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Ascend to the historical fortress, have a glass of wine, or enjoy a cycling trip along the Main River…there are numerous compelling things to do in Würzburg, the capital of Lower Franconia.
Würzburg lies in the Franconian region of northern Bavaria. With a population of around 130,000 people, the town is known for its architectural masterpieces, history, and vineyards as far as the eye can see.
With a history dating back to the 10th century, Würzburg served as the seat of a series of powerful rulers (called prince-bishops) for centuries. Various historical monuments remain as a testament to the era, including UNESCO-listed Würzburger Residence, one of the finest palaces in Europe.
I spent a long weekend in Würzburg and loved it. I found the local people really friendly as well: interestingly, they are proudly Franconian, and say they are not Bavarian (although Würzburg geographically belongs to Bavaria).
The town has several sights and gardens to visit, where one can enjoy lovely walks or even cycling. With so many great things to do in Wurzburg, it is absolutely worth a visit!
Looking to explore the region? Check my other post about Best Places to Visit in Bavaria.
Würzburg during the war and today
At the end of World War II, Würzburg was nearly flattened. During the 20-minute bombing in 1945, the so-called “moral bombing,” as much as 80% of its buildings were destroyed. The city had been an important stronghold for the Nazis.
Würzburg had also been one of the first cities to fully embrace Nazi ideology, as far early as 1933, when anti-Jewish boycotts and riots were held there. Even going back to the 12th and 13th centuries, the city had massacred its Jewish population.
I was surprised when I first learned war history details like these and especially the role of Würzburg. Nowadays, there are no visible signs of damage. The city’s major monuments and historical buildings have all been rebuilt. Würzburg is today a laid-back student town which is fun to explore, and you never have to go far there to find a glass of amazing wine.
Below you find places and activities that will help you decide what to do in Würzburg during your trip.
Things to Do in Würzburg
This city is best explored on foot, beginning with a walk through the Old Town, where many sights testify to an eventful history. First and foremost, I definitely recommend visiting WürzburgResidence, one of the best things you can do in Würzburg. The rest depends on your time (sometimes Würzburg is done as a day trip from Munich), and preferences. Pick what sounds the most enticing and go for it!
01| Visit the Adorable Palace and Gardens
Although I sometimes skip museums and palaces during the summer, visiting the legendary Würzburg Residence is definitely among the best things to do in Würzburg. Both the building’s interior and the surrounding gardens are simply a must-see!
Designed by renowned architect Balthasar Neumann, Würzburg Residence is a key work of south German Baroque architecture, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Make sure to see the unique staircase featuring the world’s largest continuous fresco, created by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the legendary Venetian fresco painter.
It’s good idea to join one of the guided tours so that you can get more information about the ceiling painting and visit the most impressive rooms of the Residence. The guided tour takes 45 minutes and is available both in German or English. The tour’s price is included in the admission fee (regular ticket 9 euros, reduced 8 euros, under 18 free). Be sure to check the website here for the most up-to-date information.
02| Walk up to the Marienberg Fortress
Prominently situated on a hill 100 meters above the Main River, iconic Marienberg fortress overlooks the city, rising up from vineyards that stretch all the way to the horizon. It’s a bit of a walk from the city center to get up there, but it’s definitely worth it.
Although most of the current buildings were constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries, there has been a fort since ancient times. It gained importance later, when it served as a home of the local prince-bishops for nearly five centuries.
Make sure to visit the adorable garden (Fürstengarten) on the eastern side of the complex, which is arranged geometrically with fountains, flowerbeds, and pavilions. A stroll around the outer wall is enjoyable as well.
Inside, some highlights include the Princes’ Hall, the Treasury, and the Museum für Franken, which houses a Baroque artwork collection dating back to 1712. Last but not least, there is a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, so you can enjoy some coffee & cake before continuing your visit.
03| Spend an evening at the riverside
Wurzburg’s Old Main Bridge is a spot that really reminded me of Prague. If you have been to the Czech capital before, I think you will understand. The statues of saints along the lovely bridge make it all the more reminiscent.
The 15th century pedestrianized bridge links Würzburg’s Old Town with the former fishermen’s quarter on the left bank of the Main River. In recent years, it has become one of the city’s most beloved spots for gathering and socializing.
Especially if you visit Würzburg in summer, the bridge is alive with activity every night. Just head to the there around sunset and enjoy the lively and convivial atmosphere whilst sipping a glass of Franconian wine or a cocktail. Having a drink there is one of the coolest things to do in Würzburg, for visitors and locals alike. You can easily get your supplies from the kiosk window and wine bar on the side of Alte Mainmühle Restaurant.
04| Visit the Rococo Garden in Veitshöchheim
The picturesque Veitshöchheim is situated northwest of Würzburg and makes for a perfect half-day trip from Wurzburg. The town features the former summer residence of the prince bishops. Its 12-hectare Rococo Garden, with more than 300 sculptures, an artificial lake, water fountains, and green pergolas is a lovely place to go for a stroll.
You can get to Veitshöchheim by boat or by bicycle. The boat departs from the Alter Kran (Old Crane) in Wurzburg, an emblem of the city on the river bank. The trip takes 40 minutes, passing the old and new harbors, the monastery at Oberzell, and the village Zelt am Main.
05| Find out just how awesome Bavarian wines are
Bavaria may be renowned for its beer – after all, it is where the famous Oktoberfest celebrations take place – but never underestimate Bavarian wine. Würzburg is home to the biggest wineries in Germany: Bürgerspital, Juliusspital and Staatlicher Hofkeller.
During my visit to Würzburg, I got my wine from various regional wineries. I simply loved the experience of entering those small wine cellars, tasting, and buying wine from the local people.
When I visited, one of the local wine festivals was taking place – there are many events like this from May to September. Additionally, it’s possible to visit public the Staatlicher Hofkeller (State Court Cellar) on a guided tour. If you are into wine, this tour should definitely be included on your list of things to do in Würzburg. Among other highlights, they’ve got some unique wooden barrels that quite a sight.
06| Pay a visit to one of many churches
Religion has played an important role in the history of Würzburg. In the 12th century, the emperor appointed the bishop of Würzburg as a duke. As such, the bishop became a political as well as religious ruler. They were often involved in battles and enjoyed immense power.
Some of most important churches include:
- Käppele: a small Baroque/Rococo chapel built by Balthasar Neumann, perched on a hill facing the fortress
- Dom(Würzburg Cathedral), the fourth largest Romanesque church Germany (103 meters in length)
- The Baroque Schönbornkapelle, a side-chapel of the cathedral, includes (artificial) human bones and skulls as decorations on the interior.
Altogether, there are more than 40 churches in the city!
Where to stay in Würzburg
Often overlooked for other popular Bavarian cities such Munich and Nuremberg, Würzburg makes for a great stop on your Bavaria itinerary. If you are you’re planning to cover the Romantic road (a 400-kilomter route connecting some of the loveliest places in southern Germany), Wurzburg is a great place to start.
If you can, I would definitely suggest staying here overnight. A weekend or prolonged weekend are enough to enjoy the sights at a relaxed pace. Here are my favorite Wurzburg accommodations:
Jugendherberge Würzburg: If you are looking for a budget accommodation, this homey hostel is your choice. It offers modern rooms and large breakfast buffet. I stayed there in a private room and I loved it. The location is unbeatable: it’s just beside the River Main.
Hotel Würzburger Hof: This is your best choice if you are arriving by train. It’s situated between the train station and the old town, across from Juliusspital on the tram line. Rooms are spacious.
Best Western Premier Hotel Rebstock: Why not enjoy a bit of luxury during your trip? Situated in a historic building with a Rococo façade, you will find not just a great hotel but also an award-winning restaurant with great Franconian specialties.
I hope that this city guide will help you to plan an amazing trip. If you have any questions about these things to do in Würzburg, do not hesitate to ask below in the comments.
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