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Bremen

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Bremen [1] is a city in northern Germany, population 500,000+.

The historic center around the Altmarkt (old market), including the famous "Roland" statue. By Felix Gottwald.

Understand

History

Bremen was once a member of the medieval Hanseatic League and is still one of the most important cities in northern Germany. Together with the city of Bremerhaven on the North Sea it forms Germany's smallest state. Bremen has more than 1200 years of history, and was, for most of its existence, an independent city-state.

Geography

Bremen is a rather long and narrow city, lined along both sides of the river Weser. Along the north-west/south-east axis it stretches about 10 km, but across only 2 km. The entire city is located on flat plains.

Get in

By plane

Bremen airport (IATA: BRE) (ICAO: EDDW) is located in the south-west of the town and offers flights to most bigger German cities and some European destinations. It's easily accessible by public transport (tram line 6, about 10 minutes from the city center) and by car. Major carriers are OLT [2], Ryanair [3] and Lufthansa [4].

Commuter train in Bremen central station

By bus

There is a direct bus link from Bremen to Groningen (NL) with prices starting at €7,50 one-way [5]. Buses leave from Bremen Central bus station (next to the train station), Hugo-Schauinsland-Platz.

By train

Regular and frequent services connect Bremen with the rest of Germany. There are two trains every hour to Hamburg in the north and Osnabrück, Münster and the Ruhr Area in the South as well as to Hanover. In the west lie the cities Delmenhorst and Oldenburg and the Frisian islands. There are also trains (via main station) connecting the peripheral areas of Bremen (2 times per hour to North Bremen, final station Bremen-Vegesack, or to Verden via Mahndorf or Sebaldsbrück. See [6] for more information). Train tickets can be quite expensive and the cheapest way to travel is to share a group ticket with other people. If you're traveling alone, you can find people to share a train ticket with on this website [7]. As in 2011, sharing a train ticket with 4 other people from Bremen to Berlin costs only 13 €.

By car

Autobahn 1 [8] runs to Hamburg in the north and Cologne in the south but do check the traffic information! The A27 [9] goes north to Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven and south towards Hanover, Braunschweig, Berlin and other eastwards connections. Car sharing is very developed in Germany and you can share a ride to several cities for a very low price (about 5 € to go to Hamburg and about 20 € to go to Berlin) [10].

By coach

Eurolines has connection between Bremen and lots of other cities in Europe [11]

Get around

By foot

Much of Bremen (or at least the part frequented by travelers) can be negotiated by foot - the best way to explore the old city and its surrounding districts.

By Shared Car

Members of the Cambio car-sharing network, whether in Germany or Belgium, can hire cars - Bremen is the company's headquarters.

By bus/tram

Bremen offers an intensive public transportation network with street-cars (trams) and buses. For public transportation timetables and ticket fares see [12] (English). There are night buses and trams (indicated by an "N"), running through almost the whole night, departing at :30 each hour from central station . They only run Fri/Sat and Sat/Sun - on weekdays Fares on the night network are one euro in addition to normal individual, group or day fares (2010). You can buy bus tickets on the bus or tram, but is slightly cheaper to buy a set of 4 rides or a day pass for individuals or groups, or a weekly pass for individuals. Note that on trains, tickets must be purchased before you board. You can find the map of the tram lines here [13].

By taxi

Taxis are found nearly everywhere and every time but they have got their price (about 1,25 EUR/km). The two main taxi companies are Taxi-Roland [14] (phone: 0049 0421 14433) and Taxi-Ruf [15] (phone: 0049 0421 14014). Taxis are working 24 hours and there's no need to book a taxi one day or several hours in advance. Taxi drivers and call center employees may have difficulties to understand a phone call in English.

By bike

You can hire bicycles at the railway station and several bike shops in Bremen. See [16] (German only). Bremen is the most bike-friendly city among the biggest German cities. Its former mayor Hennig Scherf is an avid cyclist (who despite the wishes of his bodyguards rode his bike every day to his office or he simply walked to the office.)

See

Bremen Town Hall
  • Rathaus (Town Hall) this is one of the finest in Europe and as such has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Building work started in 1410 and it is seen as an important display of the wealth and freedom of the city. Tours of the interior are conducted by the Tourist information office at 11AM, noon, 3PM and 4PM
  • Dom St Petri (Cathedral of St Peter) is over 1200 years old, and its huge towered façade dominates the main square. the interior is impressive with some fine painted details on the ceilings. There is a treasury displaying the collection of the cathedral. Entrance is free, for €1 you can climb the Southern Tower offering nice views over the whole city
  • Roland this statue on the main square is of the Knight Roland who was a protector of trade. It appears in many European cities especially those involved in the Hanseatic league. Bremen's is considered one of the finest and is included with Town Hall on the World Heritage List.
  • Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (Town Musicians of Bremen) perhaps the most well known figures associated with Bremen are the characters from the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale, their image adorns many of the souvenirs in the city. Next to the Town Hall is a much photographed statue of them.
  • Böttcherstrasse, [17] is the incredible Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) street that runs from the main square towards the river. There are many fine façades and courtyards all with large amounts of design detail. There is an impressive Glockenspiel that chimes at regular intervals. There are lots of shops and several Museums, including the impressive Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum. Haus Atlantis (now the Hilton) has an impressive spiral staircase just inside, at the top of which is the staggering Himmelshaal (unfortunately it is not normally open to the public).
  • Am Wall is a lovely park next to the former defensive moat which offers a nice place to sit and relax.
  • Schnoor this area of twisting lanes is a lovely place to wander aimlessly looking at in the many shops and also at the world smallest hotel (see Sleep)

Do

  • Stroll around the city center and visit the Schnoor-Viertel with its old medieval buildings. If interested in arts visit the Bremer Kunsthalle [18] (museum of art) with one of north Germany's finest collections.
  • If you like football, you can go to see a match of Werder Bremen [19], a team playing in the Bundesliga (German premier league). You can also visit their stadium (Weser Stadion) [20] for a few euros.
  • Universum Bremen [21] is a hands-on science centre towards the north of the city. It is accessible by tram, or by a one hour walk from the main station through Der Bürgerpark [22].
  • If you want to see green fields, cows, bikers and in line skaters, visit "Blockland" [23] (site in German with some pictures) to enjoy the agricultural side of Bremen´s nature. It is located near the river Wümme, roughly in the west of the university. You can drive (by bike or skates) along the dyke and take an icecream at one of the farms (some also sell organic food). In winter there is no icecream but the river and small creeks for iceskating.
  • Indoor ice skating is at Paradice, the skating hall in Walle ([24], site in German). Paradice is opened from October to February.
  • A good place to get in touch with the locals is taking a stroll along the river Weser on the scenic Osterdeich, where - in good weather - lots of little groups hanging out on the grassy hills may invite you to barbecue with them or have a beer.
  • Don't miss the beautiful Bürgerpark either, a beautiful, fairly large park right in the middle of the city, which has a little Central Park vibe to it. Have a drink in the reknowed "Emma" Café, rent a boat and paddle around the many little rivers, minigolf or sit down in the grass enjoying some tasty ice cream.

Events

  • January 6th: "Eiswette": a funny tradition where a tailor checks if he can cross the river Weser without getting wet feet.
  • February: carnival in Bremen, more South-American than Cologne style
  • April: easter market
  • June: "vision parade": techno parade along the Weser, "Breminale" art festival along the River Weser
  • August: International Bremen Summer, circus festival LA STRADA, "Festival Maritim" in Bremen-Vegesack (in the northern end of Bremen)
  • October (2nd half): "Freimarkt" (free market), one of the biggest and oldest fairground festivals in Germany, right north of the railway station
  • November: International Cutter Race / "Kutterpullen" tournament (rowing contest on the Weser river)
  • December: Christmas market around the city hall

The monthly free event magazine MIX has hosts an event calendar online (German only) [25].

Buy

Böttcherstrasse
  • Kluten, are a traditional sweet from Bremen. They are cubes of peppermint, partly covered in chocolate. Hachez, near the Town Hall, is a traditional Bremen based chocolatier and their store is well worth a visit to buy the Kluten, though they are also available at many other places throughout the center.

Areas

  • Schnoor is a den of tight lanes selling boutique style products including Jewlery, African Artifacts, Paper Models and a year round Christmas Shop. There are also a lot of shops selling tourist souvenirs.
  • Böttcherstrasse, This wonderful Art Nouveau street has many outlets which cater to buyers of upmarket/high quality products.
  • Markets are out on most of the squares around the Town Hall.
  • Lloyd Passage, Obernstrasse, Sögestrasse are the main shopping streets with all the main High Street chains.
  • Waterfront Shopping Centre, Waterfront '''Bremen''', AG-Weser-Straße (Motorway A27, Junction 17 (Dreieck Bremen-Industriehäfen) to the freeway feeder A281 (Überseestadt-bound) you will see the Waterfront Bremen on the right side after approximately 4 kilometres.), 0421 33 05 199, [26]. Mon-Sat 10:00-20:00. A shopping and leisure centre with a unique location directly on the banks of the River Weser. As its name and location suggest, there is always a fresh wind blowing through and around the Waterfront: shopping, feasting, cinema and events assure high spirits all year round. The young centre was opened in September 2008 and offers more than 80 shops from fashion (PRIMARK, Desigual, Tommy Hilfiger, Clockhouse and many others) to shoes, jewellery, athletic apparel and equipment to leather goods and gifts—nearly everything the heart could desire. To nourish visitors, there is a gastronomic selection of more than 15 different venues in the Food Court and on the outdoor terrace, with its Weser panorama. There are events held regularly in and around the Waterfront: fashion shows, exhibitions, concerts or activities for children—something for everybody. In the Food Court there is also a 25-sqm screen where broadcasts of all Werder Bremen football matches and highlights of the German Football League can be viewed. Various prices.

Eat

Several cafes and restaurants line the "Schlachte" [27] along the Weser river while another popular area is the "Viertel" south of the Kunsthalle. Many traditional dishes from Bremen and Northern Germany are very satiable. This region is famous for cabbage (Grünkohl- green cabbage), fish (smoked eel, herring, smelt in March), an old sailor´s meal called Labskaus (lobscouse) consisting of mashed potatoes, corned beef, onions, fried egg an beetroot or chick ragout (very fine) as well as red fruit jelly or Butterkuchen (cake with yeast and topped with lots of butter, sugar and almonds). You can find some fish restaurants in Böttcherstrasse. "Knigge" is the name of a traditional coffee house in Bremen.

Drink

The world-wide known Beck's Beer is brewed in Bremen. Guided brewery tours in English and German are offered. Costs (as in November 2009) 9 Euros/person, also you have to book it in advance.

The "Ratskeller" [28] is a wine cellar and restaurant with a famous collection of wines and the oldest wines in Germany.

There are many bars, pubs and cafes in Bremen: the Schlachte along the Weser and the Viertel, a young and lively quarter.

If you like beer and pretzels, try the "Schüttinger" brewery house (next to Böttcherstrasse) where several types of beer are brewed and served directly.

Sleep

Budget

  • International Youth Hostel Kalkstr.6, 28195 Bremen, tel +49(421)171369, fax +49(421)171102 [29].
  • GastHaus Bremer Backpacker Hostel Emil-Waldmann-Strasse 5-6, 28195 Bremen, tel +49(421)2238057 [30].
  • Townside Hostel Bremen Am Dobben 62, 28203 Bremen, tel 49(421)78015 [31]

Mid-range

  • prizeotel Bremen-City, [32], Theodor-Heuss-Allee 12, 28215 Bremen, tel +49(1805)697749. Budget designer hotel centrally located within walking distance from Bremen Central Station, directly opposite the AWD Dome and Bremen Exhibition Halls. 127 air conditioned rooms furnished with 180 x 200 cm beds, 32" flat screen TV, desk, iLamp with integrated loudspeaker and iPod/iPhone connection, shower with rainforest showerhead and free high speed wireless LAN internet access in the entire hotel.
  • Hotel Deutsche Eiche Bremen, [33], Lillienthaler Heerstraße 174, 28357 Bremen, +49(421) 25 10 11. Three-star hotel with 38 rooms andtraditional restaurant.

Splurge

  • Hochzeitshaus-Bremen, Wüste Stätte 5, 28195 Bremen, Tel: +49 (0162) 19 25 24 4, [34] Mail: mail@hochzeitshaus-bremen.de --- €350 for first night €250 for subsequent nights. ---

This hotel has a very strong claim to being the smallest Hotel in the world. In fact if you stay here you have the whole hotel to yourself as it has just one room. It has a great location in the heart of the Schnoor district.

It is based on the tradition of small hotels catering for newly wed couples seeking somewhere to consummate their marriages after the ceremony, and is aimed at a market that can help continue this tradition.

  • Hilton, Böttcherstrasse 2, Tel: +49 (421) 36960, Fax: +49 (421) 3696960 €107-220, [35]. In an excellent location just off the main square with an entrance on the magical Böttcherstrasse. Its room are the high standard you would expect from the chain, and there is a small Pool, Sauna and Micro Gym in the basements. The Böttcherstrasse entrance makes this a little more interesting than the rest of the chain as it has an impressive spiral staircase at the top of which is the fantastic Himmelsaal.

Swissôtel Bremen, [5 Star Hotel][36]. Hillmannplatz 20. Phone: +49 (0) 421 62 000 0, Fax: +49 (0) 421 62 000 222. E-mail: bremen@swissotel.com. [37] Swissôtel Bremen is a 5 star Business hotel in the heart of historic Bremen. The central position gives a magnificent view over the Bremen city wall and the hotel sits within walking distance to all major attractions like the town musicians and the charming Market Square of Bremen.

Get out

These are all accessible by rail; the Niedersachsen ticket is cost effective for a day trip.


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