8 Unmissable Things to Do When Visiting Bamberg, the Franconian Rome

Explore Bamberg, the Franconian Rome, with our guide to its top attractions. From medieval marvels to cultural treasures, uncover eight unmissable experiences that promise to make your visit to this historic city truly unforgettable.


Have you heard of Bamberg before? Neither had we until we embarked on a road trip through Northern Bavaria (check out our post here). Yet, Bamberg's UNESCO World Heritage status, owing to its early medieval town plan and impeccably preserved ecclesiastical and secular structures dating back to the medieval era, caught us by surprise. As you may be aware, Germany boasts a plethora of medieval and picturesque towns, and Bamberg certainly lives up to this reputation. Its rich history, diverse architecture, and charming ambiance make it a captivating destination for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the essence of old-world Europe. Join us as we delve deeper into the wonders of Bamberg and uncover the hidden gems that make this city truly extraordinary.


Located in Upper Franconia, Bamberg was founded atop seven hills, reminiscent of the famed city of Rome. Its strategic location along the Regnitz River made it a hub for trade and commerce in medieval Europe. The city was officially established in 973 but its significance soared in 1007 when King Heinrich II, the former Duke of Bavaria, elevated it to the status of a bishopric. This decision, aimed at relieving the pressure on the neighboring Diocese of Würzburg, marked a turning point in Bamberg's history, propelling it into an era of ecclesiastical and political prominence.


The subsequent centuries saw Bamberg flourish under the rule of the Prince-Bishops, who wielded both spiritual and temporal authority over the region. Their patronage led to the construction of magnificent cathedrals, churches, and palaces, many of which still stand today as testament to Bamberg's glorious past. Despite facing challenges such as the devastation of the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, Bamberg emerged resilient, undergoing a period of Baroque reconstruction that further enhanced its architectural splendor. This era saw the addition of stunning Baroque buildings and embellishments, adding to the city's architectural diversity.


In the modern era, Bamberg's historic center remains remarkably preserved, thanks in part to its fortunate escape from widespread destruction during World War II. While many German towns suffered massive damage, Bamberg's architectural treasures remained largely unscathed, contributing to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, Bamberg stands as a living testament to its rich and varied history, with its medieval and Baroque architecture captivating visitors from around the world.


Getting to Bamberg is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options available:

  • By train: Bamberg is well-connected to major cities in Germany via its train station, Bamberg Hauptbahnhof. Deutsche Bahn operates frequent services to Bamberg from cities such as Nuremberg, Munich, and Frankfurt. The train station is centrally located, making it convenient for travelers to explore the city upon arrival.
  • By car: Traveling to Bamberg by car offers flexibility and the opportunity to explore the scenic countryside of Bavaria. Major highways such as the A70 and A73 provide access to Bamberg from cities like Nuremberg, Würzburg, and Munich. Parking facilities are available within the city center, although it's advisable to check for parking regulations and availability beforehand.
  • By bus: Several bus companies offer services to Bamberg from neighboring cities and towns. FlixBus and regional bus operators provide affordable and convenient options for travelers who prefer bus travel. The bus station is located near the train station, providing easy access to the city center.

Regardless of the mode of transportation chosen, Bamberg's central location and excellent transportation links make it easily accessible for visitors from near and far. Whether you arrive by train, car, bus, or plane, you'll find yourself immersed in the rich history and charm of this enchanting Bavarian city in no time.



Kick off the day at the Geyerswörthsteg, a pedestrian bridge where you can witness the memorable postcard of Bamberg: the southern facade of the Altes Rathaus. If you look upstream you can see the watermills used first for the production of flour and vegetable oils but later on to produce energy for some industries.


The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) of Bamberg is maybe the most famous postcard of Bamberg. Connecting the hillside Episcopal part of the city and the Island District, a part of town surrounded by river Regnitz where the old "bourgeois" merchant town flourished, the Rathaus is a very peculiar building with an also peculiar history.


According to a legend, the citizens demanded that the bishop of Bamberg granted them a portion of land for the construction of the town hall but the bishop prince, afraid of having another rising political power to compete with him, denied the land donation. This did not stop the townsfolks to get their wish done, they stuck pillars in the middle of the river and created an artificial island, on which they were able to build the desired town hall.


If this story is true or not we can not tell for sure, but what can not be denied is the wonder of this iconic building. Its half-timbered facet contrasts with the frescoes of its laterals depicting allegorical scenes in trompe-l'oeil, a typical illusionist painting technique giving a 3D impression for the motifs designed during the 18th century by Johann Anwander. Pay attention to an intriguing detail which draws the attention of tourists: the leg of a cherub protruding out of the wall as a sculpture.


After crossing the river, take a leisurely stroll to the opposite side of the city, where you'll discover the impressive Church of Saint-Martin. This Baroque gem stands as the sole example of its kind in Bamberg, adding a unique architectural flair to the cityscape. Situated in the vibrant bourgeois quarter, Saint-Martin's Church holds a rich historical significance, closely intertwined with the legacy of the Jesuits. Originally intended as the centerpiece of the Jesuit College, its construction reflects the cultural and religious influences of its time, offering visitors a glimpse into Bamberg's fascinating past.


Continuing to explore this part of Bamberg once dominated by the bourgeoisie, go to Maximiliansplatz, the most important square of the town where the new town hall is located. The square is framed by baroque buildings and hosts different markets throughout the year, including the well-known Christmas Market.


Now, go back to the other side of the town, cross the river and head up to Bamberg Cathedral. Like Rome, Bamberg was built over 7 hills and each one is crowned by a different church. The most famous one being the Cathedral Hill, where the Cathedral of Bamberg has been originally founded in 1002. From there on, it has collapsed and rebuilt a few times and, due to the long construction process, it shows several architectural styles, particularly the Romanesque and Gothic. Furthermore, this Cathedral holds the only papal grave in Germany (all the other ones are located in France or in Italy).


The Alte Hofhaltung, which is a historical complex of residential and commercial buildings of the episcopal court, started being built in the 15th century and presents a remarkable Renaissance facade and a romantic courtyard framed by Gothic half-timbered buildings. You can enter this courtyard through a interesting gate showing the Mother of God in the center and in front of a model of the Bamberg Cathedral at that time which is held by the Emperor Heinrich II and his wife Kuningunde. They are flanked by saints and famous bishops. The whole set is framed by the figures of a lying man and a woman which represent the local rivers Main and Regnitz respectively.


The Neue Residenz, located nearby the Cathedral of Bamberg and the Alte Hofhaltung, stands as a testament to the city's rich history and architectural splendor. Originally serving as the residence of the prince-bishops of Bamberg, this grand edifice has witnessed centuries of political intrigue and cultural refinement. Constructed in the 17th century, the Neue Residenz was designed to reflect the wealth and prestige of its occupants, the ecclesiastical rulers who governed the region.


One of the most notable features of the Neue Residenz is its exquisite Rosengarten, a meticulously landscaped garden adorned with over 4,500 roses. This verdant oasis offers visitors a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life, while also providing breathtaking panoramic views of the old town. From its vantage point, guests can admire the historic landmarks and picturesque rooftops that define Bamberg's skyline, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and contemplation.


To conclude your leisurely walk, make your way to the riverbank and savor the delightful sights of Little Venice, a charming collection of colorful half-timbered houses lining the banks of the Regnitz river. Dating back through the centuries, these historic dwellings provide a fascinating glimpse into Bamberg's rich heritage. Take a moment to immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance and imagine the bustling life that once thrived along these picturesque waters.

OTHER sights

Bamberg is the city of beer with evidences of having a brewery dating back to 1122, when Bishop Otto I allowed brewing rights for the Benedictine Monks at St. Michael’s Monastery. Nowadays, there are 9 working breweries within town, which produce around 50 different beers, including the famous smoked beer made from malt dried over an open flame. Unfortunately, we did not know about it and, as we had still to drive to Nuremberg, we couldn’t really taste it. But, by all means, don't make the same mistake and make sure to taste it at the historic smoked beer brewery Schlenkerla, in the old-town part of Bamberg, beneath the Cathedral.


Bamberg captivates visitors with its enchanting blend of Renaissance architecture and medieval charm. From its historic buildings to its winding cobblestone streets, every corner of this town exudes a timeless allure that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Whether you're exploring its UNESCO World Heritage sites or simply soaking in the atmosphere of its bustling markets and lively squares, Bamberg promises a day filled with unforgettable experiences. If you find yourself in Northern Bavaria, be sure to carve out time to discover the magic of Bamberg – you won't regret it.

And now it's your turn to let us know your impressions, thoughts and also tips to visit this region of Germany and in particular the city of Bamberg. Have you already been to Bamberg? We look forward to reading your comments in the section below.