These monks brew good beer
Weltenburg Abbey is the oldest monastic brewery in the world. If you find yourself in southeastern Germany between Munich and Nuremberg, this monastery is a must see. We stopped by after a morning at Dachau Concentration Camp. The monastery was a much needed lighthearted activity after a very heavy morning.
What to expect
There were a few activities in Germany that were far cooler than I imagined they would be, Weltenburg Abbey was one of them. European monasteries are cool, European breweries are cool, European brewery monasteries are the coolest. No, you will not see monks drinking beer, but you will see monks and you will drink the beer they brewed, and that’s pretty neat.
During my 35 days in Europe, I must’ve entered over 15 churches and cathedrals and I must say that Weltenburg Abbey remains the most stunning church I came across. It was magnificent, albeit a little over the top. According to their website, the church is a mix of Baroque and Rococo architecture styles ie. gaudy, gold and everything 8 year old Emma would’ve wanted in a Barbie dream house.
It is unlikely that you will see a monk while you’re enjoying a beer on the patio. (Although, I have read that monks do enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time.) However, all visitors are invited to attend a service or prayer in the church — here’s the schedule. Our timing was flawed and we arrived with just one hour to spare. Thankfully, we made it on time for an evening prayer. These men dedicate their entire lives to serving God, their prayer sessions are humbling to say the least.
If you’ve been researching Weltenburg Abbey online, I’m sure you’ve noticed rave reviews about their beer. It’s definitely worth a taste. Fair warning: Ask for a size “big” and you will receive a liter of beer, and if you’re a lightweight like me you will be giggling in the ferry bathroom, trying to maintain your balance, on the return ride to Kelheim.
If you’re considering a trip to Weltenburg Abbey, think about renting a car for the day. Initially, we planned on taking public transportation from Regensburg to Kelheim which would take several transfers. Save yourself time and trouble; rent a car. Germany’s roads are simple to navigate.
Note: Regardless of how you get yourself to the small town of Kelheim, you will need to take a ferry to Weltenburg Abbey because the monastery cannot be reached by car.
There’s an area for paid parking right in front of the Kelheim Ferry Dock; don’t fall for this. There’s a two hour limit and the parking is a bit pricey. Instead, park in P2 Kellerwiesen, a free parking area just a short walk east of the paid parking area.
The ride up the Danube to Weltenburg Abbey was a treat. An audio tour plays over the speakers and points out areas of interest, including the narrowest part of the Danube Gorge that the ferry remarkably navigates on a daily basis. A timetable of the Danube Ferry can be found here. Ferry tickets are 11,50 € for adults. The abbey is free to visit.
As was the case for most things we did in Europe, I wish we would’ve had more time here. If you make it out to the monastery, allow yourself at least two hours to drink a beer, attend a service and explore the grounds. Photography is allowed, but dress appropriately and act respectfully, especially in the church. Oh, and talk to the front desk lady in the abbey guest shop… she doesn’t understand a lick of English and is an absolute joy to play charades with.
Thanks for reading,