Explore quaint and romantic Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bamberg is an idyllic Bavarian town that you won’t want to miss when you travel to Germany. Justin and I find that we tend to fall in love with the enchanting villages over the hectic cities. While we do enjoy major city jaunts, it’s often the tiny towns that capture our hearts. Bamberg was one of those places.
Why Bamberg? We chose to travel here for a few reasons. First, Bamberg has made countless lists featuring picturesque villages that you must visit. It simply looked so charming from the photos and I couldn’t resist adding it to our plans.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that wasn’t damaged very much during World War II, so it’s largely in tact. It boasts the biggest, preserved old town center in Germany.
Next, it’s easy to travel there by train. It’s accessible from Munich, Nuremberg, and countless other spots. We reached Bamberg from Salzburg, Austria with one stop in Munich to transfer trains.
Third, it was possible to see much of Bamberg in a full day. As we only had two weeks in Europe this time, we added Bamberg to the list while hopping around to multiple other places along the way.
With that said, we stayed two nights in Bamberg and needed one full day to give the town the attention it deserved. We highly recommend that you spend at least one night here, if not two.
Here’s our Bamberg one day itinerary to help you plan your time effectively and wisely. Spend a couple of days here if you can; however, you can see much of Bamberg in a day.
We traveled from Salzburg to Bamberg by train. Justin and I booked our train tickets directly at the Deutsche Bahn website. It’s easy to navigate and pay online to reserve your seats in advance.
When you get to Munich, make sure you get off at the right station. We were supposed to depart at Munich Hauptbahnhof, and I guided us off the train at a different Munich station before that one. Oops. I didn’t know there was more than one Munich stop on our trip.
Thankfully, we took a regional train to the correct station at no additional cost and somehow didn’t miss our connection.
When we arrived in Bamberg, we took a taxi from the train station to our guest house. Take some time to settle in to your accommodations. Enjoy a lovely dinner and a beer at one of the bars, breweries, or beer gardens. Walk around as much as you can.
We stayed at Sonnenblumenhaus Bamberg, a holiday rental apartment in the heart of the downtown region. The guest house is steps from Little Venice and the Old Town Hall. Being able to walk everywhere from our accommodation was a huge plus.
Our apartment is fully equipped with a kitchenette, and it’s a comfortable place to sleep. The cheerful room is decorated with sunflowers everywhere, so much that even the toilet seat has a sunflower on it. There are photographs of Bamberg in the kitchen, which offer a glimpse into some imagery around town.
At only 60€ for the first night and 50€ for additional nights, it’s a bargain.
Looking to stay elsewhere in town? There are tons of hotels and properties available in Bamberg. Take a look!
For more photos of Sonnenblumenhaus, please check out our Bamberg travel photo album.
BAMBERG ONE DAY ITINERARY
While you can easily wander around Bamberg on your own, I highly recommend that you book a walking tour with a local guide. There’s so much intriguing history and facts about the city that we could never grasp by staring at the buildings and monuments by ourselves.
I recommend booking a walking tour through the Bamberg tourism website. We spent a few hours in the morning walking all over the town, wandering around the main sights and a few hidden attractions.
After our walking tour, we continued to explore on our own, drinking and eating on the way. Bamberg is a famous beer city, so we had to sample drinks from local breweries. I also discovered that it’s a very vegan-friendly city, so it was not a problem to find plant-based meals at several restaurants.
OLD TOWN HALL
The most iconic sight of the city is its Old Town Hall. It sits in the middle of the Regnitz river, across two bridges. Legend has it that the bishop of Bamberg didn’t grant any land to the citizens to construct a town hall, so they made their own island in the middle of the river to build one.
On one side of the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus), there’s a half-timbered building. On the other side, there are impressive frescoes painted across the length of both walls. Walk across the bridge and explore all angles of this historic structure.
While we didn’t choose to venture inside, you can enter the building to discover the Rococo Hall and the Ludwig Collection.
The half-timbered house over the river is what initially grabbed my attention and ultimately led us to visit Bamberg. It’s the most photographed place in town, so get out there and capture your own picture of it.
Visiting Bamberg is like walking through a fairy tale. There’s even a little section of Old Town called “Little Venice.” It’s a row of half-timbered homes along the waterfront, originally belonging to fishermen in the 19th century.
I suggest that you walk a full loop from the bridges at Old Town Hall. Walk through Old Town and by the river. Eventually, you’ll reach another bridge just past Little Venice and you can walk right to the other side and back around.
WALK THROUGH OLD TOWN
Not only are there stunning old buildings and murals, but there are excellent shops, pubs, and restaurants. We went shopping for souvenirs and found lots of unique gifts and mementos. Visitors to the local pubs and beer gardens carried their pints of beer around the cobblestone streets. Many locals gathered on one of the bridges in the early evening to enjoy a cold beer with friends.
Most homes were covered in sprawling vines, colourful flowers, and usually had a bicycle or two out front.
Justin and I walked through Old Town on several occasions, never growing tired of the scenery.
Bambergers are huge fans of public art. Often when there is an art piece on display that the citizens collectively love, they raise money to purchase it for the town. For instance, the “Lady with Fruit” statue is a bronze sculpture that residents bought together, and it’s now the first piece on Bamberg’s sculpture trail.
Polish artist, Igor Mitoraj, created the Centurione I sculpture that stands proudly on display near the Old Town Hall. It looks like a classical work of art, but it has intentional damage to the work.
This installation by artist, Wang Shugang, features eight red men crouching in a circle. There’s even one in the nearby inside the Hotel Bamberger Hof Bellevue.
VIEWS OF BAMBERG FROM ABOVE
Speaking of the Hotel Bamberger Hof Bellevue, there’s an amazing view from the rooftop patio of this hotel. Our local walking tour guide asked the receptionist if we could wander up there for the view. I’m not sure if anyone can casually wander through the hotel at their own leisure, but it might be worth staying at the hotel for this scenic outlook.
NEW RESIDENCE ROSE GARDEN
Go here for the roses, stay for the view. There’s a sea of flowers outside the New Residence building at the Rose Garden. When we visited in June, the roses were fully in bloom.
Walk to the back wall of the rose garden for a brilliant panorama of Bamberg.
While we didn’t go inside, we stumbled upon the Bamberg Cathedral (Bamberger Dom) on our walking tour. It’s a historic church dating back to 1237, with two previous structures from the years 1012 and 1139 destroyed by fire. The church, as well as the Old Court, are main focal points of the Cathedral Square.
WANDER AROUND MORE!
Wandering around on your own or on a walking tour is the best way to see Bamberg. We walked along the river, marveled at the detailed architecture, and discovered monuments and murals. Observe everything as much as possible and travel as far as your feet will take you.
While much of Bamberg is preserved, it wasn’t completely unscathed by the destruction of World War II. There are vacant lots where buildings used to stand. If a home or structure is rebuilt, it must be constructed in a completely modern style as not to mimic any old architectural styles.
BEER IN BAMBERG
There’s a rich beer history in Bamberg, dating back 1000 years to the first written evidence of beer in the city. The cathedral canon Ouldaricus’ dying wish was to supply all Bambergers with free beer. Later in 1489, Bamberg was among the first to write new purity laws for beer, 27 years before the Bavarian Purity Law (only water, hops, and malt are ingredients for beer).
Today, there are ten privately operated breweries and over 50 different selections of local beer in Bamberg. The town is famous for its smoked beer, which is brewed according to centuries-old traditions.
For a full listing of breweries and beer cellars, I suggest that you pick up a brewery map from your hotel or the tourism office.
One of the most famous breweries is the Schlenkerla, right in the centre of Old Town. We didn’t end up going inside as it was quite busy, but you might want to stop here for a drink.
Instead, we mainly tried local beer with our meals at restaurants. We tasted beer by Mahrs Brau, Brauerei Keesmann, and Brauerei Spezial.
Justin and I watched the sun go down from the beer garden, Spezial-Keller where we tried Brauerei Spezial’s Rauchbier (smoked beer) for the first time. Let’s just say that it had a very interesting taste. I could best describe it as beer meets campfire. I really liked it at first, and I enjoyed it less and less the more I drank of it. It’s definitely an acquired taste!
VEGAN DINING IN BAMBERG
Vegan options were easy to find and plentiful in Bamberg. While there weren’t many vegan joints, plant-based choices were clearly marked on several restaurant menus.
I’ll be writing a vegan travel guide for Bamberg very soon. In the meantime, here’s a small sampling of what you can expect to find.
Pretzels for breakfast from Kapuzinerbeck; vegan burger from Zapfhahn; vegan pasta from Spaghetteria Orlando; vegan cake from Spitz Rein Cafe.
MORE AREAS WORTH EXPLORING
Needless to say, we fell in love with the medieval town of Bamberg. It’s the town that has it all – a preserved history, a scenic waterfront, and delicious food and drink. While we didn’t have time to venture outside of the city, there are gorgeous landscapes to discover in the Franconian countryside, such as the Steigerwald Nature Park and the Steigerwald Forest Treetop Path (dying to do this!).
Although we walked past a farmer’s market in the street, we never had a chance to explore the Market Gardeners’ District. The market gardens are on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. You can buy fruits and vegetables directly from the Market Gardens, including rare and local varieties of potatoes (the Bamberger Hornla potato is a local specialty).
It’s a great cultural city with 14 museums and collections, musical performances by the Bamberg Symphony and Bavarian State Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Bamberg State Library (it holds several important medieval manuscripts).
Even still, I’ve just scraped the surface of what Bamberg has to offer. I think you should visit and explore this delightful city for yourself. This is a Bamberg one day itinerary because you can explore the city in a day like we did. However, you might find yourself staying longer…or longing to return for another trip like us.
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Thanks so much to Germany Tourism for hosting our stay. Our opinions, as always, are completely our own.
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