The Best and the Würst of Passau, Germany

Thanks to Viking River Cruises for inviting us along and providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.

Passau, Germany

As the last stop on our cruise down the Danube, the German city of Passau had plenty of interesting attributes to explore, but it shall be forever etched in David’s memory as The Home of The Half-Meter Würst. In his mind, the best würst ever!

Passau, Germany

But before we dig too deep into his obsession with this supreme sausage, let’s take a look at the city from whence it came.

Often called Dreiflüssestadt, meaning the City of Three Rivers, Passau sits at the confluence of the Danube, the Inn, and the Ilz rivers. St. Georgsberg Mountain looms directly above that coming together of the waters, making it a perfect place to build a castle.

The castle in Passau, Germany

So back in 1219 Ulrich II, the prince-bishop of Passau, set about constructing his fortress Veste Oberhaus as a show of the power of the Holy Roman Empire.

For five hundred years every assault was repelled — that’s how good the location was — but finally, it was overtaken. After that, Napoleon used it while attacking Austria.

Passau Germany from about the Viking River Cruises' Skadi

Arches of Passau, Germany

Our longboat, Skadi, was docked just across the Danube from the castle, on the peninsula formed by the three rivers.

This is the oldest part of the city, so we confined our visit to this lower ground. This central section of the city is dominated by archways.

There are the usual arches incorporated into the structures and doorways, but many span the entrances to small side streets.  Exploring further, we found several arched tunnels — most big enough to drive cars through — that passed completely under entire buildings.

Arches of Passau, Germany

Making gingerbread in Passau, Germany

Our frosty morning was warmed up with a stop at Confiserie Café Simon and a demonstration of making gingerbread.

Just the smell brought a warming ember to our chilled cockles. The baked treat is known here as Lebkuchen, which means loaf of life.

A fitting name that demonstrates how our English translation is a misnomer–there is no ginger in gingerbread. The original simple recipe consists only of rye flour, honey, and spices such as clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

A more spicy version known as Gewürzlebkuchen (gewürzle means spice) includes molasses.


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St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany

After sampling several styles, we walked just a few blocks to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the town’s crown jewel.

As with many cities in Europe, a church has stood on the site of the cathedral for over one thousand years, in this case since the year 730.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany

The current church was constructed in the classic baroque style from 1668 to 1693, after a massive fire destroyed much of the city in 1662.

Walking inside we were blown away by the intricate stucco work on the columns and arches, and the classic frescoes on the ceiling…

The frescoes on the ceiling of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany

The pipe organ of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany

…but the interior is dominated by the pipes of the organ.

At one time this was the largest cathedral organ in the world, and still is the biggest in Europe.

The 17,774 pipes have been worked into the structure so that the instrument has become a part of the church.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to hear the pipes in all of their glory, but it is not hard to imagine the power.

The Christmas Market in Passau, Germany

In the plaza in front of the cathedral, a Christmas market was set up which turned out to be the best one ever, at least from David’s perspective.

It prominently featured something he never knew existed, an almost unimaginable delicacy of delectable meat, and meat by-products, stretching over one-and-a-half feet long, the 1/2 meter würst!

The infamous half metre wurst in Passau Germany

How could any other sausage possibly measure up?

But alas, he could only drool longingly as we passed booth after booth offering fifty centimeters of spiced meat on a bun, for we had already picked out a nearby gaststätte to have lunch.

Zum altenBrauhaus in Passau, Germany
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Pfannkuchensuppe, or pancake soup at Brauhaus in Passau, Germany

Zum alten Bräuhaus, which means The Old Brewery, is a classic old-fashioned tavern with absolutely authentic local dishes.

It was obvious that the pfannkuchensuppe, or pancake soup — while completely delicious — was not going to distract David from his würst instincts.

No way pancakes cut into strips and served like noodles in a broth was going to satisfy the longing deep within his belly.

Ofenfrischer Schweinsbraten mit Kruste, dazu Knödel und Kraut, which translates exactly to: Oven Fresh pork roast with crust, with dumplings and sauerkraut in Passau, Germany

Perhaps a different sort of pork product could suppress his obsession; we tried Ofenfrischer Schweinsbraten mit Kruste, dazu Knödel und Kraut, which translates exactly to: Oven Fresh pork roast with crust, with dumplings and sauerkraut.

That seemed to be working; he hadn’t mentioned the foot and a half of sausage once since his plate arrived.

However, thoughts of the half-meterwürst had not been vanquished, only silenced. His mind still reeled contemplating the sheer measurements involved.

Passau Germany from the deck of our river boat

Sometimes he can be his own würst enemy. After walking around town a bit more, we headed back to the ship for a power nap.

The half meter wurst selfie of Passau Germany

However, Sausage Boy had other plans, a würst-case scenario. As soon as Veronica nodded out, he was hightailing it right back to the market in pursuit of the long links.

Luckily he kept the presence of mind to capture his conquest on film, giving birth to the half-meter-würst selfie.

A difficult proposition considering that the sausage was almost as long as his arm. But he persevered, wanting that photo in the würst way.

The wurst pic ever in Passau, Germany

Finally, a helpful German woman offered to snap a picture, which was very kind and greatly appreciated, but lacked the powerful perspective of meat and bun shot from an arm’s length.

After seeing both photos, we think everyone will agree that the half-meter-würst selfie is truly a work of art.

It would be difficult for anything else to measure up.

David & Veronica,

Thanks to Viking River Cruises for inviting us along and providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own. See our entire Christmas cruise along The Danube with stops in Budapest, Bratislavia, Vienna, Durnstein & Melk, Salzburg, and Passau.

Your turn: We’re considering creating a hashtag, which is better? #1/2MeterWurstSelfie or #MeAndMyMeterWurst? Or maybe the more general #WurstCaseScenario? What do you think?

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43 thoughts on “The Best and the Würst of Passau, Germany”

  1. Great site, how do u get all this info?I have read a couple of posts on your site and I love your style. Thanks a million, keep up the great work.

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  4. I love Europe any time of year — but around Christmas it’s awesome with the markets and all that glühwein and Bratwurst. But there’s something about that half-meterwürst that just doesn’t appeal to me. Great pics of Passau — it’s on my list!

  5. You lived my dream of visiting Bavaria during the Christmas season. I would love seeing all the decorations and go nuts buying holiday gifts there. The Wisconsin bratwurst is what I grew up on and I need to taste their sausages. The selfie was the best of how würst it could get.

  6. Thanks for the write up of Passau.On our recent Danube Cruise on Avalon Impression we stopped at Passau but opted for the day bus tour of the Austrian Lakes as we were only docked in Passau for two hours in the morning. I’d seen photos of the Cathedral but there are many amazing cathedrals along the Danube but the long wurst was new. We’d spent time in Nuremburg and Regensburg looking for the finger length wurste that were small enough to shove through the keyhole of the castle gates for visitors who missed the curfew. My husband would have loved to chomp down on that one David is holding

  7. I love visiting cathedrals and St Stephens looks beautiful. But I have to say the half-meter-würst selfie is a masterpiece! A river cruise is something we want to try one of these days.

  8. I love the colourful houses evident from the boat. The more I read about Viking Cruises, the more they actually appeal, mainly because it sounds like you really can get out and explore at leisure.
    That’s quite the selfie!

    1. We absolutely loved the river cruise because the boat docks right in the center of town. Very easy to get around to see everything. Oh, and yes it is… perhaps the würst one ever! 😉

  9. I would love to try that half-meter wurst in Passau, even though I suffer as I write with the results of eating a partially uncooked sausage in San Francisco (it was dark and I saw the evidence too late). I invite you to submit that sweet little carousel image to a collection at my website. No more than 600 pixels wide.

  10. Sorry to correct your German: singular is “Wurst”, plural is “Würste”! But I’m a vegetarian since the mid 80s so you cannot tempt me with ANY sausage. I always call them mystery bags…
    Anyhow: Passau is probably one of the most picturesque towns in Bavaria, so nice choice. I hope they had most of the flood damage from mid 2013 repaired – one of the drawbacks of building towns on the banks on main rivers.

  11. I think if Napoleon had had a half-meter “sausage” there might have been a lot less destruction in Europe and elsewhere! I’m voting for the hashtag #WurstCaseScenario because it has the widest range of applicability. We’re going to do a river cruise with Emerald Waterways next Spring and can’t wait – would like to try Viking sometime too – everyone seems to love them!

  12. I’m with David with his passion for würst! I never eat sausage or wieners at home in Canada but when I did a cruise of Germany’s Christmas Markets they were one of the top attractions. I couldn’t wait to eat sausage – crazy! That half-meter-würst selfie is enough to inspire me to make a return trip.

  13. I’ve always wanted to go to xmas fairs but hate the cold, I think this is definitely the right way to travel for that experience.

  14. Haha love Suzanne’s comment “Your Wurst Blog post”! She beat me to that one 😉 But having said that it was a fabulous post, informative, fun and wonderful photos. Would love to do a Viking Cruise having read it too.

  15. Definitely your wurst blog post. I agree 100% that the wurst selfie is the best. We’re heading to Bavaria and Austria in a few weeks. I suspect I’ll be looking for Italian food after a few days. I can only eat so much wurst and pork.

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