Bamberg Travel Guide
The brewery heavy medieval town of Bamberg, Germany draws both history buffs and beer pilgrimas alike as it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are ten breweries in town with 300 plus in the surrounding countryside. My Bamberg travel guide will help you find the best things to see, do, and drink in Bamberg.
As traveled as Bamberg is, there is little found about the city in the guide books. What we did find was in Lonely Planet’s Munich, Bavaria, and Black Forest Guidebook. Thus, our itinerary for Bamberg was bare other than visiting as many of the ten breweries in two days as possible. Don’t worry, there is plenty in this Bamberg travel guide besides beer!
Bamberg is located in Northern Bavaria in the district known as Franconia. In fact, some residents of Bamberg associate themselves more with the lineage of Franconia than Bavaria. Bamberg’s charm comes from the fact that it is one of the few German cities that escaped bombing in World War II. Legend rings that the town’s ancestors formed a foggy haze over the city that hid it from Allied planes. The original medieval and Baroque architecture has remained completely intact.
These are the kinds of towns that I enjoy – where each narrow street or winding alley takes you into a different world in a time long forgotten. A stroll down Concordiastrasse, one of Bamberg’s most ancient streets, can easily transport you.
Bamberg Travel Guide Day 1
We traveled to Bamberg the day after Starkbierfest in Munich and were moving slower than intended. Heck, we barely made breakfast and checkout. Trying to hold down my traditional German breakfast of cold cuts, cheeses, and mustard, I moved to and fro as our high speed train rattled back and forth on the two hour trip from Munich to Bamberg.
I couldn’t fathom drinking another damn beer. Alas, the infamous Rauchbier of Bamberg awaited me, and I would have to “man up.”
We managed to sleep through lunch on the train and arrived into Bamberg for a late lunch / early dinner – limmer. The receptionist at the hotel recommended a traditional Franconian restaurant not far from the hotel – Zum Kachelofen. The tiny restaurant was absolutely charming with medium wood paneled walls and blue and white checkered tablecloths. Yellow flowers were perched as centerpieces.
Shortly into dinner a local couple joined us at our table as in true German fashion. Neither of us spoke the other’s language but we managed to share a few smiles and prosts. Dinner was even better than the ambience. And the Rauchbier that accompanied our meals? Well, it was something dreams are made of.
After, we began our self-guided Bamberg brewery tour which you can read about here.
Bamberg Travel Guide Day 2
The next morning we visited the Bamberg Tourist Office, which was extremely helpful. We rented MP3 players and embarked on a self-guided audio tour of Bamberg, hitting the highlights of this charming city.
The tour guided us past the most important churches, homes, and through the central market and university. It was a great way to get to know Bamberg.
Altes Rathaus is a feature of Bamberg that simply can’t be missed. The old city hall sits in the middle of the river that traverses Bamberg. Built in 1467, legend reads that the bishop of Bamberg did not grant the citizens any land for the construction of a town hall. Thus, they were prompted to build this artificial island in the river Regnitz as a symbol of their rebellion.
The location marks the old border of rule between the episcopal city on the hills and the bourgeois island city. Our tour also wound us past the city’s most famous church – St.Peter’s and St. George’s Cathedral.
The construction of the Cathedral was ordered in 1002 by Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II, whom is also buried within the walls. As a first-time European tourist, I was enchanted by the age and history of the buildings. Never before have I entered a building dating back a thousand years. Not only does the building house the tomb of the emperor, it also houses the tomb of Pope Clemens the II.
After we completed the tour, we ascended the hill to Saint Michaels’s Monastery for some breathtaking views of Bamberg and a tour of the church. Highlights include the tomb of Saint Otto and the celestial garden painted on the ceiling of the cathedral. The trip was a hike, but the views were worth the sweat. Plus, we were paying it forward to our evening beer tour.
After Saint Michael’s, we returned our audio guide’s, ate lunch, and headed out for more of our beer tour of Bamberg.
Bamberg Travel Guide Day 3
The morning of our departure, we stopped into one last church, Saint Stephanskirche, and thenattempted some last minute souvenir shopping. The church was consecrated in 1020 by Pope Benedict VIII and is today the leading Protestant Church in Bamberg. Unlike the rest of Bavaria, the majority of Bamberg is Protestant. The architecture of the building was impressive but the interior was plain and lackluster.
The souvenir shopping proved to be fruitless. We knew the stores we planned to stop in as we picked out our wares the day before. We just didn’t want to lug them around the city. Unfortunately for us, the stores weren’t open before we had to fetch our train.
Bamberg was truly a gem on our itinerary and a city which we highly recommend.
We visited during the end of the off-season and many attractions weren’t quite open yet. Instead, we spent our time visiting breweries and pubs which were open (locals drink…a lot) and witnessed life as it is in Bamberg. The breweries serve as living rooms where families come to eat, men come to play cards, and book nerds cozy up to a pint and a novel.
Bamberg was a great itinerary stop and perfect for our interests. Consider the following if you plan to add Bamberg to your itinerary.
- Perfect for – Beer nerds and history fanatics.
- When to go – In the spring when the trees are in blossom and the beer gardens come to life.
- Where to stay – We stayed at Altstadthotel Molitor and absolutely loved it for the hearty breakfast, comfort, and convenient location. For a list of other hotel reviews, check out the latest Bamberg hotel reviews on TripAdvisor.
- How much time is needed – At least two full days. One day is enough to see the sights of the city, but extra time is needed to experience the beer culture. My recommendation is to not only hit as many breweries in town as possible, but also to rent a bike and venture to some of the countryside’s surrounding breweries. Plenty of online guides will help with this.