Gary (our videographer) and I went to explore Regensburg as guests of Germany Tourist Board, a university city hailed as the best preserved medieval city in Germany, offering a heady combination of a beautiful skyline, impressive historic monuments and legendary Bavarian hospitality.
Although Bavaria lives up to all its wonderful cliches of lederhosen, dirndls and of course, its beer-swigging, jolly festivals, in my opinion, the Southeastern state of Germany offers much more than just a fine place to get drunk!
What’s so special about Regensburg?
It’s a place where pristinely glossy landscapes are punctuated with story-book castles, traditional churches and neat and medieval towns which go about their time-warped business in a peaceful, pristine kind of way. Some of my family live in Bavaria, so it’s a region that will always have a special place in my heart and I feel that special connection as soon as I arrive there.
The Old Town of Regensburg (with Stadtamhof) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and over the decades the city has risen through the affluence stakes to become one of the most sought-after places to live in Bavaria!
Outside Germany though, it’s a place that remains very much under the tourist radar and I believe it’s a city destination that deserves a lot more attention. Here’s what I suggest to do in Regensburg in 48 hours if you visit at Christmas…
1. Wander the Beautiful Lanes in the Old Town
Chock full of magnificent medieval structures, Regensburg wears its UNESCO badge with pride and I love that it takes its heritage extremely seriously – for example, most of its buildings are now officially preserved and protected from alteration, so if a resident wanted to repaint a house, for example, its colour has to conform to those used in the past! Wow!
In my opinion it’s an extraordinary place with a cosy, quaint vibe with a mix of fine historic buildings, modern restaurants and cosmopolitan bars, and a seemingly endless network of narrow, atmospheric cobbled lanes lined with gorgeous boutique stores. Untainted by tourism, I would highly recommend just taking a wander and immersing yourself in its immaculate medieval wonderfulness and feeling just like a local!
At Christmas, I love that the atmosphere in the lanes turns up several notches and this is when the elegant buildings are adorned with hundreds of twinkling lights and when the shops start selling exquisite handcrafted Christmas decorations which I spent hours gazing at!
2. Go for a drink in one of the cosy bars
This time of year Germany seems to have its own version of Hygge going on and I think there’s no better place to experience this than in one of their bars or restaurants.
I would recommend wandering the city centre’s cobbled lanes, gawping at the Christmas lights and then trading in the dark, chilly winter night for a cosy drink or two at one of the inviting bars which are often illuminated by soft warm lighting. Drinking in Regensburg is still as traditional and laid back as you’d expect it to be in Bavaria to be but also exceptionally classy.
3. Explore the Romantic Christmas Market!
This Christmas Market seriously wowed me! Regensburg’s Old Town has hundreds of listed buildings. Still, I think this palace and its grounds are the jewel in the crown – in the middle of the 18th century the princes of Thurn and Taxis created a magnificent castle and from the 29th of November to the 23rd of December each year it turns into a magical Christmas Market which I think could have been plucked straight out of a storybook!
Known locally as the ‘Romantic market’, I thought the entrance was jaw-dropping! It’s a flame torch-illumined path which leads down to a vast collection of traditional stalls and huts decorated with freshly cut branches of pines and spruces and selling winter rugs, Christmas ornaments, clothing and handcrafted metalware all encircled by a sea of sparkling lights! Wow!
Smaller illuminated pathways lead up to alfresco champagne bars perched high on a hill or down to picturesque traditional children’s fairground rides or Glühwein stalls.
I loved that it was a visual feast for all the senses! Here smoke from open campfires billows into the frosty darkness, the aroma of burnt candy and caramelised almonds permeates the air and the regal sounds of bugles signal the start and end of the festivities – pure perfection in a Christmas Market!
4. Dine out in Stadtamhof
Stadtamhof is a small Bavarian neighbourhood located in the middle of the independent city of Regensburg. You can reach it just over the stone bridge that crosses the Danube River (which is the oldest preserved bridge of its kind in Germany).
It’s a place where where residents enjoy the peacefulness of the offset location on the banks of the Danube where they are still only a stone’s throw from the city and I loved the relaxed, cosy vibe here.
I thought it was an elegant and picturesque neighbourhood lined with a fine collection of bars, restaurants and small shops which are still run by the same families generations on. With a great choice of restaurants which have a real local vibe, I personally think it’s one of the best areas to eat out in the city!
5. Explore the Advent Christmas Market
This time of year Regensburg’s is home to no less than four separate Christmas Markets and in my opinion, this is another must-see to add to your list! I last visited Regensburg in the summer and this area is a beautiful beer garden which enjoys a much-envied spot on the Danube River.
I love that during the winter it turns into a magical Christmas market with views of the beautiful illuminated cathedral and a collection of traditional stalls, flanked by open campfires, a towering Christmas and more freshly made culinary delights and gluhwein than your stomach can handle. Pure bliss!
6. Stay at the Green Spirt Design Hotel
The Green Spirit Hotel was the accommodation for our stay and I think it’s a place that perfectly captures Regensburg’s new unique boutique vibe!
Set in a historic 18th-century building which was once a brewery (very Bavarian!) it’s a trendy hotel with a modern annexe, a chic dining room, stylish but quirky minimalist decor and a wonderful courtyard garden which comes complete with a greenhouse (used to grow vegetables and herbs used by the hotel chef). I thought it was adorable!
Becky Moore – Owner, writer and photographer
My first true adventure began as a six-month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh-faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi-nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in the warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds, and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my ex-Athens street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Borneo, Finland, Greece, Berlin, Laos, California and the surreal and beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.
Hotel Reviewing Experience – published hotel review in the 52 Sleeps Book organised by Laterooms.com and Lonely Planet. Asked by over 12 tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Germany Tourist Board, Canada Tourist Board, Eviivo, France.fr, Visitoostende.be, Live Riga and Queensland Tourist Board. Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos.
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