The city of Trier might not be the biggest city in Germany, but it is for sure, the oldest city in Germany (together with Worms). The ancient history, combined with the location close to Belgium and Luxembourg, on the banks of the River Mosel ánd easy to navigate center, makes Trier an ideal city to explore in one day. To help you discover Trier, I’ll share my one-day Trier itinerary.
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One Day in Trier Germany
1 day in Trier might not be enough
I’m writing this blog, after our 4th visit to the Mosel area and our 2nd time staying a few days in the city. Although Trier can be easily explored in one day, I keep going back and one visit in 1 day is never enough! I’m sure we’ll visit a 3rd time in the future.
With only a 3.5-hour drive from where I live, Trier is the perfect getaway for a weekend break. It looks completely different from where I live, it is affordable, and due to its size and interesting things to see and do, we keep coming back!
Whether you’re staying somewhere else and looking to visit Trier for one day. Or you want to know what to do in Trier before exploring more of Germany, I got you covered.
First, we’ll explore some of the logistics about how to get to Trier and how to get around Trier, then I’ll give you a taste of what to expect in Trier and why I like it so much.
How to get to Trier
Trier is located on the River Mosel, in the west of Germany. It is only 50 km from Luxembourg City and 50km from the border with France.
The Belgium border is roughly 80 km away. The nearest big cities in Germany are Köln (170 km), Frankfurt am Main (200km) and Stuttgart (300km).
Frankfurt am Main offers the most intercontinental flights so it is your best pick for an arrival airport. If you’re already in Europe, taking the train is the best option as German railways are easy, efficient and offer good value for money.
The main train station of Trier, Trier Hauptbahnhof is located right on the edge of the city center and from there, you can walk to your accommodation or start sightseeing right away!
If you arrive by car, there are numerous paid car parks on the edge of the city center. The main center is car-free, which makes it perfect for walking around.
Trier has 2 free Park & Ride parking lots, but they are not open 24/7 and the bus connections to the center are not regular on weekends. I have no experience with this option but if you’re on a strict budget, it might save you a lot in parking costs.
Navigating the city of Trier
Getting around the city of Trier is super easy. Because the main center with all the fun sights is small and (almost) car-free you can easily walk around all day.
Along the banks of the river Mosel, as well as in other parts of the city, dedicated bike and walking paths are surrounded by lush greenery. This makes walking around the city literally a walk in the park!
If you want to see more of the surrounding area or want to move faster than walking pace, there are several bike shops that offer rental bikes for a few hours to half-a-day or full-day bike rentals.
In the past, Trier even had its own Hop-on-hop-off tour bus driving around the city and stopping at all the main sights. At the moment, it is out of service without an indication when it will be back.
An alternative is the Römer-Express. This tourist train takes you around town and shows you the most important sights of the city. In season, it departs every 30 minutes at Porta Nigra. A full tour will take 45 minutes of your time.
Things to see in Trier in one day
Although the below list seems long, keep in mind that there are hardly any queues in Trier and most sights take up 30 to 45 minutes maximum. Not everything might be of interest to you, so you don’t have to do everything.
Explore Roman History in Trier
Long before the Romans, Trier was already a settlement on the banks of the river. But the Romans really knew how to leave their mark, and so they did.
Known as ”Augusta Treverorum”, the city was the capital of the northern Roman Empire.
It was established around 16 BC but most buildings and ruins are from the 2nd to 4th century AD.
Some of these Roman landmarks really define the view of the city, like the Porta Nigra, and I encourage you to visit some or all.
Porta Nigra – Trier’s town gate
The Porta Nigra (Black Gate) has become the symbol of the city of Trier. It marks the northern part of the city center.
In Roman times, it was not called the black gate, as it was made from grey sandstone.
But over time, the sandstone blackened, and the name “Black Gate or Porta Nigra” became the common name.
The Porta Nigra in Trier is only one of 4 of Trier’s city gates that remain today. Oddly enough, it was never finished as it was supposed to have 4 towers on each corner.
On the side of the gate, you’ll find the entrance to climb the tower (4€ per person) but you can also walk around it, walk underneath it, and admire it from all sides.
Amphitheatre of Trier
One of the main reasons to come back to Trier after 9 years, was the fact that we never got to visit the Trier Amphitheatre.
Located just outside the main city center, it can easily be reached on foot via walkways.
The entrance is €4 per person and gives you insight into the arena and Roman gladiator fights.
You can climb the natural walls, explore the arena and the area underneath it and of course, feel like a gladiator of Roman times!
Of course, the Amphitheatre of Trier is no Colosseum but is quite well preserved.
The information offers a good understanding of the different parts of an arena.
The underground area of the arena is impressive with sound effects and shows a hidden part of the amphitheater.
Roman Bridge in Trier (Römerbrucke)
Now the Roman Bridge of Trier on the other hand is a bit of a letdown from a sightseeing perspective.
Yes, it is impressive to think that the 9 pillars of the bridge have been there since the 2nd century.
And that the bridge is the oldest bridge in Germany.
And that this bridge is the largest still-standing Roman bridge north of the Alps that is still crossed by traffic today.
Yes, all impressive data.
Luckily, you can see the bridge without an entrance fee.
And it won’t take up much of your time.
We walked to the bridge and from there, had a lovely stroll along the Mosel river to the north of the city.
Ruins of the Roman Baths in Trier, Barbera Bath, Imperial Baths and City Baths
The Roman baths are a staple for every Roman city of a decent size. You have to remember that houses did not have any running water, toilets or bathrooms like we know today.
The only way to clean yourself was to visit the bath complex in town.
Each layer of society had its own (smaller baths) but for a city to have remains of not 1, not 2 but 3 major Roman baths, is pretty spectacular.
Although I love Roman history, I did not even visit all 3 of the Roman baths in Trier.
The Roman baths are called “thermen” and you can find the following 3 in Trier
- Kaisersthermen or Imperial Baths. These were never finished but form a nice visit to explore the remains
- The Barbera Baths (or Barberathermen) are close to the Roman Bridge. These are the biggest Roman Baths north of the Alps, emphasizing the importance of the city of Trier in Roman times. After years of restoration, the baths are now open to visit again.
- The 3rd complex of baths is located right in the center of town, at Viehmarkt. Therefore, they are called Thermen am Viehmarkt or City Baths. The remains of the baths are located under the current square and are covered by a large, futuristic building of glass.
Amazing Churches in Trier to visit
Like any other city, Trier is dotted with churches. From a sightseeing perspective, I highlighted the most interesting ones to visit.
Constantine Basilica of Trier
This is the ancient Roman Aula Palatina or emperor Constantine’s Throne hall.
Nowadays, it is a Protestant church with limited opening hours.
It is a great example of the first use of Basilicas in Roman times, where a basilica was more a covered town hall than a church.
Trier Cathedral (Dom of Trier)
The main Cathedral of Trier also has a Roman history.
It is now a Catholic church and its exterior and interior are impressive. It is continually open throughout the day, so it is easy to incorporate a visit.
Church of our Lady of Trier (Liebfrauenkirche)
Next to the Dom of Trier, you’ll find another impressive church built on the remains of Roman ruins.
The Church of our Lady of Trier is recognized as the oldest high-gothic building in the French style, outside of France.
Open continuously, it is especially nice to visit these 3 churches and see the differences in building styles.
Unesco World Heritage Sights in Trier
Unesco has listed several of Trier’s sights as one Unesco World Heritage site. Together they symbolize the importance of the history of the city and its cultural meaning to the region.
The sights are:
- the Roman Monuments (being: Porta Nigra, Roman Bridge, Amphitheatre, Barbera Baths and Imperial Baths, the Igel Column)
- Basilica of Trier
- Trier Cathedral
- Church of our Lady
As you can see, if Unesco grants them world heritage site status, it is worth checking them out!
Other sights to see in Trier
If you follow the above list, there is a lot of Roman history and churches. But no worries, Trier has other interesting sights to see or places to visit.
Let’s see what else you can explore.
The main town square in Trier
You cannot miss it if you walk around the city of Trier.
The historic town square is the focal point of the city and it seems all streets lead to this point.
Lined by old Mediaeval houses, the historic town square looks like decor from a miniature train world.
Here you’ll find modern shops, small museums (like the toy museum), and places to sit, drink, and watch people.
Make sure to look around and look up!
Karl-Marx House in Trier
If you’d like to see where the founder of socialism was born and learn more about Karl Marx’s life, then this is the place to be!
Learn about his life, his writing and socialist ideology.
This is the archeological museum of Trier. I keep it on my list for an unexpected rainy day in Trier but so far, we have had nothing but sunshine in Trier.
With such an important Roman history, it is no surprise the museum has a big collection of Roman artifacts and history.
But you can also find information about the Mediaeval times in Trier.
The entrance is €8 and the museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
Things to do in Trier
Although I like the history and sights in Trier, it is probably the laid-back relaxed vibe of the city that appeals to me the most.
These are things to experience and things to do and can be different for each individual and each visit.
Must do in Trier: taste wines
Trier is the gateway for the Mosel River and the river is the main lifeline of the Mosel Wines. Here you’ll find the best Rieslings (dry and sweet) and you can have a glass of unique sweet red wine like Dornfelder.
Whether wine is your drink of choice, it is intertwined with Trier’s culture and you’ll find plenty of options to taste and experience some.
The best options for some wine tasting are listed below:
Wine bars in Trier
Dotted across the city, you’ll find several wine bars. These are usually small wine shops and bars, with an immense assortment of wines.
Some are from around the world, but they boost a fine selection of local wines. And the best bit is: a lot of wines come by the glass.
Prices range from €4 to €6 a glass and you get a decent-sized glass and maybe some nuts to snack on.
Great wine bars in Trier are Wine Bar Trier at Simeonstrasse (near the Porta Nigra) or Weinhaus La Rochelle near the Kornmarkt.
I was surprised to see people walking around the main town square with glasses of wine in their hands!
Public drinking at the square is perfectly acceptable as there is a wine stand!
From March till November, each week, a different wine grower can sell their wine at the wine stand.
It is just a booth, open from 10 am till 10 pm on most days of the week. You can sample all the different regional wines and mix with the locals.
You get a glass at the first drink and pay for it, once you return it, you get your deposit back.
Wine cellars in Trier
Of course, you can also visit the local wine growers or explore some of Trier’s wine cellars. The season runs from April till October and you need to buy a ticket in advance.
The winegrower shows you around their cellars, you can sample some wine and learn about the history of Mosel wines in the region. Tours run in different languages, so make sure to book ahead of time and indicate if you only speak English.
Follow part of the Trier Wine Culture Path
Starting just above the amphitheater in Trier, the Trier Wine culture path is a 1.6 km (1 mile) stretch along the vineyards around Trier.
You can explore on your own, or book a tour and be guided by one of the Olewig winemakers. Make sure to stop for a little taste of your favorite wine!
Climb the Petris Hill
If you like vantage points, then Petris Hill is a good one.
Located above the Amphitheater, you can continue on foot, but the viewing platform can also be reached by car, and even busses stop nearby.
From the hill, you’ll have a great overview of the city. It might be good to bring binoculars, but if you’ve been to the city, you’ll easily identify the main buildings below you.
Explore the Mosel River
The Mosel River doesn’t start in Trier but runs through it. If you’d follow the Mosel River west from Trier, you’ll encounter amazing villages, ruined castles and an abundance of vineyards.
You can rent a bike, or car and explore more of the Mosel River. Or take an hour river cruise from Trier to experience the river.
Most cruise boats leave from the area near the Kaiser Wilhelm Brücke.
Christmas markets in Trier
Our original plan for our last trip to Trier was to visit the city before Christmas. I was excited to experience the German Christmas vibes in Trier, stroll the Christmas markets at the main market square and stock up on some wines before Christmas.
Unfortunately, Corona blocked our plans, so we visited in spring. If you happen to be in the area from late November till Christmas, make sure to add Trier to your Christmas Markets stops!
Where to sleep in Trier
Of course, you can arrive in Trier early morning and be on your way again by nightfall. However, why not stay for the night. Have some more wine, some amazing food and doze off in this Roman city?
Here are some options on places to spend 1 night (or more) in Trier. Click to links to check out the options and prices for hotels in Trier:
- Mercure Hotel Porta Nigra. Standard formula rooms, but right smack-bang opposite the Porta Nigra. The hotel offers a parking garage and a great breakfast to start your next day in Trier!
- Stylish rooms at the Romantik Hotel Zur Glocke, right in the center of Trier. The rooms are packed with romantic details and it is located right in the pedestrian area of Trier. They offer amazing breakfasts to start your day.
- Trier also offers a lot of small apartments for rent for 1 or multi-days. As the availability is down to luck, I cannot single out just one but check their location and prices here.
Where to eat in Trier
With all that walking around, tasting wine and taking in history, you might get hungry! Luckily, Trier offers an amazing variation of restaurants and I haven’t found a single one that disappoints just yet. Here are some of my amazing experiences of eating out in Trier.
An innovative, all-you-can-eat concept in a tapas-style restaurant. Located in Trier, Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern, I was lucky to snatch a table for 2 on a Friday night.
Packed to the brim, you can sample small bite-sized portions of food from around the world. Start with Ceasar salad from the USA, continue with Haloumi salad from Tunis and continue with some Asian cuisine.
The tablet on the table will let you order every 6 minutes from the variety of dishes. Personal favorites were the Maroccan burger, and the Bacon rolls from Australia.
But the menu changes every few months, so make sure to check it out. For reservations and the full menu, check here.
Brasserie Zur SIM
Straight opposite the Porta Nigra, you’ll find the extensive terrace of this brasserie. Inside, it is warm and cozy and typical “German” style decor with loads of wooden furniture.
They offer a wide range of German food, like Flammküchen and steak. But also ‘coq au Riesling’ and delicious seafood platters. I opted for half the lobster and steak and it was divine!
Burger House Trier
Stack ‘em built ‘em and try to get the burger in your mouth in one piece. If you don’t mind having greasy hands, dirty fingers, and a belly full of burgers, then Burger House is the place to be.
A cheaper option for a very satisfying meal, this is the place to be for all burger lovers.
Itinerary for one day in Trier
As you can see from all the above options, you’ll have a full itinerary for one day in Trier. Spend your day in Trier wisely and explore on foot or by bike.
Make use of the extensive network of walking paths and take in the history and the atmosphere.
Don’t forget to sit and relax, maybe with a glass of Riesling or another wine drink of your taste.
Contemplate about Roman times, winemaking, and when you’ll come back to Trier to do it all again.
I know I will.
Are you thinking of visiting Germany or the Mosel river? Do consider adding a day in Trier to your itinerary.
If you need more information or like advice on where to stay in Trier, let me know! I’d love to help you.