Trier, Germany’s oldest city with an incredible Roman history and an astonishing 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Trier is not on many travelers’ bucket lists and I have to admit even I only visited the city because my German friend recommended it to me. But I have to say this city really surprised me with its rich and well preserved history, its cozy atmosphere and incredible architecture. So I hope this guide will convince you to add Trier to your bucket list as well!
Trier: 2000 years of human history represented in architecture
Trier is a German city in the Moselle (Mosel) wine region, near the Luxembourg border. Founded as Augusta Treverorum in 16 BC during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, Trier is Germany’s oldest city and it contains several well-preserved Roman structures. The city is often referred to as the “Rome of the North” because it served as the key city of the Roman northern territories.
Nowadays the city is also known internationally because it is the birthplace of Karl Marx.
Trier is a very walkable city with most of its key sights located within easy walking distance of the old city center.
These are my top 10 recommendations for what to see and do in Trier:
1. Start at the Porta Nigra
The Porta Nigra is an impressive 2nd-century Roman city gate. It’s the world’s best preserved roman city gate and Trier’s landmark. You can enter the gate and climb to the top for a beautiful view over the city.
The Porta Nigra is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Admission: € 4.00
For more information: Porta Nigra prices and times
2. Check out the Hauptmarkt (Main Market)
The central market square is a lovely town square surrounded by impressive buildings constructed over the centuries, showing you the rich history of Trier. Around the square you find a great selection of shops, bars and restaurants making it the perfect location for a break or some (souvenir) shopping.
Germany’s oldest market cross, dating back to the year 958, can be found on this square.
3. Admire the Trierer Dom (The High Cathedral of Saint Peter)
The Trierer Dom or Dom St Peter is the oldest cathedral in Germany and houses an impressive collection of artworks, architecture and holy relics. You can’t miss this impressive piece of architecture. Once you are inside the cathedral walk all the way to the back where on the right side of the building you will find a door leading you to a stunning courtyard. From there you can really see 2000 years of human history represented in architecture: look up at the cathedral and the neighboring church to see all the different building styles making the two structures into what they are today.
The Trierer Dom is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
4. Have a look inside the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)
The Liebfrauenkirche is located next to the Trierer Dom. It is one of the two earliest Gothic churches in Germany and offers a lovely contrast to its older Romanesque neighbor.
The Liebfrauenkirche is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For more information: Sacred-destinations.com
5. Be amazed by the size of the Konstantin-Basilika (Roman Imperial Throne Room)
The Konstantin-Basilika, Constantine’s throne room, was built by the emperor Constantine (AD 306–337) at the beginning of the 4th century. It is the largest surviving single-room structure from Roman times. The Romans wanted the architecture to express the magnificence and might of the emperor.
Since the middle of the 19th century the building has been used as the first and oldest Protestant church in Catholic Trier.
The Konstantin-Basilika is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
When you visit this Basilika, walk around the building to have a look at the Kurfürstliches Palais (Electoral Palace) which is considered one of the most beautiful rococo palaces in the world and offers quite a contrast to the Basilika!
6. Picture what life was like at the Kaiserthermen (Imperial Baths)
These Roman baths date back to the 4th century AD. Only its ruins remain but you get to explore and discover the far-reaching subterranean passageways with furnaces for heating along with the impressive outer walls. Just imagine what the Roman bathing ritual was like and how much money and time was spent on creating these impressive baths…
The Kaiserthermen are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Admission: € 4.00
For more information: Trier-info.de
7. Learn more about history at the Rheinisches Landmuseum (Archaeological Museum)
If you want to get to know the lives of the Romans, you’ve come to the right place. Here you can find the largest gold coin hoard in the world with about 2,600 coins, colorful Roman mosaics, impressive burial monuments, and a large model of Trier in Roman times.
The Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier is one of the most important archaeological museums in Germany. Its collection stretches from prehistory through the Roman period, the Middle Ages to the Baroque.
Admission: € 8.00 (various discounts available)
For more information: Landesmuseum-trier.de
8. Explore the area by boat
If you want to see more of the area around Trier a boat excursion is a great option. The landscape around Trier is truly stunning and the Moselle curves through it beautifully.
Different excursions are available depending on your preferences and the time of year.
For more information: Moselrundfahrten.de
9. Eat & drink in Trier
Eat at Zum Domstein. This restaurant by the main market square offers a truly original dining experience. Try to get a table in the basement where you will be surrounded by excavations from Roman times while enjoying original dishes based on old roman recipes from Marcus Gavius Apicius dating back to 30 AD.
I highly recommend booking a table at least a day in advance since this restaurant is often fully booked.
Quality wine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of visiting Germany but Trier has a long wine growing tradition, going back to Roman times. Today the Moselle Riesling grape is world famous and other well known varieties include Elbling, Pinot Blanc, Rivaner and more.
I highly recommend Weinsinnig for a wine tasting. They have a great selection of local and regional wine, knowledgeable staff and as a bonus the best Flammkuchen (Germany’s take on pizza) I have tasted so far. Alternatively try Weinstube Kesselstatt which boasts an incredible wine cellar.
10. Cycle and hike around Trier
This area has much more to offer than just historic buildings. In recent years the area around Trier has developed into a popular destination for cyclists and hikers. Well maintained cycling trails allow for beautiful tours around the countryside.
Hikers can discover the unique hiking scene around Trier on the excellend hiking trains of the Saar-Hunsrück Climb, the Eifel Hiking Trail or the Moselle Hiking Trail.
See and do more in Trier
I want to thank Trier’s Tourism office for helping me plan my visit to Trier and providing me with so much information about this beautiful city. Their guided tour showed me so much of this city I am sure I would have otherwise missed. I highly recommend the guided tour (available in different languages) and do visit the Tourism office, located next to Porta Nigra, for more information about what to see and do in Trier or plan ahead by visiting their website Trier-info.de
How to get to Trier and where to stay
Trier has a large train station (Hauptbahnhof) located right next to the old city centre. It offers good connections from most major cities. Use Raileurope.com to plan your travels by train through Europe. Alternatively you can rent a car with any of the major car rental companies (such as Avis). Most hotels offer parking or will be able to direct you to the nearest public parking option.
Trier has a large number of hotels with something to suit any budget. HotelsCombined.com is one of the best places to find all the hotels in and around the city with a best price guarantee.
Also check out my hotel review for the Vienna House Easy hotel in Trier.
If you would like to combine a visit to Trier with other European destinations I recommend checking out Tourradar.com who offer interesting multi-day tours.
One final tip: the Christmas market
If you were planning to visit Trier in winter, definitely try to go during the time the Christmas market is in town. It is one of the oldest and nicest Christmas markets in Germany and will undoubtedly add to your experience!
For more information: Trierer-weihnachtsmarkt.de
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Featured image source: wikipedia.org
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