This might sound weird, but I can remember the exact moment when I decided that I wanted to go to Bremen. I was 17, & I was studying for my final German exam ever. The paper I was studying was about the German government trying to bring tourism to a little city in the north of the country that I’d never heard of before: Bremen. My recollections of the paper are pretty vague. I remember that it focused on the fact that the city boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and that the city was situated around a river. That said, it must have been a pretty convincing paper. It has been 6 years since then, and I’ve been waiting the perfect reason to travel there.
The reason that cropped up was better than I could have dreamed. See, Boyfriend had never been to Germany before. Never. We’d talked of visiting my beloved Munich, or Berlin maybe, but both of them have certain aspects that I wasn’t sure he would love. And I needed him to love Germany. Germany is one of my top three favourite countries & I needed to be sure Boyfriend would love it just as much. Or, at least love it enough to go back for future visits. I took a gamble on Bremen, as I had never been there either, but after some investigations online I was 98% sure that it would be perfect for us. Casual & laid back, but with cultural & historical aspects, too. Besides, it’s pretty close to Hamburg, so I had a backup plan if needed.
Turns out, I was right – Bremen was the perfect place for us. It was, in fact, one of the easiest trips I have ever been on in my life. The flight from Dublin to Bremen takes just under two hours. The tram from Bremen airport into the city centre is a mere ten minutes. The walk to our hotel was a further twelve-ish minutes. It was that simple. This warmed us to the city immensely. We also instantly loved: the lack of English tourists, the cleanliness of the city, and the relaxed attitude. We. Loved. It. We ate and drank our way around the small city, and then we drank some more.
Loads of recommendations below!
where to stay
Motel One // after searching around online for a little while, we decided to settle on Motel One. The place gets amazing reviews & deservedly so. It was central, comfortable, quiet, and clean. That’s all of our boxes checked!
what to do
areas to explore
Schnoor // by far our favourite area of Bremen, this should be top of your list of places to see. Wandering down the little alleyways feels like you’ve stepped back in time or onto a film-set. Everything is wonderfully, almost perfectly, crooked. We got up early one day to explore every nook & cranny without the hassle of other people around.
Schlachte // a couple of nights, we wandered along the Schlachte for an after drink. It’s an area along the edge of the river with loads of restaurants & beer gardens. Fun fact: we very narrowly avoided getting hit by flying ducks while out for a romantic stroll along the promenade one evening.
Wander down the Bottscherstrasse // basically, just a funky old street that dates back to the middle ages. Hidden under the arches, we were able to watch the different demonstrations of candy making, jewellery making, & knife making. Added bonus: you can listen to the bells of the Glockenspiel ring out through the street here.
Bremen Cathedral // in all honesty, we only wandered into the cathedral because we had some unexpected free time on our hands. & we figured we should do at least one really touristy thing. We were pretty glad we did, the interior is just as beautiful as the exterior!
Am Wall Windmill // we totally stumbled across this while we were tipsy & lost one day, but it is too cute not to mention, and it’s in a nice park.
where to eat
Kleiner Olymp // At first, we stumbled across this restaurant without knowing just how good it would be. We wandered in because it was one of the only restaurants around that actually had signs of life inside. We booked a table for that same evening & then went back to the hotel to Google it. Needless to say, we were more than happy with the results of our search – we ended up going back twice. Pro tip: get the onion soup to start, it was the absolute best we’ve ever had! The pork schnitzel for mains is also a really good choice. And, of course, a glass of Schnoor Brau to wash it all down is an excellent idea!
Standige Vertretung // I’m reluctant to include this in my list of recommendations because the service was so slow, even by Bremen standards, but I’m going to include it because the food was good. Not great, but good, & the interior decoration is worth having a look at – every inch of wall is covered in photographs and memorabilia.
Bremer Ratskeller // we arrived in Bremen on Thursday & were unable to get a reservation here until Monday. The whole weekend was entirely booked up. Housed in the cellar of Bremen Town Hall, it is worth eating here for the location alone. Long communal tables, dimly lit within the cavernous arches of the cellar. The menu is pricier than most, but definitely do not miss the flammkuchen.
Teestübchen im Schnoor // breakfast in Bremen was a bit of an issue for us the first few days. Our hotel offered an optional breakfast, but we thought we could hunt down a good pastry place that would kick ass. At first, our search was extremely unsuccessful. It was filled with lackluster croissants & the kind of coffee that made me wish I’d ordered tea. Then, we found Teestubchen. A crooked, pointy building tucked down an alley in the Schnoor with a fabulous breakfast menu. We went back three times during our stay & between us consumed enough for a small army. 6 croissants, 4 sides of bacon, copious amounts of scrambled eggs, a few slices of rye bread, and drank 8 coffees, 1 tea, and 1 orange juice. But who’s counting, right?
Kaffeehaus Classico // we only ventured in to double check if Teestubchen was the one good breakfast place in Bremen. Turns out that this is a close second! The omelettes are hearty & filling, the baguettes are heavenly, and the coffee was good enough to get a takeaway when we left.
where to drink
Becks in Markt // if I were to tell you the truth about how many times we stopped at this place, you’d tell me that we have a problem. See, the location is unbeatable, it’s smack bang in the centre of the main square. You can sit out in the sun, people-watching to your heart’s content, while also taking in the beautiful surroundings of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Definitely our favourite place to stop for a locally brewed pint of Becks.. Or an Aperol Spritz in the evenings.
Hofbrauhaus // Boyfriend & I hunted this place out simply because we have a deep seeded love of Hofbrau. The building is decorated in the style of a large beer hall, & all of the staff wear traditional Bavarian lederhosen. A particular highlight for me was seeing Boyfriend’s reaction to the litre-sized beer glasses.
Spitzen Gebel // I’m just adding this place into the list for the novelty factor really. It’s a tiny little pub just off the Bottscherstrasse where you can still smoke inside. At first we thought it was kind of cool, but do you really want to sit in a pub full of smoke?
Weincontor St Petrus // we only discovered this gem towards the end of our time in Bremen – if only we’d known about it all along! It’s tucked away under the arches of the Bottscherstrasse, where you can sit & watch the world go by (along with the owner of the wine bar, who we spotted dragging his chair out to the strasse to have a little snooze in the sun). Added bonus: the place is linked up with neighboring Standige Vertretung! This means you can order a delicious flammkuchen to go with your wine win!