The Franconian town of Bamberg is located about 60 km north of Nuremberg. It is most famous for its architectural masterpiece awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site honor. Besides the narrow streets and medieval houses, the city features ten unique breweries giving it the nickname “beer capital of Germany”. With a lot of unspoiled nature around, numerous cultural events and youthful vibes from 13000 students living in the city, Bamberg is an ideal day trip destination from Nuremberg or a great stop-over on any trip through southern Germany.
My partner used to live in Bamberg, which is the reasons the city had been my second home for a year. Now that I work in a budget hotel in Nuremberg, I get asked a lot about recommendations for a day trip. And believe me, the diverse city of Bamberg is one of the best options you’ve got.
By the end of this Bamberg Budget Travel Guide, you will have collected some ideas for a self-guided walking tour, which covers most of the historical sights as well as optional attractions you may include in your itinerary depending on your time and energy. This guide will help you make most of your time in Bamberg while still having an authentic experience.
Suggested Walking Tour
Mind you, you won’t get lost if you take a different street here and there. In fact, Bamberg’s city center is not a large area, so all those narrow streets will eventually lead you to a main road.
I assume most of you will arrive Bamberg by train, so let´s start the walking tour at Bamberg’s Central Station. Take the Luitpoldstraße and keep walking straight. Turn right onto Untere Königstraße. Here you may find the first two breweries, Fässla and Brauerei Spezial, after 100m. From here, take the first left, and you’ll soon reach Kettenbrücke (Chain Bridge).
This bridge also marks the beginning of the pedestrian zone. Continue walking until you see Maxplatz (Max Square) on the right. It is the largest and most significant square in the city center. The key element of Maxplatz is the baroque city hall built in the 18th century. This is also the location where a lot of Bamberg´s cultural events take place, such as Bamberg zaubert, the annual wine festival, flea markets, the Christmas market, and weekly fruit and vegetable markets.
If you keep walking in the pedestrian zone, you will approach Grüner Markt (Green Market), where you can see the fountain Gabelman surrounded by pavement cafés and shops. During the week, vendors sell fruit and vegetable from the region. You will find even more stores if you turn left into Keßlerstraße.
However, for our walking tour, we´re gonna turn right into Fischstraße and take the first turning on the right. We´ll find ourselves in Austraße. In this narrow street, you may find numerous great cafés and restaurant frequented by the town´s students. One of my favorites, Café Esspress, offers daily food deals and a beautiful backyard to sit outside in summer.
Go down Austraße and go past some of the university buildings until you get to Heumarkt (Hay Market). As the name suggests, this square used to be the primary place of trade for hay in the Middle Ages.
From here, follow Stangstraße and turn left into Kapuzinerstraße. Go along this road until you get to the waterfront. Not only will you have a great view of Little Venice but also the Old Town Hall.
Little Venice is the former fishermen’s district and characterized by medieval half-timbered houses with tiny gardens, built along the riverbank. This romantic sight is definitely worth a photo or two.
Bamberg´s Old Town Hall is by far one of the most famous and most photographed attractions in the city. The construction was built on an artificial island and is only connected to both riversides by two bridges, the Untere Brücke (Lower Bridge) and the Obere Brücke (Upper Bridge). The Old Town Hall can still be visited today and accommodates the Ludwig Collection (Adm: 6 €), an exhibition of items and reminiscences of the culture and lifestyle of the 18th century.
Go over the Untere Brücke (Lower Bridge), which is usually occupied by the town’s numerous students, and keep walking down Dominikanerstraße (pedestrian zone). You will see the famous brewery Schlenkerla on the right. Here you can try Bamberg’s legendary smoked beer, which smells and tastes like smoked ham. It’s a weird combination of flavors, but definitely worth a try.
Shortly after this brewery, Dominikanerstraße will become Obere Sandstraße. With many pubs and restaurants, this street is pretty much the heart of downtown and a lovely area to go out at night. The Stilbruch pub and the Sound-n-Arts club are among my personal favorites in Sandstraße. Also, you may find another brewery called Göller here.
Follow Sandstraße until you get to Elisabethkirche (St. Elizabeth Church) and turn left into Elisabethenstraße. When the road takes a turn, continue walking uphill on Residenzstraße. You will soon find yourself in front of Bamberg’s Imperial Cathedral, the Bamberger Dom. First finished in 1012, this majestic cathedral had to be rebuilt twice after fire destruction. The latest construction contains elements of the Romanesque and Gothic periods and is one of Franconia’s most significant edifices.
Opposite the cathedral, you can see the New Residence, which used to accommodate Bamberg’s prince-bishops until the beginning of the 19th century. You may take a look at the impressive apartments, the imperial hall and other rooms (Adm: 4,50 €). Also, the state gallery displaying a collection of significant works of art of old German and baroque paintings is a must-see for art enthusiasts. Another TopTip is the Rose Garden in the inner court of the New Residence, which offers a marvelous view of Bamberg’s Old Town below.
Next to the cathedral, there is the Alte Hofhaltung (Old Court), which used to be the bishop’s residence. Walking through the gateway, you will see a beautiful courtyard with half-timbered houses and arcades. Today the complex serves as an exhibition area for the Museum of History as well as an open-air theatre in summer.
Upon leaving the Old Court, turn left and walk down Obere Karolinenstraße. At the next intersection, turn right into Michelsbergerstraße. Follow this road for about five minutes. Once you’re at the Kloster Michelsberg (St. Michael’s Monastery), turn right to get inside the complex.
This imposing baroque style monastery was founded in 1015. There is a terrace behind the church from where you have an excellent view all over the city of Bamberg. On the premises, you may also find the Franconian Brewery Museum (Adm: 4 €). Learn about the creation of beer in this impressive museum located inside the old vaulted rooms of the former Benedictine Brewery.
Afterwards, stroll downhill through the monastery gardens until you get to Untere Sandstraße. Turn right and go along Untere Sandstraße. Follow the road left, but don’t continue walking on Markusstraße. Instead cross the street and keep walking along the riverside back towards the Old Town Hall.
Strolling along the river will, again, give you some great views of Little Venice. When this street ends, turn right, and you will soon find yourself back in the pedestrian zone.
Optional Sights To See
Depending on what type of traveler you are and what it is you’re most interested in, there are different things you can combine the walking tour with.
If you’re interested in immersing yourself even more in the Middle Ages, consider visiting the Altenburg (Altenburg Castle). This hill-top castle was reconstructed in the 19th century after it had been destroyed in the second margrave war in 1553. Today, the complex is mostly used for events and festivities. You may visit the premises as well as the terrace from where you have a gorgeous view over the whole city of Bamberg and the area around. Altenburg Castle is also part of the official Castle Road from Mannheim, Germany to Praha, Tscheck Republic.
Hain Park & Jahnwiese
For all nature-lovers, the Hain Park in the south of Bamberg is a marvelous place to go. This park covers an area of almost 2 km and features a handful of pavilions, monuments, small temples and a botanical garden. Buy a bottle of beer somewhere, take it with you and stroll through the beautiful Hain Park. Find a nice spot to sit near the river and zip your beer – just do it like the locals. In summer, you will find many people swimming in the river or having a little barbecue on the Jahnwise, the meadow on the other side of Hain Park.
“Auf Den Keller Gehen” – Become A Local In Bamberg
Speaking of “doing it like the locals”, why not head to one of the beer gardens referred to as beer cellars? These beer gardens are usually situated on a hill and become a lively alternative to pubs and pavement cafés in summer.
But why do locals say they go on rather than into the cellar? During the Middle Ages, beer brewers discovered that the conditions inside the hill’s old tunnel network had been perfect for both fermenting and storing beer. As a result, beer gardens were built on top of the cellars, so that people could drink beer right where it was brewed.
In Bamberg, you can find numerous beer gardens, though only three of them are traditional beer gardens on a cellar: Spezial-Keller, Fässla-Keller, and Wilde-Rose Keller. By the way, you’re also allowed to bring your own food and just order a beer.
Besides the beer gardens and the breweries I mentioned in the walking tour, you may also visit Bamberg’s other breweries. You can find them here.
One of them is Klosterbräu, which offers an incredibly good dark beer. Once you’re in the district, you can also walk over the bridge Obere Mühlbrücke and take a look at all those old half-timbered buildings around you.
The Erbainsel (Erba Island Park), which is located about 2 km from the city center in the north-west of Bamberg, is an ideal site for families with children. Many playgrounds and lots of nature around make this spot a favorite among both local families and tourists with kids. This vast area had been built and arranged for the 2012 Bavarian Garden Show and is now used as recreation grounds.
Festivals & Events
Bamberg hosts numerous exciting annual events, which are absolutely worth a visit. Perhaps you’re lucky, and there is an event taking place while you’re in town. Some of the highlights include Sandkerwa (annual fair in the heart of downtown; it’s when the entire city centre becomes a large beer garden), the Kontaktfestival on the old US Army grounds, the Jazz & Blues festival, Bamberg zaubert festival with many magicians all over the city, the wine festival as well as numerous bock-beer-tapping parties.
…Staying more than 1 Day?
Awesome! That means you will have a lot more time on your hands to either see more of Bamberg, try more of the ten different beers or check out the area around.
Bamberg is situated on the border of Franconian Switzerland, one of Germany’s largest nature parks with an abundance of medieval castles, traditional breweries, and thrilling attractions.
For more city action, visit either Bayreuth (70 km east of Bamberg) or Nuremberg (60 km south of Bamberg). Both cities offer a variety of historic sites, cultural attractions, all kinds of festivals and good beer. 😉
You may also continue traveling north of Bamberg towards the cultural state of Thuringia with cities like Jena, Weimar or Eisenach, where you can visit the famous Wartburg Castle and travel back in time and learn about Martin Luther.
Or why not dedicate an entire trip to Germany’s romantic locations with this medieval-themed two-week itinerary?
Have you been to Bamberg? What did you like most about your stay? Let me know in the comments.
Planning A Trip To Germany?
If you’re looking for travel inspiration, beautiful nature parks, awesome photo spots, fairy-tale castles and medieval towns, these posts have got you covered:
>> Authentic Off-The-Beaten-Path German Towns You Have To Visit
>> Discover Medieval Germany In 14 Days – A Sample Itinerary
>> Ultimate Franconia Beer Guide: 12+ Unique Beers You Have To Try In Southern Germany
For more detailed travel tips, city and castle guides, check out the Germany section and make sure to sign up for e-mail updates to receive a notification once I upload a new post!