When the birds begin chirping, the days grow longer and April is finally upon us, that is when the most beautiful spring blooms across Europe can finally be spied. Bonn is located in the West of Germany and is best-known as being the birthplace of the famous composer Beethoven. However, search for an image of this small city and it soon becomes clear that the best of the city can be found in the form of Bonn cherry blossom…
Between self-guided Beethoven walking tours, romantic River Rhine cruises, and a handful of culturally-focused museums, Bonn already has a few delights to offer the traveller who wishes to venture off the beaten path. After all, this city is Germany’s UN city and, between 1949 to 1990, Bonn was the provisional capital city of Western Germany. The cherry blossom trees now found throughout the city are quite literally the ‘cherry’ on the cake and were largely planted during the 1980s.
Search on any social media channel, and it becomes fairly clear fairly quickly that the ‘cherry blossom arcade’ is the clear winner when it comes to the most Instagrammable spot in the city. The cobbled lane can be found on the fringes of the Altstadt (old town) in the Nordstadt district of the city.
This street stretches on for hundreds of metres and is also where you’ll find the iconic blue ‘Altstadt sign’. During the evenings, this sign lights up and provides beautiful photo opportunities. Wander along the road during daytime, and you’ll also soon discover that there are plenty of coffee shops, as well as boutique shops selling locally produced souvenirs and goods.
One of my favourite stores was Platzhirsch-Bonn. The store sells the usual tote bags, postcards, and mugs that are so synonymous with souvenirs. Of note are the pop-up postcards depicting the pink canopy that is Breitestrasse in full bloom (though they will set you back at a rather pricey €10)!
Another can’t miss feature of the road is the many centuries old sculptures and monuments dotted across the street. Reminiscent from a time when the city was known as ‘Bonna’ some two millennia ago, it’s hard to forget that Bonn is one of Germany’s oldest cities. For a closer look at Roman influence over the modern city of Bonn, be sure to head to the Haus der Geschichte in the Museumsmeile area of the city.
Whereas it may seem as if there is only one cherry blossom arcade in the city (I know I thought this before visiting), there are in fact, several. Filled with ancient statues and lined with pastel houses, Heer straße runs almost parallel to Breite straße and is also a ‘cherry blossom covered street’.
If you have a little more time while in the area, be sure to enjoy an ice cream delight at the Ciao Ciao gelato shop (Rheinweg 163). Serving all kinds of delicious treats, the best part of this dessert establishment is definitely the setting. Though there’s indoor seating, an outdoor terrace is situated right under the cherry blossom trees and is the perfect place to sit and relax with friends.
In a road that runs at a right angle to the two aforementioned roads, don’t head to Maxstraße if you’re looking for the fluffy pink blossoms that you’ll see all over Instagram. Instead, this little side street is filled with small blossom trees boasting white flowers. This little street also happens to be the birthplace of Max Franz (Maximilian Franciscus) von Habsburg-Lothringen, an Archbishop of Cologne in the 18th-century.
Bonn Minster (Bonner Münster) Blossom
Though not the cherry blossom tunnels that I’m sure you’re picturing in your mind’s eye, a pretty arrangement of floral trees can be found on the corner of Bonn’s impressive cathedral. The ecclesiastical building itself dates back to the 11th century and is one of the oldest churches in Germany.
Once a cathedral for the Archbishopric of Cologne, today the Minster is now a minor Basilica. Nevertheless, highlights of this high-reaching church include a mosaic tympanum and plenty of stunning carvings. Unfortunately, much of the Minster is closed for renovations through 2019, though you can still visit the cloisters.
Sterntor City Gate
When wandering around the Altstadt district of the city, it’s hard to miss the reconstructed city gate that sits in pride of place in one of the larger town squares Bonn has to offer. The structure’s name is literally translated as ‘Star Gate’ and is all that remains of the medieval city ramparts. During springtime, a cherry blossom tree can be admired to the right-hand side of the gate when facing the stone façade face on.
For a smattering of Bonn blossom bushes, magnolia trees, and beautifully planted front gardens, be sure to head to the Südstadt (South City) area of Bonn. Located alongside the banks of the River Rhine (from which you can embark on a romantic river cruise if time allows- just be mindful of the fact that spring is still not peak season and boat operation times are limited), this area of the city is filled with stunning architecture.
Tips for enjoying the cherry blossom in Bonn
Straight out of a storybook, thousands upon thousands of flowers are in bloom, raining down light leaves and coating the ground as if they were snow. As I’m sure you can well imagine, the Bonn cherry blossom trees are growing more and more popular each year, resulting in more and more people turning up to see the week-long or so spectacle.
The best time to enjoy the Bonn cherry blossoms is completely weather dependent, and so it’s hard to give an exact time as to when the trees will bloom. Typically, the blooms will reach their peak within the first two weeks of April. In 2019, the best of the blooms can be seen on the week beginning the 8th of April.
As such, I recommend heading to enjoy the cherry blossom trees as early in the day as possible. We visited at sunrise, and even then, there were still plenty of people wandering around! You should also book your accommodation well in advance as space fills up quickly, especially so during the blossom season. Check Bonn accommodation prices here.
Things to know before visiting Bonn in the spring
You should know before your visit to Bonn that the city is fairly small. The Altstadt is largely pedestrianised and I do not recommend bringing a car into the city. With the exception of a handful of museums and several churches, there are not too many attractions. With this said, the city’s position close to the Rhine Valley means that castles in the surrounding region are to be found in abundance.
From Bonn, it’s easy to take day trips to the Cathedral city of Cologne, the vibrant city of Düsseldorf, and the Drachenfels, a hill that’s one of the most famous landscapes of the Rhine area, thanks in part to an influx of Romanticism artists during the 19th-century, as well as plenty of earlier local myths.
During their day the poet Lord Byron and the painter JWM Turner both visited the area. Today, the ruins of Burg Drachenfels and the 19th-century Schloss Drachenburg can be spied perched high above the pretty as a postcard town of Königswinter. The town itself is all timber-framed houses, traditional bars, and offers many a picturesque view onto the River Rhine.
With many cobbled lanes throughout this European city, you’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes. Furthermore, though most people speak English, you’ll want to learn a few words of the local language, in this case, German. Bring along a simple phrasebook like this one to help you get by.
Next, Germany, like much of mainland Europe, uses type C and E. This means that if you’re travelling from the US, Canada, the UK, and many other countries, then you’ll need to purchase a travel adaptor. This all in one adaptor contains USB ports and works with several different plugs.