans. €8 per person.
- 2 DJH Youth Hostel Passau (Jugendherberge Veste Oberhaus), Oberhaus 125 (in the fortress), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Housed in the fortress Veste Oberhaus, this hostel is probably the cheapest accommodation option in town, and certainly the one with the best view over town. from €21.90.
- 3 Hotel Rotel Inn, Haissengasse 18, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 100 m from the central station and right next to the river Danube and the Danube Bike Path, this relatively inexpensive hotel is very convenient for cyclists, for which the hotel offers special services. The hotel is only open during the warmer month from May to November. Double from €50.
- 4 Hotel Weisser Hase, Heiliggeistgasse 1 (City centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 11:00, check-out: 15:00. The hotel is in a listed building which was built in 1512. Free wireless internet access throughout the hotel and authentic on-site dining at Restaurant Weisser Hase. Double from €74.50.
- 5 Hotel Wilder Mann, Höllgasse 1, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A very traditional hotel in the old town. Double from €88.
- 2 Passau Tourist Information main office, Rathausplatz 3, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mar-Sep: M-F 08:30-18:00, Sa Su 09:00-16:00; Oct-Feb: M-Th 08:30-17:00, F 08:30-16:00, Sa Su 10:00-15:00.
- 3 Passau Tourist Information station office, Bahnhofstraße 36, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Mar-Sep: M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa Su 10:30-15:30; Oct-Feb: M-Th 09:00-17:00, F 09:00-16:00, Sa 10:30-15:30.
German trains regularly go through Passau to/from Munich, Regensburg and Austria - there is no shortage of them. Especially if you want to go to Munich, it pays to be at the station a little earlier, as there are usually people looking for travellers who want to share the cost of a Bayern-Ticket. It costs €23 for one person and €5 for every additional person for a party up to five, but is not valid on ICE and IC high-speed trains.
- Scharding. Small baroque town only 15 minutes away by train on the banks of the Danube. Or you can rent a bike a cycle there for the day along the river.
- Altötting. The small city to the west of Passau is one of the most important destinations of Catholic pilgrimage in Europe.
- Linz. Austia's third largest city lacks the picturesque charm of Salzburg or the imperial grandeur of Vienna, but has a number of draws.
- Munich (München). The capital of Bavaria is the state's only city of over a 1,000,000. It is best known for the annual Oktoberfest, but is foremost a city of culture and arts. It's located to the west of Passau and a 2-hour train ride away.
- Regensburg. A beautiful mediaeval city at the shores of the river Danube. Its historical city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety. Only an hour away on the ICE train.
- Vienna (Wien). The capital of Austria is a 2½- to 3-hour train ride from Passau.
- Danube. Cruises down the Danube often begin in Passau, as does the Donausteig long-distance walking trail. The Danube Cycleway and the Tour International Danubien (by canoe or kayak) pass through the town.
|Routes through Passau|
|Nuremberg ← Regensburg ←||W E||→ Linz → Vienna|
|Czech Republic ← Bavarian Forest ←||W E||→ Altötting|
|Frankfurt ← Regensburg ←||W E||→ Linz → Vienna|
|Munich ← Landshut ←||W E||→ End|
|Bavarian Forest ←||N S||→ End|