Like most places in the world, Bavaria is far more than the stereotypical pretzels, leiderhosen, and beer steins. When exploring the region this autumn, I had the chance to visit Regensburg – a mid-sized city with an amazingly well-preserved history and vibrant tourism industry.

Most people who visit Regensburg come aboard a river cruise ship, but it’s enjoyable and worthwhile to visit however you can. Whether you want to dive into the history like I did, eat delicious Bavarian food, or just wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Site that makes up most of old town Regensburg… you can! Regensburg has it all, and is easy to get to. Here’s everything you need to start planning your trip to visit Regensburg.

A Sneak Peek of Regensburg

Take a look at Regensburg in this video I made during my stay!

Old artwork portraying Regensburg.

The History of Regensburg

For a history lover like me, Regensburg has a fascinating story. Settlement at Regensburg, near the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen rivers, dates back to the Stone Age. The Romans established a settlement as early as 179 AD, and Regensburg played an important role for the Roman Empire through the early 1000s AD.

In the Middle Ages, Regensburg was a star in the trade industry, being located conveniently along both rivers and overland trade routes. During this time, tradesmen and craftsmen from across the world came through Regensburg. This helps explain why so much architecture is influenced by Venetian and southern European design, as well as why so many craftsmen still call Regensburg home.

Old artwork portraying Regensburg.
Old artwork portraying Regensburg.

Regensburg was a Free Imperial City through most of this period, meaning it was only accountable to the Holy Roman Emperor, rather than state or federal legislation. The city was also home to the Imperial Diets (formal assembly) where all ambassadors came together to discuss policy and other government issues. This culminated in the Perpetual Diet of Regensburg, from 1663 to 1806, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.

Modern buildings in Regensburg
Modern buildings in Regensburg.
An old city tower in Regensburg.
An old city tower in Regensburg.

Without getting too much in the weeds, some other important historical notes about Regensburg:

  • It is the location of the Thurn & Taxis palace, where the massively influential family is still present.
  • The old town of Regensburg avoided destruction in the bombings of World War II, but nearby factories and airfields were destroyed.
  • Regensburg Old Town has UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their status in 2016.
  • Oskar Schindler is one of many refugees of World War II who once called Regensburg home.

I could go on ad nauseam about the fascinating history of this mid-sized Bavarian town; instead, read more on Wikipedia. Or, if you’re in Regensburg, book a walking tour with Ms. Ann Hiley, author of Regensburg: A Short History.

Regensburg old town as seen from the stone bridge.
Regensburg old town as seen from the stone bridge.

What to See & Do in Regensburg

The highlight of visiting Regensburg is exploring the old town. Even if you have no other itinerary, it’s possible to spend several hours wandering the cobbled streets and window shopping. The old town isn’t very large, taking 15-20 minutes to walk from end to end, but it’s a labyrinth of alleys and narrow roads.

Yet another amazing building in old towns Regensburg.
Yet another amazing building in old towns Regensburg.

There are plenty of spots to stop and enjoy the scenery, too. Be sure to visit the old stone bridge across the Danube river. It offers great views of the city, and you can explore the parts of Regensburg on the other side of the river.

If you want some more structured activities to spend your time:

St. Peter's Cathedral in Regensburg.
St. Peter’s Cathedral in Regensburg.
  • Visit St. Peter’s Cathedral: Regensburg’s main cathedral is home to one of the largest collections of medieval stained glass in Europe. It’s truly impressive to walk into the massive dark interior and spend time examining each window in turn – there are a lot of them.
Inside the assembly hall at the Imperial Diet Museum.
Inside the assembly hall at the Imperial Diet Museum.
  • Tour the Imperial Diet Museum: Interested in more history? Take a tour of the Imperial Diet Museum, including the old assembly hall and prison cells. You’ll learn more about Regensburg history than you can possibly fit into your brain.
The Kristalprinzessin cruise ship.
The Kristalprinzessin cruise ship.
Walhalla on a hill near Regensburg.
Walhalla on a hill near Regensburg.
  • Cruise on the Danube to Walhalla: With the river so close at hand, it’s tempting to explore farther afield. Book a spot on the sparkling Kristalprinzessin ship operated by Donauschiffahrt Würm & Koch. The cruise takes a few hours, and allows you to see or stop at Walhalla, a beautiful neo-Romanesque hall of fame to German history.

Pork knuckle.

Where to Eat & Drink in Regensburg

Since the era when Regensburg was a famous trade stop and hosted Imperial Diets, a variety of travelers have brought delicious food to the city. There are far more restaurants and biergartens than I could list in this section, but here are some of my favorites.

Haus Heuport: With a beautiful view of St. Peter’s Cathedral, this restaurant walks a delicate line between fine dining and medieval dining hall. They specialize in Bavarian dishes, delicious ingredients, and great service. (Domplatz 7)

Dicker Mann: A more traditional option, Dicker Mann feels a lot like an English pub, but is distinctly German in their menu offerings and beer choices. A great spot for schnitzel or goulash along with a cup of grog to warm you up on a cold day. (Krebsgasse 6)

Wurstkuchl: One of the greatest sausage restaurants, and one of the oldest continually operating restaurants, in the world. Naturally, they specialize in sausages, usually boiled, and served in portions of six, eight, or 10 per order – along with sauerkraut and mustard. There’s nearly always a line. (Thundorferstraße 3)

Hans im Glück:  A more modern option, they offer delicious burgers and fries in a funky atmosphere. A true hipster hot spot, you can get boozy drinks, sweet potato fries, and their special Hans im Glück sauce. Technically they’re a franchise/chain restaurant, but worth it anyway. (Kohlenmarkt 6)

Paprika goulash at Haus Heuport.
Paprika goulash at Haus Heuport.
Beef meatballs and potato salad at Dicker Mann.
Beef meatballs and potato salad at Dicker Mann.

Other great restaurants I didn’t have a chance to try:

Inside the Hotel Jakob.

Where to Stay in Regensburg

As a popular spot for travelers in Bavaria, there are plenty of accommodation options. Here are some highlights:

  • Hotel JakobLocated on the Western edge of the old town, the Hotel Jakob is a classic European hotel with modern, spacious rooms. Continental breakfast is included, and the general manager is wonderfully hospitable. From €88 per night. (Jakobstraße 14)
  • Dicker MannLocated above the Dicker Mann restaurant, there are a small number of rooms available for booking each night – right in the heart of the old town. Rooms are updated and each has a theme (such as “Little China in Regensburg” and “Italian Fireplace Room”). From €95 per night. (Krebsgasse 6)
  • Bischofshof BraustubenA little ways outside the old town (accessible by car), this family-run hotel and brewery are great if you have more time and want to experience more than just the historic city center. From €115 per night. (Dechbettener Strasse 50)
  • Castle Hotel Regensburg: Steps from the palace of Thurn & Taxis, this low-cost hotel/hostel/B&B is a great option for budget travelers. Nothing fancy, but it covers all the basics and is well located for exploring the city. From €69 for a single, or €120 for an apartment. (St.-Peters-Weg 3)

How to Get to Regensburg

Regensburg is located in the northeastern part of Bavaria, roughly 45-minutes from the Czech border. There are several ways to get to Regensburg for your visit.

  • By boat: If you’re coming by river cruise, you likely have accommodation and most of your itinerary planned. Cruises come into port just outside the city and provide transport into the old town for your explorations.
  • By plane & car: The nearest airports to Regensburg are Munich, Nurnberg, and Stuttgart. From there, you will need to rent a car (or take the train, below) to reach Regensburg. Regensburg is at the intersection of A3 and A93.
  • By train: Train is the easiest way to reach Regensburg by land. You can reach Regensburg by taking a 90-minute train direct from Munich, or a 30-minute train direct from Nurnberg. Book on Bahn.de.

Ready to visit Regensburg yet? Ask questions in the comments & I’ll help you plan your trip!

[info]Many thanks to Regensburg Tourismus for helping plan my trip; the Hotel Jakob for hosting us during our stay; and Ms. Ann Hiley for showing Mr. Valise and I around the city. [/info]

32 comments

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This is fantastic! I can’t wait to go!

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I hope you can make it someday. It was a wonderful spot for a weekend.

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Great post! I love that this post gives you specific tips and places to see. Very useful 🙂 Thank you 🙂

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Glad to be of assistance. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

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Wow! This post really made me want to pack my bags and just go there. It’s like travelling through history. The photos are all amazing. I would love to try Haus Heuport! Thanks for the share. xx

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Thank you! I’m glad you liked it, and I hope you can make it one day 🙂

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I live in the south of Germany, but have never been to Regensburg…I generally don’t travel that much in my own counrty, but this is something I am planning to do next year! Will definitely try to visit Regensburg as well 🙂

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I hope you can make it – depending on where you are, it probably isn’t *too* far… unless you’re in like, Freiburg or something on the other corner of the country 🙂

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Now I want to go to Regensburg. Beautiful pictures and the food looks amazing.

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Thanks very much! I hope you can make it there someday!

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I have never even heard of Regensburg before reading your post. What a fantastic city! Your words and photos are inspiring and now I need to add Regensburg to my bucket list! Thank you!

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Thanks! To be honest, I hadn’t heard of it before I started planning my trip either 🙂

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Regensburg looks so cute! I’m heading to southern Germany for the first time in December, and I’m so excited. I have a feeling I’m going to love it and want to go back often, so this post is perfect for my researching. Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures and great information!

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Susan, I have a series of posts you’re going to love – this is just the first one about these towns in Bavaria/southern Germany 🙂

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This looks amazing. Especially the food! It made me hungry.

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It makes me hungry too, just looking at the photos! Thanks for reading 🙂

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Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me. I always enjoy learning about an area before I travel. It helps make the journey a little less stressful.

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Thanks for reading, Monica! Glad this post could help you.

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This was such an insightful post full of relevant, practical information for anyone interested in visiting Regensburg. I absolutely loved the historical information as I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to that and the pictures helped bring it all to life. Thanks for sharing!

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Aisha, you’re very welcome. If you can’t tell, I’m definitely a history nerd too when I travel 😉

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Thanks for sharing this! I visited Munich last year but am dying to explore more of Germany!

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Rachel, thanks for reading! I hope you can visit more of Germany soon – there are so many charming and interesting towns 🙂

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I had never heard of Regensburg before reading this, so thanks for sharing 🙂 And I love that you included a video!

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Thanks! I love adding a quick video – even if you don’t read the whole thing, you might watch and still want to visit 🙂

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I love Regensburg! When my husband and I lived in Germany we would often visit there 🙂

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Rachel, thanks for reading. I’m so glad you loved Regensburg too – where did you live?

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Germany is one of my favorite countries ever. Seeing all of those food photos makes me miss it even more!

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Thanks for reading, Jessica! The food photos make me hungry 😉

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My goodness.Great information.Thank you for putting this together.

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You’re welcome! Thanks for reading.

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Great info here.Thanks for sharing this.

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