Looking to visit those fairytale German villages you’ve seen so many photos of online? You’ll find them in Bavaria so keep reading for the best places to visit in Bavaria!
The state of Bavaria is the largest state in Germany and is perhaps most well known for the capital, Munich, famous for its annual Oktoberfest. But if you think that Bavaria is all about sausages, beer and lederhosen, think again!
Bavaria has some of the most beautiful towns and beautiful villages in Germany, with medieval buildings, half-timber houses and impressive fairytale-style castles nestled in the hillsides.
Many of Bavaria’s best-preserved towns are located in the North of Bavaria within the region of Franconia, which is why I’ll be focusing on the top places to visit in Northern Bavaria in this post along with the best Bavaria tourist attractions and things to do in Bavaria in each destination.
Best Places to Visit in Bavaria
This is a guest post written by Helen from Curious Goose. Be sure to check out Helen’s blog for more brilliant European content, especially for hiking and getting into nature like her guide to hiking in the Rhine Valley.
Map of Bavaria
To help you plan your trip, here is a map of Bavaria with the below best places in Bavaria to visit:
Places to Visit in Northern Bavaria
Nuremberg is the largest city in Northern Bavaria and unfortunately was a main target in World War II, leaving most of the city completely destroyed.
Large parts of the historic city have since been rebuilt, but because of this, Nuremberg is often overlooked. However, sections of the city walls and parts of the old town (Aldstadt) still remain and there are lots to see, making Nuremberg a great place to spend the day.
Things to do in Nuremberg
Start your day in Nuremberg by the river Pegnitz, crossing over the traditional timber Maxbrücke bridge. On either side of the bridge stands a middle-aged stone tower and several half-timber houses, making it a really picturesque photo spot.
From the river, make your way towards the old town, wandering down one of Nuremberg’s prettiest streets, Weissgerbergasse on the way. Soon you’ll reach the Tiergartnertor – one of the city’s remaining 13th-century gates and defensive tower.
Opposite the tower, you can also see artist Albrecht Durer’s House, one of the few undestroyed gothic houses from pre-war Nuremberg.
One sight not to be missed in Nuremberg is the Kaiserberg (Imperial Castle of Nuremberg). For an entrance fee, you can explore inside the castle, however, you can wander around the grounds and gardens of this impressive 11th-century castle completely free of charge.
If you fancy a bit of shopping, I’d recommend heading for the Hauptmarkt – a large open-air market in the centre of the old town selling crafts and local dishes. In the market square, you’ll also see the Schoner Brunnen fountain and the 14th-century Frauenkirche church, which now houses historic artwork.
Nuremberg might have expanded and re-developed after it’s destruction, but there’s still plenty of little gems around the city which remind you of what past Nuremberg might have looked like. It’s a great destination for a day trip in Bavaria and easily one of the best places to visit in Bavaria.
For tours in Nuremberg to help you get around and see the city with a local check these out:
In complete contrast to neighbouring Nuremberg, Bamberg was miraculously almost completely untouched by World War II, meaning that many historic buildings still remain, earning its place as one of Europe’s oldest ‘intact’ cities and a UNESCO heritage site.
It’s for this reason that Bamberg is one of Bavaria’s must-see medieval cities and Bavaria points of interest.
Things to do in Bamberg
One of the best things to do in Bamberg is to wander around the old town (Aldstadt), taking in the pretty buildings and narrow, cobbled streets. Crossing from the newer part of Bamberg into the old town, you can’t miss the Altes Rathaus, the historic old town hall perched on the stone bridge over the river Regnitz.
From the old town, walk to Michaelsberg Monastery. Sat on a hill amongst vineyards, the grounds surrounding the monastery offer picturesque views across the town. You can also enjoy lunch or a coffee at the onsite restaurant.
Finally, a visit to Bamberg wouldn’t be complete without soaking up the atmosphere in the Domplatz. Stand in the centre of this square and you’ll be surrounded by big, beautiful, historic buildings. Dominating the square is the 13th-century Bamberg Catherdral or ‘Bamberger Dom’ – one of Germany’s most famous cathedrals and places to see in Bavaria.
Book a guided tour to see inside the cathedral and learn all about its history.
Opposite the cathedral is the Neue Residenz – a lavish 17th-century palace. There’s a small entrance fee to tour the palace, but you can visit the rose gardens for free.
Tucked behind the Cathedral is the Alte Hofhaltung – a building complex with gothic style half-timber houses and a courtyard that dates back to the 11th century.
For those following the Romantic Road route, Bamberg is often missed in favour of neighbouring Würzberg, but I would really recommend taking the detour to visit Bamberg, it really is one of the best places to see medieval architecture in Northern Bavaria and unique places to visit in Germany.
For tours in Bamberg to help you get around and see the city with a local check these out:
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Chances are, if you’ve looked into the most beautiful towns to visit in Germany, you will have seen images of this fairytale town.
It’s one of the most popular stops along the Romantic Road route and I promise you, you won’t be disappointed, it really is one of the most beautiful towns in Bavaria.
The best way to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber is to stay overnight, that way you can get up early and experience the town in the morning, before the crowds of tourists arrive. That being said, don’t let the popularity of this place put you off, it’s one of those rare, magical places that still remains charming, despite being a top tourist spot and it’s definitely worth visiting on your Bavaria itinerary.
Things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
As you enter the old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you will pass under one of the 6 stone gates in the town walls which encompass the old town (Aldstadt).
Start your visit in the market square, where you will find the impressive town hall, clock tower and fountain, all fitting focal points for this medieval town.
Cafes line the edge of the market square, leading down to the main shopping street, where you will find cute little shops selling ornate souvenirs, gifts and tasty pastries. There are even several Christmas shops and a Christmas museum!
At the end of this street, you will reach Plönlein, one of the most photographed spots in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Within this cute corner is a colourful selection of half-timber houses and an attractive stone gate with a tower, making it one of the most picturesque settings in the town and top of the list of things to see in Bavaria!
Every cobbled street you wander down, you’ll find brightly painted timber-framed houses, beautifully decorated with flowers and ornate signs above the door and standing proudly in the centre of these cute, narrow streets is the St. Jakobskirche – a large church with two gothic towers that date back to 1485.
Along with the church towers, there are a total of 46 historical towers in the old town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, meaning that every corner you turn, you’re likely to see at least one!
Before you leave, make sure that you walk the old town walls for views across the town and surrounding Franconian countryside.
A visit to this pretty town really does feel like you’re going back in time. It’s one of Germany’s most enchanting towns and it’s a stop not to be missed on your Northern Bavaria trip!
For tours in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to help you get around and see the city with a local check these out:
Often overlooked for some of the more well-known towns and places to visit in Northern Bavaria, Dinkelsbühl is perhaps one of the most untouched medieval towns along the Romantic Road route and it seems to have avoided too many tourists, giving you a feel for how it might have been to live here centuries ago.
Despite Dinkelsbühl being less popular than some of its neighbours, there are still plenty of things to do in the afternoon here and it’s a great choice for more relaxed sightseeing.
Things to do in Dinkelsbühl
Unlike most early towns, Dinkelsbühl wasn’t really planned and grew organically. It’s for this reason that there’s no main focal point in the centre of town. Wandering around the old town (Aldstadt), you can quickly get lost as you weave up and down the cobbled streets, admiring the charming, traditional houses.
However, the old town walls and large stone gates can quickly get you back on track!
As you stroll around the old town, pay a visit to each of the impressive stone gates in the old town walls. One of the largest gates is the Rothenberg Tor, which guarded the busiest road at the time from the North, over 600 years ago. Walk under the gate and out of the old town to the opposite side of the small lake to get a different perspective of this impressive gate.
From here, you will also get a great view of the Faulturm Tower across the water. Other notable gates are the Segringer Tor, painted in bright yellow, and the Nordlinger Tor which was built around 1400, making it the most well-preserved gate in Dinkelsbuhl.
Back in the centre of the old town, you’ll find Germany’s largest church hall, the 15th-century St. George Cathedral. The cathedral is surrounded by small cafes and a quaint little fountain, where there is often a small local market held.
For a small fee, you can pay to climb to the top of the church tower for views over the city and surrounding countryside of Middle Franconia.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the town, visit the Haus der Geschicte – a small museum sharing artefacts and information about the town’s past and it’s people.
Dinkelsbuhl may be smaller than some of the other towns in Northern Bavaria, but it is one of the area’s prettiest towns and is full of history and charm.
Now you know the best places to visit in Northern Bavaria, let me give you some extra information to help plan your trip:
What’s the best way to get around Northern Bavaria?
The best way to get around is by car. This will give you the flexibility to spend as much time as you want in each place and it also means that you can visit some of the smaller towns, which are not as well connected by public transport.
How long will I need in Northern Bavaria?
I would recommend having a central base and spending a day in each of the above places. You can easily combine visiting these spots in Northern Bavaria with a longer road trip along the popular Romantic Road, or with a stay in the nearby Black Forest.
How much will a trip to Bavaria cost?
This really depends on how much you want to spend! Most of the activities and things to see in Bavaria I’ve included above you can do for free, so the above 4 days can easily be done on a minimal budget. It really comes down to where you choose to eat out and where you chose to stay, but there are so many options available for all budgets in Bavaria.
Where else can I visit in Bavaria?
Other places to visit in Bavaria include Munich, Zugspitze, Lindau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Füssen, Würzburg, Passau.
- Here are more posts to help you plan your trip:
- 8 Beautiful Places in Germany in Nature to Visit Next!
- 5 Things To Do In The Black Forest in Germany!
- A Complete Guide For Your First Time in Berlin!
- Hamburg Itinerary! How To Spend 2 Days Hamburg!