8 Top Things to Do in Bamberg, Germany

Colorful buildings in Bamberg, Germany

Westend61 / Getty Images

Located over seven hills, just like another famous European city, this Bavarian town's nickname is the "Franconian Rome." Picture perfect around every corner, Bamberg is home to one of Europe’s largest intact medieval town centers, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while its winding narrow streets and half-timbered architecture are the holy grail of fairy tale Germany.

But Bamberg, located about 2.5 hours from Frankfurt in Central Germany, is more than just a gorgeous still life. Universität Bamberg has more than 10,000 students, while the nearby U.S. Army base is home to around 4,000 military members and their dependents, resulting in nearly 7,000 foreign residents. On an average weekend night, the city's downtown is a melting pot of international locals. Here's how to make the most of your time in this fascinating German city.

01 of 08

Admire the Splendor of Seehof Palace

Schloss Seehof, or Seehof Palace, in Bamberg, Germany

Andyworks / Getty Images

Schloß Seehof 1, 96117 Memmelsdorf, Germany
Phone +49 951 409571

Originally built as a summer residence in 1686 for the Prince-Bishops of Bamberg, today Schloss Seehof, also called Seehof Palace, mostly functions as office space for the Bavarian State Conservation Office. It's lovely to view from outside, though you can join a 45-minute guided tour for a small fee from late April through October. A combination ticket is also available if you'd like to also check out the Neue Residenz (New Palace) in Bamberg, which we'll get into a bit later.

02 of 08

Take Photos of Bamberg's Iconic Altes Rathaus

Bamberg Altes Rathaus
Getty Images / Val Thoermer
Ob. Brücke, 96047 Bamberg, Germany
Phone +49 951 870

Precariously perched above the river Regnitz on its own island, the old town hall is connected to the rest of Bamberg by two bridges. Its unusual location is due to a dispute with the bishop—the townspeople were not allowed to build on the mainland, so they created a safe haven from which to rule their city.

The building is decorated in a hodgepodge of styles with allegorical paintings on both sides showing how the Rathaus was created. Observe the decorative balconies, Baroque details, and cheeky cherubs. Inside, the Ludwig Collection is on display with 18th-century delicate figurines and porcelain.

03 of 08

Be Regal at the Neue Residenz & Rosengarten

Bamberg Rosengarten

TripSavvy / Erin Porter

Neue Residenz, Dompl. 8, 96049 Bamberg, Germany

Explore the four wings of the Neue Residenz (New Palace), with tours of more than 40 staterooms decorated with 17th and 18th century tapestries. In the Imperial Hall, there are 16 magnificent portraits of emperors. This place served as the seat of Bamberg's prince bishops until 1802. Overlooking the city, a baroque rosengarten (rose garden) features more than 4,500 types of roses and superb views of lower Bamberg.

04 of 08

Sip the Smoke

Brauerei Schlenkerla

TripSavvy / Erin Porter

Dominikanerstraße 6, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
Phone +49 951 56050

Bamberg is known for its independent brewery scene and unique rauchbier (smoke beer), a result of the unusual malting process during which grains are smoked over a beechwood fire. You can sample the famous beer at all nine of the town's traditional breweries to get a sense of this distinct flavor. If that beer's strong smell and taste isn't your ding (thing), Bamberg breweries serve over 50 other types of beer, just in case. 

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Step into Little Venice

Little Venice in Bamberg, Germany
GettyImages / Thomas Robbin
Fischerei 31, 96047 Bamberg, Germany
Phone +49 951 22114

From Altes Rathaus, you can spot Klein-Venedig, also known as the "Little Venice" section of Bamberg. This fishermen's district encapsulates the charm of the town with a row of colorful 14th to 17th Century half-timbered houses. Take a stroll along the crowded waterfront that serves as the stage for the yearly Sandkerwa festival in August.

06 of 08

Look to the Hevens and the Cathedral

Bamberg Dom

Tomekbudujedomek / Getty Images

Dompl., 96049 Bamberg, Germany
Phone +49 951 5022512

The Bamberger Dom was founded in 1004 and burned down in the 11th and 12th centuries before its current structure was finally completed in the 13th century. The cathedral towers over the altstadt (old city) and houses the tombs of Emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II, the only papal burial ground north of the Alps. Keep an eye out for the mysterious statue of the Bamberger Reiter which dates back to the early 1200s and serves as a symbol of the city. You can also join one of many guided tours and check out an organ recital while you're here.

Located next door to the cathedral and within the halls of the Alte Hofhaltung (old court hall), Bamberg's historical museum covers the complete background of the city and houses a large art collection featuring coins as well as astronomical and mathematical tools. Around Christmas, visitors will find a compilation of nativity scenes as well.

07 of 08

Get Pious at the Monastery

Kloster St Michael

TripSavvy / Erin Porter

Michelsberg 12f, 96049 Bamberg, Germany

Kloster Michaelsberg provides a picturesque backdrop to the rose garden, or for visitors who make the trek up, panoramic views overlooking Bamberg. Founded in 1015 in the Baroque style, the church was rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style following a fire in 1610. Upon entering the church, look up to observe the "Garden of Heaven," a ceiling painting depicting 578 flowers and medicinal herbs.

08 of 08

Storm the Castle on the Hill

Bamberg's Altenburg
GettyImages / TomekD76
Altenburg 1, 96049 Bamberg, Germany
Phone +49 951 56828

Located on the tallest hill of Bamberg, the current castle structure dates back to 1109. After going through several owners and periods of abandonment, the castle has been refurbished and is now open for tours and events. It also offers superb views of the town below.

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8 Top Things to Do in Bamberg, Germany