The Viertel in Bremen is the liveliest quarter in the city. Ostertor and Steintor meet in the middle of the Viertel quarter, at the corner of Sielwall. Culture, subculture, party animals and true Bremen characters – the Viertel is nothing if not diverse. Let me show you!
From the city centre to Ostertor
The cultural mile next to Wallanlagen Park (the former ramparts that surround the city centre) is home to museums and Bremen Theatre. This is the starting point of an area on the river that the locals call the Viertel. You could say that it extends as far as the Weser Stadium – in which case, you would not only include Ostertor and Steintor, but also the adjacent and quieter district of Peterswerder. To me, it’s the most beautiful part of the city. It’s as colourful as my hotchpotch collection of photos from the past few years!
You may already know the chameleon from my Bremen Instawalk post. It’s best to leave your bike here, as the Viertel can be crowded, and walking with your bike is no fun. There are some lovely independent shops, restaurants and bars on Ostertorsteinweg. Because it’s essentially a residential area, there’s always something going on here. People doing their shopping or taking their kids to nursery; people buying things just because they’re pretty. Perhaps even one or two dubious business deals. And in the evenings, people go out and enjoy themselves.
I’m particularly fond of the area around Ulrichsplatz – of the small organic market, for example, where you can find unusual herbs. And the facades of the buildings have been decorated in some really creative ways here. Not only on Ostertorsteinweg itself, but also on the streets to the left and right of it. It’s easy for outsiders to lose their way on the confusing one-way streets. Luckily, everyone has maps on their smartphone these days!
It can sometimes be a bit cramped on the narrow pavements. You also have to contend with cyclists, cars and trams, which means you have to really keep your eyes open! I lived here, amid all this chaos, for several years. It was nice, really nice in fact! Can you see the Buddha on the building at the end? Just before that is the corner of Sielwall, where Steintor begins. Steintor is just as lovely, but perhaps not quite as trendy. The bars are open all hours and you can chat to real Bremen characters about what to play on the jukebox.
Shortly before you reach Sielwall, you’ll see a traditional shop called Holtorf. Be sure to also go next door to Minka if you like jewellery or incense sticks. These are just two of the old-established shops that are just waiting to be discovered here.
When you see the blue building and the one before it with the oriel (on the right), take the road between them, Schildstrasse, towards Lagerhaus arts centre, where you can (almost always) use the toilets …
Das Sielwall-Eck: #bremenistbunt und #bremenlebt
Just around the corner from where Sielwall meets Ostertorsteinweg, you’ll find the Eisen, which has been going for more than 25 years and is one of my favourite bars.
A little further along is Tandour, which serves the ultimate falafel wrap.
By the way, if you walk in the other direction, further along Sielwall, you’ll come to Osterdeich.
And then there’s the door next to the taverna. I think it must be the most photographed door in the city among travel bloggers and photographers, and has even outdone the one in the Schanzenviertel district of Hamburg.
This is also where you’ll find the Rat & Tat Centre for the local LGBT community. As I said, Bremen is diverse and full of life – and that’s a good thing!
The crossing on Sielwall is noisy and full of people – but I love it. This was the final destination on my perfect summer’s day on a budget. My photos were taken at a quiet time of day, when the shops were starting to close but the evening had yet to begin.
It was quite a different story when Werder Bremen won the Bundesliga. That was a little while ago now, but tradition tells us that this is where football is played. On New Year’s Eve, all hell breaks loose and it’s almost impossible for cars and trams to get through. When the #bremenlebt festival was on, the streets were closed to all vehicles – it would be great if something like that happened again.
Steintor: Ziegenmarkt, Bermuda Triangle and Werder
Steintor is a little less trendy than Ostertor, but perhaps a little more quirky. You can easily make a night of it – at Haltepunkt, Schänke, Haifischbecken or elsewhere. These are all smoking bars. I wish they weren’t but what can you do?
A little further on, you’ll find the Bermuda Triangle, at the corner of Fehrfeld and Humboldtstrasse. I wrote about a few of the drinking establishments here in my 13 bars blog. You also have the beautiful architecture of the Old Bremen houses close by. A good example is Mathildenstrasse.
Heading further out of the city, Ziegenmarkt is a focal point, and not just because of the supermarket, which stocks everything you need. Opposite, the world’s oldest profession is still being practised, but that’s just by the by. An organic market is also held on the square and you can sometimes get really good coffee from the Bremer Strassencafé. Ziegenmarkt definitely has cult status.
So where is the final destination on my tour of the Viertel? It’s the Werder-Imbiss snack bar, of course! Decorated on all sides with tributes to the city’s football team, it’s impossible to miss. If you want to carry on, you can continue on Hamburger Strasse as far as Brommyplatz. Or walk to the river Weser, where you’ll find nice restaurants on the dyke with views of the water and the stadium. For a more cost-effective option, you can shop at Ziegenmarkt and have a picnic there.
There’s so much more that I could say about my beloved Viertel, but I have to stop somewhere. Why not come to Bremen and see it for yourself!
If the main road is too busy, follow my Old town and Viertel explorer tour, which takes you on quieter side streets.
If you insist on cycling, the Around and about route avoids the more stressful cycle paths in the Viertel.
Here are some tips I’ve come across in restaurant guides or through word of mouth (I’m not really one for fine dining). The top restaurant in Ostertor is Küche 13, and in Steintor Das Kleine Lokal. There are no Michelin-starred restaurants in Bremen, but these two are certainly among the best places to eat in the city.
Which are your favourite places in the Viertel? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share?