Unplanned day trips rule. There’s nothing more appealing to me than taking the path not planned, researching and finding local treasures on the fly, and walking my butt off to see as much as possible. Trier, Germany fit all the criteria for just such a day. Roman-founded Trier was a short drive from Luxembourg City where we were staying and the Spring sunshine came out and stayed out for the entire day, which made the adventure even better. Our first stop was the Porta Nigra (Black Gate) (think reaaallly old. Like 170 AD old) which I had seen (and photographed a family in front of) many years before, but this time we opted to tour the inside, which turned out to be a really good plan. The interior structure was super beautiful, with multiple floors, an interior chapel, historic etchings on the preserved walls, and a diorama of the city that allowed us to plan the next stop. https://www.trier-info.de/english/porta-nigra-info
From the Porta Nigra we walked through a square in the city center, the Hauptmarkt, a quintessentially German central area, cafe-strewn and surrounded on all sides by almost Fairytale-like buildings. At the end of one of the main streets off the square was one of the most central churches in the city, The High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier, or Cathedral of Trier, https://www.en.dominformation.de/ opened in 1270! Of course we went in and it was stunning – arched, vaulted ceilings and super interesting history.
From there, it was more walking to the end of the city to the Trier Imperial Roman baths http://www.zentrum-der-antike.de/en/monuments/the-kaiserthermen/the-kaiserthermen.html . Much of the baths are in ruin and being restored on the top level, but the underground tunnels are still in-tact and a little creepy, with lots of damp corners, cobwebs, and sunlight streaming in through cracks in the infrastructure.
From there, even MORE walking to the Trier amphitheater, 2nd century AD, which has some really cool acoustics that allow you to be able to hear someone saying something in the middle of the grounds even if you’re standing far away from them. Yes, we tried it! https://www.trier-info.de/english/amphitheater-info
I forgot to mention lunch! Lunch was at a delightfully authentic outdoor cafe near the Dom (church) and we chose traditional German dishes along with wine (a local Riesling which was incredible) and beer and a pretzel. Mmmmm. I want to go back. Take me back?
To discover the best of the best in Trier, and Germany, head over to Lonely Planet and research their guide books! I still love buying or downloading guide books because I feel like they have sooooo many options in just one place!