Fun Things to Do in Bremen

The Bremen Market Square is surrounded by historic buildings, and lots of restaurants!

If you have never been to Germany, your first question may be “Where is Bremen?”  I had never heard of Bremen  before moving to Germany, but was pleasantly surprised at all this historic city has to offer.  Bremen has two UNESCO World Heritage sites surround the market square dating back over 1000 years making it one of the most impressive market squares in all of Europe.  But besides all the history, Bremen has some whimsical statues with just as whimsical stories that are sure to entertain children.  There’s  no shortage of fun things to do in Bremen.

Bremen is a city of ~550,000 located in northern Germany, ~ 120 km south west of Hamburg.  If you’re planning to visit northern Germany, I would highly recommend a day or two in Bremen. Bremen is a 1200 year old city and is bursting with history.  Most of the sites are within the compact city center, which was the historic trading area of the city.  Bremen  was in the Hanseatic League – an economic alliance of trading cities along the coast of northern Europe in the late Middle Ages.

The Roland Statue is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back to 1410

To ensure that Bremen remained a strong trade city, the Roland Statue was erected in 1404 in the market square.  Roland is the protector of trade towering the market square at a studly 5.5 meters.  The Roland Statue is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you like Bremen be sure to rub Roland’s knees since it’s said that by doing this you will return to Bremen.

Bremen Town Hall – Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Just a few meters away is another UNESCO World Heritage Site,  the Renaissance Bremen Town Hall (Rathaus in German).  It was  built in the gothic style in the early 15th century and renovated again in the 17th century, but this time in the Weser Renaissance style.  It’s the most impressive town hall I have ever seen!

St. Peter’s Cathedral, the oldest church in Bremen

As if that wasn’t enough for one market square, there is also St. Peter’s Cathedral,  a 1200 year old cathedral and the oldest church in Bremen.  If you’re feeling energetic you can climb the 256 steps for what I’ve heard is a spectacular view.  Unfortunately the cathedral was closed when we were there.

The Town Musicians Statue based on the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tale (note you have to touch both of the donkey’s legs for good luck!)

Just around the corner, is the very popular Town Musicians Statue.  Based on a popular Brother’s Grimm fairy tale the story goes that a donkey, dog, cat and rooster all past their prime,  headed out to make a better life for themselves in Bremen, without owner as musicians.   Ironically they didn’t make it to Bremen, but the story has a happy ending.  Legend has it that if you touch the donkeys legs you will have good luck so we did, but then we were quickly approached by a couple of locals who insisted that you only have good luck if you touch the donkey’s legs with both hands.  So we went back and touched the donkey’s legs with both hands.

The entrance to the “secret” Böttcher Street. Quite possibly the most artistic street I have ever been on.

We continued on our self guided tour of Bremen and soon came to Böttcher Street.  This just may be my favorite street in the entire world and wandering around here was one of my favorite things to do in Bremen! It is called a “secret main street” and is an old narrow street dating back to the Middle Ages where wine barrels were made.  Böttcher Street has been transformed into a unique work of art with carvings and paintings lining the streets.  Here you will also find the Glockenspiel House where 30 bells ring 3 times a day.  If you miss the bells, which have a unique ring, don’t despair, besides gawking at all the wall art, you can easily entertain yourself on  Böttcher Street with one of the museums, artist studios or restaurants.  Böttcher Street is not very long, but I could have wandered it for hours.  See a Photo Journey to Böttcher Street.

 

Another popular street in Bremen with a vivid history is Söge Street (söge means sow or pig, but in most of Germany, the word “schwein” is used for pig). In the middle ages pig stalls belonging to the working class were located along Söge Street.   It’s said that the pigs ran up and down along the street eating everything in sight and thereby keeping the street free of trash.  Quite the difference from it’s present state of a popular shopping street.  Personally I would have preferred  the pigs racing through the street to a shopping street, but perhaps that’s just me.  You will have no trouble finding it as the entrance of Söge Street is marked with a statue of a Swineherder and several pigs.

I have to confess that my initial reason for visiting Bremen was because it’s near where my German fiance’s father lives but I was pleasantly surprised at all the fun things to do in Bremen and I will definitely be back to explore it more thoroughly.  It’s definitely worth spending a day or two here and if you have time, I can’t recommend the German Emigration Museum enough, located just 65km in near by Bremenhaven.

Just in case you’re still not convinced of all the fun things to do in Bremen, did I mention that Bremen is also home to Becks beer?  And yes, brewery tours are available.

Comments

  1. says

    Hooray! Somewhere where we’ve been in Germany. We’d certainly heard of Bremen? It’s the home of the beautiful Beck’s Beer! :) We were there a few years ago – actually for a Turkish wedding!
    Beautiful city isn’t it. Ha ha, we have exactly the same photo. Us with your hands round the legs of the donkey.
    Julia

  2. Laurel says

    @Turkeys for Life – Yeah! Glad someone else has been to Bremen, it’s not very well known outside of Europe

    @Inka – I think rubbing the donkey’s legs is a requirement for going to Bremen :) Glad you enjoyed it as well.

  3. Eastgale says

    “If you have never been to Germany, your first question may be “Where is Bremen?“”

    Not if you are a football fan, XD! (As any proper fan of Europe should be, *cough cough*! Sorry, I am kidding.)

    But the city looks really wonderful. I like German cities with their very quaint and calm feelings. Even their big cities don’t feel too “metropolitan”, but still very comfortable. I really like the atmosphere.

  4. says

    You are right, I’d never heard of Bremen until now, but thanks for sharing about it. Looks like a lovely town and a place that I would love to visit if I make it to Germany. Böttcher street looks like a great place for a stroll!

  5. says

    The Beck’s Brewery was my favorite part of the city. A friend and I went in March a few years ago and it was cold and gray. Kind of neat to walk around and see, but I think I would have preferred Hamburg for sights.
    The brewery though made the trip worth it. Of the 30 people on the tour, only the two Americans could properly identify the beers given at the end of the tour.

    When in Breman, definitely try Haake Beck. It is a Beck’s beer, but only distributed in that region. Really nice.

  6. says

    Like Eastgale, I have only heard of Bremen because of futbol, but I knew nothing about the city. Sounds like a great place to visit. It’s amazing, as an American, to think of a city being 1200 years old. That’s really unbelievable.

    “Personally I would have preferred the pigs racing through the street to a shopping street, but perhaps that’s just me”

    Maybe a combination of the two? Keep the shopping but also bring the pigs back? That could make for an interesting scene, no? :)

  7. Laurel says

    @Jillian – So many places, so little time :). More photos of Böttcher Street coming soon!

    @Kelly – I agree, and I just felt happy being here. They also have some other wacky fun statues that I don’t think are of historical importance, but just help create a fun atmosphere.

    @Eastgale – LOL, I must admit my knowledge of European football is rather limited, but loved your comment, and you’re right Bremen does have a small town feel to it (in a good way)

    @Norbert – I loved the Town Musicians Statue as well. It wasn’t tourist season when we were there, but we still waited 10 minutes to get our photo taken with the statue – it’s a popular place!

    @Jeremy – I haven’t even been to a European football game yet, but I’ll try and change that soon :)

    @The Drop0ut – I’m really enjoying all the history as well and learning so much. I hadn’t heard of the Town Musicians fairy tale until we came across the statue.

    @Migrationology – Oh good, someone else who hasn’t heard of it. I really am surprised at how popular it is, but I guess I didn’t realize it was so well known for its football team. I’ll be dedicating a whole post to Böttcher Street as I think it’s that cool.

    @Robin – It never fails to amaze me, especially since until a couple of years ago, Germany wasn’t very high on my list of places to go.

    @Andrew – Good to know about the brewery tour, thanks for sharing. We didn’t make it there or try Haake beer as I’m allergic to beer (I know the irony, living in Germany)

    @Adam – A 1200 year old city is hard for me to wrap my head around as well. Calgary (my city in Canada) is only 136 years old. I love your idea about combing the pigs and the shopping!

    @Mette – And it’s so close for you as well :)

    @Barry – You can’t beat a place that has architecture and beer!

  8. says

    There seems to be a lot of statue groping going on in Bremen ha! The Roland Statue’s knees seem too high to reach, but what an impressive statue! I would love to visit Bremen someday. It is always nice to have someone point out that Germany still has it fair share of intact, old cities.

  9. Laurel says

    @Suzy – LOL “statue groping” that’s an excellent way to put it! Roland is actually surrounded in a short fence, so at the moment you would have to have very long arms to reach it as well. A lot of Bremen was heavily bombed in WW II, but it has been beautifully restored.

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