Start the day at one of the old town cafés with a German breakfast of buns topped with sweet and savoury spreads, cheeses or sandwich meats and freshly brewed coffee. From here, start your sightseeing tour of Bamberg’s historic sights.
The medieval labyrinth of cobblestoned streets and the high concentration of preserved half-timbered houses is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The focal point of the historic town centre is the Domplatz. Flanked by the four-spired Bamberg Cathedral, the New Residence and a medieval building complex called Alte Hofhaltung, a visit of the plaza ticks off some of the city’s highlights right away.
If you can plan ahead, book yourself on a guided tour of the New Residence. It’s the only way to get a glimpse of the 40 lavishly decorated rooms of the former bishop’s palace. The interior boasts marble floors, chandeliers, notable Baroque paintings and stucco work, while the outside rose garden has fantastic views of the surrounding area.
Stop at Hofbraü for lunch. The restaurant offers Franconian specialities, great for a bite near your next stop, the 1462 Town Hall. Bamberg’s most iconic building is perched on an island in the Regnitz River. Inside is a museum that is home to Europe’s most extensive porcelain collection. A walk over the bridge grants a closer view of the elaborate murals and brings you to Little Venice, an old fishing village with charming riverside cottages.
Follow the riverside path back south and, keeping the stream on your right, you’ll reach the vast Hain Park. The green area is traversed by romantic trails and dotted with monuments, temples and pavilions. In the summer months, locals flock here for picnics and BBQ or to float across the park’s pond in a paddleboat. The city’s botanical gardens are worth a visit year-round and a great way to end the afternoon before you head back to the centre.
Bamberg is a beer brewing stronghold, and a trip wouldn’t be complete without tasting a couple of the local brews. And since a pint of the city’s Rauchbier (smoke beer) is best paired with hearty food, head straight to one of the city’s Braukeller or gastropubs. Meat lovers are in for a treat: Bratwöscht – sausages, Schäuferla – pig’s shoulder meat and Gögäla – roast chicken dominate the menu. A traditional Franconian food menu poses more of a challenge for vegetarians and above all, vegans, who are often left with a bunch of sides of potato dumplings, sauerkraut and bread with (or without) cheese.
The best way to clear your head in the morning is a sumptuous breakfast and a trip to the countryside. Bamberg is surrounded by seven hills, and numerous hiking paths traverse the area. Some of them follow a theme – including more breweries – others focus on the best vantage points. There are plenty routes to choose from that will get you back to the city centre in time for lunch.
Since you’re enjoying vistas and fresh air, an afternoon visit of the Michelsberg hill seems only logical. Overlooking the city centre is the Michelsberg Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery. Some of the rooms have been converted into a retirement home, but others remain open to the public, including the Franconia Brewery Museum. In the vaults of the former monastery, the exhibition explores Bamberg’s near to 900-year-long beer brewing history.
Stroll back to the town centre, and spend the rest of your afternoon browsing the many boutiques and specialist shops that line the Old Town alleys. A shopping spree through the Old Town takes you from traditional Bavarian attire to craft beer, delicacies and antique treasures. And the best part – there’s always a café nearby if you want to rest after a day of exploring.
If you haven’t grown tired of smoky beer and hearty food, explore a few more of Bamberg’s breweries. But if you want to change things up and you like classical music, it’s worth checking the calendar of the Bamberg Concert Hall. Home to the world-renowned Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the venue hosts multiple performances a week and tickets are often available until a few days before. Combine that with a dinner at an Italian restaurant, and you’re set for a great night out to end your trip.