What to do in Regensburg: The ultimate Regensburg city guide
Wondering what to do in Regensburg? There is so much to do and see it’s hard to know where to start. Regensburg is very proud of its self-proclaimed status as “Germany’s best-preserved medieval city,” but it’s hard to argue with that statement once you visit. This city escaped most damage from bombing in World War II, so it boasts a 2,000-year-old architectural heritage with original buildings, not rebuilt or renovated ones. And the city works hard to maintain this history, with strict conservation and preservation laws that have been in place since the 1970s.
On a visit to Regensburg along the Danube, you will find yourself wandering along medieval streets that make up the Altstadt (old town) with 13th and 15th century buildings. And you are seeing history as it really was. Churches, towers, mansions, Roman walls, a torture chamber (yes, really), and even the Stone Bridge (the Steinerne Brücke) spanning the Danube remain as traders and travelers to Regensburg experienced centuries ago. For this reason, UNESCO named Regensburg a World Heritage Site in 2006
But let’s not assume this is a sleepy historic city lost in time. Oh no no…. When warm weather descends, throngs of youth gather along the Danube to revel in long summer days with bottles of wine, beer, snacks, take-out, and animated conversation. Indeed, Regensburg is very much alive. The city boasts three universities ensuring the community remains vibrant in its cultural and entertainment scene, and we were told there are actually more single people living in the area than any other city in Germany (a majority in fact). Plus, the city does well financially since it has many large employers (BMW, Siemens…) in the area and, we were told, more jobs available in the region than there are residents!
Situated at the most northerly point of the Danube (although the river’s origin is actually farther west), Regensburg remains a popular starting and ending point for numerous river cruises and bike tours, ensuring crowds of tourists on almost any given day. It also is an easy day trip from Munich and has a popular Christmas market.
Whether you are visiting for one day, two days, or more, or you are beginning or ending a Danube adventure in the city, the best way to to find what to do in Regensburg is right here. Our resource guide and links, map, as well as personal insider travel tips clue you in to key sites, including some less known. All this ensures your visit to Regensburg is indeed memorable. Hard not to be!
Regensburg Travel Resources
Regensburg Travel Weather
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Getting to and from Regensburg
- By Train – It is easy to get to Regensburg on either the fast train (InterCityExpress) or other lines (InterCity, EuroCity, and InterRegio). For booking information, go to the Deutsche Bahn website. The closest international airports from which you will connect to your train are Munich, Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
- By Airport Shuttle – The closest major airport is Munich International Airport. AirportLiner airport shuttles provide door-to-door service between any Regensburg address and the Munich airport.
Getting Around In Regensburg
It is unlikely you will need to use local transportation during your visit to Regensburg unless you choose to visit the university, which is several kilometers away from the city center, or decide to venture out to Walhalla — which we recommend via a river ferry on the Danube. Most of the recommended museums and sites to visit are located within or near the city center, much of which is a pedestrian zone. Regensburg is a wonderfully walkable city.
However, if you feel you need to use public transport, Regensburg has a very extensive bus network. For tourist information, including fares, schedules, maps and more, go to the RVV transit site here.
Finding a WC or toilet
In Regensburg, there is a nifty campaign dubbed, “You’ll find a nice toilet here.” Look for the sign, shown to the left, posted in windows and on doors of numerous restaurants and cafe’s showing that you can find a free, clean public toilet there. Naturally, the cafes and restaurants hope you will also feel inclined to buy a drink or snack, but don’t feel obligated. Regensburg also has numerous public WCs around the old town, which are also clean and accessible. Keep in mind that in many places in Germany (and at a few also in Regensburg) public WCs are not always free. Areas such as train stations, bus depots, etc. often require a fee to enter or have an attendant collecting a “required” donation in exchange for their services to keep the bathroom facilities clean.
The Euro is the currency in Germany. Use the calculator from Oanda below to help you manage your money exchanges and know how much something selling in Euro would cost in dollars.
Learning at least a few key phrases of the local language will be helpful and appreciated, even if many Germans (especially the younger generation) do speak English quite well. Be sure to read A German language cheat sheet for travelers and A traveler’s guide to dining and shopping in Germany before you go. Both have downloadable PDF’s you can take with you.
What to do in Regensburg — traveling tips & destination advice
World Heritage Visitor Center – We would recommend starting your visit to Regensburg here. There is no entrance fee to the building right on the waterfront, and the two floors of exhibits are the perfect, interactive introduction to the history, culture and people of Regensburg. Throughout the center, you will also find cards hanging next to exhibits that correspond with that display. You can collect the ones you want with places and sights or buildings you want to see (maps on each card), and then use those as your little tour guide. In English, French and German.
Trinity Church (Dreieinigkeitskirche) – Open daily from Noon to 6 p.m. (although we were there earlier and it was open, fyi), the church tower offers what is arguably the best view in all of Regensburg. Go there after the center, above! The church itself is beautiful – less noble perhaps than the cathedral — but it is the view that is a must-see. Climbing the tower costs 2 euro per person. Once back in the church, go out the side door to see the small cemetery adjacent to the church that includes baroque-style monuments. Some were moved there to save them in the 1600s during the 30 Years’ War, but others were moved there later. It is quaint, not overrun with tourists, and beautiful all at the same time.
St. Peter’s Cathedral (Dom St. Peter) – The current cathedral, considered one of the more significant cathedrals in Germany, is built on the site of an earlier Romanesque church and its facade is a unique mix of limestone and green-colored sandstone. The cathedral is especially famous for its medieval stained glass windows. Take a stroll behind it to see the maintenance yard filled with various pieces, and look up to the right to see a clock tower from a former church that is now attached to this one. If you are interested, the Tourist Office has a schedule of guided city tours in various languages, which include visits to the cathedral cloisters, the All Saints’ Chapel, St. Stephan’s Church, and St. Ulrich’s Church.
The Stone Bridge (Steinere Brücke) – Originally built between 1135 and 1146 to facilitate trade across the Danube, the bridge now features 16 arches, but was closed to vehicular traffic in 2008 due to structural deficiencies and is still under some renovation as of 2017. Of the three fortified towers constructed in the 13th century, only one tower remains today on the city or southern side. Known as the bridge tower, visitors can see two clocks, as well as paintings depicting battles from the 30 Years’ War between 1618 and 1648. Legend has it the bridge builder entered a pact with the devil (who would get the souls of the first three to cross) so he would beat the cathedral builder, but then after winning the builder tricked the devil by sending a rooster, hen and dog across first.
Haidplatz Square – Once a place where knights jousted, the large open square is now a central gathering area for street performers and open-air events. Little wonder so many restaurants have their outdoor seating ringing the square, making it a perfect place to find a bite to eat or just hang out with a gelato in the summer and watch people go by.
Document Neupfarrplatz – An underground museum in the city center that preserves relics and foundations from a Roman military camp and buildings from Regensburg’s medieval Jewish quarter, which were discovered purely by accident during a construction project in 1995. Individual admission is by guided tour only at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are 5 euro for adults and can be obtained at the Tobacconist Götz, Neupfarrplatz 3.
Jewish memorial and New Parish Square (Neupfarrplatz) – Once the location of one of the oldest Jewish communities in Germany with a population of 400 to 600 people. In 1519, the community was destroyed and the Jewish people told to get out of town. Renovation and excavation work on the square in 1995 unearthed parts of the original synagogue. But Jewish leadership contacted in Israel declined to have a somber memorial, preferring something that remembered what was there but allowed people to come, sit, and play. Today, unless you see the small sign nearby, you might not realize the “benches” actually outline the former synagogue. (Note: Oskar Schindler saved more than 1,000 Jews during the war in Regensburg. You can see his house and a plaque at Watmarkt 7, around the corner from the cathedral. Sure, it’s only a plaque, but Schindler risked his life to save so many, so do take a moment to honor the memory.)
Brush Shop Ernst (Bürsten-Ernst) – We know, we know, brushes aren’t really what you go to a medieval city to see. But, trust us, you must go to this brush shop, tucked away on a small side street in old town (Glockengasse 10). It has been there, run by the same family, since 1894. It is packed from floor to ceiling with literally any kind of brush you can imagine – from brooms and dusting, to vegetable cleaning and shaving. – more than 10,000, the current owner Waltraud Ernst told us. She runs it today with her daughter, Caroline Jäger. Her granddaughter will be the 5th generation. She still makes many of the brushes in the back room between customers, too. If somebody bought a brush 20 years ago that fell apart, she stands behind it: “The customers have to be happy.” She wanted to retire a couple of decades ago but she obviously still revels in curious customers and explaining the in’s and out’s of brushes to anybody. We bet you will buy something.
Torture Room in the Reichstagmuseum in Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus) – Tours typically visit the grand rooms in the city hall and exhibits in the Reichstag Museum, but it was being renovated during our 2017 visit. However, we did snag a little guided tour of the Torture Room, below, and it is worth a visit. It is actually called a “Fragstatt” which is something like an Interrogation Office. OK, so I guess pulling, stretching, poking and otherwise making you uncomfortable could be called interrogation.
Maria Läng Chapel – The façade across from the cathedral at Pfauengasse 2 looks like a standard stucco building, but don’t let looks deceive. Do not miss a short visit to this itty-bitty chapel (be respectful, it is used for prayers all day long). Not sure we’ve every been to a chapel this decorated that is this small. Also baroque in style, the city basically built around it and swallowed it up, but left the insides intact. Just a delightful treasure not seen by many tourists.
Herzog Park – After hoofing city streets, you’ll want a little peaceful serenity in a green space. Just on the northern edge of the old town is beautiful Herzog Park (less than 4 acres). Parts of the walls made up sections of the old city wall. Today you find groomed rose gardens, an alpine garden, a small botanical garden, and a medieval tower (that you used to be able to climb but due to vandalism was closed when we were there). From the garden, you also have a view of the river. Take a stroll there through the green spaces and along the paths that ring old town. A perfect spot for a lunch or snack.
Friar and goose statue – A bit eerie without any explanation as to what it means, take a saunter through the archway off Kräuterermarkt into the Bischofshof Hotel courtyard and restaurant. Smack in the middle (often hidden behind umbrellas in the summer) is a statue of a kind-looking friar with geese at his feet. But look behind him and you’ll see a fox eating the geese. We have heard it comes from a story of a fox that couldn’t catch geese to eat so he disguised himself as a friar and preached to the geese until they relaxed and fell asleep. But if you ask, you’ll hear other explanations too. Just gawk and wonder at this oddity.
Walhalla – Take a day to visit this historic monument and enjoy the magnificent views. Located 6 miles from Regensburg, getting there is easy on the Donauschiffart ferry service (www.danauschiffahrt.de). Cruises depart at 11 a.m. from the dock in Regensburg arriving at Walhalla at 11:45. Last departure for Regensburg is 15:45. You can also get to and from Walhalla via bus. Check the bus schedule here.
Where to eat in Regensburg
Wurstkuchl (loosely meaning, Little Wurst Kitchen) – Otherwise known as the Historic Sausage Kitchen, this restaurant lays claim to being oldest sausage kitchen in the world. Since it traces its roots back to the 1135 and has been owned by the same family since 1806, we’re not going to argue. You come for the experience and the sausages – six to 10 small grilled sausages (depending on how hungry you are) served on a bed of sauerkraut (of course) and sweet grainy mustard. And yes, this is Germany so you do get bread, a large pretzel in fact. It is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and if it is at all warm and sunny, expect crowds outside in the seating area next to the river. Just sit down, a waiter will spin by and take your order. The food will come lickety-split. Pay when you are ready to leave by calling the waiter over. Food to go, too. Don’t forget the beer.
Dampfnudel-Uli – This cute restaurant is located in the Altstadt, in the base of the historic Baumburger Tower, and specializes in steamed dumplings (both savory and sweet). It’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed on Sunday and Monday. Very popular with locals too. Sit at the counter to feel like a native.
Osteria Federico II – A wonderfully small, neighborhoody restaurant that specializes in delicious Italian food. Located away from the often very busy pedestrian zone of the Altstadt. Even when seated outside, the feel is quite intimate. Open Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations advised.
Ristorante Tiziano – Located on the outskirts of the Altstadt, this Italian restaurant features a lovely outside garden patio for seating that affords good people-watching while enjoying tasty food. Open Monday through Saturday.
Black Bean Coffee Company – If you are craving tasty coffee prepared by a barista that knows a thing or two about coffee culture, then you’ll find it — and yummy pastries and sandwiches — here at Black Bean. Located on Gesandtenstrasse 3 on a nice little plaza to sit. Yes, it’s a German coffee chain, but a good one. Open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where to stay in Regensburg
You can’t go wrong with the Hotel Münchner Hof where we stayed for one night before leaving for our ExperiencePlus! bike tour along the Danube River to Budapest. The hotel is located on Tändlergasse in Regensburg’s Altstadt, close to Neupfarrplatz and the location of the largest of the Regensburg’s Christmas markets. Rooms are basic but the buffet breakfast in the Gaststätte (the hotel restaurant) is notably spectacular and extensive. You can also view other hotels and accommodations using our Booking.com map, below. By booking your stay using Booking.com, we receive a small commission and you pay no more than if you would have booked directly … which helps us keep the lights on here in our offices, so thank you in advance for your support.
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