Speyer, Germany holds a special place in my heart, as it was my home when I studied abroad in college. Speyer is unique because while it boasts a historic old town and is a key port for short stops on Rhine River cruises, it is not a popular stop for day trippers or overnight tourists. Thus, you can enjoy the local’s favorite places, and feel immersed in German culture while visiting.
Throughout my time in Speyer, the town quickly became my very favorite destination in Europe. From the many Cathedrals to the medieval clock tower, to the small cafés lining the streets, Speyer is a unique blend of historic charm and bustling locals town. Speyer is perfectly situated in central Europe for daytrips or train travel elsewhere. Plus, Speyer is less than two hours away from the Frankfurt Airport, making it an easy stop on your European vacation. If visiting Speyer while on a road trip, we would suggest pairing it with stops such as Colmar (Alsace), France, or the Swiss Alps, as each are only a few hours drive (or a couple of train connections) away.
Where to Stay in Speyer, Germany
There are several hotels near the town center, which are conveniently located and well rated. While we have not stayed there as a family, we have heard that the Hotel Domhof, across from the Cathedral and directly in the center of town, is a nice hotel. Alternatively, Speyer has several AirBnB units that are available for rent.
Where to Eat in Speyer, Germany
- Wirtshaus am Dom: Traditional Bavarian
restaurant in the center of town. This restaurant offers outdoor seating on Maximilianstraße (the main street) overlooking the Cathedral, as well as plenty of indoor seating as well. Bavarian dishes such as Schnitzel and Spätzle were our favorite dishes here.
- Picco Bello: Quaint Italian restaurant on a small side street with lovely food. Specials change nightly, and the owner also acts as the waiter.
- Osha Thai: For a change from European cuisine, try this little Thai restaurant. One lady owns and fully operates the restaurant, acting as the waitress, cook, and cashier, making this a quaint and delicious place to visit.
- Beer Gardens: There are two beer gardens in town. Both have indoor and outdoor seating.
- Domhof Hausbrauerei: is located in town near the Cathedral. This beer garden is also connected to the Hotel Domhof.
- Restaurant & Biergarten Alter Hammer: Located on the Rhine River, this beer garden offers a dramatic view of the Rhine River and a traditional beer garden setting.
Things to Do While in Speyer, Germany
Speyer was founded in the 1000’s, and while it was destroyed multiple times by fires and battles, Speyer survived World War II nearly unscathed. Therefore, much of the pre-War town center still exists, and the main Cathedral still stands tall. Between of the town’s history and charm, there are plenty of things to see while in Speyer:
Here are the key places to visit during your Speyer tour:
- Altpörtel: Speyer’s historic clocktower, and once the entrance through the city walls
- Jewish Courtyard: Historic remnants of a Jewish Synagogue, and other Jewish historic buildings found during archeological digs in the center of Speyer. The buildings were excavated from the ashes of past fires.
- Memorial Church: The primary Lutheran Church in town, located near Maximilianstraße
- Speyer Cathedral: The Romanesque Cathedral at the center of Speyer’s historic town
- Maximilianstraße: Historic Speyer’s main street. Explore the shops and restaurants along this street. Also, make sure to note the connection between the clock tower and Cathedral: Maximilianstraße was specifically built to connect the two as a parade route towards the Cathedral.
Tour the Speyer Cathedral
Speyer’s Cathedral is the largest Romanesque Church still in existence. This Cathedral is the burial site of kings and Holy Roman Emperors. While it was partially destroyed by the town’s battles in history, townspeople always carefully reconstructed and maintained it. During certain town events throughout the year, you can climb one of the spires to view the river and town from above.
Walk Along the Rhine River
If you walk along the Cathedral, you come to a park in the back. Follow one of the paths in the park and you will soon come to the Rhine River. The River has a paved walking path that you can follow to enjoy the scenery.
Visit the Historical Museum of the Palatinate
The main historic museum for the region of Germany that Speyer is in is located next to the Cathedral. This museum includes everything from the ancient history of Speyer to special items that were owned by Holy Roman Emperors associated with Speyer. In fact, the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad the II is among these treasures!
Visit the Technik Museum
This museum houses various transportation technologies from throughout history. From cars to locomotives, to a German submarine and a retired Lufthansa Boeing 747, there are countless historic transportation items that will interest kids and adults alike.
Spend the Day at Speyer’s Pool Complex: Bademaxx
Kids will love the outdoor water slide and cave complex, the indoor water park, and multi-colored water slide (with a timer to see who can go down the fastest). The complex also includes a sauna, a snack bar, and grassy area to lounge in. Day passes are cheap, and there is plenty of things to fill your time with during a hot summers day at Bademaxx.
Day Trips from Speyer
Because Speyer is only about 30 minutes away from Mannheim, a major regional connection point, Speyer is a very easy place to day trip from. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
Visit Heidelberg: tour the Historic castle, walk through the town center, and see the town’s historic University. Or walk the storied “Philosophers Walk” located along the hillside across the river for breathtaking views of the old town. For more information about our favorite things to see in Heidelberg, check out our Highlights from Heidelberg post!
Tour local wineries: believe it or not, this region of Germany is better known for wine than for beer! With several wineries around the region, visiting wineries for tastings would make for a fun daytrip.
Visit Mainz: The home of Johannes Gutenberg, and the birthplace of the printing press, Mainz is home to one of the remaining Gutenberg Bibles, which you can see at the museum. Plus, the historic town center, while heavily damaged in World War II, still has several historic half-timbered buildings, as well as a large church. On Market days, the Square around the church is filled with vendors selling fresh food.