48 Hours: Trier

Germany's oldest city is marking 500 years since the Holy Robe was brought to its cathedral. But this isn't the only relic of note – the Roman capital of northern Europe is awash with architectural wonders.

Click here for 48Hours In...Trier map


Travel essentials

Why go now?

The Roman capital of northern Europe – once the equal of Constantinople – has hardly grown in the past two millennia, leaving it with the most complete classical ruins north of the Alps.

From 13 April to 13 May, Germany's oldest city also becomes a special place of pilgrimage, as Christians flock to Trier's ancient Catholic cathedral (1) to see its most precious relic: the Holy Robe (00 49 651 7105 8012; heilig-rock-wallfahrt.de). Supposedly worn by Jesus Christ and brought here from Jerusalem in the fourth century by St Helena, it was first unveiled in 1512, making this year the 500th anniversary. The robe has been displayed only 17 times since then.

Even if you're not religious, this lively little university town on the Mosel has a youthful buzz and is a fascinating place to spend a couple of days.

Touch down

By rail, the trip from London St Pancras takes seven hours with changes in Brussels and Luxembourg – which is also the location of the nearest airport to Trier. You can fly to Luxembourg's Findel airport with Luxair (00 352 2456 4242; luxair.lu) or CityJet (0871 6633 777; cityjet.com) from London City, or with BA (0844 493 0787; ba.com) from Heathrow.

Bus 117 of Voyages Emile Weber (00 352 356 575 278; emile-weber.lu) departs at 4.11pm, 5.11pm and 6.11pm, Monday-Friday only, from Luxembourg airport, terminating at Trier's central station (2). Singles €4. Otherwise, board a No 9 or 16 bus (every 10 minutes, €1.50) to Luxembourg train station where there are frequent direct trains taking 50 minutes to Trier (€16.80).

Trier is also accessible from Hahn airport, which Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) calls "Frankfurt" and serves from Edinburgh, Manchester and Stansted. From Hahn, board the Flibco Shuttle Bus (00 49 180 150 7570; flibco.com) which terminates outside Nell's Park Hotel (3) in Trier. Singles €22.

Get your bearings

Trier is on the east bank of the River Mosel, surrounded by woods and vineyards. Most of the main sights lie within the outline of its Roman walls. Badly bombed in the Second World War, the old town is a hotchpotch of old and new.

Trier's signature landmark is the Porta Nigra (4), an enormous Roman gatehouse. Right beside it is the tourist office (00 49 651 978 080; trier-info.de; 9am-6pm daily, 10am-3pm Sun). Here you can buy a three-day Trier Card (€9) for unlimited public transport and reduced entry to attractions. Trier's three vast bath houses – Barbarathermen (5), Viehmarktthermen (6) and Kaiserthermen (7) are a quick walk away.

Check in

All rates are for doubles, including breakfast. The most attractive and convenient three-star is Zum Christophel (8), a neo-Gothic pile at An der Porta Nigra (00 49 651 979 4200; zumchristophel.de; from €85).

Four-star Nell's Park Hotel (3), Dasbachstrasse 12 (00 49 6511 4440; nellsparkhotel.de; from €100) is an old mansion in a park. The historic house is charming, the modern extension rather less so.

Pick of the bunch is the Hotel Villa Hugel (9) at Bernhardstrasse 14 (00 49 651 330 66; hotel-villa-huegel.de; from €118). Built in 1914, this family-run hotel has a spa and river valley views.

Day one

Take a view

The best view of Trier is from Petrisberg, a steep wooded hill a short walk from Hotel Villa Hügel (9). Follow the signposts through the vineyards to the Aussichtspunkt (10) (viewpoint) on Sickingenstrasse. The most spectacular sight is of the Roman Amphitheatre (11) below, on Olewiger Strasse (00 49 651 73010; burgen-rlp.de; open 9am-6pm daily, €3).

Take a hike

From the Amphitheatre (11) walk back down the hill, along the footpath through tranquil allotments to the Kaiserthermen (7) (00 49 651 4362 550; daily 9am-6pm; €3). These immense imperial baths give you some idea of the size and splendour of the Roman city. Cut through the backstreets to Viehmarktthermen (6) on Viehmarktplatz (00 49 651 994 1057; 9am-5pm Tues-Sun; €3). Preserved beneath a glass superstructure, the foundations of these colossal Forum Baths are equally impressive. Continue west, along Bruckenstrasse and Karl-Marx Strasse to the Romerbrucke (12), a bridge built by the Romans. Head north along the east bank of the River Mosel, finishing up at the quayside at Zurlaubener Ufer.

Lunch on the run

The quayside is lined with atmospheric bars and restaurants including Gasthaus Alt Zurlauben (13), Zurlaubener Ufer 79 (00 49 651 28 645). Try the Schinkenbrot mit Ei (meatloaf with egg) for €7. A glass of Bitburger is €1.30.

Alternatively, head for the city centre. Buried beneath a bland department store, the Historischer Keller (14), Simeonstrasse 46 (00 49 651 469 496; historischer-keller.de; closed Sundays) is a cavernous cellar. Matjesfilet (pickled herring) served with apple, onions, gherkins and fried potatoes, a Schwarzwalder Kirschbecker (Black Forest cherry sundae) and a beer will cost you €14.25.

Window shopping

Fleischstrasse and Brotstrasse are Trier's main shopping streets. For crafts and fashion, head for Neustrasse (15), where you'll find quirky boutiques. Nearby, the flagship store of prestigious porcelain firm Villeroy & Boch (16) at Simeonstrasse 3 (00 49 651 42091; villeroy-boch.com) sells all the latest lines, plus factory seconds at knockdown prices – as little as €2.

Cultural afternoon

With Roman ruins all around you, you'll find all sorts of treasures from these archaeological sites in the Landesmuseum Trier (17) at Weimarer Allee 1 (00 49 651 97740; landesmuseum-trier.de). This imposing museum gives you a vivid picture of what a powerful and wealthy city this used to be. Open 10am-4.30pm Tues-Sun, €6.

An aperitif

The local tipple is Viez – a deceptively potent sour pear cider. The best place to sample it is in Wirtshaus zur Glocke (18) at Glockenstrasse 12 (00 49 651 73109; closed Mondays) where a large flagon costs just €1.70. You won't need a second.

Dining with the locals

Theo (19) at Simeonstrasse 59 (00 49 651 44 888; theo-trier.de) serves all sorts of hearty Germanic staples in smart, stylish surroundings. Try the Schweinebraten (roast pork) with red cabbage and mash (€9.80) washed down with half a litre of the fruity local white Mosel (€7.20).

Day two

Sunday morning: go to church

Churchgoers are spoilt for choice in Trier, with two huge Roman churches, standing side by side. The ornate Catholic cathedral (1) was founded by Emperor Constantine at the start of the fourth century (00 49 651 979 0790; dominformation.de), making it one of the oldest surviving churches in the world. Expanded and adapted across the intervening centuries, today it's a rich melange of virtually every ecclesiastical architectural style, from Romanesque to Baroque. Nevertheless, much of the Roman structure is still visible, not just the basic outline of the building, but much of the original walls.

The austere Basilica (20) next door was also built by Constantine as an imperial palace. It became a Protestant church in 1856 (00 49 651 42570; konstantin-basilika.de). There are services at both churches at 10am.

Out to brunch

Most cafés and restaurants in Trier are closed on Sunday mornings, but Zur Steipe (21) at Dietrichstrasse 54 (00 49 651 145 5456; zur-steipe.de) is open from 10am. In a prime spot on the medieval market square (you can sit outside when the weather's fine), it serves everything from a continental breakfast for €4.50 to a fancy brunch with Sekt (sparkling wine) and smoked salmon for €9.95. Children will relish the Trier Toy Museum (00 49 651 75850; spielzeugmuseum-trier.de) upstairs. Open 11am-6pm daily except Monday, admission €4.

A walk in the park

The Palastgarten is a pretty, ornamental park, flanked by robust medieval battlements. Laid out in formal French style (Trier was invaded and annexed by Napoleon), its most prominent landmark is the flamboyant Kurfurstliches Palais (22), constructed in the 18th century. The short walk from this cute rococo palace to the monolithic Roman baths at Kaiserthermen (7) takes you back two millennia in a few hundred yards.

Take a ride

Trier is halfway along the River Mosel, with Luxembourg to the west and Koblenz to the east. A one-hour cruise (00 49 651 266 66; moselfahrplan.eu) costs €10. Boats depart from the pier (23) at Zurlaubener Ufer every 75 minutes (frequency from May) from 10am to 5.30pm at weekends, and at 1.45pm and 3pm weekdays.

Icing on the cake

Karl Marx, the son of a local lawyer, was born in Trier in 1818. The handsome townhouse where he spent his early years has been developed as an absorbing museum. The Museum Karl-Marx-Haus (24) at Brückenstrasse 10 (00 49 651 970 680; fes.de/marx) was set up by local socialists between the wars. Ransacked by the Nazis, it reopened after 1945. It chronicles his life and work, and the influence of his writing. Besides original manuscripts, letters and first editions, the kitsch souvenirs in the gift shop are a delight. Open daily 10am-6pm, admission €3.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering