2020, the opening of a new decade, is a year to celebrate. And in Bonn they have particular reason to get excited. This year marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and there are so many things to see and to do in the city as a result!

Millions of euros have been spent on a program of events and year-long festivities. But how can you make the most out of a short trip to Bonn? That’s where Art of Touring comes in: your local guide.

Tip 1: Visit Beethoven’s birthplace: a historic house that is now a museum and concert hall

The courtyard of the Beethoven House in Bonn with a bust of Beethoven
Beethoven House, Museum, Garden view with a bust by Riscutia. Source: Beethoven-Haus Bonn

The single most important building for the Beethoven story lies at number 20 Bonngasse: the Beethoven Haus. This is the building in which the great composer came into the world and where he spent his early years. Though not blessed with a happy childhood, the way his life started here went on to shape who he was to become. 

Today, the house is packed with one of the world’s best collections of artifacts to do with Beethoven. Visitors can see portraits, letters, original instruments and manuscripts. They all have a direct connection to the great man himself. There are even ear trumpets on display that Beethoven used later in his life when his hearing deteriorated.

The house itself is small and so the number of visitors allowed inside at any one time is limited. As it is one of the most popular things to do in Bonn online booking is highly recommended so you have a time slot in which you are guaranteed entry. There are audio guides in English which are good but we would recommend booking a guided tour – truly the best way to appreciate the magic of the place.

And of course, given the link the house has to music, you should try to make time in your visit to attend a concert. These take place in the museum’s specially constructed auditorium. A full programme is available in English. Early booking for these concerts is essential. 

Tip 2: Take a Beethoven-themed walking tour around the city

Beethoven didn’t stay long in the house of his birth. His life soon started to play out in the churches, houses and streets of the city itself. This is one reason why doing a walking tour of the city is essential for any short trip to Bonn. 

Whether it is one led by Art of Touring, or one using the “do it yourself” automatic information points, a walking tour is great way to unlock the hidden stories and anecdotes which bring history to life.

Visitors can see the Palace of the Prince-Electors of Cologne (now the university) where Beethoven was an organist and member of the court’s orchestra. At the back of the palace is also a beautiful lawn which the royalty of Beethoven’s era would have enjoyed.

View across the green lawn of Hofgarten in Bonn
Looking down the Hofgarten lawn next to the palace in Bonn

And just round the corner you can find a little marketplace where a quaint bookstand will certainly have something of interest.

Book stand at Kaiserplatz in Bonn
Browse for books about Beethoven at the book market on Kaiserplatz

You will also pass by the rococo-style town hall from the 18th century. The square in front was where the composer used to meet and socialise with his contemporaries.

And then make your way to the beautiful Munsterplatz, overlooked by the most dominant church in the city, the Bonn Minster.

Here you can take a good look at the most famous statue of Beethoven in the city. The sculpture was funded by Beethoven’s admirers for the 75th anniversary of his birth. The guest of honor at the unveiling ceremony was Queen Victoria of England. But according local legend she was “not amused” to see that the statue, once revealed, was not facing her as she had expected but instead was showing her his behind. How disrespectful!

Tip 3: Go to a Beethoven concert in his hometown

With over 100 concerts taking place in Bonn throughout the year, finding your way to the right concert for you can be a challenge. But going to one has to be one of the best things to do in Bonn in 2020.

Try https://www.bonnticket.de/bthvn2020-tickets/ – filtering by the date you are planning to be in Bonn and not forgetting to filter by “concert”. Or, if German is a problem, you can give them a call directly.

We have picked out a selection here of Bonn’s best musical events in 2020.

The best 

The high point of the musical calendar has to be the BeethovenFest Bonn. An internationally renowned annual festival, they are truly going all out this year. 

They have split the festival into two seasons: 13–22 March 2020 (which has unfortunately been cancelled due to Corona virus) and 4–27 September 2020 which will hopefully still take place.

They have an English-language website and a concert menu where you can see straight away if there are free tickets. If not, you can add your name to the waiting list and hope for the best.

The quirky

Beethoven-themed family picnics are taking place at palaces around the region. You can take your own food or pre-order a delicious basket with your ticket. The stunning locations and dates are all listed here (in German) or you can give Rhein vor Eifel Touristik a call for details on +49 228 3502 6236.

The fun

Why not soak in the atmosphere in the open air as part of the autumn installment of the BeethovenFest? From a live broadcast of the opening ceremony (8pm, Marktplatz, Friday 4 Sep) through to two concerts (8pm on Sat Sep 5, 7pm on Sun Sep 6, both on the Marktplatz) – the whole experience is open to all and free to enter.

Full details are in the BeethovenFestBonn English programme.

Tip 4 Don’t forget about the other events and exhibitions about Beethoven in 2020

Open until 26th April 2020, the Kulturhaus Bonn is holding the main anniversary exhibition called BEETHOVEN WELT.BÜRGER.MUSIK  (WORLD.CITIZEN.MUSIC). This is one of the best things to do in Bonn if you want to get an in-depth look at Beethoven’s life and person. You can also immerse yourself in his music thanks to a plethora of listening stations. His biography and his music are skillfully interwoven allowing you to get a great sense of how the two were interrelated.

Tip 5 Remember to take a break

If you have had your fill of all things Beethoven, there are of course so many more things to do in Bonn.

The cultural and artistic offer on the Museum Mile is one of the best in the region. In particular, it has unmissable exhibitions such as the Haus der Geschichte (The German House of Modern History). 

If the outdoors is your thing, then why not head to the botanical gardens or take a short trip to nearby Königswinter? In Königswinter you can visit the castles at Drachenfels. There is also Germany’s oldest rack railway to take you up to the peak of the hill for stunning views of the Rhein valley.

And finally…

You can see why we are excited to operate our walking tours and offer destination management services in Bonn and the surrounding region, particularly this year. For any enquiries, simply contact us