12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bonn
Bonn lies on both banks of the Rhine, and although it is not as well known to tourists as the larger cities in Germany, visitors will find plenty of things to do here. The pattern of the city's life is set by its old and famous university; its former role as the seat of government (transferred to Berlin after reunification); its busy commercial life; and its attractive setting - particularly on the riverside, with its view of the nearby Siebengebirge. Bonn is also famous as the birthplace of Beethoven, a connection marked by a variety of attractions and events, the most notable of which, BeethovenFest Bonn, runs from mid-September to mid-October. Among Bonn's attractions are its numerous museums, many located at the University of Bonn or along the city's tourist-friendly Museum Mile.
See also: Where to Stay in Bonn
1 Bonn Minster
The venerable Bonn Cathedral (Bonner Münster), dedicated to Saints Cassius and Florentinus who were thought to have been executed on this site, is one of the finest Romanesque churches on the Rhine. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, it's also one of Germany's oldest cathedrals. Highlights include its 11th-century east crypt, its attractive 12th-century cloister, and the unique crossing tower. As engineers and archaeologists were assessing structural needs preparatory to major renovation work in 2017, they discovered the long-forgotten tomb of Siegfried von Westerburg behind a slate panel in the west crypt. He was archbishop of Cologne from 1275 to 1297 and first granted Bonn its right to township. Note that the Münster's interior will be closed throughout the restoration, which is expected to continue into 2019.
Address: Gangolfstraße 14, 53111 Bonn
2 German National Museum of Contemporary History
Four years after the German capital returned to Berlin, the first exhibits in the German National Museum of Contemporary History opened to record the painful years when Germany was a divided nation. The museum covers the years from the end of World War II to the fall of the Iron Curtain and reunification of Germany. It compares life in the East and West with photos, films, and artifacts, showing how the two post-war German states evolved. Exhibits highlight the Berlin Wall, the Berlin airlift, the iron curtain, and final reunification. Somewhat incongruously, but interesting nonetheless, artifacts from Roman Bonn are displayed on the museum's lower floor. Some signage is in English, and much is self-explanatory, but the free English audio tour is well worth requesting. The museum is located on Museumsmeile (Museum Mile) in Bonn, once part of the former West German government district.
Address: Willy-Brandt-Allee 14, Bonn
Bonn has done much to nurture its connections with Ludwig van Beethoven, one of Germany's most revered composers. A focal point of "Beethoven City" is the great composer's birthplace, Beethoven-Haus, where he was born in 1770. Founded as a museum in 1889, the attraction also has a collection of rare artifacts and documents, a research center (including rare recordings), and the Chambers Music Hall which runs a program of Beethoven-themed concerts and events. Guided tours are available. Also of interest is the Beethoven Monument, a large bronze statue erected in Münsterplatz in 1845
Address: Bonngasse 24-26, 53111 Bonn
4 Bonn Botanic Gardens and Poppelsdorf Palace
Bonn Botanic Gardens (Botanischer Garten Bonn), covering some 16 acres and owned and operated by the University of Bonn, can trace its roots back as far as 1340 when constructed as part of a castle gardens. They were transformed in their current Baroque style in 1720, and the Rococo Poppelsdorf Palace was added in 1746. These days the garden is home to more than 11,000 species of plants, including many endangered local species. Highlights of its outdoor gardens include numerous species of woody plants in the large arboretum, as well as plants arranged by geographic region. Guided tours and educational talks are available.
Address: Meckenheimer Allee 171, Bonn
5 Altes Rathaus and Market Square
Bonn's town hall, an elegant white building with gold trim, provides a backdrop for Bonn's busy market square. The scene is especially picturesque in December, when the Christmas Market fills the square with light and music. From December 1 through Christmas Eve, the beautiful old town hall becomes a giant Advent calendar, with a new window lighted each day. The surrounding streets and squares make up one of Bonn's smartest shopping areas.
6 Museum Koenig
Museum Koenig - or to give it its full name, the Alexander Koenig Zoological Museum - is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Opened in 1934, its displays cover a diversity of wildlife and their habitats. A highlight is the excellent "Our Blue Planet" exhibit showcasing ecosystems through a series of fascinating dioramas, including the African Savannah, tropical rainforests, and Polar Regions. Guided tours are available.
Address: Adenauerallee 160, D-53113 Bonn
7 The Art and Exhibition Hall
Established in 1992, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany offers numerous excellent exhibits relating to the country's rich cultural history, as well as its role in the fields of science, technology, and the environment. Exhibits are brought in from around the globe and change frequently, so be sure to visit the museum's website prior to visiting.
Address: Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4, 53113 Bonn
8 Bonn Museum of Modern Art
Founded in 1947, the Bonn Museum of Modern Art (Kunstmuseum Bonn) hosts numerous temporary and permanent exhibits. Highlights of the permanent collection include works in the Rhenish Expressionism school, as well as post-war art from across Germany. It features one of the most extensive collections of August Macke's works, with paintings, watercolors, and drawings, and a collection of works by his contemporary, Max Ernst, a decisive artist in the development of Surrealism. Another drawcard is its collection of more than 5,000 post-war prints, as well as unique video art.
A seven-minute stroll from the museum, on the banks of the Rhine, are the old parliament buildings (Bundeshaus), now home to the World Conference Center Bonn, which hosts many national and international conferences.
Address: Friedrich Ebert Allee 2, 53113 Bonn
9 The Rhineland Museum
The Rhineland Museum (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn) has a rich collection of antiquities, including rare Frankish and medieval works of art and paintings. The museum, one of the oldest in Germany (it can trace its roots back to 1820), deals primarily with local history dating from prehistoric times as well as Roman era settlements that have been discovered in the area. Most of the displays are dioramas of life during those bygone days. Also of interest is the German Museum (Deutsches Museum Bonn) with its numerous science and technology displays.
Address: Colmantstr. 14-16, 53115 Bonn
10 The Arithmeum
The University of Bonn, established in 1697, is home to a variety of new and old museums and collections. One of the newest and most interesting - especially for those interested in the science and technology of numbers - is the Arithmeum, a fascinating museum dedicated to mathematics. Based upon a collection of 1,200 antique calculating machines and rare books on the subject dating back many centuries, the museum is also notable for its spectacular steel and glass structure, designed to represent "the transparency of science."
Address: Lennéstrasse 2, 53113 Bonn
11 Academic Museum of Antiquities
The Academic Museum of Antiquities (Akademisches Kunstmuseum) - another of the University of Bonn's fine museums - was founded in 1818 and is famous the world over for its large collection of plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures. Originally used to teach students at art academies across Europe, many of these plaster casts date back as far as 1763. Other highlights include more than 500 statues, as well as more than 2,000 original sculptures from some of Europe's leading artists. Also of interest is the university's Egyptian Museum, home to a collection of 3,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Address: Regina-Pacis-Weg 7 53113 Bonn
Opened in 1991, August Macke Haus is dedicated to the famous expressionist who lived there between 1911 and 1914. Highlights of the museum include reconstructed interiors as well as artifacts and documents passed down by the artist's family, as well as frequent temporary exhibits. Guided tours are available.
Address: Bornheimer Strasse 96, 53119 Bonn
Where to Stay in Bonn for Sightseeing
Many of Bonn's tourist attractions are close together in the old center, including the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn Minster, Academic Museum of Antiquities, opera house, Hofgarten, and several historic churches. The main train station (bahnhof) is close, as is the Rhine and its riverside walking path. Several museums are to the south, close together on Willy-Brandt-Allee. All these highly-rated hotels in Bonn are within walking distance of the center:
- Luxury Hotels: In a historic building overlooking the market square and near the Bonn Minster, SternHotel Bonn has well-equipped modern rooms and plenty of restaurants close by. Beside a park near the minster and train station, Collegium Leoninum Hotel has spacious rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a pleasant courtyard garden. Not far from the minster and the pedestrianized shopping area, Ameron Hotel Koenigshof Bonn, with smartly decorated rooms and free Wi-Fi, sits next to a park and near the river.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Near the minster and with a connecting tunnel to the train station, InterCity Hotel Bonn offers very modern, basic rooms with free Wi-Fi and free public transport tickets. Next to the natural history museum and halfway between the art museums and minster, Derag Livinghotel Kanzler is close to the Rhine and the restaurants and cafés of Südstadt. Hotel Mercedes is near the Hofgarten and river, not far from the train station and minster.
- Budget Hotels: Although it's a 15-minute walk from the train station and minster, Ibis Bonn is opposite a stop for the Koln/Bonn airport bus and has free, fast Wi-Fi. A 25-minute walk from the center, the very modern B&B Hotel Bonn has small rooms but free Wi-Fi and parking. Also north of the center and with free Wi-Fi, Hotel Baden is about a 10-minute walk from the Beethoven-Haus and has a choice of nearby restaurants.
Other Picturesque Places to Visit near Bonn
There are a number of appealing places to visit near Bonn. It is at the beginning of the most beautiful section of the Rhine Valley, which extends southward past Koblenz, at the junction of the Rhine and the Mosel. To the north are the riverside cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf. Germany's westernmost city of Aachen lies at the borders of both Belgium and the Netherlands. A short way beyond are the Belgian city of Liege and the Dutch city of Maastricht.