Easily one of the most storybook Disney-esque villages in Germany, Bamberg has gained popularity for visitors over the years for its picturesque setting. There are tons of incredible things to do in Bamberg, Germany including exploring its incredible and proud beer scene.
We came here for the beer but fell in love immediately with everything to do in Bamberg, Germany. We highly recommend visiting this Franconian charm during your next Germany trip and a must-see destination on your Europe bucket list.
Check out our guide for the best things to do in Bamberg, Germany to help you plan your next adventure to this storybook village.
Disclaimer: We did this amazing beer tour in partnership with Inside Europe who offers some of the most unique experiences and customized tours in the world, as always all opinions are our own.
Bamberg Germany Travel Guide
Table of Contents
Located in Upper Franconia, and the biggest city in Upper Franconia, Bamberg, Germany is one of the most picturesque villages in the region of Bavaria founded on seven hills just like Rome.
The town is full of medieval half-timbered buildings that look straight out of the pages of a fairytale.
During the final days of WWII when much of Germany was being bombed, only 2.6% of Bamberg was destroyed which is extremely rare to find. That is how this city is so beautifully preserved in its medieval state and why it has become a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides being a gorgeous village, Bamberg, Germany is famous for its beer scene. There are over 50-60 styles of beer brewed here for centuries the most famous being Rachbier better known as dark smoked beer.
The city is proudly the highest average consumers of beer in Germany! Their average person consumes 280 liters of beer per year where the rest of the country averages around 130 liters. WOW.
We were informed that not only is Bamberg, Germany a great beer location but their schnapps is fantastic too. Sadly, we didn’t get to try this out ourselves.
The nickname for locals is an “onion kicker,” and their signature dish is known as Bamberger Zwiebel, a meat-stuffed onion. Think a stuffed pepper but instead of a pepper, a giant white onion. It’s absolutely delicious.
Visit the Magical Town Hall
Easily one of the most magical places in town and one of our favorite things to do in Bamberg, Germany is visit the Old Town Hall or Altes Rathaus. This piece of architecture is the most iconic landmark of Bamberg, Germany. The Old Town Hall sits on a bridge over the river running through the city.
The building features what looks like three buildings glued together. One is filled with gorgeous frescos, one is the tower with the road/bridge running through it, and the last is a pretty building that looks as if its just floating above the river.
The story behind this legendary building goes that the bishop didn’t allow any land for the citizens of Bamberg, Germany to build a town hall, so they built in the river on a man-made island to get the town hall they so badly wanted.
There’s no better way to cross town than to walk through the bridge that leads through the Old Town Hall.
If you’re curious to go inside, there’s also Europe’s largest porcelain collection inside the Old Town Hall!
Try Smoked Beer
Another one of the iconic things to do in Bamberg, Germany is try their famous local specialty beer, the smoked beer at Schlenkerla. The smoked beer, known as Rauchbier is just as famous as any other historical building or monument here in Bamberg, Germany. Trying it is a staple to your visit!
Traditionally this beer was made by drying the grains over an open fire, giving it that smoky flavor. In modern times, to continue the smoky beer flavor and tradition they smoke the malt using equipment that helps produce mass quantities of the beer.
The brewery has been in operation since the year 1405 and the smoked beer is served and tapped from a wooden barrel.
Our guide who showed us through Bamberg, Germany told us the little backstory behind the name Schlenkerla, which translates to dangling. The former brewer used to have a funny walk from an unfortunate accident. But since he was also a consumer of beer he walked a bit like a drunk person. Whether his walk was from drinking too much, an accident or a combination of both the entire place was named after his walk – the dangler.
Coming here is an experience of its own. The interior is Gothic and feels straight out of the Middle Ages from the decor to the serving beer straight out of wooden barrels.
They serve hearty Franconian dishes including the local special, Bamberger Zwiebel. A meat dish served inside a big onion. This pairs very well with the smoked beer!
If you’re not hungry, no worries one of the traditions is to get a smoked beer and stand outside Schlenkerla like the locals. Our guide called it a ‘quickie beer.’
Do the Local Beer Crawl
This is one of the most fun things to do in Bamberg, Germany if you’re a beer fan like us! The local beer scene here is world famous and as the locals say, it’s not just a drink here the beer is a part of their way of life. The BierSchmecker Brewery Trail takes you to 8 of the breweries in Bamberg.
Join the tour or program and get 4 drink vouchers at any of the participating breweries on the map provided 1 voucher for 2 smoked beer truffles, and a “Seidla,” beer stein with a beer bottle opener as a take-home souvenir.
Here are the breweries included on the BierSchmecker Brewery Trail
Ambräusianum Hell – located in the heart of Bamberg’s old town, famous for their Helles light beer.
- Fässla – located across the canal this brewery is famous for its bottom-fermented Vollbier, a specialty dark beer known as Echtes Bamberger Zwergla.
- Greifenklau – this brewery looks a little out of the way but well worth the visit on top of Kaulberg hill famous for its bottom-fermented Vollbier known as Greifenklau Lager.
- Klosterbräu – located right on the water and famous for its Schwärzla, a dark beer that’s bottom-fermented.
- Keesmann Bräu – another great brewery but with a lighter beer known as Bamberger Herren Pils on draft.
- Mahrs Bräu – Our favorite of the breweries we made it to in Bamberg, Germany. A specialty bottom fermented Vollbier known as “AU” to order you can literally just say “AU.” The bar also has a nice medieval setting.
- Schlenkerla – The most famous of breweries and beer in Bamberg, Germany. Famous for the dark smoked beer they serve straight from the tap in a wooden barrel, sit inside and dine with your brew or stand outside for your quickie beer.
- Spezial – Another famous brewery in Bamberg, Germany serving up the local Rauchbier, aka the smoked beer.
Be sure to check to see if the breweries are open the day of your brewery crawl. Some are closed on Sundays or Mondays and a few are not open in the winter.
Book the BierSchmecker Brewery Trail in advance.
Check out the Beer Gardens
One of the best things to do in Bamberg, Germany if you’re visiting in the warmer months is enjoy the beer gardens. They weren’t quite open yet during our visit but our guide told us all about them. He said there used to be over 20 beer gardens, however, now there are only two and they are both beautiful.
Actually, even though they are what we would call beer gardens they are actually technically referred to as beer cellars locally because their location is on top of a cellar.
The first is the Wilde Rose Keller or the Wild Rose Beer Garden. This was our guide’s favorite as it had a wonderful location on the hill with a pretty rose garden surrounding it. If you find yourself hungry you can get some beer snacks or food as well.
The next is Spezial-Keller or the Special Beer Garden. This is another fantastic location on top of a hill overlooking the city of Bamberg, Germany. This is a great place to sit back and relax while enjoying a local beer.
Visit the Franconian Brewery Museum
Had enough beer activities yet? This next awesome thing to do in Bamberg, Germany is the Franconian Brewery Museum. Learn about the local Franconian beer history in the old vaults of the former brewery in the Benedictine Monastery from the 12th century.
Located on Michaelsberg Hill, this exhibit takes you through the traditional equipment used to create beer from start to finish.
Another must see site and thing to do in Bamberg, Germany is the Bamberg Cathedral. The cathedral is a Catholic church that has been the seat of the Archbishop. The cathedral plays a huge role in Bamberg, Germany’s UNESCO status.
Dating back to the year 1002 and completed in the 13th century you will see a blend of architectural styles here including Gothic and Romanesque.
It’s easily recognizable by its 4 towers which always seem to be under renovation. We were told by our guide about every few years there’s a two week period where there’s no scaffolding or work going on for that perfect picture moment of the cathedral.
Inside includes the lovers tomb of Emperor Henry II and his beloved wife Kunigunde. Another notable piece inside the cathedral is the man on a horse statue known as the Bamberg Horseman.
We were told by our guide that this statue was admired heavily by the Nazi party and was considered to be their inspiration of what the perfect blonde hair blue eyed man must be like. This article touches on that theory.
Another one of our favorite things to do in Bamberg, Germany and one of the most Disney-esque spots is the area known as “Little Venice.” The local Little Venice is what was formerly known as the fishermen’s district of Bamberg, Germany.
In the summer you can even have a gondolier take cruise you around the calm waters and pretty scenery just like in Venice or hop on a scenic river cruise.
The riverside is lined with the gorgeous medieval half-timbered buildings that make this area seem straight out of a fairytale. Each one of these houses seem to be holding either up in a neat, little picturesque row.
New Residence & Rose Garden
The New Residence and Rose Garden are another set of impressive buildings and thing to see while in Bamberg, Germany. This is the new residence of the prince bishops of Bamberg, Germany hence the name.
The residence is famous for its 40 lavish rooms and decor as well as a collection of Baroque paintings.
The Rose Garden located in the inner courtyard of the New Residence offers an incredible view of the city of Bamberg, Germany from above. The garden is is neatly manicured with different rose varieties with a fountain in the middle.
Sadly, we came a little too early in the Spring to enjoy the collection of roses here.
Alte Hofhaltung or the Old Courtyard is another fun thing to do in Bamberg, Germany if you’re a movie buff. This medieval courtyard was the filming location for Paris in the movie the Three Musketeers!
More importantly. the Old Courtyard was where the bishop formerly resided in Bamberg, Germany. The 16th-century Beautiful Gateway will lead you to this medieval half-timbered building.
This is also the location of the Museum of History and St. Katherine’s Chapel.
Every storybook village has its castle, the Altenburg Castle is another one of the best things to do in Bamberg, Germany if you want to see a breathtaking view of the city from the tallest of the seven hills this city was founded on.
The castle dates back to the year 1109, however it is said that it is sitting in the same location as an earlier palisade castle. The castle was used mostly as a fortress for protection and was where residents could flee for protection. It also has served as a residence for the bishops during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The castle was almost destroyed completely in 1553 during the second margrave war. After that almost the entire castle was rebuilt except for a few medieval remains in the construction and it was even used for a prison for some time after the destruction.
There are cool details to the castle like the iron basket that hangs outside that used to send a fire signal to a town 20 km away.
While the castle is located just a bit outside of the city it is one of the best things to do in Bamberg, Germany if you have the time.
This is a great option for where to stay in Bamberg, Germany during your trip with a prime location right on the water. The rooms are modern and cozy and some even have big bathtubs. The building itself looks like its pulled straight from the pages of a storybook. Situated in a half-timbered home you feel like you’re a world away staying here.
Another great option for where to stay in Bamberg, Germany set in a medieval building. With a prime location in between the hill with the Bamberg Cathedral and just steps away from the Old Town Hall. The building is also half-timbered making you feel like you’re living in a storybook.
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