City Guides

Germany Off the Beaten Path: Explore Essen and Bonn

Many cities in Germany offer unique chances to experience more, while not having to deal with large crowds. These two cities are popular destinations for vacation, have great attractions and things to do, and will not be as busy as larger locations like Berlin and Munich.

A Closer Look at Essen, Germany

Located directly on the River Ruhr, Essen is one of Germany’s largest most important cities. Essen was selected as one of three honorary cities to be the “Capital of European Culture” for 2010 due to the large number of relevant activities and accessible cultural events. Essen is a city that was once a coal and steel juggernaut. One of the major attractions in the city is the Zollverein Coal Mine, which was closed in 1986, however is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mine is available for guided tours and exploration, and is always a fun activity. Another popular destination to visit is the Essen Abbey. It is home to many ancient artifacts, dating as far back as the 10th century, including the famous Golden Madonna of Essen, which is dated to the year 980. Whatever you’re reason for visiting, you are sure to stay entertained as there is much to do.

Essen is a great home base if you plan on exploring more of Germany as well. From Essen, you are in a relatively close proximity to the Netherlands as well as Belgium. You could easily make a long weekend trip out of Essen over to Amsterdam, down to Brussels, and back if you were looking to tour the area.

A Closer Look at Bonn, Germany

Located just south of Cologne, Bonn is Germany’s 19th largest city. Many people may not be aware that Bonn is the former capital of West Germany. Roughly half of all government jobs still remain in Bonn and it is known in Germany as the “Federal City.” Today, much of the business in Bonn is dedicated to research and development of sustainable development, making Bonn one of the greenest cities in Germany. It’s clean air and water make it a great place to visit from all over the world, and a number of UN agencies are located in Bonn. It is also the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, so many musical fans are also attracted to this area.

From Bonn, it’s easy to explore more of the cities located on the famous Rhine river, like the quaint village of Konigswinter, or Bad Honnef. You could also visit many of Germany’s famous national parks, which basically surround the area. Whatever your travel plans, Bonn is a great location to make your home base as your explore the area with your rental car in Germany.

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