We were only in Bamberg for two days (one night) and I can’t imagine needing to spend much longer in this small, brewery packed, town. It’s a beautiful city and one of the few left untouched by wars in Germany (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site). Beyond the typical sights of the ornate church, quirky town hall, and old town square there are plenty of beer-y things to do. These were my favorite stops we made in Bamberg.
This was a fitting first stop in Bamberg because it is also the oldest brewery in the city. It gave an immediate sense of how much Bamberg values tradition and drinking culture. On a sunny Saturday on the back patio under massive branded umbrellas there were several tables of locals enjoying a snack and a pint, a long table filled with older men clanking ceramic beer steins all wearing the same shirt (adorable), and one other table of tourists.
Opt for the braunbier and the kellerbier if they’re available (at €3 a pop you can afford to try the whole menu!) and enjoy the views over the water. I didn’t try the food here but it appears to be very typical German fare. There are also tours that need to be booked in advanced.
Of course, you can’t talk about Bamberg without talking about Schlenkerla...so I won’t! First thing to note, there is a restaurant around the corner, Kachelofen from Schlenkerla that does a very good job masquerading as the real deal. While it’s not a bad spot (we enjoyed a rauchbier and a few kellerbiers on the patio) it’s something to note.
Schlenkerla is gigantic and almost cavernous (at least to this NYC resident). Each room has its own charm (a full description of the rooms is available on the brewery website) and the beer garden looked like the quintessential place to enjoy a rauchbier. It was closed when we visited. The good news is with all that space in a small city it’s unlikely that you’ll feel crowded at Schlenkerla so it’s a great place to post up for a smokey beer and some German food (a match made in pork heaven!).
We were lucky enough to visit when the “Krausenbier” was in season and I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, I did recommend it to an entire tour group that was a little unsure about the whole smoked beer thing. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the style without being overwhelmed, or to ease into the real deal.
Next door to Schlenkerla is a tiny brewery making their own weissbier and fresh white weisswurst. The atmosphere is a little more sunny and airy than Schlenkerla which made for a nice lunchtime setting. You can sit right next to their brew house and snack on pretzels sausage and some housemate beer! Worth a stop to take a break from rauchbier.
One thing I didn’t get to do while in Bamberg that I really wanted to was tour the malting facilities at Weyermann. They have a public tour every Wednesday at 2pm but I just couldn’t get the days of our trip to line up. If you have a group of 8+ you can book a private tour any weekday. In the few emails I had back and forth with staff they were extremely helpful! I think with enough advanced planning you could book a smaller tour or tag along on an existing tour. Definitely something to look into if you want to geek out on how German beer is really made!
The Views of Bamberg
Castle Altenberg/Restaurant Altenberg
We were in Bamberg during an uncharacteristic heatwave for Germany (my friend in Berlin said stores completely sold out of fans) so we skipped the 30 minute walk from old town through the city and up the hill that Castle Altenberg sits on. If it were even a bit cooler I would have taken the hike because it takes you past all the major Bamberg landmarks and up a very scenic hill. You can drive almost to the castle and just the five-ish minute trek from our car was more than enough 92 degree sunshine for us. When we looked over the ledge of the castle we realized the sweat was worth it.
You can see the whole city of Bamberg tucked in the valley and there’s a clear shot all the way to the horizon. The restaurant has a to-go window outside for both beer and food. It would be a great spot to eat inside and enjoy the view but the air conditioning left something to be desired so we enjoyed steins of the local helles in the shade instead.
The Rose Garden
If you’re crunched for time (or just don’t feel like adding a hike to your vaycay) the rose garden next to the Dom (look up Rosengarten) also offers stunning views of the city, a little more up close and personal. Adding hundreds of beautifully maintained roses to the view and its totally worth the stop. If you go when the cafe is open you can also enjoy a beer or lunch in the garden.
Where to Stay
Try to stay as close to old town as you can. It’s the most picturesque and the hotel prices are similar to the rest of the city. We stayed at the Hotel Villa Geyerswörth and loved it. I will say in the middle of a heatwave Europe’s lack of strong air conditioning and ice were apparent. The breakfast spread at our hotel was insane, meats, cheeses, bread with all the spreads for days!
We also had breakfast at Eckerts part of the Hotel Nepomuk and I would suggest looking into that hotel as well it’s situated right on the canal and the restaurant was large and had great food, plus next door to Klausterbrau is hard to beat!
There is a brewery, Fässla, that offers lodging and I would have stayed there in a heartbeat if they weren’t booked. It reminded me of the set up at St. Bernardus which was one of my favorite beer-trip hotels ever! We did get to try some of their beer while out and about in Bamberg, would be so fun to stay there!