May we introduce?

This state in the far north is a two-city state. Bremen (located in the interior) also includes the smaller Bremerhaven, which, as the name suggests, is located by the sea. Both together have about 680,000 inhabitants, of which about 113,000 live in Bremerhaven. More than 50 kilometers of Lower Saxony stretch between them. The name Bremen is derived from the Old Saxon word bremo - which meant "on the edge" and referred to the dune location of the city on the Weser. Which makes that clear.

You can already guess: this place has always been about water. The Hanseatic city of Bremen was an important member of the medieval trade organization and its proximity to the North Sea its gateway to the world, and that hasn't changed much to this day. Together form Bremen and Bremerhaven the second largest seaport in Germany and the fourth largest in Europe (after Rotterdam, Antwerp and ... er: Hamburg). There is also a lot more water with the Weser, Wümme, Lesum, Ochtum and Geste, the marsh meadows and oxbow lakes. The Schlachte - the Weser promenade in the city - with its beer gardens and restaurants on warm summer evenings is something like the neighborhood of the city, a cool location for strolling. And the ship further ahead is familiar from commercial television: When the "Alexander von Humboldt" was lying in the wind on the screen and Joe Cocker roared "Sail away!" to it, you still quickly went to the refrigerator. To get a Beck's to get before the sports show started. 

Little Bremen, by the way, is a big Bicycle City. On over 800 kilometers of cycle paths (with hardly any gradients worth mentioning), you can get anywhere quickly by bike. Or you can stroll on foot to the most beautiful corners of the city, in 20 minutes you can walk through the historic city center and see everything important. The Schnoor for example, Bremen's oldest neighborhood, or Böttcherstrasse with the "Seven Lazy Fountains" - which honors the "lazy" sons of a farmer who, for lack of work, went out into the world and came back with modern ideas. 

Today, for all its pride in tradition, Bremen is a young city with around 20,000 students trying their hand at 100 master's and bachelor's programs. Of course, this creates a cool scene: small designer stores, bars and pubs, vegan restaurants and trendy cafés abound. You should drink coffee here anyway in between and over and over again. You can't get better coffee than in Bremen, and the small roasteries are currently experiencing their third or fourth spring. 

And of course you absolutely have to go to the Bremen marketplace. There stands not only the ten-meter-high statue of Roland, which has watched over the Hanseatic city since 1404 and, like the town hall, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a monument to the famous Bremen Town Musicians. According to legend, the donkey, dog, cat and rooster had once set out here to find a better life. Today, they are honored by a bronze sculpture in the city center, and the donkey's bare front legs are particularly striking - whoever embraces them, so the legend goes, will take home a large portion of luck.

Short and crisp

Bremen is the smallest state in the Federal Republic of Germany with an area of 420 square kilometers. With a total of just over 680,000 inhabitants, that makes about 1630 people per square kilometer. The two sister cities are separated by Lower Saxony, 53 kilometers apart and connected by the Weser River: Bremen lies on the lower reaches of the river, Bremerhaven at its mouth in the North Sea.

The trading city has long since become a city of the Science where research is carried out very diligently. In addition to the nine universities, there are several large non-university research institutions and 24,000 jobs in the science sector - no other federal state has more bright minds per inhabitant than Bremen. Whereby research does not squat in the ivory tower, but is connected with everyday life everywhere in both cities. Visitors also get easy access to the World of knowledge. In Bremen, the Universum Science Center takes you inside the earth, the Überseemuseum takes you around it, and in the botanika you can admire its plant diversity, especially the rhododendron - of the 1,000 species known worldwide, more than 600 grow in the adjacent Rhododendron Park. Bremerhaven also offers the most amazing worlds of knowledge: the Klimahaus, for example, and the Auswandererhaus, the Zoo am Meer and the Schifffahrtsmuseum ...

Oh, and one more thing: Bremen is green. Parks everywhere, gardens everywhere. And if you cycle to Blockland, a district in the east of the city, you're in the middle of a nature reserve where more cows live than people. Incidentally, the color green has also made Bremen internationally famous: It is the color of the local soccer team and the world-famous beer brewed here on the Weser.


Bremen loves its traditions - and also cherishes and cultivates them in the Kitchen. Much of it tastes much better than the name sounds. Kohl und Pinkel, for example, a dish served in the fall after the first frost: This is hearty kale with grützwurst (pinkel), with which people also like to eat pancetta. Similarly, Labskaus, a mixture of potatoes, beet and salted meat, takes some getting used to - very, very tasty, even if, to be honest, it doesn't necessarily look like it. Also very well known is Knipp grits, made from porridge, pork, beef liver and broth, seasoned with salt, allspice and pepper.

Of course, with all that water nearby, a lot of fish is eaten - smelts, for example, once a poor man's food, are now considered a specialty. And in Bremerhaven in particular, a lot revolves around sea creatures. You should definitely try freshly caught fish in the fishing port, or North Sea crabs, which simply taste good. An institution since 1927 is the sea fish cooking studio, where chefs pass on their knowledge. The cooking classes, cooking show and first-class recipes are heavily popular with visitors from near and far.

Last but not least, there is also absolutely top cuisine in Bremen. The gourmet guide Gault & Millau, for example, honored the "Kleinen Lokal" (gurnard fillet on saffron barley and artichokes or stockfish praline with braised cucumbers and Passe Pierre, to die for) and "Grashoff's Bistro" (Francophile cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences, Vicco von Bülow alias Loriot has also been here) with 15 out of 20 points each, a proud score. And if there's still room, there's a couple of Bremen Kluten afterwards: The little calorie bombs are made of peppermint fondant and half coated with dark chocolate. You can get them in most bakeries in the city. Also in larger quantities, to take home, as a souvenir.

Cover image: The historic riverside promenade on the Weser © WFB/Jonas Ginter

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