City Guide | Regensburg, Germany
By Louise Alexander
- Population: 140,000
- The city is famed for its intact medieval skyline, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, which emerged from WW2 virtually unscathed
- Situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers
- Site of the Roman fort Ratisbona in 90 AD, the ruins can still be seen in the Old Town
- The city is dominated by the old Stone Bridge (built 1146AD) – for centuries it was the only crossing across the Danube for several hundred miles
- Today Regensburg is the cultural, political and economic centre of eastern Bavaria
- The city has the most pubs, bars and restaurants per capita in Germany, so you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to while away an evening!
- The medieval centre extends across three picturesque islands straddling the river Danube
- The city centre is compact and its medieval centre can easily be covered on foot (much of it is pedestrianised). Walking tours depart several times a day from the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) and can be a fun way to get to know the city’s streets and history.
- You won’t go far in Regensburg without being overtaken by a speeding bicycle. Much of the Old Town is closed off to cars, composed of winding cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, so bikes are a natural fit. Rent your own two-wheeler at the central station and pedal away!
- In snow and in rain, or if you fancy exploring further afield, then the Regensburg bus network is a sure bet. It is comprehensive, as punctual as you’d expect from die Deutschen and cheap to boot. Purchase a Streifenkarte to get the most bang for your buck, a seven-journey punch card you can use to hop on and hop off.
- In the (often gloriously warm) spring and summer months, Regensburg’s fleet of Danube steamships crank into life, offering picture-perfect vantage points from which to view the city for fewer than ten euros per journey. Board from the walkway beneath the Stone Bridge and breeze along the water for absorbing vistas of the city’s kaleidoscopic buildings from the open deck. Bonus points for spotting a European beaver munching logs on the riverbank!
- See the city from the spire of the Dreieinigkeitskirche on Gesandtenstrasse.
- Split a behemoth romana pizza outside on the cobbles at Trattoria Marina (Am Brückenbasar 12), overlooking the majestic architecture of the Stone Bridge.
- Admire the twin spires of the city’s cathedral from almost anywhere in the city.
- Dip your toes in the Danube to cool off on a hot summer’s day.
- Warm your cold hands with a tipple of Glühwein at one of the city’s many Christmas markets, open from late November onwards.
- Eat steamed dumplings doused in warm custard at the Dampfnudel-Uli (Watmarkt 4), a Regensburg institution. The hole-in-the-wall joint is decorated in classic Bavarian patriotic style and operates strangely infrequent opening hours, but is worth it for a taste of this strangely delicious traditional dessert.
- Drink a Hugo at Cafe Schierstadt (An der Schierstadt 1) on Stadtamhof, one of the Danube islands, overlooked by rows of brightly coloured houses. (For the uninitiated: a Hugo is a mouth-watering Tyrolean concoction consisting of champagne spritzer, elderflower and mint.)
- Cycle along the Donauradweg, the bike path that winds along the riverbank to see the city as the locals do.
- Visit Walhalla, a bizarre and breathtaking Grecian-style temple situated on a hilltop above the river, slightly out of town. It’s accessible by bus, bike and car, but the most atmospheric route involves hopping on the ferry in Regensburg’s Old Town and alighting at the foot of the temple itself. Inside you’ll find busts of laudable German citizens, from Goethe to Mozart to Nazi resistance fighter Sophie Scholl. The views across the fertile Danube plain are also out of this world. Make sure to time your visit for the sherbet sunset!
- 4 budget-friendly eateries | Café Anna (Gesandtenstr. 5) for toasties, inventive ice cream flavours by the scoop and cocktails in a beautiful medieval setting, Café Felix (Frohliche-Türken-Str. 6) for brunch in any and all concoctions you could dream of, Café Sofa (Spiegelgasse 1) for board games, hipster student company, Kraft beer and organic cheesecake), the Historische Wurstkuchl (Thundorferstr. 3) for authentic Bavarian sausage baps on the riverside where food has been served since 1146AD.
Louise is a writer and translator who lives in London, but left her heart in Bavaria. She blogs at Beside the Danube