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Bamberg: The franconian Rome

Bamberg © fotografci / Fotolia

If you are looking for a town that has authentic beauty and is alive with history, then Bamberg in Germany is a must see. Located in the heart of North Bavaria, Upper Franconia, this town extends across seven hills, each one with its own church or castle. Due to this, it has earned the nickname, “franconian Rome”.

Bamberg is one of Germany’s largest medieval towns and is remarkably well preserved. It is little wonder then that Bamberg has been UNESCO world heritage site since 1993.

It is unquestionably a history lover’s dream, but Bamberg has many other things to offer as well. This town has a bustling arts and cultural centre as well as a long tradition in beer brewing.

From the street cafes to the small antique shops, this is a city buzzing with life and plenty to see.

Sunshine in Bamberg
© Ruslan / fotolia

Best times to visit Bamberg

Since Bamberg is such a scenic place, you really want the best weather to enjoy it. In general, the oceanic climate makes Bamberg pleasant and somewhat humid during the summer, reaching temperatures of up to 25 degrees. So June to August is a great time to plan your vacation. That being said, temperatures do start to go up in the spring time (April to May), so if you fancy an earlier trip this time would be ideal too.

Best way to travel in Bamberg

The interlink busses in Bamberg are reasonably priced, so these could be an option for travel. However, the best way to get around Bamberg is to simply walk. A stroll into the old town will take you into three divided districts: Episcopal town, the island town and the market gardeners. Aside from the opportunity to take in the sights, walking is an excellent way to see how European towns were set up in the early Middle Ages.

Bamberg cathedral

Bamberg is home to five major churches. However, The Bamberg Cathedral is the most well known amongst them. This cathedral has been a famous landmark since it was built in the 13th century.

Bamberg Cathedral
© Thomas / fotolia

The Bamberg Cathedral is on the highest hill in the town surrounded by a lush countryside. It is from here you can admire the breathtaking view of the town.

But the town isn’t the only thing that impresses here. The cathedral is an amazing structure, with a mixture of both Romanesque and Gothic styles. Inside its walls is where the Bamberg horseman resides. This life-sized equestrian stone figure is one of Germany’s most famous medieval sculptures. It is as mysterious as it is striking.

No one really knows who the young rider is. However, the predominantly held belief is that it could be Emperor Henry II, who is buried in the cathedral.

Bamberg Regnitz
© Henry Czauderna / fotolia

The Green Market

This is a market that awakens the senses; the colour and smells from all the flowers and fresh fruits are quite heady and quickly pull you in. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself buying a few punnets of strawberries. Aside from Sundays, the market is open everyday.

Bamberg and beer

Bamberg has a long and rich history with beer brewing, so much so, its name has become synonymous with beer. For those in the know, it’s actually referred to as the city of beer.

It lives up to its nickname too. Bamberg doesn’t just have a handful of breweries, or even a few dozen, but it is recorded as having the densest mass of breweries in the world! That means they know their stuff when it comes to beer brewing.

There is a smoke beer, also known as Rauchbier which Bamberg is famous for. This is made with malt which is dried over an open flame to give it a distinctive smoky flavour.

Although this can be sampled at many breweries, the best place to try it is at Schlenkerla brewpub. This brewery has been perfecting smoke beer for over two centuries. It is said that if you haven’t tried an original Schlenkerla smoke beer, you haven’t really come to Bamberg.

For The Kids

If you happen to have small ones then the Levi Strauss Museum is must see. Here kids can discover all there is to know about the man who invented the most famous blue jeans there is. In this museum, located outside of Bamberg in Buttenheim, kids can discover the history of the Levi jeans we wear today. The English audio guide also details Bamberg born Levi Strauss’s emigration to the US.

Little Venice

Since Bamberg is situated along the Regnitz River, it’s pretty easy to find amazing river views. Some of the best ones at Klein Venedig, otherwise known as Little Venice

The former fisherman district has rows of half timbered cottages, balanced on poles, and fronted by small gardens. To look at them, it’s easy to see why the nickname Little Venice has stuck.

Bamberg Old Town Hall
Old Town Hall © bbsferrari / fotolia

To soak in Klein Venedig, you could just stroll along the bridge that crosses it. However, if you really want to capture the beauty of the area, then there are few better ways than in a gondola. To add this romantic touch to your river trip, the price will cost around €15 per person.

Escape for a little romance

If you are on a romantic getaway, and want to escape from the crowds, take a trip up to Altenburg Castle. This is set high above the city with an amazing view of the entire town.

Altenburg Castle near Bamberg
Altenburg Castle © Adam / fotolia

Another place that makes an ideal romantic trip is the rose garden in the inner courtyard of New Residence. In the summer, when all the roses are in full bloom, it’s arguably one of the most beautiful spots in Bamberg. With its backdrop of St. Michael’s Monastery, heady roses and baroque statues, this is a place where great memories are made.

Bamberg rose Garden
© Franz Gerhard / fotolia

Shopping Anyone?

Bamberg has an amazing pedestrian only shopping area. You can explore this while you grab a snack from the street vendors that are dotted around the square and the centre of the marketplace.

This town has a number of stores, from the high street to boutiques filled with German-made décor. For lovers of all things old and valuable, Bamberg’s district of antique stores open every year between July and August. So, if you are looking for a genuine one-of-a-kind souvenir this is well worth checking out.

Night Life In Bamberg

The nights are as lively as the days in Bamberg. A popular bar that is frequented by travellers both young and old is Der Plattenladen. For such a traditional city, this bar has a great “urban” feel. This vibrant bar is renowned for its gin and has at least 30 variations.

Fancy a bit of jazz? Bamberg’s Jazz club is located within a Jazz Cellar in Bamberg’s nightlife district, Sandstrasse. Bamberg’s Jazz club hosts concerts between September and May, usually on Fridays and Saturdays.

There are free jam-sessions every Wednesday, where you will find everyone from jazz-musicians to Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. There is also cabaret as well as a fringe theatre is staged here too.

If dancing till late is more your kind of thing the Live Club is the place to be, featuring a variety of club music.

Food In Bamberg

If you eat at pubs and breweries the food is very reasonably priced. Expect to find traditional German food such as pork, potatoes and sauerkraut. The servings are plentiful and will cost about €8 or less. But this does depend on what you select.

Bratwurst with Sauerkraut
Bratwurst © kab-vision / Fotolia
roasted pork knuckle
© sabyna75 / Fotolia

Want a real taste of Bamberg? Then you must try the Bamberg onion. This is a carved onion crammed full of minced meat which is then baked in an oven. This is served with either mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes. If you really want to get the full experience with this time-honoured meal, try washing it all down with some Schlenkerla Brewery smoked beer.

There is also a great place to get coffee and cake at the Café Riffelmacher in the Obere Brücke Street leading to Old Town Hall. The Café am Dom is another place to visit; here they serve a delectable smoke beer praline.

Where To Stay In Bamberg

There are many hotels that come highly recommended such as; Best Western, Welcome Kongresshotel Bamberg, Hotel Central to name but a few. However, in general, hotels in Bamberg tend to be fairly expensive. Typically they can cost anywhere from around € 150 – 300 a night for one room.

If you happen to be on a budget, don’t despair. Breweries also offer B&Bs at a lower price to most hotels. Fasska Brewery, for example, offers a room for about € 70 which is a real bargain.

Some Extra Advice When Travelling To Bamberg

Bamberg is a town that happens to be more cash orientated than credit cards. This is especially so for the breweries and often the B&Bs. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take some cash with you for throughout your stay.

Bamberg does get rather busy during the day. If you would like a quiet stroll, the optimum time to go out would be between 7 and 9 am.

Bamberg has so much to enjoy, from the churches, the river walks, shops, to brewery and the magnificent medieval architecture. This well preserved historical town really is in a class of its own.