An hour northwest of Nuremberg lies Würzburg, another one of Bavaria’s must-see places. The city is known for the grand Bishop’s Palace, ostentatiously decorated churches and a quaint Old Town. We’ve had a look at what there is to do and created an itinerary for a day’s worth of exploring. Here’s our guide to spending 24 hours in Würzburg.
First things first – and by first we mean a sumptuous German-style breakfast. Café Wunschlos Glücklich boasts hundreds of stellar reviews on all platforms, and we’re hardly surprised. The name means ‘perfectly happy’, which is the feeling a glance at the menu will give you as well. From platters of sliced bread and buns with Serrano ham, mozzarella cheese and a boiled egg, to a vegan option that comes with bread, a tofu-and-bean spread, vegetable antipasti and granola with soy yoghurt, the menu also lists eggs and omelettes, sweet and savoury waffles, muesli and fruit salad and more.
It’s easy to forget about time in this cosy eatery, but a jam-packed day of sightseeing awaits you, so head on out after breakfast and make your way to the picturesque market square. If you feel like you need additional info on Würzburg or a city map, pop into the tourist information centre to grab a couple of brochures before you start your tour of the old town.
Würzburg is known for its many church towers and cupolas that seem to pop out from the cityscape wherever you look, and you’ll find many of them along the way. The first one is right in front of you. The stunning Gothic-style St. Mary’s Chapel with its rusty red tower dates back to the 14th century, but was heavily damaged by Allied bombing raids during the Second World War and rebuilt in the 1950s. As soon as you turn into the narrow Schmalzmarkt alley, you will set your eyes on the pompous and pink façade of the Neumünster Collegiate Church. It’s worth stepping inside to marvel at the mostly white interior, which is accentuated by stucco ornaments and beautiful frescoes.
Würzburg’s cathedral is next door and is not only one of the city’s most notable landmarks, but also the fourth largest Romanesque cathedral in Germany. It was constructed between 1040 and 1250 and is the final resting place of a number of bishops. The adjoining Schönborn Chapel was renovated a few years back, and visitors can now again enjoy the overwhelming splendour of the marble columns, gold décor and countless figurines and statuettes.
We take a break from the gems of ecclesial architecture and head over to the Würzburg Residence. In 1720, the then Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn commissioned a handful of renowned architects from across Europe to build this palace. Some of the inside features have been declared masterworks of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical architecture, and the list of highlights includes the lavishly decorated Imperial Hall, the chapel and the grand staircase. The fee of €7.50 does cover not only your entrance but also the guided tours that run multiple times a day. English-speaking tours are scheduled for 11am and 3pm year-round, plus two additional slots at 2:30pm and 4:30pm between April and October.
Make sure you plan for a bit of time to see the vast Rococo gardens as well. From the pond at the centre, the symmetrically arranged paths lead you to Baroque sculptures, fountains and water features and other decorative elements.
As your appetite builds, make your way back to the market square to grab a quick to-go snack. The most popular lunch spot is the bratwurst hut that lures with a range of regional specialities, be it a Franconian sausage or a Winzerbratwurst. If you fancy something else, there are plenty of cafés and bistros around where you can find anything from salads and paninis to hearty German meals.
Refuelled, head down to the riverfront and cross over the Old Bridge from 1120. Your destination, the Marienberg Fortress (€3.50), is perched on the hilltop right in front of you. Construction began in 704 AD, and over the centuries, the fort was expanded and altered and played an essential role in several wars and disputes. After being damaged in World War II, the reconstruction was only finalised in 1990. Today, the fortress is home to a couple of museums (combo ticket, €6), and guided tours provide insight into its past and its historical importance.
From up here, you have panoramic views of Würzburg’s Old Town as well as the onion-domed towers of the Käppele Church on an opposite hill. It’ll take you around 30 minutes to climb down from Marienberg Fortress, walk along the Main River and climb the stairs back up the second hill to reach the sanctuary, but it’s worth the walk. The jaw-dropping interior is composed of paintings, murals and frescoes, stucco and gold ornaments and marble columns.
If you feel like a drink after all this walking, the Nikolaushof is just a few steps further up the hill, and the terrace is a great spot to grab a cold beverage before you make your way back to the city centre.
If you only have one evening in Würzburg, dinner at the Bürgerspital Weinstuben at the heart of the Old Town is a must. The restaurant’s interior combines medieval elements with a modern ambience, and so does the menu. Also, in addition to fantastic Franconian wine and regional specialities, the Weinstuben offers a selection of Mediterranean dishes. Even though you’ll mostly find meat-based main courses on the menu, the kitchen staff is more than happy to create a vegetarian option for you if you prefer that.
Post-dinner entertainment can involve anything from sampling a few more of the regional wines at one of the wine taverns, enjoying long drinks and a round of foosball at Loma or having a few pints at Würzburg’s oldest student pub Nachtwächter. If you’re keen on a proper night out, check what’s on that night. The city’s nightclubs put on party nights for students, hold live gigs, and more.