They take their beer seriously in the small Bavarian town of Bamberg. The town, which has a population of just 70,000, is known as Germany’s beer capital, with nine working breweries producing 50 different local beers. That’s not counting the 70 breweries in the surrounding district.
However, there is more to Bamberg than beer. This pretty town, set in a valley surrounded by seven hills, is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, with an amazing 2000 buildings scoring a UNESCO World Heritage Listing. If you only have a short stop in this lively port, be sure to leave time for some serious beer drinking after you have hit the following highlights.
On the lowdown
Start your explorations at the eastern end of the old city. Bamberg is a city that embraces tradition. Every morning, local farmers set up stalls to sell their produce, just as their forebears have done for hundreds of years. The action takes place at the Gruener Markt (green market), watched over by the ornate Neptune fountain.
From here, slowly wind your way toward the river, exploring picturesque lanes and alleys as you go. From tiny medieval cottages to bold baroque townhouses, there are plenty of Insta-worthy opportunities. The town’s most famous piece of architecture, however, rests in the river. Yes, that’s right – in the river, not on its banks.
Bamberg’s spectacular town hall sits on a purpose-built artificial island, connected to the riverbanks by two bridges. The flamboyantly-frescoed façade adds to the eye-catching effect. You can head inside to have a look at the Ludwig Collection of porcelain figures, or follow the pretty riverside path heading north. You will soon reach Am Leinritt, the perfect spot for photographing the picturesque fishermen’s houses known as Little Venice. Stop in for a quick bite at the waterfront Restaurant Eckerts before continuing your exploration.
Take it higher
We hope you enjoyed that break, because now things get a little strenuous. Head up the steep Katzenberg to reach the city’s ancient power centre, the Domplatz, or Cathedral Square. Along with the cathedral, the Domplatz is home the baroque New Palace and the Alte Hofhaltung palace.
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The 13th century cathedral, with its intricately carved façade, is a highlight. Step inside the cavernous interior to see the tomb of Pope Clements II, the only papal grave in Germany, and the 1000-year old sculpture known as the Bamberg Rider, celebrated in art history as the first horseback statue erected after the fall of the Roman empire.
Take a stroll through the romantic rose garden in the courtyard of the New Palace which features more than 4,500 roses, and also offers stunning views across the town.
At last, it’s time for some ale-inspired exploration. Sandstrasse is home to most of the town’s bars, but start your evening on the nearby Dominikanerstrasse at Bamberg’s most famous brewery, the Schlenkerla.
This half-timbered house with green shutters is a historic monument in its own right. The 600-year-old Schlenkerla brewery is also the only place in town to sell Bamberg’s most distinctive drop, smoked beer or Rauchbier, from the barrel. The smoky taste comes from the malted barley, which is dried over an open flame.
The Schlenkerla is also a good dining option: try a local specialty, such as the Bamberger sausage, Bamberger Zwiebel - roast onion stuffed with mincemeat – or pork knuckle in smoked beer sauce. Music lovers may want to catch a performance by the internationally-acclaimed Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, or take in some jazz; the atmospheric Bamberg Jazz Cellar is a good choice.
Bamberg is just one of many jaw-dropping stops on Scenic's range of inspired European River Cruises. Get in touch with your local Travel Associates Advisor for the latest packages from Scenic and start planning your European adventure today!