Living in Frankfurt, Germany has its perks including being in one of the most central airports in the world to explore Europe and the world. Even better are the plethora of day trip options to cute German towns nearby like Heidelberg, Freiburg, and all the amazing villages along the Mosel River. Further east is one of my all time favorite day trip towns in Wurzburg.
Located in the Franconian part of Bavaria, Wurzburg is 1.5 hours away from Frankfurt by train and is easily doable in a day. It, like many other beautiful German towns, offer the standard but amazing weekend markets, cute German houses, castles, old bridges, and endless amounts of wine and beer to drink.
Wurzburg is a very popular town for travelers in Germany. It is the starting point for the famous Romantic road that goes to Fussen and the incredibly picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle. However, it is very much worth the stop in whether it be for the day or for the weekend.
Where to eat in Wurzburg?
There are a plethora of fantastic restaurants in Heidelberg, especially in the locals area of Neuenheim. If you’re only here for a day, you’ll only really have time for 2-3 meals. For that purpose, I’ve listed out some places I recommend for three meals and then some.
No trip to a German town is complete without trying the local wurst style. Being in the Franconian region of Bavaria, you’ll find wursts typical to the area. No place is better to sample the local fare than at the Knupfing bratwurst stand.
The pork sausages are grilled fresh until the skin is crispy. It’s then split in half so it can fit into the typical bread roll which makes it easier to eat. Mustard is the only condiment available because ketchup on a wurst is disgusting. This place can get very busy on weekend days when people are after their wurst fix. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth it!
Gasthaus Alte Mainmühle
Gasthaus Alte EMainmuhle is located right at the base of the old bridge. This restaurant also serves wine glasses to go and is an institution for the day drinking scene in Wurzburg. The restaurant has a terrace with amazing views of the river, bridge, and the Marienburg fortress. It serves traditional Franconian foods and the food is quite delicious.
Prices are quite high here however so keep that in mind as you are also paying for the view. A reservation is highly recommended if you want to sit outside with the views!
What to do in Wurzburg?
The incredible Heidelberg Castle is definitely Heidelberg’s most famous attraction. You can’t miss it from any viewing angle in Heidelberg as it is majestically perched up on the hill. It’s an absolute miss when visiting this town. The construction of the castle started in the early 1200s and has expanded on the centuries to include several structures, towers, moats, gardens and more surrounding the complex.
The castle has seen its fair share of activity over the centuries as it’s been ravaged by far, lightning strikes, and more. In fact, walking around this castle reminded me of being in some Roman ruins at times because so much of the castle is separated from each other. Like many of the castles I’ve seen in Germany like the fairy tale-esque Burg Eltz castle, the Heidelberg castle is absolutely beautiful.
The Wurzburg Residence is probably the most popular tourist attraction in the town. This grand palace is widely considered to be one of the most important Baroque palaces in Europe. It was constructed in the early 18th century. Prince Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn decided that the predecessor of the palace was insufficient and wanted something more grand in the same universe as the Palace of Versailles or the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.
He commissioned architect Balthasas Neumann to design this palace. The exterior of the structure was completed in 1744 and the interior finished by 1780, under the supervision of succeeding prince bishops. Nowadays, it’s open to the public and my goodness is it grand inside. It’s everything you’d expect of an over the top, way too extravagant palace from that era. Highly recommended if you are into big palaces.
Consequently, I didn’t even know about this palace when I first arrived. The front of the palace has a big parking lot which is where I parked my car for the duration of my trip. After seeing this giant structure, I had to see what it was!
The palace is open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM April through October and 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM November through March. Admission to the palace costs €7, but the court garden is free to the public. Guided tours in English are given daily between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
St. Kilian Cathedral
The old Cathedral of St. Kilian is stands in dedication to the Irish saint, St. Kilian. The original building dates back to 11th century but was rebuilt after it was destroyed in the year 1967. The Cathedral is considered one of the biggest Romanesque church in the country and is known for its simple (plain white walls) but elegant interior. When you are there, do check out the Schönborn Chapel with skeletons at the entrance. Also, worth exploring is the crypt where the prince bishops are buried.
The Marienburg fortress is situated on the western bank of the river on top of Marien hill towering to a height of 260 meters. The castle is surrounded by fortifications and moat to protect it from invaders. The hike up could be challenging if you are not fit, take the longer route through the vineyards which is less steep. Once you are at the top you would be rewarded with magnificent views of the city.
The castle was used as residence of prince-bishops before it was moved to Würzburger Residenz. There are several courtyards inside which you can explore for free.
English guided tours are available but have limited availability.
The palace gardens are also quite stunning. They are perfectly manicured and you can see their lush vineyard as well overlooking the city of Wurzburg.
Exploring the City Center
You can’t see most of the other sights without walking through the main town of Wurzburg. There isn’t a whole lot to see here in terms of cute houses and picturesque streets like in Freiburg for example. However, the market here on Saturday is worth the visit. If you are here in late Nov to mid December, a stop in at the Christmas market is an absolute must!
Visit the Alte Brucke (Old Bridge)
The Alte MainBrucke (or the Old Main Bridge) is in my opinion the best part of Wurzburg. It should fall under the what to do in Wurzburg section, but I think it deserves its own section!
It is an old Romanesque style bridge that was constructed in the 12th century AD. It models itself after the Charles Bridge in Prague and connects the two sides of Wurzburg through the Main river.
The bridge itself is pedestrian only and is open at all hours of the day. It is absolutely beautiful with its cobblestone roads and numerous gothic statues on both sides. The bridge is about 100 meters across and offers a spectacular view of Wurzburg on one side and the Marienburg Fortress on the other. Not only do you see the quintessential German palace on the top of the hill, but you’re also greeted with the beautiful vineyards belonging to the property.
To the east of the bridge, you’ll also see the rolling vineyards of the Franconian region that is avidly producing the Silvaner and Grauburgunder you will be drinking shortly.
Drink wine on Wurzburg’s Old Bridge
I wasn’t kidding about the wine. My absolute favorite part of Wurzburg is the scene of drinking on the bridge. Germany is famous for their outdoor drinking whether it be at markets, festivals, or just a general block party. Wurzburg has one of the most unique settings in that people congregate on the old bridge and drink wine with beautiful views of that fortress in the distance.
As you walk on to the bridge, the restaurant Gasthaus Alte Mainmühle which is actually a cool place to eat at thanks to their beautiful views, also has a stand set up that will sell you wines by the glass.
You’ll have offerings of the wines of the region and the most popular are Silvaner and Grauburgunder. They are all white wines which might not appease some, but I can assure you that white and rose wines are the way to go when drinking outside on a nice day.
Grab a glass of Silvaner for €4-5 for a 0.25L glass (yes really, 1/3 of a bottle of wine) and you’ll receive a glass that is closer to 0.3L. The German culture I’ve learned revolves around always giving you a little bit more when it comes to the wine. It might say 0.25L on the menu but you’ll always get more.
Take that glass of wine and stake out your spot on the old bridge. Now there’s nothing left to do but enjoy the wine and the fairy tale style views in front of you. I had to really ask myself if this was real life the first time I came here because I was getting drunk with delicious wine on this beautiful 800y old bridge for less than €10.
I love taking out of town guests to Wurzburg specifically for this activity. Germans might read this and think what is the big deal? Trust me, it’s not normal. But it is fantastic.
How to get to Wurzburg?
Wurzburg is easily accessible by the cities in Germany’s western half. It is a 1.5 hour train ride from Frankfurt airport or Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. It is also reachable by Munich and Nuremburg. If you have the option of flying into Frankfurt for the quickest option. It is also reachable by Cologne or Dusseldorf but I think the best option remains Frankfurt.
By train from Frankfurt
Wurzburg is roughly about 120km away from Frankfurt. Trains run multiple times every day via the ICE (Intercity). The ICE should be €20-30 one way and is just over 1h from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to Wurzburg Hauptbahnhof. I’d recommend booking tickets in advance for this trip like I would for most Deutche Bahn trips. This route is not as popular as say going to Heidelberg by train so prices can vary widely.
Wurzburg’s Hauptbahnhof is a 15 minute walk to the old town. You can also take the local above ground tram to get to the city center.
By Flixbus from Frankfurt
Most of the time, I always advocate for the trains because it is more comfortable, reliable, and faster. However, as Wurzburg is so close there is not that much of a time difference between taking the bus and train. The Flixbus station behind Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof is massive and has many buses leaving daily for Wurzburg. I actually rode the bus here because is was only €9 one way!
The bus to Wurzburg is about 90 minutes so it really isn’t that much of a time difference. My bus on the way home was delayed 40 minutes though so make sure to account for this!
Renting a car is an option if you’re planning on doing a roadtrip around Germany but otherwise, I don’t think it is necessary to rent a car just for Wurzburg. Once you get to Wurzburg, there is never a need for a car again as the city is small and perfectly walkable. However, my favorite means of transportation in Europe has to be with blablacar. Carpooling with random people is something I totally do not mind.
There are multiple daily departures from Frankfurt to Heidelberg and these are quite cheap (€5-€10 one way). This will probably be the fastest method of transportation as your driver will likely offer to drop you off closer to the city center.
If you have more than a day, then I can definitely recommend renting a car and visiting Wurzburg, before continuing on to another town like beautiful Rothenburg ob der Tauber
From Munich by train/bus
You can also reach Wurzburg if you are in Munich. From the Munich HBF, it is two hours by ICE to Wurzburg. These trains don’t leave as often each day so you’ll need to plan your trip accordingly.
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