Bamberg, Würzburg or Nuremberg?
On a recent trip to Germany’s Franconia area we were confronted with an issue: where to base ourselves for our 9 days in the region. There were 3 main choices: Nuremberg (the biggest city in the area), Würzburg (a lovely smallish city on the popular “Romantic Road”) and Bamberg (a small town who’s historical center is listed as a World Heritage site). We had originally thought Würzburg based on recommendations from friends and I went about trying to rent an apartment on Airbnb. I found prices on the high side. I decided to look at Bamberg – and then found the perfect apartment at a good price. So Bamberg it was.
Bamberg ended up being the perfect place. It is the typical fairy tale German town full of half-timbered buildings and quaint cobblestoned streets. The historic center is built around the small Regnitz river and extends up to seven hills around town, all crowned with a church or monastery. Some photos:
One of the reasons Bamberg is so special is that it escaped being bombed in WWII. Because of this, it is one of the few German cities that managed to retain it’s original infrastructure and charm. Although both Nuremberg and Würzburg are very pretty, you’ll see a mix of restored buildings along with modern architecture in both. You won’t see any of that in Bamberg’s old town.
Related: 5 great places to visit in Germany (that few people know about)
In addition to it’s small size and the charm (and friendliness) that come with that, there are a few other reasons why Bamberg makes a great base in the area.
– Transport. Bamberg, Nuremberg and Würzburg lie in a rough triangle and getting between cities takes the same time whatever your base. Bamberg to Nuremberg takes 45 minutes to an hour depending on the train and number of stops, Bamberg to Würzburg takes between an 1 to 1 ¼ hr. So despite being smaller, Bamberg has the same great rail connections. The only inconvenience with choosing Bamberg is if you’re planning a visit to the pretty but very touristy town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber – in that case you’re better off in either Nuremberg and Würzburg (both an hour away from Rothenburg ob der Tauber).
If Flying in, Nuremberg (airport code NUE) has the major airport in the area.
– Accommodation. Comparing the costs of Airbnb apartments between Würzburg and Bamberg I found prices in Bamberg about 20% less on average. I don’t know why this would be but apartments in Würzburg seemed on the high side (and this was late February, definitely low season). We were very happy with this apartment. If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet sign up using our link and save the equivalent of $35 US on your first stay. Hotels. I have a few recommendations: Am Blumenhaus (really nice modern rooms, central, great value. Very popular), Hotel Weierich (charming mix of old and new, right in center, excellent value), Hotel Alt-Ringlein (traditional half-timbered German building, tons of charm, central location, good value).
– Beer. Bamberg has the best beer we have had anywhere. The town has a population of about 70,000 and there are 11 breweries which tells you how much they love their beer here. I really recommend this 2 hour Walking Tour combined with a Brewery Visit (it’s a group tour, so really worth it the more you are).
Bamberg impressed us so much that we are planning to come back sometime in either summer or autumn. It is one of our favorite German towns.
Have you been to Bamberg? If so, what did you think of it?
A visit to Würzburg, the city of churches.
Here’s why Nuremberg is worth a Visit
Also nearby: The really pretty town of Coburg
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At one time Bamberg was the home of a major army base. Thousands of American soldiers had been stationed there over the years and most have the same affection for the city. I was fortunate off to be one of them. A number of years later I took my wife to visit for a couple of days and she fell in love with the city also. Since then we have been to Bamberg many times, showing our children where I had been stationed. If we were anywhere in the area we always included at least a daytrip to Bamberg.
For anyone visiting be sure to try the smoked beer that is a specialty of Bamberg. Also there is a small restaurant on the back of Michaelsburg where you can enjoy a wonderful lunch and have a beautiful view of the city from one of its highest points.
Thank you so much Jim for sharing that, I didn’t know it had once been a US base. That’s a nice story about going back several times with your wife and kids. My mom was actually born in nearby Erlangen and she’s always told me what a pretty place Bamberg is.
Yes, we actually tried that smoked beer…it’s an acquired taste. I love beer but I just had a really hard time with it. Thanks for the tip on the restaurant, we’ll make sure to go the next time.
Dee (Dee's Butterfly Garden)
What a beautiful place! It reminds me of a fairy tale place! Beautiful photos!!
Thank you Dee 🙂
Beautiful pictures – especially the view through the arch and the picture of the structure in the middle of the bridge. Stunning! I’ve been to Germany but never to Bamberg. Your pictures have definitely convinced me that it’s well worth a visit.
Thank you Dana! 🙂
Very well managed and perfect town ever. we never seen before this type of town outside of the European country.
Thank you Amghala. Many very pretty towns in Germany 🙂
Looks like you’ve found a real gem Frank! Wonderful!
I think the best places often are the small to mid sized towns. You might get 1 great city that stands out but others can start to all look the same without much character.
Especially true in developing countries! But yes, I’m in agreement – we much prefer our places a bit smaller.
Wow! It looks beautiful! I would love to visit there. Truth be told, l had never even heard of Bamberg ;-). We have only been to Berlin, but we have so many other places in Germany that we want to visit. Adding this one to the list thanks to your gorgeous pictures and review 🙂
I think the best places in Germany are actually the small to mid-sized towns and not the cities. I hope you get there one day Kemkem!
While we were in Slovenia a few years ago, someone told us that Slovenia is like a mini-Germany (super neat and clean). These pictures are incredible because they’re so CLEAN!!! Nothing out of place. No trash. Nothing! How do they do it??? Perhaps it’s just the culture or are people just neurotically clean over there?
I think Germans are very environmentally conscious. Our Airbnb host for example asked us to separate our garbage between organic and non-organic as well as recycle everything we could.
But we’ve seen that before from Germans, both in Germany and abroad. And I think when things are clean you take pride in maintaining it.
We were in Nuremberg and in one church they had all these photos of Nuremberg after the war. It was devastated, laid flat. And then there are photos of the reconstruction, some as recent as 10 years ago…it hit me what a monumental success Germany has become rebuilding after the war and in becoming the economic powerhouse of Europe. It also shows how, through 1 or 2 generations, a country can rebuild from nothing if there is enough willpower and political will. Sometimes you need to see photos before/after to really have something sink in…
What a convenient location and it looks picture perfect. I was lucky enough to get to Nuremberg for a day, not long enough, and fell in love with it. I know Bamberg will steal my heart by your fabulous photos. Nice to know that airbnb apts run cheaper compared to the other two cities…thanks for the tip Frank 🙂
If you loved Nuremberg you’d love Bamberg and Wurzburg even more! The whole region is really pretty.
Wow, talk about a picture perfect town. They were lucky to escape the bombing!
I read that it’s because Bamberg was neither a Nazi base or have production facilities (for weapons).
I so want to return to Germany, especially, Bavaria. We haven’t been to Bamberg, but we did spend 3 1/2 days in Nuremberg (not long enough) and loved it and 3 1/2 days in Munich, (not long enough) which we found fascinating. If you find yourself in Munich I can offer a couple of tips. Nuremberg was so pretty and quaint and charming, we were there in early March so the temps were nippy, but we very much enjoyed our stay. All of your photos only drive home the point that we need to return, love the leg extending from the mural!
Thanks for the comment Patti. We enjoyed Nuremberg as well and would to go back there again in better weather. I’ve been there twice and somehow it always seems to be raining, cold and miserable. Maybe one day we get it on a decent day…
Yes, I know you’ve got German genes Patti. Next time in Munich (we haven’t been since 2008) I’ll ask you for advice. Thank you 🙂
Paul and Carole
Great photos! We have never been to Germany but the more we see of it the more it is becoming on the to do list!
Germany is great, we are never disappointed. One of our favorite countries!
Travels and Tipples
We were in Bamberg for a short time a few years ago for the Christmas market and need to go back when we have more time to explore. Would love to have a beer with you next time you’re in the area!
Thanks Patricia! Maybe next time, would be nice seeing you again 🙂
Haven’t been to Bamberg YET! You’ve got some great photos of it here, though. It reminds me a little bit of Strasbourg with the way the river winds through the city. We will be back in Germany this August/September so Baby Gypsy can meet the German side of the family. As we won’t be tacking on any additional countries on this trip, I hope we can do some sightseeing in Franken and Bayern instead; maybe Bamberg will be our destination! Our German hometown is actually in Mittelfranken – it’s Dinkelsbuhl, the sister town to Rothenberg o.d. Tauber and roughly 40km away. I can’t remember if I’ve commented this to you before, but if you’re in Germany in July, check out the Kinderzeche festival in Dinkelsbuhl! It’s fantastic. I’ve written a couple posts about it in the past if you have any interest or are able to attend!
That is a great story Katrina. I’ve linked it here. Would love to see it and to drink the copious beer that you refer to. I don’t think it’ll be this year but for sure we’d love to go see it. I think I’ve mentioned to you in the past – we love Germany.
Thank you for the great tip.
It sounds like a great trip you have planned. Beautiful region, my mom is from close by as well (Erlangen, which we passed through a bunch of times by train). As far as a base, you can’t go wrong with Bamberg, we really enjoyed it.
Thanks for the great comment Katrina.