Regensburg: Planning Your Trip

Regensburg, Germany
River ships dock near the ancient bridge near old town Regensburg.

TripSavvy / Linda Garrison

Dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, Regensburg (which is pronounced, "Reagan's Burg") is one of the oldest cities in Germany, situated along the Danube River. Here, you'll find 12th- to 14th-century patricians’ houses, churches, squares, towers, narrow lanes, streets made for strolling, and more than 1,000 historical buildings featuring Roman, Gothic, and Romanesque architectural styles. Since it was not bombed during World War II, Regensburg remains one of the best-preserved medieval sites in Europe and is one of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

Because of its location along the edge of the Black Forest about 90 minutes north of Munich, this picture-perfect medieval town is often included on European river cruise itineraries. Ships can easily dock near the 1,017-foot long Old Stone Bridge, and passengers can embark on a scenic walk into town starting with the bridge's 16 arches that were built in the mid-12th century in an impressive feat of medieval construction. 

Whether it’s your first time in Regensburg or you’re a regular visitor, plan your next trip to this storybook destination on the Danube with our expert travel guide, complete with details on everything you should see and eat, where to stay, and how to make the most of your time in this incredible Bavarian city by the river.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and fall offer fewer crowds and more cooperative temperatures; it's crowded in the summer, mostly because the weather is so nice. Winters are mild, though it rains a lot in the late fall and early winter months.
  • Language: While German is the official language spoken in Regensburg, the Bavarian dialect you’ll hear here is unique to the region, as well as nearby parts of Austria and Northern Italy. Learn a few German phrases so you can better communicate with the locals, who have likely studied English at school.
  • Currency: The euro is the official currency of Germany. Cash is king, as is common in smaller cities and towns throughout the country. Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted, while American Express and Diner’s Club aren’t as common.
  • Getting Around: Regensburg is a very walkable city, with much of its center being a pedestrian-only zone. Rent a bicycle or take advantage of the bus system for trips to the Walhalla Memorial or the University, just a short ride away. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available if you want to try taking on the mighty Danube River.
  • Travel Tip:  Don’t miss the Regensburger Maidault (May Fair) and Regensburger Herbtsdult (Autumn Fair, held in September), each of which is like a small version of Oktoberfest featuring fireworks, live music, carnival rides, and plenty of beer.

Things To Do

Regensburg's Altstadt (Old Town) is a history lover's dream, with more than 1,500 heritage buildings and beautiful medieval architecture around every corner, in particular Thurn und Taxis Palace (also home to beautiful gardens and the site of an annual castle festival), 12th-century patrician towers, and the impressive David and Goliath mural at Goliathhaus, which dates back to 1260. The city is also home to impressive churches like St. Peter's Cathedral (an incredible example of German Gothic art), Alte Kapelle (built in the ninth century and also known as the Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady), and St. Emmeram’s Basilica (established in the 11th century in the Romanesque style and home of a large Benedictine Abbey). There's an impressive Christian art museum at the Church of St. Ulrich that's also worth a look.

  • Step back in time in Neupfarrplatz, the site of the city’s historic Jewish quarter during the 12th and 13th centuries, which, long before that, also served as the home of the Roman Castra Regina. Ponder the passage of time while checking out fortress ruins that date all the way back to 179 at Porta Praetoria, an impressive site that formerly boasted 60 acres, 18 towers, four large gates, a military hospital, and a barracks.
  • For a closer look at the city's medieval history, head to Altes Rathaus, the Old Town Hall, which once held the seat of the region's power from 1663 to 1806. You'll visit several rooms on the guided tour, including one that served as a torture chamber. Otherwise, stop by the Regensburg Museum of History or the Bridge Tower Museum for more info about the nearly 900-year-old Stone Bridge.
  • Located just around the corner from the Goliathhaus in Regensburg's Old Town, you'll find the statue of Don Juan d’Austria, dedicated to the man who helped turn the tide of the Ottoman Empire’s invasion by securing a major naval victory for the Holy League with 400 warships back in 1571 during the Battle of Lepanto.

What to Eat and Drink

Feast on giant pretzels the size of your face as well as other local Bavarian delights like schneeballen (deep-fried pastry with sugar, nuts, cinnamon, or coconut) or quarkballchen (fluffy, deep-fried pastry balls topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar). Don't forget to try some streuseltaler, a tasty German pastry that's like a cake, filled with streusel (crumbly filling made with flour, butter, and sugar), and topped with vanilla glaze. Stop by Wurtkuchl, the world’s oldest continuously operating public restaurant, purveyors of delicious sausages served with homemade sauerkraut, mustard, and caraway seed rolls. You'll find it perched near the Old Stone Bridge, where it's been serving these up since 1146. Otherwise, try some traditional fare like pork knuckle, sausage rolls, and Regensburger wurst while you're in town and wash it all down with a giant glass of beer.

Speaking of beer, you really can't go wrong when it comes to bars in Regensburg, which happens to have the most bars and restaurants per capita of any city in Germany. Stop by Spitalgarten or one of the many other biergartens (beer gardens) around the city to get a sense of why this communal, stein-swinging dining style is so popular. Wine lovers should visit Regensburg during the wintertime to sample more than 40 types of glühwein (mulled wine) among the many stalls at the city's famous Christmas markets, which also offer visitors the chance to shop from local vendors while admiring traditional Bavarian holiday decorations. If you're craving something caffeinated, head to Germany's first-ever coffee shop, Cafe Prinzess, which dates back to 1676 and is also known for its delicious chocolates and cakes.

Read more about the best foods to try in Germany and our in-depth guide to schnapps, German wine, and everything else you should be drinking besides beer.

Where to Stay

Regensburg offers accommodations perfect for any budget, ranging from big-brand and independently owned hotels to hostels and bed and breakfasts. For a more in-depth experience with a new city and its people, consider renting a room or apartment through a vacation rental service like Airbnb or VRBO. Base yourself in Regensburg's easily walkable Old Town area, where most hotels are housed in historic buildings and located near major sites like St. Peter Cathedral and Haidplatz, which once served as medieval jousting tournament grounds; other hotels can be found in the southern part of the historic district closer to Schloss Emmeram Park (beautifully manicured castle gardens) and the main train station. If you're short on time or only plan to visit for the day, consider staying an hour and 15 minutes away in larger cities like Munich or Nuremberg, where there are lots of options to choose from.

Discover some of the best places to stay during your visit, including Germany's most unique hotels, castle hotels, and top hostels.

Getting There

The closest international airport to Regensburg is about an hour away in Munich—for about $45 each way, shuttle service is available between the airport and Regensburg—while other major airports are three hours away in Frankfurt and 4.5 hours away in Berlin. The city is also well connected by motorway, bus, and Deutsche Bahn train, offering links to other major European cities like Munich (one hour, 30 minutes), Vienna (three hours, 30 minutes), or Prague (five hours). The Regensburg Hauptbahnhof (train station) is located just south of the city's historic center below Schloss Emmeram Park. If you're coming by car, take the Autobahn 9 or 93 northeast from Munich or the Autobahn 3 southeast from Nuremberg. A number of romantic cruises down the Danube are also available from companies like Viking River Cruises, which tend to pass through Regensburg.

Money Saving Tips

  • Take a walk or ride a ferry or bus along the Danube River up to the Walhalla Memorial in Donaustauf (a German Hall of Fame constructed back in the 19th century) for amazing views of the city. If you'd prefer to get more exercise in while you're sightseeing, rent a bicycle from the shop at Regensburg's main train station for less than $20 per day (or an e-bike for $30 or less per day).
  • If you'd like to learn a little about the historical places you're passing through, GuruWalk offers two-hour guided walking tours around the city in English and German. While the tour itself is free, remember to tip your guide at the end if you think they did a good job and you enjoyed your time there.
  • Keep an eye out for markets, concerts, and other outdoor events and festivals, which are usually free to attend, in Haidplatz, the famous square in Old Town. Besides the Spring and Autumn Fairs, the Thurn and Taxis Castle Festival, held annually in the scenic Thurn Und Taxis Palace grounds, is also quite popular.

Save even more money with our guide to the cheapest ways to get around Germany by train.