Bonn: Internationality meets local culture

The city of Bonn is like a big family of very different children – famous artists, crazy Carnival lovers, international politicians and, in the midst of them all, about 43,600 students. This is where centuries of history come alive and where every serious businessman transforms into a cheerful Carnival reveller.

by Marlene Bauz

Bonn Minster on Münsterplatz is a central meeting place for students and students from Bonn. © Bauz/DAAD
Bonn Minster . © Bauz/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
346 €
Get together with some friends and relax while having a beer at the "Alter Zoll"!

Welcome to Bonn

During the years of German division between 1949 and 1990, Bonn was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. That’s why several federal ministries still have their headquarters here. Numerous political and public institutions provide the city its international flair, such as the UN Campus and 150 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Bonn is home to several international corporations like Deutsche Telekom and the large postal and logistics company Deutsche Post DHL.

The Beethoven monument on Bonn Münsterplatz in front of the historic post office. © Bauz/DAAD
Beethoven statue . © Bauz/DAAD

Bonn’s most famous son is the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born here in 1770. His statue at the Münsterplatz watches over the daily life of Bonn’s residents. Right next to it, you’ll see the large minster, a Catholic church dating back to the Middle Ages. From here, you can follow Remigiusstrasse to the marketplace where you will discover the Old City Hall with its beautifully ornate façade.

Carnival is a major event which takes place every year in Bonn. The Carnival days are sometimes referred to as the “fifth season of the year” culminating in six days in February or March. So don’t be surprised if you happen to be standing in the queue at the bakery behind someone in a cow costume. Dress up in costume too and join the party! Rhenish Carnival revellers are known for their friendly, open manner.

More photos

A music group at the Bonn Carnival, which is an experience especially for international students. © Horschig/DAAD
Carnival . © Horschig/DAAD

Living in Bonn

Although Bonn isn’t a very large city, there are plenty of cultural events to enjoy. Along the “Museum Mile” you can visit the Haus der Geschichte, for example, and take an exciting tour of German history since 1945. Other popular museums include the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, which regularly features major art and cultural history exhibitions, and the Kunstmuseum Bonn.

You can go hiking in the Siebengebirge. We recommend taking a tour of the Drachenfels castle ruins which are visible for miles around. From up top, you have a fantastic view of Bonn and the region.

My tip

It’s a warm summer evening and there’s still plenty of time before you have to hand in your next term paper for the university? Then get together with some friends and have a beer at the Alter Zoll! With its large lawns and beautiful view of the Rhine, the Alter Zoll is an extremely popular place among students.

When the weather’s nice, you can meet with friends at the Rheinaue, Bonn’s largest park, and lie out in the sun or play sports together. The large lawn at the Hofgarten in front of the university’s impressive main building is another great place to hang out. There are always a lot of students sitting there when the weather is good.

You can get delicious snacks at Café Blau on Franziskanerstrasse or at the KostBar on Riesstrasse. There are also several good restaurants and places to eat on Clemens-August-Strasse in the Poppelsdorf disctrict.

Bonn’s historic part of town is a popular meeting place for students. You’ll find numerous pubs with student-friendly prices, in other words, the drinks are relatively cheap. If you also want to go dancing, try out the Nyx in the Vorgebirgsstrasse. You are guaranteed a nice evening at the James Joyce Irish Pub on Mauspfad which has cosy niches and real Irish ale.

Interview with Hugo from Brazil

Hugo Rosa da Conceicao from Brazil is writing his dissertation on Politics & Environment at the Centre for Development Research, an institute at the University of Bonn. He is 31 years old and earned his master’s degree in Freiburg.

Portrait of doctoral student Hugo from Brazil in Bonn. © Schultes/DAAD
Hugo from Brazil . © Schultes/DAAD

What made you decide to do your doctorate in Bonn?

When I finished my master’s in Freiburg, I thought that getting my doctorate would be a good idea, but I didn’t know exactly how. Then I found an open PhD position here and it was exactly what I wanted. I already knew my supervisor, because I had read many of his articles and he has already worked for Brazil for a long time.

Do you have any advice on how to make leaving home easier? How has it been for you, living so far away from your friends and family?

It’s been relatively OK, because I had lived very far away from my family even when I was in Brazil. Many of my friends have gone abroad. There was always someone gone, so, in a way, it was normal. But now it’s easy because there are so many possibilities. Skype is really good, and if you want, you can chat via Whatsapp. You might not have that physical contact, but it’s so easy to talk with people and share your experiences. My advice is to be open to meeting new people and learn German as fast as possible.

On the lawn of the courtyard garden in front of the University of Bonn students relax. © Bauz/DAAD
Hofgarten and university . © Bauz/DAAD

Can you remember something that was hard for you in the beginning?

I quickly realised that people here are much more direct. They usually mean exactly what they say. In Brazil, if you say, “Let’s have coffee sometime,” it doesn’t mean you’re actually going to, and the other person doesn’t really expect it either. You only say it to show that it was nice talking with that person. But here, it’s like “OK –when do you want to meet for coffee?” This directness was hard for me at first.

Was there anything that really surprised you in Germany?

People are more open than I’d expected, and many speak Spanish which was a big surprise. I was also surprised at how athletic people are and how healthy they live. A piece of whole-grain bread, a little cheese – that’s lunch. Crazy!

In the park
Alter Zoll . © Bauz/DAAD

What do you like best about Bonn? Do you have a favourite place, and if so, where?

I live near Poppelsdorfer Castle, and there’s a big meadow in front of the castle. I often go there to read or hang out, and I also like the Alter Zoll and the Hofgarten. I like jogging along the Rhine and my flatmate and I like going to our favourite pub – a small corner pub called “Spleen”. It’s actually more for old guys who drink beer and schnapps, but since it’s so close to the university in Poppelsdorf, a lot of students go there too.

Would you say that Bonn is a good place to study?

It’s super for doing your doctorate. Since there’s not so much going on, I’ve got enough time to concentrate on my work, but when I happen to have some free time, there’s always something to do. And it’s really close to Cologne if you’re in the mood for a big city. Bonn is an easy place to live with a very high quality of life.

Back to top