Whenever I visit my family in Nuremberg, I try to do a little exploring in the town I grew up in or its surroundings. There is a lot to say about Franconia and the small towns all-round the area. But this time I will take you, Bamberg. A city, that was first mentioned in 902 and was declared UNESCO world heritage in 1993. It is packed with sights, cute shops, and beer. Only in the city itself, there are around 7 breweries and the area around it has the biggest density of breweries in the world. That said, you have to know that every beer is unique and they do have their own secrets of brewing perfect beer.
But apart from a long brewing tradition, Bamberg has a lot of historic sights to show. It used to be and is still an Archdiocese of the Catholic Roman church. Being a diocese the city has a lot of stunning churches and monasteries that are still functioning sometimes and you can visit most of them.
Sights in Bamberg – History in every corner
There is a lot to discover in Bamberg, especially for history lovers. The main attractions are the Cathedral, the Residenz and the old Town Hall. Oh and of course the Schlenkerla, but more about that in a bit.
After turning into a diocese Bamberg was enriched by gifts from the pope and gained more and more importance. The emperor Henry and his wife Kunigunde (yes that was her name) also gave wealth and some of their most important possessions to the town and it turned into an important center of the Holy Roman Empire. Now you can still visit the Cathedral and the place where the emperor used to stay during his visits to the city.
I highly recommend taking a walking tour in the city or one of the tours covering the 7 hills around Bamberg to get a better view of the city and historic insights.
The city kept getting richer and more important after the middle ages and a lot of new buildings joined. In 1647 the University of Bamberg was founded and it is still an important University town, which gives the city a young vibe as well. The city was always an important place for the Catholic church and that lead to it being connected to the German railway system very early on.
The Cathedral and the Landmarks around like the Residency and the monasteries are open every day. It is worth taking a guided tour if you would like to learn more details about them. Make sure to also stop by at the Rosengarten (rose garden) close to the residence for a perfect view on the city.
There is a lot to see for architecture lovers as the city changed a lot over the years and has medieval buildings, modern ones and a lot of Baroque ones as well.
Beer Tradition – Bamberg’s most important spots
One of the biggest sights in Bamberg are the breweries and the long beer brewing tradition. On one of the hills in the city the Michelsberg you can find the Franconian Brewery Museum, where you can learn everything about the local Beer traditions. And let me say that, Franconia has the best beer in the world.
The Brauereimuseum opens from April to October from 11 am until 5 pm on the weekends and from 1 pm to 5 pm on weekdays. You can also book separate tours when you come with a larger group.
The beers in the area can be quite heavy as the monks used to brew them during the fasting period. That is also how the famous Rauchbier (smoked beer) started. It still kept them alimented and even tastes like smoked ham or sausages. The pub and brewery Schlenkala is the most important institution for that beer and you can still have one there today. I really recommend trying it. But for your lunch break in Bamberg go somewhere else. I have a special locally abroad tip for you.
Anyway, make sure to stop by the Schlenkala, it was founded in 1405 and still brews with the same tradition. It is a tourist hotspot so it is best if you before noon or after lunch hours to have a beer outside or in the traditional pub.
Where to eat and drink?
So, speaking about lunch. As mentioned there are many different breweries that also offer typical beer gardens and traditional food. A real highlight for me is the Gasthaus Greifenklau. It is a bit outside of the city center and not overflooded with tourist. They brew their own beer. The most traditional one is the Kellerbier (a strong and tasty brew served in a jug that keeps it cold and fresh). Or try the dark beer, which they just offer in some months. The food is traditional but they do not mind if you want to make some adjustments.
The beer garden has a great view. Also, the staff is really friendly and they even speak English and are happy to explain the dishes and different beers.
After that, head back to the center for coffee and a piece of cake. I can really recommend the cozy café and shop Spitz Rein. They even offer vegan options. The shop sells lace and the cakes are homemade and it makes you feel like being in a grandmother’s house. You can find it in this address: Obere Sandstraße 6.
After that is just worth wandering around the streets. Make sure to get into some of the arts and crafts stores to get a unique souvenir or some handmade jewelry.
How to get there?
The city is quite well connected by train and bus. You can also rent a car in the close by Nuremberg and drive up there. The easiest way to get to Bamberg from the bigger Nuremberg is the S1 a regional train that takes you there in about 1 hour. There are many trains heading there, there is one about every 20 minutes. Have a look at the DB Schedule to be sure. You can also reach Bamberg from Berlin and other major German cities.
Bamberg is perfect for a day trip! The best advice is just to get lost in the tiny streets and wander around little Venice just by the river Regnitz. The best time is to go now on a sunny autumn day! You will love it!