Both the capital and the largest city in Saarland, Saarbrucken makes for a fun day trip destination. The center is quite compact and stretched along both sides of the river Saar. There are plenty of things to do in Saarbrucken city for which you don't need a car. Let me share some with you.
- Things to do in Saarbrucken, Germany
- 1. Get a new outfit at the Europa-Galerie
- 2. Snap a photo of city hall
- 3. Visit the Basilica of St. John
- 4. Shop local at Sankt-Johanner-Markt
- 5. See how high the river once came at Saarstrasse
- 6. Go see a play at the city theater
- 7. Get your art on at the Moderne Galerie
- 8. Visit the Ludwigskirche
- 9. Walk past the Friedenskirche
- 10. Check out the Schlosskirche
- 11. Go back into time at the Museum for Pre- and Early History
- 12. Learn all about the Saarland region at the Saar Historical Museum
- 13. Marvel at the Saarbrucken Castle
- 14. Relax by the Saar in one of the parks
- 15. In summer, try Schwenkbraten at one of the beer gardens
- 16. Check out the light show of the Heizkraftwerk Römerbrücke
- 17. Watch a sports game at the Ludwigsparkstadion
- 18. Saarbrucken Zoo
- 19. Just outside of Saarbrucken: the Völklingen Ironworks
- How to get to Saarbrucken
- Don't forget travel insurance
Things to do in Saarbrucken, Germany
I've first listed some things to do in Saarbrucken north of the river Saar, coming from the train station. Next up are the things to do south of the river, and I've ended with the things that are a bit further out.
You can see all of these places to visit in Saarbrucken on the Google Map below. Click the photo to be taken to the actual map.
1. Get a new outfit at the Europa-Galerie
Right by the train station, you can find the beautiful Europa-Galerie. This Saarbrucken shopping mall is the place to come look for a new outfit.
The mall has loads of well known retailers, such as H&M, Bershka, and Desigual as well as some great eateries and coffee shops – it is important to refuel mid-way through a shopping extravaganza after all. Even if you’re on a tight budget, the Europa-Galerie is great for window shopping.
2. Snap a photo of city hall
The eye-catching Town Hall, known as the Rathaus in German, is one of the most notable landmarks in Saarbrucken. Its gothic architecture and 54 meter-high clock tower make it quite a sight to behold. If you’re in a rush, just snap a photo and carry on your way. If you have more time, take a look inside – but be aware that its real splendor is its exterior façade.
3. Visit the Basilica of St. John
Dating back to the mid-1700s, the Basilica of St. John, or St. Johann, is Baroque brilliance at its finest. The monument is nestled among trees and foliage and makes for a peaceful retreat from the main shopping streets of Saarbrucken. Take some time to check out the magnificent bronze entrance and listen to the majestic organ inside. This is one of the things to see in Saarbrucken.
4. Shop local at Sankt-Johanner-Markt
The Sankt Johanner Markt Square is the central point around which life in Saarbrucken revolves. Peppered with boutiques and bistros, the area buzzes with life and nowhere in the city will you find a better example of the region’s mixed Franco-German influences. While away a few hours as you wander through the narrow streets, soak up the culture and enjoy a drink by the fountain in the middle of the square.
5. See how high the river once came at Saarstrasse
Mother Nature is a powerful force and Saarbrucken lets neither residents nor visitors forget this. At the end of Saarstrasse are markings on the walls indicating how high the water level from the river used to come. We are told the seas around the world are rising, so these markings act as a warning to the danger of the nearby river. If that’s not good motivation to fight against climate change, I don’t know what is!
6. Go see a play at the city theater
The Saarland State Theatre, Saarbrucken’s main theatre, was first built in 1938. Unfortunately, it incurred considerable damage during the war and was completely renovated in the 1980s.
Today it is the city’s finest auditorium and it regularly plays host to operas, theatrical performances, ballets and musicals. If you’re looking for some evening entertainment then look no further than the grand foyer of this formidable building.
7. Get your art on at the Moderne Galerie
The Moderne Galerie in Saarbrucken contains an impressive collection of German impressionist and expressionist art. Throughout the spacious exhibition rooms and quaint sculpture garden you will find pieces by world renowned artists, including Otto Mueller, Max Liebermann, Max Pechstein, and more.
Entry is €7 at the time of writing and you can easily spend several hours poring through the art, making it a fun and cheap day out.
Now, we cross the river!
8. Visit the Ludwigskirche
The Ludwigskirche can be found in Saarbrucken Old Town. The church was built in the Lutheran Baroque style and is considered one of the most important churches in all of Germany. At night, the church is lit up, making it glow a regal gold colour against the dark night sky. I wholly recommend visiting it both during the day and at night for the full experience.
9. Walk past the Friedenskirche
As you may have guessed already, there are many churches in Saarbrucken. The Friedenskirche or “Peace Church” is one of the smaller ones, located in between the Ludwigskirche and the Schlosskirche on your walk.
While it might not have the same wow factor as the Ludwigskirche, the white-washed Friedenskirche is beautiful in its own right and deserves at least a couple of minutes of your attention – even if it is just a passing glance.
10. Check out the Schlosskirche
Schlosskirche literally translates as “castle church” and that alone should be enough to entice you to visit it. Inside, you will find the sarcophagi of the final princes of the region as well as the Foundation for the Cultural Heritage of the Saarland.
The nice thing about this church is that it is off the tourist radar (as is the whole of Saarbrucken for that matter), meaning it will be quiet and you might just have the whole place to yourself.
11. Go back into time at the Museum for Pre- and Early History
This museum will take you on a journey from the Stone Age all the way through to the Medieval era. The museum hosts a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions, all housed within beautiful and peaceful building.
When you’re done getting clued up about the pre- and early history of Saarbrucken, enjoy a coffee in the leafy shade outside the front of the museum.
12. Learn all about the Saarland region at the Saar Historical Museum
If the pre- and early history museum whet your appetite for knowledge or you’re simply more interested in modern affairs, check out the Saar Historical Museum. This museum covers the last 500 years of the Saar region’s history and unfolds it right before your very eyes. Castle and dungeon remains form part of the permanent exhibitions.
Best of all, it all takes place underground, making the whole thing infinitely more exciting.
13. Marvel at the Saarbrucken Castle
The Saarbrucken Castle or Saarbrucken Schloss dominates the square on which you can also find the Museum for Pre- and Early History as well as the Saar Historical Museum. The latter is partly housed in the vaulted cellar of the castle, partly in an annex.
The rest of the castle is now in use as the administrative headquarters of the district of Saarbrucken and also a location venue for events, conferences, and festivals.
14. Relax by the Saar in one of the parks
Along the top side of the river, you can find a stretch of parks in Saarbrucken. There's the Bürgerpark Saarbrücken, the smaller Theater Park and the City Park.
A larger park, the Deutsch-Französischer Garten, can be found to the west of the city. Here you can go mini-golfing or go for a walk around the pond. Or you can just soak up nature and enjoy a picnic in the grass.
15. In summer, try Schwenkbraten at one of the beer gardens
Germany might not be known for having the world’s best cuisine, but there are always gems to be found in its provincial parts. Schwenkbraten is something typical for Saarbrucken.
It's pork grilled on some kind of swinging barbecue. The barbecue swings because it's hanged in the shape of a cone. It's a summer dish that you can mostly find prepared around the beer gardens in the city.
16. Check out the light show of the Heizkraftwerk Römerbrücke
Over at the city’s thermal power station, you can feast your eyes on the visual spectacle that is the light show of Heizkraftwerk Römerbrücke. The LED lights light up the 177m chimney at night to the delight of hundreds of eyes down below.
You can also go on a tour here if you want to learn more about the power station. Tours start on Wednesdays at 5.30 pm at the time of writing.
17. Watch a sports game at the Ludwigsparkstadion
With a capacity of over 35,000, the Ludwigsparkstadion is no minor venue. See the local football team FC Saarbrucken play a game or check online to see if there are any other events happening at the stadium.
If your dates don’t coincide with any sporting events, even just walking around the stadium on an off-day is fun to do.
18. Saarbrucken Zoo
The Saarbrucken Zoo is home to over 1000 animals from around 160 different species. Not only can you wander through the zoo and observe the animals, but there are also educational displays throughout the day that will teach you all about the various creatures.
If you want to make a day of it, take a picnic with you and refuel halfway through your trip at one of the elafy picnic areas.
19. Just outside of Saarbrucken: the Völklingen Ironworks
The Völklingen Ironworks was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1994 and today it is the only intact example of an integrated ironworks built in the 19th and 20th centuries. An ironworks might sound like an unusual tourist attraction, but millions of people visit this site every year.
Just walk around and explore the old furnaces and you’ll see the attraction. Nowadays, the ironworks is like an industrial iron-themed theme park!
And that's it! I hope this post has answered the question of what to do in Saarbrucken and enticed you to visit Saarbrucken yourself.
How to get to Saarbrucken
As it's only three hours to Saarbrucken from where I live, I drove there, but you can also travel to Saarbrucken by train from other German and European cities. If you're coming from afar, you'll most likely fly into Frankfurt or Luxembourg and then travel from there.
Check Omio for the easiest way to get to Saarbrucken from your departure point. It gives you the cheapest and fastest bus, train, and flight routes from over 800 transportation companies.
Don't forget travel insurance
No matter how well you plan your trip, there's always something that can happen that's beyond your control. A reservation can get canceled, you can get sick or you can drop and break that new camera. In all of these cases, good travel insurance has you covered. I make sure I'm covered for every trip I go on.
Don't have travel insurance yet? Check out SafetyWing. They offer super flexible plans that you can even sign up for while you're already on your trip. On top of that, they were the first travel insurance to cover COVID, and when I got COVID, they reimbursed all of my expenses without making a fuss. Their customer support team is great and I can personally recommend them.
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