Trier has been on my to-visit list for years. At first, mainly because I heard that most of its sites are beautifully preserved Roman monuments which are UNESCO heritage listed. Later, I found out about the beautiful Moselle valley surrounding the city. However, in August 2018 I decided to only visit the city for two days. I didn’t want to rush through the Valley so I left it out of the itinerary. I’m sure I’ll be back one day.
This post contains my proposed itinerary for two days in Trier. If you have longer, I would seriously advise you to venture out into the Moselle Valley to see sights such as Eltz Castle, the quaint old town of Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, with its old castle looming high above, and Geierlay bridge. These sights will obviously not be covered in this post, but hopefully I’ll be able to write more about them in the future.
Anywhere I go, I always explore the city itself on my first day. That way I get a better understanding of where I am and what other activities I would like to plan. My friend and I arrived on Friday afternoon, and we ventured into the city straightaway.
Our starting point were the Kaiserthermen, Roman baths. However, it’s a strange starting point since we decided not to go inside. I have visited countless Roman remains (you know, the ones with only stacked bricks and images of what it used to look like), so I didn’t want to spend too much time here. If you’re interested, I’ve read that you can also go underground to visit cavernous hot and cold baths.
The Konstantin Basilika is the first building we visited. It’s an old Roman immense & roomy church. It’s actually the largest single-room Roman structure still in existence. It was built in the year 300 to serve as Constantine’s throne room. Nowadays, it serves as a Protestant church.
The Liebfrauenbasilika is Germany’s oldest Gothic church. I thought it was a perfect mix of new and old. It has colourful post-war stained glass and beautifully “hidden” paintings on the columns from the olden days. It’s worthwhile to free up some time to properly explore this church.
Right next to the Liebfrauenbasilika you can find the Trierer Dom.
Trier is the city where the buildings are either “the oldest” or “the largest”, that’s the case with the Trierer Dom as well. This Dom is the oldest bishop’s church in Germany. It’s built on top of the Helena’s Roman palace (Helena is Constantine’s mother).
I don’t understand a lot about the design of churches – unless they’re from the Byzantine era – but the floorplan in this church is clearly different than other churches. Apparently, its design symbolises the Virgin Mary. Even if you’re not a church aficionado, like me, I’m sure you’d still appreciate the grandeur of this church.
There are multiple layers which you can visit in this church. There’s a basement and a top floor with a special underdress (and for those who can’t appreciate the significance of this dress (me) there’s also a beautiful view from the top).
Don’t forget to visit the courtyard. My friend and I stayed here for half an hour to try to shoot good photos in the hallways, but that’s incredibly difficult due to all the people passing.
We are almost at our final stop. The famous Porta Nigra has been blackened by time. This Roman city gate has been turned into a church in the 11th century, but what makes the building itself special is something you can’t see from the outside. It’s quite an engineering feat as it’s held together by nothing more than gravity and iron clamps. I didn’t go inside.
The final stop on this itinerary is the main square near which you can find plenty of restaurants to have dinner and a drink.
You could opt to leave Trier after this first day. If you would like to visit the Moselle Valley, I would suggest that you also stay in a small town there. If you – like us – would like to stay in the city for another day, I would recommend you to read on.
Moselle Boat Trip
On day 2, my friend and I booked a Moselle boat trip.
There are several options when booking a trip. You could take the boat for 4 hours to Bernkastel-Kues, but that does mean you have to travel back for 4 hours as well. You could go to Saarburg in 2 hours and back, but we decided to keep it simple. We opted for a 2 hour trip around Trier (15 euro in 2018), which meant half an hour one way and back, and half an hour the other way and back.
We saw some beautiful sights. On one of the ways we saw red sandstone cliffs, a dockyard, the district of Pfalzel and the mouth of the Ruwer. The other way we passed the Trier lock and dam and St. Mary’s column, old river cranes, a Roman Bridge and St. Matthias’ Abbey.
What’s the meaning behind all of those sights? I have no idea. All I know is that it’s lovely to sit in the sunshine with a nice glass of wine while looking around to appreciate the landscape.
What Did I Miss?
I actually feel that this 1.5 to 2 day itinerary covers everything I wanted to see in Trier. Apart from the Karl Marx House (which I’m a tiny bit interested in after my visit to Cuba), the other sights I skipped I wasn’t interested in at all. In case you’re wondering, I skipped places like the Toy Museum, a Trier city museum and the Roman Amphitheater. If you’d like to visit these, you can easily add them to my proposed itinerary.
Where to Stay?
I stayed in the Vienna House Easy Trier. A hotel just outside the city centre but within walking distance. It’s a beautiful hotel, with a delicious breakfast buffet and good (paid) indoor parking facilities.
This post doesn’t include as many sights as most of my 1 or 2 day itineraries. We didn’t rush around to see as much as possible. I think that’s good because sometimes you do need to chill a bit, and Trier has some lovely restaurants & cafes to relax in. That having been said I wouldn’t recommend a stay longer than 2 days. It would be much more worthwhile to stay in the smaller cities in the Moselle Valley. Hopefully I can write more about that in a future post, after I have visited the region.
One final tip: Always take cash! I’m so used to using my debit card everywhere that I forget that cash is much more common in Germany than in the Netherlands. There are places where they don’t accept bank cards yet, so always have a bit of cash handy.
Have you ever visited Trier? What did you think of the city?