Passau Sightseeing on a Danube River Cruise

Passau, the City of Three Rivers, Is a Popular Stop on Danube River Cruises:

RIVER CRUISE GUIDE – PASSAUBank (Danube) Right/LeftArea 69.58 km2
Passau Attractions Follow Me on Pinterest

Passau sightseeing

Passau was a destination that we were very much looking forward to visiting on our Vienna to Paris river cruise and for a while it was touch and go as to whether we would be able to stop at this historic city. If ever there was any city that would be susceptible to river flooding, it must be Passau. Famously known as the City of Three Rivers, Passau sits on the confluence of three rivers – the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers.

A City Prone to Flooding

Passau is a city that is used to flooding and on the wall of the Town Hall, you can see a historical record of some serious floods that have devastated the town in the past. The June 2013 Danube River flooding however was an all time record. It was the worst Danube flood in over 500 years with flood waters reaching 3.06 metres. With television footages showing a very submerged Passau, we had little hopes of being able to visit Passau on our cruise. We were extremely delighted when our boat, the River Princess, pulled into town – a day earlier, it would not have been possible.

Passau Flooding Follow Me on Pinterest

Flood Levels in Passau and water stain of June 2013 flood

Passau Sightseeing

From our river boat mooring at the western end of town (near landing place 13), we walked along the Fritz-Schaffer Promenade and were surprised to see a very normal Danube river-front.  There were no traces of mud-matted grass or mud-caked promenade and the place didn’t look like a town that’s just been through the worst flooding in its history.

Our guide Sonia walked us along the river-front to show us how quickly Passau had recovered from the Danube flooding. But just in case we thought that the floods might have somehow missed this end of town, she pointed out to businesses like the Blauer Bock Gasthof and others that had been devastated by the overflow of the Danube, and were in the process of being rebuilt. Passau’s very quick recovery from the Danube flooding was with the assistance of its 10,000-strong university students. They played a big role in the clean-up of Passau and for which the town is very grateful.

From Fritz-Schaffer Promenade, we turned into Marktgasse and in the Rathausplatz are the Town Hall with its distinctive tower, the tourist office and the Glasmuseum Passau. If you like glass, this museum has information on glass manufacturing from 1650 to 1950 and it also houses glass objects by world-renowned artists. From the Rathausplatz we walked to the higher part of the old town and at Residenzplatz we went into the Neue Residenz for a quick look at the rococo staircase and the famous Johann Georg Unruhe ceiling fresco depicting the gods of Olympia worshipping the eternal town of Passau. In front of the Neue Residenz is the Wittelsbach brunnen, built in 1903 to commemorate 100 years of Passau belonging to the electorate of Bavaria.

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The packed St Stephen’s Cathedral

The main attraction in the Residenzplatz is Dom St Stephan (St Stephen’s Cathedral). While our guide ducked off to get tickets for the organ concert, we had a few minutes to walk around the square. The St Stephen’s organ is said to be the biggest cathedral organ in Europe and its organ concerts are very popular with visitors. By the time we entered the cathedral, the place was packed. The organ concerts are on at 12.00 noon daily from May to September.

More Things to do in Passau

Our morning hour-long sightseeing tour of Passau was very brief and we were glad that we had time in the afternoon to explore the town in more detail on our own. In front of the Town Hall we caught the shuttle

Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers Follow Me on Pinterest

The different water colour of the Danube, Inn and Ilz

bus to Veste Oberhaus and from the Look-out tower we enjoyed great panoramic views of Passau. From the picture above, you can also see the waters of the three rivers merging – the black Ilz, the green Inn and the Blue Danube.

Back in town, we walked to the eastern tip of the peninsula to see the point where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers meet. Passau is the only town in the world that can claim to be in the unique position of sitting at the meeting point of three rivers.

Passau, City of Three Rivers Follow Me on Pinterest

Confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers

To get back to our boat, we walked along the the Inn River front and saw some different sights of Passau such as the Mariahilf Kloster which we unfortunately did not have the time to visit. A little along, we came across the Schaiblingsturm, a remnant of Passau’s old fortification. At the Church of St. Michael, a classical concert was just beginning and I remembered that Passau’s annual Europäische Wochen festival was on.

As light was fading, it was time to return to the River Princess. We were glad that we got to stop at Passau and were able to see so much of the sights of this town.  So we too were grateful to the students of Passau University for their amazing task in cleaning up the town so quickly.

See the sights of Passau at Travelsignposts Passau Photo Gallery Here.

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  1. avatarMarie Newman says

    I have one day in Passsau and need to choose between the following;
    Salzburg – Sound of Music
    Cesky Krunlov
    Salzkammergut Lake District
    or just visit passau for a few hours and cruise on ship to Linz

    What do you recommend?

    • avatar says

      Hi Marie, without knowing your interests and how frequently you travel, it’s difficult to make specific recommendations for you. When we did the Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise, it was much simpler, we only had two choices:
      – visit Salzburg for the Sound of Music attractions or
      – visit Passau and then cruise to Linz

      For those who love the Sound of Music, going to Salzburg was a no-brainer and they were thrilled at the prospect of visiting the movie sites. But we chose to go to Salzburg because we like the city and being day 5 of our cruise, we thought it would be good to spend a day of sightseeing on land. The excursion to Salzburg was very good though.

      If I had to choose one of the four options you have today, it would be a difficult choice between Cesky Krumlov or Salzkammergut Lake District. Cesky Krumlov is a historic city in the Czech Republic and Salzkammergut Lake District is an incredibly beautiful resort area in Austria.

      Whenever we have to make a difficult choice between two sightseeing options, we always ask ourselves, which is the more difficult one to get to on our own, and then choose that option. It’s a good opportunity to get to places that are not on our regular tour routes whereas a main city like Salzburg we can easily fly into on any holiday. However, if you don’t travel frequently, then maybe it’s more important that you visit Salzburg as it is a great city.

      You should discuss with your cruise director and get his/her opinion on what’s best for you, based on your interests and future travel plans.

      Sorry I can’t be more specific, but I hope the above will provide a little guideline.

      Kind regards,

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