On paper, Altes Rathaus just means the “Old Town Hall.” In reality, this old town hall is quite the sight – it’s a baroque manor with painted exteriors that seems to bloom right out of the river, only accessible by two stone-arch bridges. Its origin story is one of the greatest rebellions against a Homeowner’s Association. According to legend, the Bishop of Bamberg would not grant any land to the citizens for the construction of their own town hall. The citizens responded by ramming stakes into the river to create the island and building their town hall on top of it. Today, the people’s hall houses the Ludwig Collection – an impressive display of 18th-century porcelain.
Sure, Bamberg is home to a dizzying array of wonderful (and wonderfully historic) structures; you could absolutely spend a charming afternoon exploring the Bamberg Cathedral, the Michelsberg Monastery, the Seehof Palace or all of the above! But, consider dedicating some time to the Bamberg Natural History Museum. Housing an immersive collection of geology, flora and fauna, the true showstopper of the museum is the Bird Hall. You don’t have to be an ornithologist to swoon over the countless rare (and in several cases, extinct) taxidermized specimens.
You don’t come to Bavaria and pass up the chance to sip the local brews, and Bamberg is renowned for one specifically. Rauchbier (smoked beer) is the result of a malting process where the grains are smoked over a beechwood fire. All nine of the town’s traditional breweries serve this specialty, but the historic Schlenkerla brewery takes claim as the must-visit beerhall. Serving the Bamberg community from wooden barrels since 1405, the ambiance (and beer) is without equal. Grab a seat, order some Bavarian veal sausages to pair with a smoked beer, and soak up the setting — it is truly one of a kind.
Of course, this is just a handful of our favorite things about Bamberg — there’s a whole town of curiosities and delights waiting to be discovered! You could spend hours, days or weeks frantically googling in preparation for what to visit and when, but when the time comes, nothing beats an experienced guide. It’s for this reason that Viking stands out as one of the best ways to explore Bamberg (and every other port they sail to). Few can compare to the dedication Viking has for providing fascinating insights into local life during their included shore excursions. Pair that with the refined intimacy and enriching experiences you’ll find on board, and it’s safe to say Viking is a prime way to connect with your destination in every possible way.