Nestled in the heart of Bavaria and known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road in Germany,” Würzburg is an enchanting city full of history, culture, and attractions. Whether it’s exploring old castles, tasting local wines, or simply strolling along cobblestone alleyways, there are lots of things to do in Würzburg that make it one unforgettable trip.
Here is a list of the best activities and attractions the city has to offer so you can maximize your time when visiting.
Hike Up to Marienberg Fortress
Perched atop a hill overlooking the city lies Marienberg Fortress. This ancient castle, with its magnificent walls and towers, is a sight to behold, offering scenic views of the surrounding city and countryside.
Dating back to the 8th century, this fortress has played an important role in German history as it stood as a symbol of power. Its current structure was built later between the 13th and 18th centuries and has undergone several changes over time.
The inner court of the castle includes the ruins of an old Gothic church, a well-house, and a 13th-century Romanesque keep. Surrounding the inner court is the Fürstenbau, a Renaissance palace that was once the residence of Bavarian prince-bishops. Outside, there is a sprawling 1,300 square-meter Princes’ Garden that is decorated with statues and fountains. You can also check out the art museum and armory collections within the castle complex.
Getting to the foot of the castle hill is easy from the Old Main Bridge, but from here it’s a km-long climb. The blanket views of Würzburg city from the top are every bit worth it, though.
Take a Stroll along River Main
A walk along the scenic River Main in Würzburg is a great way to take in the city’s natural beauty. The river which passes through the heart of the old town creates a stunning backdrop for the glorious baroque architecture, churches, and squares.
The pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides of the river, the Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge) is especially picturesque. It was built in the 16th century, originally as a wooden bridge, but later replaced with stone in the 1700s. The 180-meter-long bridge has come to represent Würzburg’s romantic history and culture, making it a favorite among locals. Lined with statues of saints, and affording views of the Marien Fortress, it’s an iconic spot for snapping photos and stopping for a drink and a view of the sunset.
As you walk along the River Main, you can see the towers of St. Kilian and the Wallfahrtskirche chapel in the distance. Pearly-white swans can be seen darting through pristine waters and wildflowers line the pavement – the setting is near perfect with brilliant views around every bend.
Marvel at the Architecture of St. Kilian’s Cathedral
St. Kilian’s Cathedral is a must-visit for those looking to experience some of the best baroque architecture in Germany. Commonly called Würzburg Cathedral, this historic structure has served as the home of three different churches until its completion in 1087.
Inside, statues and holy images dating back centuries give off a feeling of sanctity even as the intricate mosaics and frescoes that festoon its walls offer a treat for the eyes. The highlight of the cathedral, though, are its two towers which make it an unmissable part of the city skyline.
St. Kilian’s Cathedral is home to some brilliant works of art, including an impressive Baroque organ, a seven-armed candelabra by Andreas Moritz, and beautifully adorned epitaphs and tombs of Würzburg’s former bishops.
Stop by at the Marienkapelle
Located in the Old Town main square, The Maria Chapel is a Roman Catholic church that dates back to the 14th century. What catches the eye first is its unique red-white Gothic exterior which paints a vibrant focal point against the backdrop of the market square.
Marienkapelle suffered severe damage during World War II but was reconstructed in the 1950s.
The interior is a subtle contrast to the outside, with soft pink and gray walls, a sweeping vaulted ceiling and a somber nave. The church is known for the sculpture of Adam and Eve, a 16th-century masterpiece by Tilman Riemenschneider.
Visit the Magnificent Würzburg Residenz
On the top of every list of things to see in Würzburg is the Residenz Palace, built during the mid-17th century out of sandstone and blue limestone. A stroll inside offers fascinating displays that chronicle centuries of Bavarian baroque design, while ornate murals on walls, ceilings, and domes provide captivating scenes depicting gods, goddesses, and grandiose architecture.
The building served as a palace residence for the prince-bishops of Würzburg until 1814. Every inch of the Residenz screams opulence, from the spectacular stucco art and marble columns to the richly embroidered fabrics and inlaid furniture. The grand staircase, chapel, and imperial hall are especially worth seeing.
Outside, the palace grounds open into manicured lawns, lovely fountains, and sculptures. You can explore the long alleys nestled among the rows of plane and chestnut trees while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. The resulting foreground of lush gardens and myriad flower varieties in bloom create a spectacular setting for the palace.
Say a Prayer at Käppele Würzburg
Set on the Nikolausberg hill overlooking the city, the pilgrimage church is an excellent example of rococo architecture and a popular pilgrimage site. It is known for its unique octagonal structure and the fresco, depicting the Descent from the Cross and Mary as an apocalyptic woman, painted on its ceiling.
Built-in the 18th century, the Käppele Würzburg is considered one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage churches in Germany.
Inside, you can admire the intricate sculptures and paintings dotting its walls. Outside, stone stairways lead to the terrace and a lookout point with a beautiful view of Würzburg. Here, you can pause from sightseeing and take a gander at the Main River meandering through the city.
The church also houses a small free exhibition on religious art, including paintings and sculptures from the 16th century.
Sample Local Cuisine in Würzburg
Würzburg’s cuisine is as varied and flavorful as its culture, offering everything from traditional Bavarian fare to modern fusion dishes. The city’s restaurants serve up hearty plates of sausages, pork knuckle and potato dumplings, as well as lighter dishes like salads and sandwiches.
The city is also known for its wines, with white and red blends that have been produced in the region since Roman times. More on that below!
Mingle with locals while sampling traditional bratwurst dishes like Würzburger Rostbratwurst and Saure Zipfel. Try some sweet and savory baked goods such as Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake), Hefezopf (yeast cake) or Lebkuchen (gingerbread). Or, grab a stein of beer from one of many local brews on tap at a biergarten.
Explore the Wine Route Along the Main river
Did you know that Germany has a thriving wine region? Yes, the country is more than just beer, and Würzburg is where the ‘grapevine’ begins!
The Main river valley is home to numerous vineyards, with the region producing some of Germany’s best whites and reds. Tour the wine route and sample some domestic favorites, including Silvaner, Müller Thurgau, Riesling, and Scheurebe wines.
Venture out to one of the many wine estates and taste some local wines on a guided tour. Stop by a winery for an interactive and educational tasting session. Or, take a leisurely stroll through vineyards, admiring the rolling hills as you savor some of Germany’s finest vinification.
The wineries range from sprawling estates to small family-operated establishments. Soak in the wonderful landscape, learn about different grapes and wine varieties, and of course, pack a bottle or two as souvenirs for the trip back home.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Würzburg
Würzburg is an incredibly picturesque city with a rich history, breathtaking architecture, and a vibrant culture. From the towering Marienberg Fortress to the pilgrimage church of Käppele Würzburg, there are plenty of sights to explore. While the city suffered extensive damage during WWII, it has since been beautifully restored.
Because Würzburg is compact, has great connectivity, and is easy to get around, it is a particularly popular day trip option from bigger cities like Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Nürnberg.
Whether you’d like to sample some local Franconian and Bavarian cuisine, explore the wine route along the Main River, or soak in its historical abundance, Würzburg is sure to delight. So if you’re on the lookout for new destinations to visit in Germany, give this beautiful city a chance.