Considered one of the most picturesque towns in the Bavaria region of Germany, Bamberg is certainly a stunner that attracts plenty of tourists each year. Less than an hour’s drive from Nuremberg, it makes for the perfect day trip to explore its charming, UNESCO World Heritage Site-honored grounds. Knowing that Bamberg was a can’t-miss town, I knew that I had to go while I was in Nuremberg earlier this month.
After my day trip to Regensburg the day before, I woke up early the following morning to catch a 7:20 BlaBlaCar ride to Bamberg, where I would be spending a half-day visiting it. It’d been several months since I last used BlaBlaCar (last time being in Paris in May), but it went smoothly, as I chatted amiably with my driver, who was actually French and another passenger, a traveler from Ukraine.
Snow flurries were falling as we pulled into Bamberg an hour later. After being dropped off in front of the Hauptbahnhof, I set out on-foot towards the historic center. It was about a 20-minute walk, and soon enough, I reached the Regnitz river and, after crossing it, came upon the iconic Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). Built on an artificial island in the 15th century, the town hall was constructed due to the bishop not wanting to relinquish land to the town– today, it remains a distinctive site for tourists to stop by and admire its unique architecture.
Crossing the bridge, I made my way to the Dom (Bamberg Cathedral). There was a slight incline, but all the same, I arrived at the top to see the massive cathedral looming in front of me. It was still early, around 9:00, when I went inside to check out its interior. Only a few people were inside visiting it, too, and the near-silence was eerie, but incredibly peaceful.
Adjacent to the cathedral was the Neue Residenz, which had housed the town’s bishops since the 17th century. I’d been to the Residenz in Munich during my first year as an assistante and found it lovely, so I was interested in checking out the one in Bamberg as well. However, it wouldn’t be opened until 10:00, so I decided to kill time by heading to the other sites I wanted to see in town.
Next up was the Kloster Michaelsberg (Michaelsberg Abbey), which is a former Benedictine monastery that’d been established in the 11th century and in use until the early 19th century, when its function became a retirement home. Unfortunately, the abbey has been closed since 2016 for repairs, so I wasn’t actually able to enter the building. I hadn’t known about it, and spent a good 30 minutes trying to find the entrance. To my embarrassment, I ended up going into the administration and dorm buildings, but scurried out after I received strange looks from the civil servants inside. I did, however, stumble upon freezing, but gorgeous views of the town from the abbey, since it’s situated on another hill. The entire town of Bamberg was covered in snow, and it made for a charming, white-Christmas photo otherwise.
Close to 10:00, I headed down to the Neue Residenz to visit once it opened. I paid about 3,50€ to enter, and passed a few minutes checking out the galleries on the first floor before I joined the 10:15 tour with a small group of tourists to visit the State Rooms. The tour guide spoke German, since there was a German-speaking couple in our group, but the rest of us were given placards in our respective languages (mine English) to read and learn a bit more about the history and function of each State Room. Unfortunately, photos weren’t allowed, which was a shame because the Kaisersaal (Imperial Hall) was utterly breathtaking. I was able to, however, take photos of the galleries on the first floor, as well as photos of the Rosengarten (Rose Garden) from the window of the Neue Residenz. Granted, the garden was completely covered in snow and devoid of any actual roses, but I could imagine it being flourishing in warmer seasons.
The guided tour ended at 11:00, so I left the Neue Residenz and decided to head back towards the Hauptbahnhof, stopping by the Christmas markets along the way. They were also small like the ones in Regensburg, situated in the Maximiliansplatz where the Maximiliansbrunnen fountain is located. Having had a *literally* lukewarm experience with the spätzle I’d eaten in Nuremberg just the night before, I redeemed myself by getting another one at Bamberg’s Christmas markets, which was piping hot and lot tastier. Paired with an apfel glühwein (mulled wine flavored with apple), it made for the ideal lunch to warm me up– after all, it was a snowy and freezing day!
Prior to visiting Bamberg, I’d done my research and came across what’s known as Rauchbier (“smoked beer”), which is Bamberg’s local beer. I searched in vain for it at the Christmas market, but was unable to find it– I even stopped by a couple of supermarkets on the way back towards the Hauptbahnhof, but I couldn’t find it, either. To my disappointment, I didn’t get to try Rauchbier in the end– will have to return to Bamberg for that!
I caught a glimpse of “Little Venice,” a row of half-timbered houses lined alongside the river, as I crossed it on my way towards the Hauptbahnhof, since I needed to catch my BlaBlaCar ride at 12:30 back to Nuremberg. While far off in the distance, Little Venice still looked charming.
I made it just in time to greet my BlaBlaCar driver and, along with a German-speaking girl, we headed back to Nuremberg. It was a quiet journey back, namely because the driver didn’t speak much English and I not much German– the other passenger actually translated a bit for us when the driver asked if the heater was too much inside the vehicle, but otherwise, I dozed off as we sped back to Nuremberg, arriving back around 13:20.
My visit to Bamberg had been extremely short, barely four hours in total. Looking back, I wished that I had more time to explore, since I really wanted to try the Rauchbier and perhaps pop into a cafe to relax. It’d been a snowy day, which made visiting a bit burdensome, and I’d like to return during the warmer months to see the town sans snow– I can imagine it to be even more gorgeous!
That effectively concludes my travels in Germany this past winter– the nine days I spent traveling the country were quick, but also relatively well-paced, as I gave myself just enough time to cover the highlights of each city. Everything went smoothly, and I enjoyed my time Couchsurfing all the way through it: my hosts were dynamic, and I got to experience the magic of the German Christmas markets while at it. My trip to Germany was the perfect start to the other travels I would be taking in the months to come, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how they go.
Thanks for reading– until later!