12 Amazing Things to Do in Bamberg, Germany: Bavaria’s Hidden Gem

Bamberg is one of the most beautiful German towns I’ve visited. Located in the Franconian region of Bavaria (very important distinction), this little town screams charm and has everything you’re looking for in a traditional German village.

Bamberg old bridge

Like neighboring towns like Wurzburg, Bamberg is known as a Beer hotspot. There are numerous breweries in town that still brew beers according to their traditional recipes that go back centuries. Many of the breweries only sell the beer in their establishment as they believe too much storage and transportation ruins the quality of the beer. I must say that this makes a huge difference in much of the beers produced all around Germany.

Bamberg old town

Overall, the city is built on seven hills, which has given Bamberg the nickname “Franconian Rome” – and the city on the Regnitz also has something to do with another Italian city, namely Venice, but more on that later.

Bamberg is a great day trip town from cities like Frankfurt or Nuremburg but it is also a great place to spend a few nights and enjoy the beautiful surroundings while drinking copious amounts of beer.

bamberg old town

 

Is Bamberg worth visiting?

Absolutely 100%. Bamberg is one of the most beautiful towns in all of Germany and I’ve been to many of them. It has a perfect blend of beautiful architecture and stunning surrounding landscapes. Like every other beautiful German town, it ticks off the boxes of a picturesque old church, a palace or two, rivers, beergardens and the like. The old town hall of Bamberg is one of the most beautiful photo spots I found in the country.

Bamberg old town

You only need a day to see all of Bamberg but it’s also a perfect place to stay a night. Either way, I would put Bamberg high up on the list of towns to stop in if you’re already in the area.Bamberg old town

 

The Old Town Hall and the Upper Bridge


The Old Town Hall on the Upper bridge is one of the top things to do in Bamberg. The photos from this bridge are some of the most well known photos of Germany.

Bamberg old town hall upper bridge

The old town hall of Bamberg is located directly between the lower and the upper bridge of the left arm of the Regnitz. The imposing building stands in the middle of the river and is THE postcard motif from Bamberg. The town hall was first mentioned historically in 1387, and it got its current architectural form between 1461 and 1467. This is by far the most famous part of Bamberg and the photos that the city is known worldwide for. It’s as beautiful as it looks and then some!Bamberg old town hall upper bridge

The reason why the old town hall is standing in the water has not been fully explained to this day. What is certain is that the Regnitz used to mark the border between the episcopal mountain town and the bourgeois island town.

According to legend, the then bishop of Bamberg did not want to give the citizens any of his land for the construction of a town hall, which is why they quickly created an artificial island using piles in the then ownerless Regnitz and built their old town hall there. To the great annoyance of the clergy, the town hall was designed more and more pompously over time and is now considered a symbol of the Bamberg bourgeoisie’s striving for power.

The imposing facade paintings were last redesigned in the early 1960s, on one side the leg of a putto even protrudes from the facade (you have to look closely though, I haven’t found the little leg for a long time and discovered it by accident in the pictures at home):

 

Where to take the best photos of the Old Town Hall?

The best place to take photos of the famous Bamberg town hall is from the bridge directly south of it. It is only about a 50 meter walk through Bamberg’s old town to this bridge.

bamberg beer

I found that the photos looked best from the western side of this bridge looking straight at the Bamberg town hall.

 

Bamberg Horseman


If you’re ever in Bamberg, Germany, be sure to take a castle tour. One of the highlights is the Bamberg horseman, a life-sized statue of a knight on horseback. The story goes that the statue was commissioned by a wealthy nobleman.

Bamberg Rider. 1230 - 1235. Germany Photograph by Everett | Fine Art America

But when he saw the finished product, he was so impressed that he decided to keep it for himself. The statue remained in his family’s possession for centuries, until it was finally donated to the castle.

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Today, the Bamberg horseman is one of the most popular attractions at the castle. He’s often been called the ‘Mona Lisa of Bamberg’ because of his mysterious expression. So if you’re ever in Bamberg, don’t miss your chance to see this one-of-a-kind statue.

 

Little Venice in Bamberg: With the gondola over the Regnitz


After I had already come across a district called Little Venice on Mykonos , I have now come across the second place in Bamberg that calls Little Venice its own. This is the old fishing district of Bamberg, where a row of cute little fishermen’s houses is built directly on the banks of the Regnitz. The houses are still normally inhabited and some have floating gardens and their own boat dock.

From land you have the best view of Little Venice from the opposite bank ‘Am Leinritt’, you can also take a look at Little Venice from the lower bridge.

Bamberg germany

The special feature: Just like in Venice, you can actually let yourself glide across the water in a real Venetian gondola. The owner of the two Bamberg gondolas imported them from Venice and has been offering his service in this country ever since. Up to 6 people can be accommodated in a gondola and with 60€ for 30 minutes (as of 2020) you are there. Since there are only two gondolas, it makes sense to book in advance. Here you can get more information and book.Bamberg old town hall upper bridge

Alternatively, you can also go on a boat trip in Bamberg (very classic with an average age of 65 on the ship 😉 ). It lasts about 80 minutes and costs €12 (as of 2020), but is supposed to be quite unspectacular, which is why we saved the whole thing.

 

The Michelsberg: The most beautiful view of Bamberg

The Michelsberg (or Michaelsberg, both spellings exist) is another of Bamberg’s seven hills, just a few minutes’ walk up from the cathedral square. On it is the Michelsberg monastery , a former Benedictine abbey that has been used as a retirement home since the beginning of the 19th century.

The monastery church and the adjacent parts of the building have been extensively renovated for some time (probably until 2025) and can therefore not be visited at the moment. However, a visit to the Michelsberg is still worthwhile, because up there there is a beautifully landscaped monastery garden, a small vineyard and probably the most beautiful view of Bamberg.

The small café in the monastery garden is the perfect place to combine a short break with the fantastic view. Incidentally, up here on the Michelsberg you will also find the Franconian Brewery Museum with all sorts of interesting exhibits on the Bamberg brewing tradition.

Unfortunately, the museum was closed when we visited (you know, the pandemic…), more information for your visit can be found here .

Michelsberg Bamberg
The café on the Michelsberg is a great place to relax

Brewery Michaelsberg Bamberg

You can take a short walk down and back to the old town, which is also very nice. By the way, the Michelsberg monastery looks like this from a distance – currently more of a single construction fence than a monastery:

 

The Domplatz: Bamberg Cathedral, New Residence and Old Court


About 5-10 minutes on foot from the old town of Bamberg there are three important sights on one of the seven hills of Bamberg, the Domberg: the Bamberg Cathedral, the New Residence and the Old Court. The three historic buildings are right next to each other on the cathedral square, so you can easily combine everything.

 

The Bamberg Cathedral (with the famous Bamberger Reiter)

Visit Bamberg Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George with its four towers as your first stop. It’s one of the most striking buildings in Bamberg’s town center and is one of the German imperial cathedrals. It houses the tomb of the only canonized imperial couple of the Holy Roman Empire and the only papal tomb in Germany and north of the Alps.

Cathedral Square - Stadt Bamberg - Tourismus

The Romanesque building originally dates back to 1012, which is why the Bamberg Cathedral is theoretically more than 1000 years old, but as was the case in the Middle Ages, there was always a fire somewhere.

The first major fire in Bamberg Cathedral broke out in 1081, after which it was provisionally rebuilt, only to burn down almost 100 years later in 1185 in the next major fire. Yay. So everything was torn down and put back – fortunately the third version of Bamberg Cathedral from 1237 is still standing today.

bamberg old town

It was probably also in 1237 when the famous Bamberg rider found his way into the cathedral – a stone sculpture that is considered one of the main works of the Staufer period. To this day it is not clear who the creator of the sculpture is and who it is supposed to represent. A saint, a king? Nobody knows that and until the riddle is solved, the Bamberger Reiter will continue to be part of current art historical research.

 

The Old Court

Next to the cathedral is the Alte Hofhaltung, the old residence of the Bamberg bishops. The residential and commercial complex in its present form dates mainly from the 15th century, but the first buildings on this site can be dated back to the 6th century. Remnants of a chapel from the 11th century are still preserved today.

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The 15 best things to do in Bamberg, Germany [2019 travel guide]

The Historical Museum is located in the Old Court (included in the BAMBERGCard* ) and during the summer the picturesque backdrop of the inner courtyard is used for official celebrations and festivals.

 

New residence & rose garden

Directly opposite the Bamberg Cathedral is the New Residence, which was the residence of the Bamberg prince-bishops from 1602 and thus replaced the function of the old court.

The huge building now houses a museum and a few showrooms, which you can visit for an entrance fee of €6 (as of 2020). The Kaisersaal and some magnificent apartments are said to be well worth seeing – unfortunately the premises were closed during my visit due to the pandemic. More information and a little foretaste can be found here .

In any case, the rose garden of the New Residence is worth seeing. This is accessible free of charge and you can take a short break there and enjoy a wonderful view of Bamberg. From spring to summer, 4,500 roses in a wide variety of colors bloom there.

 

Bamberg as a beer hotspot


Beer and culture – these are the simple ingredients for the lovingly named beer culture trips that call Germany home. We always look for a destination that is reasonably easy to reach by train and offers a good mix of exciting attractions, interesting attractions, and local beer. Like when I visited Freiburg in the Black Forest, I was blown away by the freshly brewed beer and Bamberg is no different.

The Beers of Bamberg, Germany | BeerAdvocate

The historical sights are all fascinating and at the same time so many breweries are concentrated in a small area in the city like nowhere else in the world. Bamberg is full of beer gardens and while you won’t explore all of them in one day, a visit to Bamberg Germany is not complete without one.

 

Bamberg and its breweries

The history of beer brewing in Bamberg goes back more than a thousand years. The first bar in 1093 and the first Benedictine brewery on the Michelsberg from 1122 are documented.

bamberg beer

In the records of the city in 1818 there are 65 active breweries in Bamberg! If applied to today, that would be a week-long beer culture trip. Almost a century later, the number of breweries had halved in 1902, but the population’s beer consumption skyrocketed.

Today there are still nine private breweries active in Bamberg. All of them are great options when you visit Bamberg.

 

Bamberg’s peculiarities

Be that as it may – we used the three days’ stay to divide up the nine brewery restaurants well and to test them out stress-free. With several local peculiarities at the same time, it is advisable to do some research before the beer tour. If you go into a beer cellar , for example , you are not sitting in an underground room, but simply in the classic beer garden.

The term comes from earlier times when beer was stored in the cellars and served over them.

If you order a Seidla – which in Austria as “Seidl” corresponds to a 0.3l glass – you get half a liter of beer. And with the beer types ” Rauchbier ” and ” Ungespundetes ““There are two specialties that are rarely found anywhere else. But more on that at the breweries below!

 

Visit The Schlenkerla Brewery


Beer brewing has a long tradition in Bamberg, which is why a city trip to Bamberg inevitably includes a visit to at least(!) one traditional Bamberg brewery.

Up until the beginning of the 19th century there were 65 breweries in Bamberg, today there are only 9 left (although there is no consensus on the exact number, this is primarily about the definition of what a private brewery is). Bamberg is therefore one of the cities with the highest concentration of breweries and is considered the true beer capital of Germany.

 

bamberg beer

The Bamberg Beer War in October 1907 shows how seriously the Bamberg people take their beer. At that time, the Bamberg breweries increased their beer prices by 1 pfennig, whereupon the Bamberg innkeepers and citizens were so outraged that from then on they imported their beer from neighboring Forchheim. After just a week of boycott, the Bamberg breweries gave up in exasperation and lowered the beer price again. All’s well that ends well.

bamberg beer smoked

The oldest of Bamberg’s traditional breweries is the Schlenkerla , which has a very special specialty: the Bamberg smoked beer. Whether you like beer or not – a Schlenkerla smoked beer is a must! Apparently, many people don’t like the smoked beer at first and I’m really not a beer lover, so I was skeptical. But what can I say – I found it really delicious! It tastes really different than normal beer (that’s probably why I liked it right away). Prost!

bamberg beer smoked

You can find the smoked beer brewery Schlenkerla directly in Bamberg’s old town on Dominikanerstraße. It’s always busy, so bring a little waiting time (it’s best to book a table in advance on weekends). If you want to test even more traditional Bamberg beers from different breweries (and I definitely recommend that), you can join a guided beer tasting.

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You can either enjoy the smoked beer outside of the front door, or wait for a table in the beer gardens in the back of the restaurant where all the locals will be enjoying their smoked beer as well.

 

The Altenburg


The Altenburg is a good bit outside of Bamberg’s old town. You can reach it either by car or, if you are willing to walk, you can walk in about 30 minutes. Alternatively, there is also the option of taking one of the small sightseeing buses, the Bamberg 6-hill tour, for example, heads for the Altenburg.

altenburg bamberg

The medieval hilltop castle dates back to the beginning of the 12th century and was formerly used as a second residence by the Bamberg bishops. In addition to the fantastic view over Bamberg, it also offers the highest beer garden in the city (which was closed when we visited…you guessed it).

For me, the Altenburg is not necessarily a must see in Bamberg because it is really a bit off the beaten path, but if you have time, then definitely plan a little detour there.

 

Seehof Castle in Memmelsdorf


Seehof Castle, which today belongs to the municipality of Memmelsdorf, is located about 5 kilometers outside of Bamberg’s old town. The gigantic four-winged castle is surrounded by a no less gigantic park, which was formerly designed in the rococo style. The origins of Schloss Seehof go back to the 15th century, when it was built as a hunting lodge for Bamberg’s prince bishops. It got its present form at the end of the 17th century.

Seehof Palace near Memmelsdorf - Stadt Bamberg - Tourismus

You can visit both the castle and the park that belongs to it. The white hall, the cascades, the orangery and the arcades of the castle park are particularly worth seeing. The entire facility is under monument protection.

Since the facade of Schloss Seehof is currently being extensively renovated, I can unfortunately only serve you with these pictures:

If you have brought a little more time to Bamberg, then definitely take a look at Seehof Castle.

 

More sights & tips for Bamberg


Unfortunately, we had less time in Bamberg than we would have liked and so we had to skip a few sights. Luckily there weren’t many and we really saw a lot. If you have more time (as I said, 2-3 days are enough for a first impression), then you should definitely also take a look at these highlights. There is more to Bamberg than the town hall and the Bamberg brewery museum after all!

bamberg old town

ETA Hoffmann House and the Apple Woman: The German writer, composer and draftsman ETA Hoffmann lived in Bamberg from 1809-1813. Today there is a museum in his former home at Schillerplatz 26. Fun fact: the house is also one of the narrowest houses in Bamberg with a frontage of only 3.50 m. And if you inevitably think of a living doorknob in the form of an old woman’s head when you think of ETA Hoffmann: You can also find this well-known brass doorknob in Bamberg. The so -called apple woman is located at the house at Eisgrube 14 (but only a replica, the original is on display in the Historical Museum).

The Bamberg Gardeners’ City: Urban horticulture has been practiced in Bamberg since the 17th century. The medieval structures of the inner-city house gardens are still clearly visible today, are unique in the world and have made a significant contribution to Bamberg’s World Heritage status. You can visit the gardener’s town on your own, there is a well-signposted circular route and a gardener’s and hacker’s museum (included in the BAMBERGCard* )

The Upper Parish (Church ‘Our Lady’) & the Church of St. Martin: In addition to the cathedral, there are a few other churches in Bamberg (after all, we are in Bavaria). If you have enough time, then in addition to the cathedral, take a look at the Obere Pfarre , the most important Gothic church building in Bamberg. Also worth seeing is the Church of St. Martin , the only baroque church in Bamberg. Once you have seen all three places of worship, you have traveled through three epochs (Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque).

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