Should You Visit Saarbrücken?

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Summary: Come for the red light district stay for the natural landscape of the Saar Valley

Saarbrücken is not a top-tier tourist destination. It suffers from the many ailments that befell most German cities in the post-war period: ill-conceived reconstruction efforts, active deconstruction efforts, and an autobahn through the city center. However, the old Baroque center of St. Johann has been preserved along with fragments of the incredible protestant cityscape around the Ludwig Church in old Saarbrücken. This guide will take you on a relaxed day trip or perhaps a lovely weekend while exploring the region.

Should you visit Saarbrücken?

Rating CategoryScore
Historical Preservation4
Cultural Immersion8
Final Score5.5

I try to give ratings relative to the best that Europe has to offer. For Germany, with its war-torn cities, 6.5 is above average. Typically, you would expect a score of 5-6. Mannheim was basically removed from existence in 1945.


Saarbrucken is a town best seen as a place to stay while you take day trips elsewhere. Surrounded by the beautiful Saar Valley, there are plenty of places to see in the region. The town has only a few corners worth visiting and a handful of touristic activities worth exploring. I think 5/10 is appropriate as a rating for tourism.

Historical Preservation

In terms of historical preservation, Saarbrucken has a unique charm to it. Although partially destroyed in the Second World War, care was taken in the 1970s to finish the job. After people realized what had been lost, they went ahead in the 1980s and made it worse. We are fortunate then that Saarbrucken still has anything worth seeing at all. The main square in the old town of St. Johann is beautiful, and the reconstructed center around the Church of St. Ludwig is spectacular, as both are unique Rococo protestant churches. Still on the lower end, so 4/10.

Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel The Ludwigskirche Church and the plaza surrounding it are beautiful reminders of old Saarbrücken.

Cultural Immersion

Like other partially destroyed German cities, the lack of any significant tourist attraction beyond a few small bits and pieces has let the town retain its local identity. Locals frequent restaurants and most of the city caters to its residents. I think it scores highly in immersion with a 8/10.


Saarbrucken is an average German town. It has plenty of shops and restaurants, which have regular opening hours. However, the town lacks major attractions or museums beyond the two reconstructed churches. The lack of effort to rebuild major landmarks beyond these churches is an absolute travesty. The demolition of the palace, and new-town square and failing to reconstruct several essential buildings in the post-war period contributed to a low score of 4/10 for interaction.

Should You Visit?

Yes, but not for the city. Go here to see the landscapes of the Saar Valley.

Traveling Around Saarbrücken

Map of what's left to see in Saarbrücken
Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel

As with many cities, the central station is quite far from the center of the preserved old town. This will make a quick visit between train connections difficult but possible. The Core of the old town is centered around St. Johann, with small “cultural” corners of preserved or reconstructed old town on the other side of the river. The plaza around the Ludwigskirche Church is the most recognizable.

So what is there to see in Saarbrücken? Quite a lot more than most Germans would have you believe. If you ask the average person what their impression of Saarbrücken is, they would have you believe that the city exists as a sort of prostitution super-center. While this is true, there is also the beautiful architecture of the old town to discuss.

Not much old-town, mind you, but enough for a few hours of exploration. If you want to see my suggestions for a visit to Saarbrücken, see the article below:

For a more detailed guide to Saarbrücken

Explore the Protestant Baroque in Saarbrücken

Explore the Protestant Baroque in Saarbrücken

Saarbrücken was a shining city upon a hill. Its cityscape gleamed from a distance with its whitewashed palace and hilltop homes. Today enough of this image survives to reassemble what it once looked like. Let’s walk through the unique Protestant planned-city of Saarbrücken.

Anything other than churches?

Not really. There are a couple of museums, none of which are especially noteworthy for a general audience. One takes you through the remnants of the Baroque fortification system, which was dismantled in various stages. Although Germany has a low bar for interesting forts, this is still not worth your time. The second is housed within the old palace church. This museum shows mostly religious and archeological artifacts without any context or coherency. This museum has potential if only they provided some descriptive context to their rather extensive collection.

Saarbrücken palace church and cityscape
Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel

Opening Hours in Saarbrücken

Saarbrücken Opening Hours

Saarbrücken Opening Hours

The logistics of trying to see everything can be a challenge, especially in a location is complicated opening times. Fortunately Saarbrücken is small and tourist friendly. Below I have summarized the opening hours for each of the accessible destinations in my guide.

Explore the region around Saarbrücken


Exploring the Saarland

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Top Three Destinations in the Saarland

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Saarbücken is a charming town with a longer and more exciting history than people realize. It’s a shame that so little of its heritage survives to the present day. Rather than seeing Saarbrücken for the sake of it, plan a visit to experience the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Return to the Saarland


Forgotten Borderlands

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