What are the top things to do in Trier, Germany? Does the city offer enough tourist attractions to deserve your consideration?
If you’re planning a trip to Germany and trying to figure out some cool places to visit, this piece is certainly for your eyes. First, there are plenty of tourist attractions and exciting things to do in Trier, Germany, more than you thought possible.
Founded in 1600, Trier is Germany’s westernmost city, close to the Luxembourg border. Its location serves as an excellent start point for traveling around the rest of the Mosel regions. And, for centuries, it has been one of the Germans key cities for trade and commerce.
As a tourist, there is tons of stuff to do in Trier. The city boasts 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites and is home to numerous rare Roman monuments, such as the Trier Dom cathedral, the Gothic Church of Our Lady, etc. Most of Triers sites are within walking distance of the Old city center.
And if you didn’t know, this German city is the famous philosopher Karl Marx’s birthplace. Today, the city is booming with life and has plenty of classy stores and a wide range of restaurants, festival grounds, and concert halls, among other cool places to visit.
This list will help you learn more about these amazing top attractions to see and plenty of other things to do in Trier.
Best Things to do in Trier and Surrounding Areas
1. Sightsee the Porta Nigra, Trier’s Old Roman Gate
Porta Nigra is a 2nd century fortified gate of the Roman town walls. It is one of the most notable Trier attractions that you should include in your things to see in Trier. This massive gate stands at the north entrance to the Old Trier town.
The name Porta Nigra is Latin, meaning ‘Black Gate’. It is one of the UNESCO World sites in Germany and the largest structure in Northern Europe. This structure was at one point converted into a church, but Napoleon reverted to its Roman appearance.
If possible, you can choose to get a one-hour guided tour, normally led by a costumed centurion, if you wish to view this structure. However, you have to book in advance online as these tours sell out quickly.
2. Tour the Trier Market Square (Hauptmarkt)
In Trier Market Square (Hauptmarkt), you can grab a cup of coffee and your favorite snack in one of the many cafes or restaurant. Also, depending on the time you’re around there, you can shop in the Christmas, Easter, or the traditional market where traders sell their produce.
The place has many gorgeous half-timbered structures. You’ll also marvel at the numerous fine historical middle-age Trier attractions, including the outstanding market fountain (Marktbrunnen).
Constructed in 1595, the fountain represents St. Peter and is surrounded by the four virtues of strength, justice, wisdom, and Temperance, alongside several mocking monsters. Another cool point of interest worth a visit is the Late Gothic St. Gangolf’s Church.
A toy museum located in the market square is also a fascinating feature worth your eyes. This museum hosts around 5,000 antique toys including, model trains, dollhouses, and a dancing bear which is 130 years old.
Other notable sites near the market square include the 13th century House of three kings (Dreikonigenhaus), the 11th-century residential fortress where city dignitaries lived, and (Judenpforte), the gateway that was once used as a way to the city’s Jewish quarter (Judengasse).
3. Explore the City Museum, Simeonstift Trier
Located next to Porta Nigra, this museum is one of the old structures in the region. Originally, it acted as St. Simeon’s monastery, and currently hosts two cloisters preserved from the 11th century. When figuring out what to see in Trier, this charming City Museum should certainly fit in your schedule.
The museum was established in 1905, and it’s rich with fascinating artifacts dating back from Roman times to the present. Some of the museum’s notable attractions are artworks such as paintings, sculptures, textiles, local crafts, and antique pieces of furniture.
The museum also has the Trier City Research Library treasury. The treasury has a broad collection of rare manuscripts and antiques, including the world’s first printed encyclopedia, the Gutenberg Bible and a rare almanac that dates back to the late 15th century. These collections are one of Europe’s most valuable items.
The museum also has a collection of attractive Baroque globes, many medieval written texts, and rare manuscripts from prominent figures like Goethe and Karl Marx.
You can book an English-guided tour that is also suitable for kids, or a private one for groups. Contact the museum in advance to reserve a spot for guided tours.
4. Visit the St. Peter Cathedral of Trier, Trier Dom
Popularly known as the Cathedral of Trier, this incredible structure adds to the long list of interesting things to do in Trier. Founded in the 4th century, the St. Peter Cathedral of Trier is one of the oldest German churches. Much of its structures were built in the 11th and 12th centuries but renovated in 1974.
One of the main highlights of this Cathedral is its magnificent monuments that date as far back as the 16th and 18th centuries. And even more interesting, the Cathedral is a burial site for various former Trier Archbishops including, Henry I, Udo, Baldwin, and Bohemond II.
Located on the southern side of the Cathedral choir is the Trier Cathedral Treasure. Some of the must-see relics in the Treasure include the Ottonian art masterpiece Egbert Shrine, Emperor Constantine’s mother St. Helena’s drinking cup, and the 10th-century St. Andrew’s Altar. Also stored here is the 3rd-century amethyst cup of St. Helena and the “Holy Nail”, reputedly used in Jesus crucifixion.
Also, to add to the beautiful collection, other relics like the Holy Tunic, a robe reputedly worn by Jesus shortly before crucifixion, as well as the ‘Skull’ of St. Helena, are on display.
You can also catch a glimpse of the older structures at the Cathedral cloisters. And if you’re lucky, you might also get a chance to listen to the Cathedral organ playing.
5. Check into the Church of Our Lady, Liebfrauenkirche
The Church of Our Lady is proof that you can never run short of beautiful things to do in Trier. This Catholic Church is among the oldest French Gothic churches in Germany.
The Church is located next to the Trier Dom Cathedral and is among the sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Beautifully constructed by French Masters, the Church of Our Lady cruciform floor plan takes a unique design comprising of:
- A 12-petaled Rose
- The symbols of the Rosa Mystica and Virgin Mary
- A representation of the twelve apostles and twelve tribes of Israel
On the twelve supporting columns are paintings of the twelve apostles and the Apostles Creed’s twelve articles. The paintings can only be seen from a single spot which is exquisitely denoted by a gold star.
6. Explore the Karl Marx Haus
A Trier trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous Karl Marx house or museum. Born in 1818, Karl Marx was a renowned philosopher of the age.
During the Nazi party, the house was seized and used as a printing house. However, in 1947, the house was made a museum about Karl’s life, writings, and communism. In this museum, you can learn more historical details like the rise of communism and its social impact in the former Soviet Union, both in Asia and Eastern Europe.
The prestigious work of Karl Max, including his artifacts, famous writings, and life works, are all found here. Even better, you get to see the old armchair where Karl reputedly sat and did much of his reading.
While here, you can request audio guides to help you with the museum tour. The museum mainly highlights Trier landmarks that Karl visited.
7. Enjoy a Concert in the Roman-era Aula Palatina
In Aula Palatina or the Basilica of Constantine, beautiful classical music performances will undoubtedly charm your day.
This Roman basilica, which towers the beautiful Trier city’s skyline, was constructed around 310 AD. It was commissioned by Emperor Constantine, who lived in Trier during that era.
During medieval times, the building was a residence of the Bishop of Trier. Today, however, the Aula Palatina acts as a Protestant Church of the Redeemer, a part congregation of an Evangelical Church in Rhineland.
Here, you’ll also find Constantine’s Throne Room, the world’s largest ancient hall. The hall measures 220 feet long, 88 feet wide, and 108 feet high and ranks as a World Heritage Site.
If you happen to visit the Church during the Choral or classical concerts, you can be sure to experience some of the most memorable moments.
8. Explore the Electoral Palace
The Triers old electoral palace or Kurfürstliches Palais is another lovely Triers’ attraction site. This building acted as home to electors and archbishops of Trier between the 16th and 18th century.
The structures were demolished during WWII but have since been restored. Today, the palace is used as federal and local government offices and often hosts great classical music concerts.
The visitors can tour the Baroque room and a precious staircase during official business hours. Stunning paintings on the ceilings and the staircase walls are part of the things that were added during the 1970s renovation.
The site has numerous architectural attractions. It also features a ‘water dial fountain’, attractive ponds, and neat flower beds. There is also a small garden, which is open to tourists, and an amazing sight of the statues that Ferdinand Tietz crafted in the palace garden.
See related: 10 Best Day Trips From Nuremberg
9. Tour the Roman Imperial Baths
On the southern side of the Trier Electoral palace are the magnificent ruins of the Roman Imperial Baths complex (Kaiserthermen). Two-hot-water baths dating from as far back as 100 AD, a cold-water bath, and a museum are the key point of interest in this place.
Constructed in the 4th century, the Roman Imperial baths were the most impressive structures in Europe. Later, in the medieval era, these structures got converted into fortified castle.
However, much of the ancient Roman baths are still visible to date. The extensive underground passages and rooms are some of the highlights to explore.
You may also pay a visit to the enormous hot-water bath. This huge hot-water bath was heated by six massive boilers and could hold up to 600 bathers at a time. The Forum Baths or Viehmarktthermen also acts as one of Trier city’s great attraction sites.
Finally, don’t fail to visit the magnificent Amphitheater constructed around AD 100 with a 25,000 seating capacity just outside the old city walls. The place offers costumed staff for fun-guided tours.
10. Stroll across the Old Roman Bridge (Römerbrücke)
The Roman bridge is another historical landmark worth exploring. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the oldest bridges in Germany that is still standing.
Although damaged during the war, this sturdy bridge was rebuilt in the 12th and 18th and is still used to date. In the 2nd century AD, the Romans had built at least nine pillars that still support the structure.
And despite still being used by motorists, you can take a stroll on the bridge on foot to view the beautiful Moselle River.
11. What to do in Trier at Night, Trier Nightlife
There are plenty of things to do in Trier at night. The city has numerous dance clubs and bars, most of which are English, Irish and German. In these places, they serve the best drinks and electrifying entertainment to a rowdy drinking crowd.
Just across the Trier Cathedral stands Walderdorffs, Domfreihof, which acts as a café by day, and a dance club at night. The café and the bar are open from Sunday to Thursday.
The café usually converts into a dance club operating from 10.00 am to 12.30, but it can extend up to 2 am or beyond on Friday and Saturday. You have to pay a fee to attend the dance club, which varies depending on the evening.
In Trier, there are plenty of other entrancing nightclubs. These include the Exhaus, Zurmaiener Strasse 114 that has both dancing and bands, and Irish Pub, Jakobstrasse 10, known to serve tasty toasted sandwiches, along with Guinness and Harp.