Do you want to have a glass of wine at sunset on one of Europe’s most beautiful bridges? Or maybe stroll along a stylish pedestrian street? Be amazed by the diverse architecture of the past centuries? Would you like to climb a steep path or relax in a boat? You’ve reached the right place, as Würzburg has it all and is the ideal place to spend your next weekend.
This small town in the Franconia region of Bavaria does not attract as many tourists as the cities nearby and its population barely reaches 120.000 people. This means fewer crowds and a perfectly sized town, where everything is close together. Its setting could not be better either, on the Main river, hemmed by vineyards covered hills on all sides and overlooked by an imposing centuries-old fortress. All those vineyards make Würzburg the center of the most important wine region of Germany and the best place for you to drink a delicious dry white wine. If you want a special venue for this, you’ll also find it there. By the way, let’s not forget that it is home to some of the most beautiful baroque masterpieces in Germany.
The city has been inhabited since the Bronze Age by the celts and franks. In its long history, there have been some dark moments: massacres of the Jewish population in the 12th and 13th centuries, revolts against the prince-bishops and some of the largest mass witch trials in the 17th century. Consequently, Würzburg was one of the first towns to embrace the Nazi ideology as early as 1933 and became an important stronghold of the regime. Because of this, the British army destroyed the city in 1945 and there was US military presence in the region for over 60 years afterwards. Do not worry, the tumultuous years are over and today Würzburg is peaceful. On the bright side, Würzburg has been an university city since 1582 and has given the world not fewer than 14 Nobel prize winners.
What to do in Würzburg?
- Enjoy the best view over the city from the Marienberg fortress and try to count the many church spires that pop out. In short, a small fortress already existed on top of the hill in the 7th century and new extensions were added between the 13th and 17th century. This one was used as a residence by the bishops of the city before they moved to the Residenz. After being severely damaged during the second world war, it was reconditioned in the 90s. On the outside, Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque styles coexist harmoniously. In the inside, it hosts two museums. In order to get to the fortress, you can either take the stairs (30 minutes), follow the red signs through vineyards (45 minutes) or grab a taxi. If you choose to walk, there are several viewpoints on your way up.
- Grant yourself about two hours to visit a late baroque gem from the 18th century, The Residenz. The palace was built by the prince-bishops of the city who thought their earlier residence was far too small for their greatness and that they deserved something better. Today, the palace in an UNESCO site. Make sure to take your time to look at the gardens, statues, and fountains of this little sister of Schönbrunn and Versailles palaces. Before leaving, wonder at the beauty of the court church (Hofkirche), maybe the most important example of baroque architecture in all Germany.
- Take a stroll along the stylish pedestrian streets of the old city to admire the wonderful architecture of different centuries. Mandatory stops are:
- the Cathedral of St. Kilian, also called the Würzburger Dom, with its beautiful facade and white interior with stucco ornaments;
- the Townhall, the only Romanesque building in this baroque city, and its beautiful fresco;
- the Market Square dominated Marienkapelle with its red and white facade and gothic flavor;
- Neumunster collegiate church.
- Go on a boat tour on the Main, relax and enjoy the view while finding out some more insights of the city from the guide.
- Drink a glass of wine on the oldest stone bridge in the city at sunset. The Old Main Bridge is the most popular spot in the city. It’s pedestrian-only and connects the old city with Marienberg fortress. Decorated with 12 statues of the apostles, people often compare it to the old bridge in Prague.
Tips & tricks for your trip to Würzburg
- The city has not only one traditional sausage, but two: fränkische Bratwurst and Winzerbratwurst, which also contains wine and is spicier. Try both of them and decide which is your favorite. If you want to have a picnic, join the locals by the bridge on the river bank.
- You can easily get to Würzburg by train from Nuremberg or Bamberg, in about one hour and 10 minutes, from Frankfurt, in one and half an hour, or from München, in around two hours.
- Würzburg is the starting point of the Romantic Road. If you have more than a weekend, you might consider following it to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl, or all the way till Füssen.
- Fun fact: there is a lot of wine stored nowhere else than in the cellar of the hospital.
Würzburg in December
The town features two Christmas markets. The main market boasts one of the most charming locations, between the Marienkapelle and the Falkenhaus. Have fun trying the spicy half meter sausage and some dampfnudeln with pickled cabbage and bacon. They are really tasty and traditional.
The Christmas crafts market is open only during weekends in the courtyard of the townhall. The artisans there display embroidery, ceramics, ironwork, toys, hand painted glass balls, and decorative angels. You can see some of the craftsmen at work and it was the best crafts market I saw on our trip to the Christmas markets in December.
Hopefully, after reading this, you’ve added Würzburg on your bucket list. Don’t forget to drink a glass of wine for me on top of the bridge!