Ever heard of the city of Kulmbach in Bavaria? I was honestly super surprised at how cute it was with its many colourful half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets and a towering fortress towering over the town. It’s not a big place and there aren’t tons of sights in Kulmbach, but you can easily spend a few hours here. So here’s my take on what to do for a day trip to Kulmbach in Bavaria.
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Where is Kulmbach?
The town of Kulmbach sits in the Upper Franconian part of the German state of Bavaria. It is the capital of the district with the same name and used to actually be part of the Principality of Bayreuth (another great place to visit).
What to do in Kulmbach
Enter Plassenburg Castle & Its Museums
An absolute must see in Kulmbach is Plassenburg Castle, a big fortress sitting atop a hill overlooking the Old Town. You can walk around and between its two castle walls, stroll around the two inner courtyards and there’s a museum as well, in case you want to learn more about its history.
If you need a toilet break or grab a quick snack, you can do that here too. There’s a public toilet and a cafe next to the museum entrance.
To learn more about the military history at the Plassenburg castle, step into the north wing for the National Collections and Frederick II Military museum. It is entirely centered around the history of the Hohenzollern territories of Franconia and spans the time between the 12th and 19th century.
And besides informing about the history of the fortress Plassenburg, you’ll also get to see the largest Tin Soldier Museum in the world here! The German museum of pewter figures features 300,000 individual figures in 150 dioramas.
The third museum hosted in the castle is the Museum of Rural Life and you can find it in the west wing. The name says it all: it’s centered around life in the countryside in the olden days.
Go on a Brewery Tour
For such a relatively small town, there are quite a few breweries in residence here. After all, you’re in Franconia, the region with the world’s largest density of breweries per capita. So it shouldn’t reaaaally come as a surprise. But it still did for me.
As it stands, you can do a little beer tasting and walking around in an actual brewery, to see what’s going on behind the scenes and appreciate the results even more. (Not just cause you might be tipsy)
I don’t drink alcohol, so I can’t speak from experience. But I know someone who went and they were very happy about it.
Visit the Beer, Bread + Spice Museums
Jep, even more beer for your noggin’ you can have at the Bavarian Brewery Museum in Kulmbach. On 3000 square meters can you learn more about the history of beer brewing, not just in Germany but worldwide. And making beer is quite the skill too, so there’s a lot to learn.
The museum brews its own beer in glass constructions (so guests can see) and for this, local malt is sourced. The beer is not pasteurized nor filtered, which results in a natural look and flavour.
Included in the entry free is a taste of the beer (non alcoholic drink can be requested instead) and a spice bread.
At different times of the year, you can buy limited edition beers, such as for Easter (“Osterfestmärzen”) or Christmas (“Lebkuchenbier”).
At the Kulmbach Mönchshof, you can also find a Bread Museum and a German Spice Museum. And the location is special too: a former monastery from the Middle Ages.
Note that it seems to me that the information boards are German only. But you can use audio guides on your phone or as headphones on location for an English translation.
Guess what, the beer museum is part of a museums complex, which means you can dive even deeper into the history and makings of essential foods. And there’s also a cafe in case you’re hungry after your tour.
- Entry fee (for all three): 11 EUR for adults
- 120 parking spots onsite
- no dogs allowed
Eat Kulmbach Sausage on the Go
Vegetarians and vegans, ignore this part. But anyone who eats meat and especially has a soft spot for regional German sausages (known as Bratwürste), you should try the ones from Kulmbach. They are quite nice! Get them from a food cart, not in a restaurant. For condiment, choose mustard. No arguing!
And no, I am not aware of a local vegan option.
Dine at a Traditional Restaurant (if you eat meat)
You’re in Bavaria! So march your butt into a rustic, traditional Bavarian locale, sit at the checkerboard pattern table and order a big jug of beer and a meaty dish.
(Unfortunately, meat-avoiders might not have many options. Salads are usually super boring. So stick to a soup or a potato dish.)
In the vicinity of Kulmbach
Visit the German Steam Locomotive Museum
Are you a fan of old trains and locomotives? Then you totally should get a ticket for the German Steam Locomotive Museum (Deutsches Dampflokmuseum).
- Opening times: Tues-Sun 10am to 5pm
- Phone: +49 (0) 27 5700
Seasonal Events in Kulmbach
Come for Christmas
To be honest, the Kulmbach Christmas market was rather underwhelming. The city is suuuuch a gorgeous backdrop, so why did they not even turn on the Christmasy street lights when I went?
Not because I went. I didn’t expect them to throw me a welcome party ^^. But it was all hung up, but not turned out. It seriously was incredibly dark at night. It might’ve been the severe electricity savings that were going on in 2022 when I visited and that it was the last week of November, not December. But it was rather odd, if you ask me. Should you visit and you get a different experience, please let me know in the comments.
Still, there were multiple places for the Christmas market vendors to set up and create a cosy atmosphere and I enjoyed my visit.
The main market square around the big fountain and with a view up to the castle is the main Christmas hub. That’s also where a tent is set up so you can seek shelter from the weather while warming up with a brew and a stew. Or whatever you feel like eating and drinking.
Oh, and there’s a limited edition winter beer that you can only get at the Kulmbach Christmas market.
There’s also a small ice rink for games (not skating).
And my personal highlight was stepping into a courtyard completely decked out in fairy lights strung between statues and beautiful decorative items. Left and right the doors let into shops or restaurants.
Check out the Easter Fountains
Did you know about the very specific tradition of South German Easter fountains?
The tradition originated in Franconia, so in even the tiniest villages you will find historic fountains decked in fresh green fir tree arches and colourful Easter eggs and Easter themed hangers. And Kulmbach has a few squares with fountains.
And they all get the Easter treatment. Very pretty!
Want to experience a local fair? Then visit during Kerwa time in June. Kerwa is Bavarian and a shortened way to say Kirchweih, which is a traditional parish festival.
It’s like a mini Oktoberfest, if you will. There are small rides, food and drink vendors and people just happily mingle while drinking beer and eating hearty food while brass bands play live music.
Did I already mention beer? Haha, of course I’d mention it again. (Even if I don’t drink it.) Because there’s also an entire week dedicated to beer in Kulmbach. It’s called the Kulmbacher Bierwoche in German.
And since it’s a very specific regional thing, there’s no English translation of the website. So here is some key info.
Times: 17 July to 4 August 2024
What I personally really liked about this was that they asked people to design the posters as part of a competition. And the results, especially from the kids, are so cute (see here)!
So what cna you expect at this festival? Well, beer. And Bavarian brass music. And meat-heavy food.
If you want, you could sport a lederhosen or dirndl. It’s not obligatory, tho.
Sights in Kulmbach
The main attractions and landmarks in Kulmberg, besides the Plassenburg castle and museums, are:
- Rococo town hall
- Bath house (1398)
- The White Tower (14th century)
- The Red Tower (13th century)
- The Hospital Church (18th century)
- The Petri Church (15th century)
- The Langheimer courtyard (17th century)
- The Schlösslein (mini castle)
- The Zinsfelder Well (1696)
- The Luitpold well (13th century)
Let’s keep this short. You can see a bit more information and pics on this official page.