Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof, Germany
Explore the maze of Regensburg’s small streets and you’ll be lost in perpetual time travel. The narrow – sometimes dark – alleyways are a legacy of the medieval city on this site. But there’s evidence of much more before and after.
Romans first built up Regensburg, using it as a fortification and trading city from about 179AD. It was built of stone and the large temple erected in the city started the series of grand religious buildings that were to come.
In the early Middle Ages, Regensburg grew and prospered. Many of the Roman buildings were not destroyed but expanded and renovated to accommodate its role as the main centre for the Bavarians. These constant changes have left an intriguing mix of Roman, Romanesque and Gothic buildings.
It’s the architecture from the 11th to 13th century that really defines how the city looks today, though. The market, the city hall and the cathedral seem not like out-of-place landmarks but like the joints that keep everything together.
The small streets and alleys, winding around to new discoveries of public squares and churches, come to an abrupt end at the Danube River. This is the northernmost point of the river and it flows wide and strong here. From the centre of the historic town, you can cross the river on the famous Roman Bridge that was constructed from stone in the 12th century and still stands today, connecting more modern parts of Regensburg.
More recently, Regensburg has become known as a bit of a digital hub with companies like Siemens, Toshiba and Amazon setting up base in the area. A BMW production plant in Regensburg is also a large employer of residents here. But there is no sense of the modern developments of the city in the historic centre, most of which survived the bombing of the Second World War.
Visiting Regensburg, Germany
To get the most out of a visit to Regensburg, the best thing to do is just walk through its streets. Even the buildings of no particular note that line the alleyways all come together to create the sense of medieval city.
The particular highlights of the city are all within a very easy walking distance of each other. From the Roman Bridge, walk up into the centre of town to see the cathedral, cut across to the old town hall, through the Haidplatz square and over to St James’s Scottish Church.
The various public squares are nice places to stop for a rest. The fountains or statues in the centre of many of them are little homages to the city’s past and the buildings surrounding them have authentic and artistic facades.
Regensburg is popular with tour groups that move in large mobs but they tend to stick to the main streets. Getting away from the obvious paths and exploring the alleyways will not just give you a bit more peace, it will also show you how small businesses and residences of today have been incorporated into the original buildings.
All the things you need to know
There are English language guided tours of the city at 1:30pm on Wednesday and Saturday from the tourist information office. The tour costs €8 for an adult and €5 for concession.
I would suggest having a look at this good day tour to Regensburg from Munich, as an option.
For a nice and affordable hotel, Katholische Akademie is in the Old Town district.
If you're looking for a modern and very nicely-done hotel, you may like the Ibis Styles Regensburg.
Andfor a funky design in an old chapel, Hotel David offers something a bit special.