Passau is known as the Town of Three Rivers because this is the place where the River Ilz joins the Danube from the north and the Inn River joins it from the south. Its old town is one of my favorite places to walk. Arriving by a river cruise, you dock on the Danube right by the old town area and simply head uphill into the old town.
As you start walking into the old town area, take a minute to turn around and look to the opposite bank of the Danube. Here you see the hillside rise steeply up to the former fortress of the Bishop, on the mountain crest between the Danube and the Ilz. If you feel energetic, you can hike up the hillside to the fortress. Plan on about two to three hours to get up the hill, look around and get back down.
At any rate, continuing into the old town area, one of the highlights is St. Stephen's Cathedral with its famous organ of 17,794 pipes (second largest in the world). Before the cathedral is a large square where their largest Christmas Market is located in November and December. As you wander through the various alleyways and beautiful little side streets, spend some time not thinking about where you are headed, but rather simply enjoy all the interesting little things around you. The old, old doorways with their ornate doors, the planters hanging from the windows and even the great variety of old signs marking the entryways to the shops.
When you are ready to head back to your ship, it's really easy. Just start walking downhill. Sooner or later, you will hit the river!
Scroll through the photos below to see more of Passau.