Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
While few tourists visit northern Germany on their first trip to the country, heading to Berlin or Munich instead, repeat visitors will find a new and distinctive destination experience in the north. One fine example of the region’s unique character and welcoming atmosphere is the city of Bremen.
Home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a charming historical quarter and a wide variety of parks and gardens, Bremen provides a nice balance for travelers who want to see the sites while enjoying a relaxing vacation.
Summer is the best time to visit this area in Germany, when temperatures rise and sunshine makes an afternoon bike ride or garden tour more enjoyable. The following are a handful of uniquely Bremen activities that visitors will especially enjoy on a warm summer day.
Improve Your Luck with a Grimm EncounterOne of Bremen’s claims to fame is its association with the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the Bremen Town Musicians. In this story, a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster flee their homes, fearing mistreatment from their masters, to become town musicians in the city of Bremen. References to the Bremen Town Musicians can be found everywhere, including a statue in the town hall square. It is good luck to touch the donkey’s hooves — but it only counts if you touch both front hooves with both hands.
Explore the Schnoor QuarterBremen’s schnoor quarter is the city’s oldest district, where visitors will find many authentic shops and other establishments tucked into the surrounding architecture, including Hochzeitshaus, Germany’s smallest hotel. This district is a great area for shopping and picking up souvenirs to take home.
Tour the Town Hall and RatskellerBremen’s UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses the Bremen Town Hall and wine cellar, the statue of Roland and the town square (which includes the statue of the Bremen Town Musicians). A tour of the town hall will satisfy any architecture aficionado, with its extraordinary art, furnishings and design. Beneath the town hall, guests can break for lunch and tour Germany’s oldest wine cellar — the Ratskeller. It has the world’s largest collection of German wines, with 650 different varieties, including some of the oldest wines in the world that are locked away inside the Schabkammer, or “treasure chest.” These wines are protected by UNESCO, and the oldest wine in the cellar was made in 1653.
Relax in the Rhododendron ParkBremen is home to the second-largest rhododendron park in the world. With traditional Chinese and Japanese gardens, as well as cultural artifacts such as an authentic teahouse from China, the park presents an interesting convergence of cultures in addition to beautiful greenery. Take a cup of tea into the Chinese teahouse and enjoy the quiet.
Ride Through Citizen’s ParkA boat ride or bike ride through Burgerpark, Bremen’s citizen’s park, is a relaxing and picturesque way to spend an afternoon. This is a great activity for any traveler, and provides a perfect environment for couples that want to have a romantic outing in the park or families with kids who want to run around in a safe place.
Eat Ice Cream at an Organic Dairy FarmIf the Burgerpark and city gardens do not satisfy clients’ thirst for beautiful green spaces, they can make a day trip to Blockland, an unspoiled segment of German countryside and farmland outside of Bremen. This area is home to traditional inns and houses as well as Snuten Lekker, a family dairy farm that has been owned by the Kaemena family since the 15th century. The farm is organic and also houses an organic ice cream shop. Visitors can stop in for a delicious treat after a bike ride on a warm summer day.
The sister cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven recently hosted the annual Germany Travel Mart (GTM). Representatives from 43 countries, totaling 600 industry professionals, gathered in Bremen for the event. About 340 exhibitors from Germany also participated in GTM at The Bremen Exhibition Center May 11-13.
GTM participants had the opportunity to experience Bremen’s tourism offerings with daily tours and special evening events, including a welcome ceremony at Die Glocke concert hall, dinner at the Universum Science Center and an evening event in Bremerhaven’s harbor and museum area.
Germany has witnessed a substantial amount of growth in its tourism industry in the last year, according to the German National Tourist Board (GNTB). Overnight stays have almost doubled since 1993, and the country had a record-breaking 71.9 million overnight stays in 2013.
Europe remains Germany’s most significant market for international tourism, representing about 75 percent of its inbound tourism. For the fourth year in a row, Germany is ranked as the second most popular travel destination for Europeans, after Spain. Tourism from Asia also grew substantially in 2013, with an overall increase of 9.3 percent. Tourism to Germany from the Arab Gulf States is up 20.2 percent and China is up 11 percent. North and South America currently constitute about 11 percent of the tourism market.
“We are delighted that Germany grew faster as a holiday destination than the European average,” said Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the GNTB. “Young holiday makers were a major factor in this growth, registering a significant 8 percent increase. This upward trend is a testament to our strategy of stepping up communication measures targeted at young travelers.”
The GNTB is forecasting another strong year for tourism in 2014, citing research from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, which predicts a global growth in tourism arrivals of 4 to 4.5 percent and a growth in European arrivals of 3 to 4 percent.