Travel postcard: 48 hours in Bonn, Germany

Market Square and Historic Town Hall (Jorg Greuel, Getty)

LONDON (Reuters) - Got 48 hours to spare in Bonn? This sleepy city perched on the banks of the romantic River Rhine offers history, culture, and beautiful scenery galore.

Located about 30 km south of Cologne, the city of around 325,000 prides itself on being the birthplace of influential German composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

But Bonn is perhaps most famous for being the capital of WestGermany from 1949 to 1990 after the country's division in the wake of the Second World War.

When East and West Germany reunified in 1990, Bonn became the official seat of German government until 1999, after which Berlin took its place.

Being relatively small, Bonn can be easily traversed on foot and is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains) - a range of more than 40 wooded hills formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in this beautiful city.


7 p.m. - Take the Airport Express SB 60 bus from Cologne-Bonn Airport's Terminal 1 to Bonn Hauptbahnhof (Bonn Central Station).

Choose a hotel in central Bonn - if you've got plenty of money to spare, check into a riverside room at the Hilton Bonn Hotel (+49 228 72690) for spectacular views of the Rhine. If you're on a tighter budget, try Sternhotel Bonn (+49 228 72670), which looks out over the market square.

8.30 p.m - Tuck into a hearty dish of Rheinischer Sauerbraten (German pot roast), Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) or Reibekuchen mit Apfelkompott (potato fritters served with apple sauce) at Em Hoettche to acclimatise. This historic restaurant, which lies in the shadows of Bonn's Rococo-style pink town hall, is where Beethoven is said to have danced with his first love, Barbe Koch.

10:30 p.m. - Head to Brauhaus Boennsch brewery for your first taste of the local Boennsch beer, served in a specially crafted glass which fits around your fingers.

11:30 p.m. - This city is not well-known for its nightlife. When it was capital of West Germany, Germans often joked that Bonn was an acronym for Bundeshauptstadt ohne nennenswertes Nachtleben (federal capital without any nightlife to speak of). But while it is not exactly a clubbing hotspot, there are enough places to party if you're in the mood. Try the Hausbar club in Bonn'sopera house for house music, Carpe Noctem for indie music or the Jazzgalerie for theme nights.


10 a.m. - Start your day by wandering around the market in front of the town hall, where you can sample local specialties, including German sausage. If you go between April and June, make sure you try some locally cultivated "Spargel" (white asparagus), which is very popular in Germany.

11 a.m. - Stroll down the pedestrian-only highstreet until you reach Bonn Minster, one of Germany's oldest churches. Completed in the 13th-century, it was built over the graves of the city's patrons and boasts the best preserved Romanesque cloister north of the Alps.

11:30 a.m. - Pay homage to the Beethoven statue on Muensterplatz before making your way to Bonngasse 20, where the German composer was born in 1770. Now a museum, this pink house with green shutters contains his grand piano and other possessions including stringed instruments, letters and sheets of music.

12:30 p.m. - Walk to the end of Bonngasse, turn right and keep walking until you reach Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz/Beethovenhaus station. Jump on the 67 tram down to the district of Bad Godesberg and treat yourself to lunch in the ruins of a hilltop medieval fortress while enjoying unparalleled views over the River Rhine and Seven Mountains (

2 p.m. - After filling up on German fare, climb the tower of the 800-year-old castle, most of which was destroyed during a siege in 1583.

As you walk back down the hill towards the station, keep your eyes peeled for small memorial plaques set into the pavement. These mark the houses where Jews lived in the early 20th century before they were deported to concentration camps during the Nazi era.