Passau is a small city in Bavaria, Germany, close to the Austrian border.


Interior of St. Michael's Church

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 located 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.

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. 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 will meet also a lot of 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.

Get in

By plane

By train

Passau Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) is located at the river Danube, only 300 m (330 yd) west of the city centre and due to its location along a high-speed mainline, the city sees quite a lot of train traffic, most notably by hourly ICE high-speed trains to Nuremberg, Frankfurt, 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.

By car

Passau is on the German A3 autobahn (which continues into Austria, as the renamed 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.

By boat

Passau is a regular port of call for river cruises on the Danube, and also has regular scheduled connections to Regensburg, Linz, and Vienna.

By bike

Passau is located along the Danube Bike Path (EV6), a very popular European long-distance cycling route.

Get around

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.


Fortress Veste Oberhaus




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. I don't think I've had a bad meal at any of them yet. You can regularly find some good deals (like Pizza or Pasta + 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 Hacklberg Brewery has a nice restaurant full of classic Bavarian dishes that will fatten you up in no time. It also has a great beer garden in the warmer months. To get there you have to cross the Danube and go left, keeping on the second street closest to the Danube.


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.

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 Mc Donald's.





Go next

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.

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

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