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In the Northwestern part of Germany lies a hidden gem. No, it’s not Hamburg, it’s a city called Bremen and if you follow the Weser River north, you’ll reach its sister city, Bremerhaven. They’re off the beaten path for most but if you’ve been as I have, you know that these two cities have an incredible amount to offer. With this 4 day itinerary of Bremen and Bremerhaven, be surprisingly delighted with what you can see, eat, do, and experience.
4 Day Bremen and Bremerhaven Itinerary Highlights
As a Hanseatic city of the past, there’s a true sense of grit, down-to-earth, and charm that you can’t find elsewhere. While the glory days of it being a highly successful trading port behind them, both Bremen and Bremerhaven have had to re-invent themselves.
Here were my top 5 highlights of Bremen and Bremerhaven:
- Guided Bremen Tour
- German Emigration Center
- Schnoor District
- Climate Museum
- Beck’s Brewery
1. Guided Bremen Tour
2. German Emigration Center
3. Schnoor District
4. Climate Museum
5. Beck’s Brewery
- 48 Hours in Bremen – Things You Must Do
- If you only have 1 day in Hamburg
- Best SIM cards for data in Europe
- Cheapest way to travel Europe on a budget
Where to stay in Bremen and Bremerhaven?
Table of Contents
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- 4 Day Bremen and Bremerhaven Itinerary Highlights
- Table of Contents
- Your 4 Day Itinerary in Bremen and Bremerhaven
- A Quick Bremen and Bremerhaven Travel Guide
- The whole experience
Your 4 Day Itinerary in Bremen and Bremerhaven
While you could certainly use more days in this part of Germany, 4 days is the minimum you need to be able to see the highlights of the sister cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. In this itinerary, follow a precise break down of how you should plan each day, what to see, where to eat, where to stay, and insider tips that you won’t find anywhere else.
Trip Planning Map
This is a helpful little map that has all the spots mentioned in this 4 day Bremen and Bremerhaven itinerary pinned which will allow you to reuse it for your trip. This has become part of my trip planning process because I can just pop this open in Google Maps when I’m trying to figure out where to go to next.
Tip: View the Bremen and Bremerhaven planning map in full screen and create a copy for yourself. Make tweaks for your own trip and in Google Maps, you’ll be able to view it by going into the menu, selecting “My Places” and the “Maps” tab.
Day 1 – Bremen and Beck’s
When you arrive in Bremen, get settled into your hotel or drop off your bags. Once you’re all set, it’s time to explore!
TIP: A must-have when you get to Bremen is the ErlebnisCARD which gives you unlimited access to the city’s public transportation for 1-3 days and also discounts to city attractions, tours, and shows. This is super convenient because when I had it, I could just hop on a tram once I got to the main station and use it freely without having to figure out the logistics of buying a ticket. It starts at 9.90 EUR for one adult. It’s the ErlebnisCARD discounts that make this pass really worthwhile with discounts up to 50% off.
The Market Square is the heart of the city and where the action starts. If you’ve arrived around noon time, this is perfect timing to have lunch at one of the most iconic restaurants in the city, Bremer Ratskeller, which is located right underneath the Town Hall. When you’re here, make sure to try the traditional dishes known as Labskaus or Bremer Knipp. They may not look like much but will surely intrigue your tastebuds.
One of the big reason why the Bremer Ratskeller is such an institution is because of its status as holding the largest collection of German wines in the world. The wine menu alone is 20+ pages. For over 600 years, its vaults have held exceptional and rare liquid gold in the form of wine. If you’re doing some forward planning, make sure to book a tour of its old cellars and take a peek inside the treasure vault of wines including a Rüdesheimer white wine that date back from 1653.
Round out your afternoon in Bremen by making the scenic walk along the Weser River towards the Beck’s Brewery. It’s impossible not to spot with its towering metallic storage tanks, silos, the siphoning of materials from river ships. The Beck’s Brewery Tour is easily one of the highlights for anyone that loves beer.
Over the course of 3 hours, get taken through the museum which catalogues the history of the brewery and machines they used to use. From there, visit the raw materials room and a perfectly preserved brew house that still have the original copper tanks. You’ll learn about the different silos and tanks you see from the ground as workers busy about. From here you’ll then get an opportunity to see a live bottling assembly line before finishing off at the guest pub to try out 4 types of beers.
To close out the day, try a Rollo from the restaurant that invented it, Tandour. This is essentially a kebap wrap but think of it as a cross between a burrito and gyro where the pita wrap is made fresh and crispy on the outside and depending on the type of Rollo you order, that’s all rolled in together like a burrito.
What you’ll see:
- Market Square
What you’ll do:
- Bremer Ratskeller Cellar tour (11.50 EUR per person, 1 hour, Friday at 4PM only, includes one glass of wine, save 1 EUR with the ErlebnisCARD) – Reservations required
- Beck’s Brewery Tour (13.90 EUR per person, 3 hours, Mon-Sept at 3PM, offered in English, save 10% with the ErlebnisCARD) – Reservations required
Where you’ll eat:
- Lunch – Bremer Ratskeller – A gourmet restaurant that serves local dishes and makes their vast collection of wines available.
- Dinner – Tandour – Cheap and easy bite that has the Rollo which is well-known to locals.
Where to stay:
Booking.com has an awesome collection of accommodations that vary from hotels, B&B’s, apartments, and hostels. Here, I share with you where I personally stayed but also recommended alternatives that I think you’ll like based on different budgets.
I STAYED HERE
Located in Viertel, this is a low-key hostel that comes with a fully equipped kitchen, and a mix of shared rooms and private rooms that are all newly furnished and renovated. A comfortable stay.
A brand that you can depend on – this is centrally located in Bremen’s Old Town. Free wifi is included and all rooms are furnished in a contemporary style. An excellent buffet breakfast is served but at an added cost.
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Day 2 – Discover Bremen
Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast at Coffee Corner. Their crepes are excellent and so are their smoothies. Once you’re powered up and ready to go, it’s time to spend the day to learn about what Bremen is all about.
TIP: The standard greeting for locals of Bremen is “Moin!” but don’t say it twice because that’s distinctly something someone from Hamburg would say and let’s just say they have a friendly rivalry.
The first area to walk around is the neighbourhood known as The Viertel and is centered on the intersection where you can find Coffee Corner. During the day, it’s your chance to see truly how dynamic this neighbourhood and at night, this is where all the bar lights turn on and it’s buzzing with activity. To me, this quarter is one where you can see classes coexist between the wealthy and the hipster youth.
Using the Google Map provided, look for the graffiti alley where the full stretch of the street is dazzled with all the colours of the rainbow with randomness and social messages intertwined. From there, continue strolling in counterclockwise fashion where you’ll drop by Holtorfs Heimathaven where you’ll see great surviving examples of art nouveau design from the 1910’s. There’s also really cool Spider-man piece around the corner to a bar named Eisen.
Make your way around to the other corner of the quarter and head up to the area known as “Bermuda Triangle” to locals which has a sequence of bars that are known to trap anyone that heads here in the evening because of their rolling happy hours. Finish with a walk along Mathildenstrasse to see examples of Bremish townhouses, a style born from this city that you see replicated in European cities and even places like New York City.
As you walk around take note of how there’s a perfect yin and yang of contrasting cultures that seem to find their own harmony despite being next door neighbours.
Take tram #2 or #3 into the Altstadt or Old Town and grab lunch at Markthalle Acht (Market Hall Eight). At the site of a former bank, the owners have revitalized this space to include a courtyard turned into an indoor space that is filled with a ton of natural light, and up to 20 food stalls with cuisines representing countries all over the world. It’s truly an international food hall that has something for everyone.
My favourite was Bab’Maria where owners, Natalie and Yaroslavl have brought their grandmother’s incredible Ukrainian recipes to life.
Next, head to the meeting point for your English guided city walk tour. Let the local experts talk you through the city and go deeper than simple sightseeing. Through your guides, learn about the history that’s steeped in the city, how it developed into what it is today, and stories that go into the architecture, art, and people of the past.
During the two hours, you’ll be taken through all the main sights of the city including Market Square, the Town Hall, Böttcherstraße street, and the historic Schnoor quarter. Take this opportunity to ask a lot of questions and also make a mental note of all the places you might want to come back to.
When you’re done, rush back over to the Town Hall because the guided tour there is not to be missed. From the outside, you can see the splendid Renaissance facade with its arcades and gables but inside, you get a look at the Upper Hall which is the seat of the government that dates back to 1412 which makes it 600 years old. Dangling from the ceiling decorated by paintings of Emperors past are giant models of war ships that used to protect the ships that made the city so prosperous.
TIP: When taking a photo with the Town Musicians of Bremen, make sure to touch both legs of the donkey to make sure your wish is granted.
You’ll also get a look into the Golden Chamber, learn about the escape hatch for officials in case of an uprising, and the ballroom. There are so many fine details that the tour takes you through that will simply amaze you.
Get the ErlebnisCARD
Whether you have 1 day or 3 days, this is a city pass card that gets you unlimited access to the local transit and also discounts for everything from tours, shows, souvenir stores, and restaurants. The great part is that the free public transportation starts 6PM the day before the starting date. Note: Single ticket bus/tram rides are 2.80 EUR in Bremen.
After a busy day of walking, it’s time to rest your weary legs with the modern version of liquid gold. With 40 taps to choose from, Craft Bier Bar is the perfect spot to wind down. Located in the downtown quarter, this cozy hangout has an awesome set of steps that are homely filled with an eclectic mix of cushions. It’s down to earth wood and recycled furniture and calming neon further set the scene as one of the coolest bars in town.
While you won’t be able to go into the Universum Bremen science museum but if you’re interested in taking photos of it at night, take the Tram #6 to the Universität-Süd stop and walk a few blocks west.
To round out your day, have dinner at Edel Weiss where you’ll find a wide variety of traditional German dishes (primarily southern).
What you’ll see:
- The Viertel
- Böttcherstraße street
- Bremen Town Hall
- Town Musicians of Bremen
- Schnoor quarter
- Universum Bremen
What you’ll do:
- English guided city walk tour (8.50 EUR per person, daily at 1:30PM May – December, Saturdays only off season, 2 hours, save 1 EUR with the ErlebnisCARD) – Reservations required
- Guided tour of the Town Hall (6.50 EUR per person, Mon-Sat at 4PM and Sunday at noon, 1 hour, save 20% with the ErlebnisCARD) – Reservations required
Where you’ll eat:
- Breakfast – Coffee Corner – Awesome selection of breakfast foods, snacks and of course coffee.
- Lunch – Markthalle Acht – International food hall that has an impressive array of restaurants.
- Drinks – Craft Bier Bar – With brews from all over the world, this is a great spot to hang out and drink excellent beer.
- Dinner – Edel Weiss – Traditional southern German fare that is a bit kitschy in its decor but regardless served delicious dishes and is close to Hbf.
Where to stay: Staying in the same accommodations as Day 1 in Bremen.
Day 3 – Story of Emigration in Bremerhaven
There’s a super convenient local train that connects Bremen to Bremerhaven and it only takes 45 minutes. They run practically every hour so you won’t have any problems catching a ride into Bremerhaven before noon.
Get settled into your hotel and it’s time to discover what makes Bremerhaven so special.
TIP: Pay attention to your train ticket. If it says “Bremerhaven+City” this means that this ticket includes public transit from the train station into the city so you don’t need to buy a separate bus ticket.
Start off your adventures by walking into the city center. Bremerhaven is a small city of 113,000 and like Bremen, what makes it charming is that everything is compact, easy to explore, and impossible to get lost.
The downtown consists of a large pedestrian-only street named Bürgermeister-Smidt-Straße and this is where you’ll find a healthy dose of retail therapy, cure for the worst of hangry, and tingling sweet tooths.
For a quick and cheap bite, I recommend checking out OZ UFRA Grillhaus on the main street that has great Turkish food.
Once you’re recharged, make your way over to the harbor and to the German Emigration Center. With European Museum of the Year Award honors in 2007, this may not immediately hit you as an interesting museum but once you learn the history, I guarantee that you’ll be enthralled by the stories of everyone that passed through Bremerhaven to risk it all in the “New World”.
Why is Bremerhaven so significant?
This part of history is easily forgotten and a story that’s not often told but in the boom of emigration of Europeans from 1830-1974, 7.2 million people made the decision to leave their home to start a brand new life in countries like the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. The reason why Bremerhaven became so popular was because it was one of the few reliable ports in Europe that had good reputation for quality ships, and cheap prices. Today, at the very same site where emigrant ships set sail, is the Deutches Auswandererhaus and it tells the story of its pivotal impact on immigration around the world.
What makes the German Emigration Center so well done is that they created a museum that’s doesn’t bore you with artifacts behind glass and photos with descriptive plaques. Instead, this is a completely immersive experience where they’ve designed the museum around walking in the shoes of emigrants from the wharf where they had to say goodbye, to boarding the cramped ships, to landing in Ellis Island, and figuring out where to go from a replica of Grand Central Station. With your RFID “boarding pass”, walk through life-size dioramas and tap audio stations to listen to commentary and interviews in your language.
TIP: When you buy your ticket, make sure to add on the Photo pass for 1.50 EUR which allows you to take photos inside the museum.
There is also a recently built extension wing to the museum that focuses on the topic of immigration into Germany and doing it in an interesting way by setting the stories inside a 70’s shopping mall and a 50’s themed cinema. It’s here that you can conclude your visit by accessing a family research room where you get access to 4 international databases if you’re interested in tracing your ancestry.
Sufficed to say, you’ll need to plan for at least 3-4 hours here!
TIP: If you’re keen on taking photos of the Klimahaus at night with it lit up, make sure to pack your tripod. The museum is right next to the German Emigration Center and by the time you get out, it’ll be close to sunset so you can definitely take advantage. Great spots to shoot are on the bridge that cars drive in to find parking and also across the water from Klimahaus and to the right of the glass bridge.
You’ll be no doubt famished at this point so head over to Sascha’s Leuchtfeuer which was recommended to me by @foodiebremerhaven. The steak here is amazing in addition to the laid back ambiance, and excellent service.
What you’ll see:
- Bremerhaven downtown
What you’ll do:
- German Emigration Center (Deutsches Auswandererhaus) – You can book online but you can easily buy tickets when you arrive.
- Adults: 14.80 EUR
- Children: 8.80 EUR
- Family (2 Adults, 1 Child): 38 EUR
- Family (1 Adult, 1 Child): 25 EUR
- Photo fee: 1.50 EUR
- March – October – 10AM – 6PM
- November – February – 10AM – 5PM
Where you’ll eat:
- Lunch – OZ UFRA Grillhaus – Popular Turkish restaurant that was always packed with people on the main street
- Dinner – Sascha’s Leuchtfeuer – Modern and laid back grill house that is known for their steaks
Where to stay:
Despite being a small city, there are quite a number of properties available that span all budgets. Here are a few places you should definitely consider as you plan your trip to Bremerhaven.
I STAYED HERE
Comfortable bed and breakfast style property that’s located just north of the downtown core of Bremerhaven. The rooms are comfortable and cozy, the free wifi is fast, and the buffet breakfast is quite good.
This modern hotel is located right in the heart of the city. Rooms are comfortably appointed and service is excellent. Free wifi is included.
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Day 4 – Climate Museum in Bremerhaven
Kick off the day by exploring Bremerhaven’s maritime heritage by making your way down to the historic area known as Shop Window Fishery Harbor (Schaufenster Fischereihafen). In old times, this was the site where fishermen would bring in their haul and auction their seafood to the local market. Today, the former Packhalle IV has been transformed into a centerpiece of restaurants, pubs, souvenir shops, and modern consumer marketplace.
TIP: When it comes to riding the bus in Bremerhaven, there are no kiosks so make sure you have cash on hand to pay the bus driver. Single rides are 2.50 EUR.
Spend the morning exploring the area which also features North Sea cruises, cooking studio, aquarium, and smoking of fish.
Before you head out, make sure to walk around the famous Fiedlers Fish Market and the adjacent Fiedlers Räucherdiele. In the fish market, you’ll be able to find an assortment of food souvenirs and fresh seafood to eat on the go if you’re interested. In Räucherdiele, dig into fresh fish and chips.
Make your way back into town and head into the Climate Museum. I recommend that you account for at least 4 hours in this museum.
Unique in concept, Klimahaus is more than just about climate and it’s more than just a museum. Themed around the idea of travelling along the 8th longitude east, you get to travel from country to country, seeking out the stories of the locals that live there, the pressing issues in climate, impacts on weather, and the living animals and plants that we co-exist with.
Similar to the German Emigration Center, it’s more of an interactive experience and that’s best exemplified by the first thing that you encounter once you start your journey – a skee-ball carnival game to advance cows to the finish line while in the Swiss Alps. In that way, it’s more of a science center, zoo, and theme park all-in-one.
Nearby the museum is the brand new The Liberty Hotel which is New York themed and on the top floor is a bar that serves excellent drinks, has comfortable seating, and offers great views of the harbor from its balcony.
Treat yourself with dinner at Restaurant CHALET which was another recommendation from a local I met. Their traditional Swiss cheese fondue was to die for. Note that this restaurant doesn’t take international credit cards so make sure you have cash.
What you’ll see:
- Shop Window Fishery Harbor
What you’ll do:
- Climate Museum (Klimahaus) – You can book online but it’s probably not necessary
- Adults: 17 EUR
- Evening ticket for Adults (90 minutes before closing): 12 EUR
- Children: 12 EUR
- Family (2 Adults, 1 Child): 49 EUR
- Family (1 Adult, 1 Child): 36 EUR
- Hours: Varies throughout the year. Read Klimahaus opening hours.
Where you’ll eat:
- Lunch – Fiedlers Räucherdiele – Casual fast-food style seafood that’s extra fresh.
- Drink – The Liberty Hotel – One of the newest hotel bars in town is a great spot to lounge and grab a top notch drink.
- Dinner – Restaurant CHALET – Swiss-inspired fondue restaurant in the northern part of town.
Where to stay: Staying in the same accommodations as Day 3 in Bremerhaven.
A Quick Bremen and Bremerhaven Travel Guide
Money – Credit card is widely accepted in most places in both cities however there were a few instances where I needed cash. You need cash for public transit so make sure you have coins on hand. Buses do return change so you don’t need to worry about having the exact amount. The other place it was needed was at Restaurant CHALET. To my surprise, they don’t take international credit cards.
When is the best time? – Shoulder season (April, May, September, October) are great times to go as the weather is still warm. Summer time is great because there are a lot of activities and festivals that happen including Bremerhaven’s Seaside City Festival and Bremen’s special markets such as Lenzmarkt and Loggermarkt. Another unique time to come would be during the holiday seasons when you can find Christmas Markets in both cities that rated as some of the best in Germany.
Getting here – Bremen’s international airport (BRE) has 30 non-stop flights from many countries in Europe and North Africa including London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Istanbul. To put alerts on the flights and find the best deals, I recommend using Skyscanner. If you’re already in Germany or neighbouring countries, the easiest way to get to Bremen and Bremerhaven by rail.
Tip : If you’re taking the train, get the DB Navigator App. Once you purchase your ticket online, you can load your ticket on the app. This allows you to track your train, delays, and platform numbers. The QR code is also scannable by the ticket checkers which means you don’t have to fumble for your paper tickets.
How do I get around both cities? – The beauty of these cities is that both are highly walkable. When the distances are a little further, Bremen has trams that are easy to navigate and both cities have buses. I recommend that you grab a map at the tourist information center to help navigate or just use Google Maps to guide you as I did find their schedules and routing to be quite accurate.
Where should I stay? – The most comprehensive platform for bookings based on personal experience was Booking.com. They had everything from hotels, hostels, and guesthouses and we always managed to find an awesome place for a great place. As an alternative, there’s also Agoda and Airbnb. Remember if you sign up with a new account, you can get up to $47 USD credit.
Do I need travel insurance? – As always, travel insurance is highly recommended. My philosophy is that you want to make sure you’re covered in case the unknown happens. With the amount of travel that I do, I always get basic travel insurance that’s good for multiple trips and lasts the full year. If you’re wanting for adventure sports coverage as a Canadian, travelcuts has a really good custom plan that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re from the US, Allianz is my preferred insurer. If you’re in Canada, I always check Kanetix to make sure I get the best rates. Elsewhere in the world? World Nomads is what I’d recommend you check out.
The whole experience
These 4 days in Bremen and Bremerhaven sure surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect going into this trip because I honestly didn’t know anything about these Northern Germany cities.
In a way, that’s what made the trip that much more of an adventure and a memorable journey because I didn’t have any preconceived ideas or expectations. I was just a big sponge of sights, sounds, local interaction, knowledge, and experiences.
Both of these cities are well worth the trip for their incredible charm, ability to create truly world-class museums that don’t feel like museums, and understated maritime Hanseatic heritage.
Got questions for your own trip to Bremen and Bremerhaven or the rest of Germany for that matter? Let me help by simply dropping a comment down below!