58 Best Sights in Franconia and the German Danube, Germany


Fodor's choice

Perhaps the most famous Christmas Market in Germany, the Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt sits on the town's cobblestone main square beneath the wonderful Frauenkirche. Renowned for its food, particularly Nürnberger Bratwurstchen, tasty little pork and marjoram sausages, and Lebkuchen, gingerbread made with cinnamon and honey, the market is also famed for its little figures made out of prunes called Nürnberger Zwetschgenmännla (Nuremberg Prune People).

Dom St. Stephan

Fodor's choice

The cathedral rises majestically on the highest point of the earliest-settled part of the city. A baptismal church stood here in the 6th century, and 200 years later, when Passau became a bishop's seat, the first basilica was built. It was dedicated to St. Stephan and became the original mother church of St. Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna. A fire reduced the medieval basilica to ruins in 1662; it was then rebuilt by Italian master architect Carlo Lurago. What you see today is the largest baroque basilica north of the Alps, complete with an octagonal dome and flanking towers. Little in its marble- and stucco-encrusted interior reminds you of Germany, and much proclaims the exuberance of Rome. Beneath the dome is the largest church organ assembly in the world. Built between 1924 and 1928 and enlarged in 1979–80, it claims no fewer than 17,774 pipes and 233 stops. The church also houses the most powerful bell chimes in southern Germany.

Germanisches Nationalmuseum

Fodor's choice

You could spend a lifetime exploring the largest and greatest ethnological museum in Germany. This vast museum showcases the country's cultural and scientific achievements, ethnic background, and history. Housed in a former Carthusian monastery, complete with cloisters and monastic outbuilding, the complex effectively melds the ancient with modern extensions, giving the impression that Germany is moving forward by examining its past. The exhibition begins outside, with the tall, sleek pillars of the Strasse der Menschenrechte (Street of Human Rights), designed by Israeli artist Dani Karavan. Thirty columns are inscribed with the articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There are few aspects of German culture, from the Stone Age to the 19th century, that are not covered by the museum, and quantity and quality are evenly matched. One highlight is the superb collection of Renaissance German paintings (with Dürer, Cranach, and Altdorfer well represented). Others may prefer the exquisite medieval ecclesiastical exhibits—manuscripts, altarpieces, statuary, stained glass, jewel-encrusted reliquaries—the collections of arms and armor, the scientific instruments, or the toys.

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Fodor's choice

The city's main attraction is a grand yet playful collection of buildings standing just inside the city walls; it was once the residence of the Holy Roman Emperor. It is difficult to imagine that in 1945 almost the entire structure was reduced to rubble. The complex comprises three separate groups of buildings. The oldest, dating from around 1050, is the Burggrafenburg (Castellan's Castle), with a craggy old pentagonal tower and the bailiff's house. It stands in the center of the complex. To the east is the Kaiserstallung (Imperial Stables), built in the 15th century as a granary and is now a youth hostel. The real interest of this vast complex of ancient buildings, however, centers on the westernmost part of the fortress, which begins at the Sinwell Turm (Sinwell Tower). The Kaiserburg Museum is here, a subsidiary of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum that displays ancient armors and has exhibits relating to horsemanship in the imperial era and to the history of the fortress. This section of the castle also has a wonderful Romanesque Doppelkappelle (Double Chapel). The upper part—richer, larger, and more ornate than the lower chapel—was where the emperor and his family worshipped. Also, visit the Rittersaal (Knights' Hall) and the Kaisersaal (Throne Room). Since this section of the fortress survived the war, the heavy oak beams, painted ceilings, and sparse interiors have changed little since they were built in the 15th century.

Steinerne Brücke

Fodor's choice

This impressive medieval bridge resting on massive stone pontoons is Regensburg's most celebrated sight. It was completed in 1146 and was rightfully considered a miraculous piece of engineering at the time. As the only crossing point over the Danube for miles, it effectively cemented Regensburg's control over trade. The significance of the little statue on the bridge is a mystery, but the figure seems to be a witness to the legendary rivalry between the master builders of the bridge and those of the Dom.

Veste Coburg

Fodor's choice

This fortress, one of the largest and most impressive in the country, is Coburg's main attraction. The brooding bulk of the castle guards the town atop a 1,484-foot hill. Construction began around 1055, but with progressive rebuilding and remodeling today's predominantly late Gothic–early Renaissance edifice bears little resemblance to the original crude fortress. One part of the castle harbors the Kunstsammlungen, a grand set of collections including art, with works by Dürer, Cranach, and Hans Holbein, among others; sculpture from the school of the great Tilman Riemenschneider (1460–1531); furniture and textiles; magnificent weapons, armor, and tournament garb spanning four centuries (in the so-called Herzoginbau, or Duchess's Building); carriages and ornate sleighs; and more. The room where Martin Luther lived for six months in 1530 while he observed the goings-on of the Augsburg Diet has an especially dignified atmosphere. The Jagdintarsien-Zimmer (Hunting Marquetry Room), an elaborately decorated room that dates back to the early 17th century, has some of the finest woodwork in southern Germany. Finally, there's the Carl-Eduard-Bau (Carl-Eduard Building), which contains a valuable antique glass collection, mostly from the baroque age.


Fodor's choice

In Bad Staffelstein, on the east side of the Main north of Bamberg, is a tall, elegant, yellow-sandstone edifice whose interior represents one of the great examples of rococo decoration. The church was built by Balthasar Neumann (architect of the Residenz at Würzburg) between 1743 and 1772 to commemorate a vision of Christ and 14 saints—vierzehn Heiligen—that appeared to a shepherd in 1445. The interior, known as "God's Ballroom," is supported by 14 columns. In the middle of the church is the Gnadenaltar (Mercy Altar) featuring the 14 saints. Thanks to clever play with light, light colors, and fanciful gold-and-blue trimmings, the dizzying interior seems to be in perpetual motion. Guided tours of the church are given on request; a donation is expected. On Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday the road leading to the church is closed and you have to walk the last half mile.

Weltenburg Abbey

Fodor's choice
The first abbey to be built on this site was founded in 600 by the Benedictines (who themselves built over a bronze-age temple). The present abbey dates from 1716–51 and is considered a pinnacle of European baroque architecture. Weltenburg was disbanded after Bavarian secularization, but reinstated in 1842 by King Ludwig II and repopulated with monks from a neighboring abbey, who carried on the 500-year-old beer brewing tradition. In fact, Weltenburg carries the distinction of being the oldest monastic brewery in the world, and visitors are encouraged to partake of the golden beverage in the abbey's lovely baroque courtyard along with a meal or snack in the abbey restaurant (where the beer is the star of the show by a longshot). Weltenburg is just under four miles from town and is reachable by frequent ferrys from the port.


The great painter Albrecht Dürer lived here from 1509 until his death in 1528. His beautifully preserved late-medieval house is typical of the prosperous merchants' homes that once filled Nuremberg. Dürer, who enriched German art with Renaissance elements, was more than a painter. He raised the woodcut, a notoriously difficult medium, to new heights of technical sophistication, combining great skill with a haunting, immensely detailed drawing style and complex, allegorical subject matter. A number of original prints adorn the walls, and printing techniques using the old press are demonstrated in the studio. An excellent opportunity to find out about life in the house of Dürer is the tour with a guide role-playing Agnes Dürer, the artist's wife.

Alte Hofhaltung

Dating from the 11th century, the oldest building complex in the city, the Castrum Babenberg, was once the seat of the ruling prince-bishops of Bamberg. The Hofhaltung was like a royal estate, with storage, workshops and anything else essential to supplying the court. When the prince-bishop moved into the baroque New Residence, the Hofhaltung served as a library, offices, and council chambers. The original buildings were renovated in the 16th century. The interior courtyard is like stepping back into the Middle Ages, with large half-timber houses covered in boxed geraniums. Inside the main sandstone building is the Katharinenkapelle, a small 12th-century gothic chapel.  Today, the complex houses the Bamberg Historical Museum and the courtyard hosts festivals and concerts.

Bamberg, Bavaria, 96049, Germany
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Rate Includes: Free, Museum €7

Alte Kapelle

Erected by the Carolingian order in the 9th century, the Old Chapel's sober exterior hides joyous rococo treasures within—extravagant concoctions of sinuous gilt stucco, rich marble, and giddy frescoes, the whole illuminated by light pouring in from the upper windows.

Alter Kornmarkt 8, Regensburg, Bavaria, 93047, Germany
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Rate Includes: Free

Altes Rathaus

The picture-book complex of medieval half-timber buildings, with windows large and small and flowers in tubs, is one of the best-preserved town halls in the country, as well as one of the most historically important. It was here, in the imposing Gothic Reichssaal (Imperial Hall), that the Perpetual Imperial Diet met from 1663 to 1806. This parliament of sorts consisted of the emperor, the electors (seven or eight), the princes (about 50), and the burghers, who assembled to discuss and determine the affairs of the far-reaching German lands of the Holy Roman Empire. The hall is sumptuously appointed with tapestries, flags, and heraldic designs. Note the wood ceiling, built in 1408, and the different elevations for the various estates. The Reichssaal is occasionally used for concerts. The neighboring Ratssaal (Council Room) is where the electors met for their consultations. The cellar holds the city's torture chamber; the Fragstatt (Questioning Room); and the execution room, called the Armesünderstübchen (Poor Sinners' Room). Any prisoner who withstood three degrees of questioning without confessing was considered innocent and released—which tells you something about medieval notions of justice.

Rathauspl., Regensburg, Bavaria, 93047, Germany
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Rate Includes: €8

Altes Rathaus

At Bamberg's historic core, the Altes Rathaus is tucked snugly on a small island in the Regnitz. To the west of the river is the so-called Bishops' Town; to the east, Burghers' Town. The citizens of Bamberg built this extravagantly decorated building on an artificial island when the bishop of Bamberg refused to give the city the land for a town hall. Industrious citizens quickly realized that the river was a tax haven as it wasn't claimed by anyone as property. The two bridges symbolically connect the spiritual side of Bamberg to the civic center. The outward appearance of the building is deceiving and gives the impression that the half-timbered section and the facade were built separately. The entire building is half-timbered, but the city plastered over the entire building in the 18th century and covered it with trompe-l'oeil frescos. In the 1960s the rear of the building was restored to its original look. Its excellent collection of porcelain is a sampling of 18th-century styles, from almost sober Meissens with bucolic Watteau scenes to simple but rare Haguenau pieces from Alsace and faience from Strasbourg.

Obere Brücke 1, Bamberg, Bavaria, 96047, Germany
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Rate Includes: €5, Closed Mon.

Altes Rathaus

Bombing destroyed the original City Hall, completed in 1332, on Rathausplatz in 1944.  The post-war reconstruction incorporates the intact medieval dungeons, consisting of 12 small rooms and one large torture chamber. The Lochgefängnis (the Hole), shows the gruesome applications of medieval law. Gänsemännchenbrunnen (Gooseman's Fountain) faces the Altes Rathaus. This lovely Renaissance bronze fountain, cast in 1550, is a work of rare elegance and great technical sophistication.

Rathauspl. 2, Nürnberg, Bavaria, 90403, Germany
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Rate Includes: €4, min. 5 people for tours, Closed Mon.

Altes Schloss Eremitage

This palace, 5 km (3 miles) north of Bayreuth on B-85, makes an appealing departure from the sonorous and austere Wagnerian mood of much of the town. It's an early-18th-century palace, built as a summer retreat and remodeled in 1740 by the Margravine Wilhelmine, sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia. Although her taste is not much in evidence in the drab exterior, the interior, alive with light and color, displays her guiding hand in every elegant line. The extraordinary Japanischer Saal (Japanese Room), filled with Asian treasures and chinoiserie furniture, is the finest room. The park and gardens, partly formal, partly natural, are enjoyable for idle strolling. Fountain displays take place at the two fake grottoes at the top of the hour 10–5 daily.

Eremitagestr. 4, Bayreuth, Bavaria, Germany
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Rate Includes: Schloss €5; park free, Closed Oct.–Mar.


With a massive collection of original half-timber houses and gothic, and baroque architecture, Bamberg’s old city is a joy to wander aimlessly. In the pedestrianized center of the Inselstadt is Maximilliansplatz with the baroque Neues Rathaus, medieval hospital, and a fountain dedicated to Bamberg’s patron saint Heinrich II. Maxplatz, as it’s known by the locals, hosts a daily market (Grüner Markt) where you can shop for local produce. There are more than 60 breweries in the region and the best place to experience Bamberg’s beer culture is at one of the many pubs and brewhouses on the Sandstrasse. All of Bamberg’s old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bier Erlebnis Welt

The Maisel brewery opened on this spot in 1887 and is still run by the fourth generation of Maisel brothers. The brewery operated here until 1981 when it moved to its bigger current home next door. After gaining some insight into the Franconian art of brewing, quaff a cool, freshly tapped traditional Bavarian Weissbier (wheat beer) in the museum's pub. The pub is also one of a handful of places to try Maisel & Friends Craft Beer, including the Citrilla Wheat, an experimental wheat-based IPA. The restaurant and beer garden are the perfect places to while away an afternoon.

Andreas-Maisel-Weg 1, Bayreuth, Bavaria, 95445, Germany
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Rate Includes: €10

Brückturm Museum

With its tiny windows, weathered tiles, and pink plaster, this 17th-century tower stands at the south end of the Steinerne Brücke and is one of the most famous symbols of Regensburg. The tower displays a host of items relating to the construction and history of the old bridge. It also offers a gorgeous view of the Regensburg roof landscape. The brooding building with a massive roof to the left of the Brückturm is an old salt warehouse.

Weisse-Lamm-G. 1, Regensburg, Bavaria, 93047, Germany
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Rate Includes: €2


In the weeks before Christmas, a traditional market spreads through the old city in the shadow of  Dom St. Stephan. Although often overshadowed by larger markets in Nuremberg or Dresden, Passau's market is less touristy and offers a more authentic experience with vendors from Czechia, Germany, and Austria.


Directly adjacent to the Bamberg Dom, this museum contains one of many nails and splinters of wood reputed to be from the true cross of Jesus. The "star-spangled" cloak stitched with gold, given to Emperor Heinrich II by an Italian prince, is among the finest items displayed. More macabre exhibits in this rich ecclesiastical collection are the elaborately mounted skulls of Heinrich and Kunigunde. The building itself was designed by Balthasar Neumann (1687–1753), the architect of Vierzehnheiligen, and constructed between 1730 and 1733.

Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds

On the eastern outskirts of the city, the Ausstellung Faszination und Gewalt (Fascination and Terror Exhibition) documents the political, social, and architectural history of the Nazi Party. The sobering museum helps illuminate the whys and hows of Hitler's rise to power during the unstable period after World War I and the end of the democratic Weimar Republic. This is one of the few museums that documents how the Third Reich's propaganda machine influenced the masses. The 19-room exhibition is inside a horseshoe-shape Congress Hall, designed for a crowd of 50,000, that the Nazis never completed. The Nazis did make infamous use of the nearby Zeppelin Field, the enormous parade ground where Hitler addressed his largest Nazi Party rallies. Today it sometimes shakes to the amplified beat of pop concerts. The Zeppelin Field is freely accessible to the public and 12 information points give a detailed history of the area. To get to the Documentation Center, take Tram 9 from the city center to the Doku-Zentrum stop. The Documentation Center is being remodeled. There is a temporary exhibit open until construction is complete in 2025. The temporary exhibit is the only part of the building that is open. Car parking is extremely limited.


Bamberg's great cathedral is a unique building that tells not only the town's story but that of Germany as well. The first building here was begun by Heinrich II in 1003, and it was in this partially completed cathedral that he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1012. In 1237 it was destroyed by fire, and replaced by the present, cross-shaped, late Romanesque–early Gothic building. The building is a copy of 12th century version of St. Peters in Rome. The dominant features are the four massive towers at each corner, just like the older St. Peters. Heading into the dark interior, you'll find a striking collection of monuments and art treasures. The most famous piece is the Bamberger Reiter (Bamberg Horseman), an equestrian statue carved—no one knows by whom—around 1230 and thought to be an allegory of chivalrous virtue or a representation of King Stephen of Hungary. Compare it with the mass of carved figures huddled in the tympana above the church portals. In the center of the nave, you'll find another masterpiece, the massive tomb of Heinrich and his wife, Kunigunde. It's the work of Tilman Riemenschneider. Pope Clement II is also buried in the cathedral, in an imposing tomb beneath the high altar; he's the only pope buried north of the Alps. Throughout summer organ concerts are given Saturday at noon in the Dom. Call for program details

Dom St. Peter

Regensburg's transcendent cathedral, modeled on the airy, powerful lines of French Gothic architecture, is something of a rarity this far south in Germany. Begun in the 13th century, it stands on the site of a much earlier Carolingian church. Remarkably, the cathedral can hold 6,000 people, three times the population of Regensburg when building began. Construction dragged on for almost 600 years, until Ludwig I of Bavaria, then ruler of Regensburg, finally had the towers built. These had to be replaced in the mid-1950s. Behind the Dom is a little workshop where a team of 15 stonecutters is busy full-time in summer recutting and restoring parts of the cathedral.

Before heading into the Dom, take time to admire the intricate and frothy carvings of its facade. Inside, the glowing 14th-century stained glass in the choir and the exquisitely detailed statues of the archangel Gabriel and the Virgin in the crossing (the intersection of the nave and the transepts) are among the church's outstanding features.

Dompl. 50, Regensburg, Bavaria, 93047, Germany
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Rate Includes: Free; €3 for tour


This large square in front of the Dom is bordered by sturdy 17th- and 18th-century buildings, including the Alte Residenz, the former bishop's palace and now a courthouse. The neoclassical statue at the center is Bavarian King Maximilian I, who watches over the Christmas market in December.


This museum contains valuable treasures going back to the 11th century. Some of the vestments and the monstrances, which are fine examples of eight centuries' worth of the goldsmith's trade, are still used during special services. The entrance is in the nave.

Dompl., Regensburg, Bavaria, 93047, Germany
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Rate Includes: €3, Closed Sun.

Einsiedelei Klösterl

A 30-minute walk over a pretty scenic footpath between Kelheim and Weltenburg (starting at the Kelheim port) takes you past this ancient hermitage hewn from a cliff-side cave in 1450. A few years later the abbey was appropriated by the Franciscans, who expanded the small chapel and abbey. Having fallen into ruin, in 1603 it was entirely rebuilt by a local mason. Services are still held in the abbey, which also has a small beer garden serving snacks and local brews.
Klösterl 1, Kelheim, Bavaria, 93309, Germany
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Rate Includes: Times vary. Check with Tourist Office or call the abbey.


This high temple of the Wagner cult—where performances take place only during the annual Wagner Festival—is surprisingly plain. The spartan look is explained partly by Wagner's desire to achieve perfect acoustics. The wood seats have no upholstering and the walls are bare. The enormous stage is capable of holding the huge casts required for Wagner's largest operas. The festival is still meticulously controlled by Wagner's family. You can see the theater on a guided tour except during Festival season.

Festspielhügel 1, Bayreuth, Bavaria, 95444, Germany
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Rate Includes: €7, No tours during festival season (usually June–Aug).

Franconian Brewery Museum

Once a Benedictine monastery, the Kloster of St. Michael has been gazing over Bamberg since 1015. Due to renovation work, the monastery's lovely Church of St. Michael is closed to the public until 2025. The monastery itself is now used as a seniors' home. What's left is the museum, which exhibits everything that has to do with beer, from the making of malt to recipes and is worth a visit if the subject interests you. You'll learn the ins and outs of brewing and can arrange a tasting if you like.

Michelsberg 10f, Bamberg, Bavaria, 96049, Germany
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Rate Includes: €4, Closed Mon. and Tues., and Nov.–Mar.


Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV commissioned the late-Gothic Frauenkirche in 1350, and it was built on the site of a synagogue that burned to the ground during the 1349 pogrom. The modern tabernacle, completed in 1991, beneath the main altar was designed to look like a Torah scroll as a memorial to that despicable act. The church's main attraction is the Männleinlaufen, a clock dating from 1509, which is set into its facade. The clock is one of those colorful mechanical marvels at which Germans have long excelled; Every day at noon the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire glide out of the clock to bow to Emperor Charles IV before sliding back undercover. It's worth scheduling your morning to catch the display.

Glasmuseum Passau

The world's most comprehensive collection of European glass is housed in the lovely Hotel Wilder Mann. The history of Central Europe's glassmaking is captured in 30,000 items, from baroque to art deco, spread over 35 rooms. The museum also houses the world's largest collection of cookbooks.

Schrottgasse 2, Passau, Bavaria, 93042, Germany
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Rate Includes: €7