Upper Franconia has the highest density of breweries in the world, and a visit to a Franconian beer garden to enjoy a drink under chestnut trees is a true highlight. Awaiting visitors in addition are one Bavaria’s loveliest stalactite caves and a summer toboggan run.
Franconia is the northern part of Bavaria, but you need only spend a little time there to realise that it’s a region with its own traditions and history. One highlight is the ‘Fränkische Schweiz’ (Franconian Switzerland) nature park with its many castles and leisure activities. The numerous medieval towns in the region fit in perfectly with the idyllic landscape. The nature park is a great place to enjoy and experience the present and to follow the traces of the past.
It’s very chilly in the Teufelshöhle. Temperatures in the stalactite cave are around nine degrees Celsius the whole year round. Awaiting you in this underground world are curiosities like a papal crown, a pipe organ and the skeleton of a cave-dwelling bear. Tours full of fascinating information about the formation of stalactites are available without registration. You can simply ask at the entrance. (Tours are in German and cost approximately five euros.)
From there, you proceed by foot on to Schöngrundsee Lake. Here you’ll have to choose where you want to go first, to the water or up the mountain. If you chose the mountain, to the right of the lake awaits a summer taboggan. There are actually two runs “Frankenrodel” (summers only) and Frankenbob, with which you speed back down to the valley. The stainless-steel Frankenrodel run covers 1160 meters with lots of twists and turns. If that’s not enough elevation, you also can try out the bungee trampoline next to the run.
Then walk along the edge of the forest to Pottenstein. After a morning full of physical activity, the Gasthaus Krone on the market square is a perfect spot. There you can sit outside and enjoy Franconian specialities. A recommendation for everyone who loves something sweet is the “Apfelküchle” (apple strudel) with vanilla ice cream.
For the second half of the day, the idea is: welcome to the Middle Ages. From the market square, a short but steep path takes you up to Castle. It’s the oldest castle in the region and the town’s landmark. Once you’ve finished the climb, you can take a look at various exhibitions in the castle itself.
The (Executioner’s Museum) back down on the market square is pretty spooky. The museum is devoted to some of the darkest aspect of the Middle Ages, including executions, beheadings and superstitions about witches and zombies. For five euros admission price, you can learn about medieval torture practices and instruments and the fates of the people that suffered from them.
The following day will take you along the Breweries Route. You can spend the night in the hostel. Or you can take the Bier-, Brotzeit- und Burgen-Express back to Neuhaus. The bus stop Pottenstein B470 is right in the middle of town. From Neuhaus, you can travel with regional rail back to Nuremberg or Bayreuth.
The next day take the Bier-, Brotzeit- und Burgen-Express to its final stop in Waischenfeld. Above this medieval town is Waischenfeld Castle, where this trip starts. You can sample the beer brewed on the premises in the interior courtyard, or just enjoy the marvellous view of city from the observation deck. In late August, the castle hosts a large medieval market with merchants, performances and knights.
From the castle, proceed back down the way you came, across the river and along Fischergasse out of town. When you’ve reached the town limits, you’ll see a sign reading “Brauereienweg” (Breweries Route) with an arrow pointing you in the right direction. Such signs will keep you on the path to the breweries.
Pass through a natural tunnel of trees and bushes until you get to Nankendorf. There’s a brewery here as well, but it’s better to press on. In the beer garden of the Krug-Bräu restaurant in Breitenlesau, you can experience the traditional tastes of Franconia. There’s freshly tapped beer visitors to be enjoyed outside in the garden under the towering chestnut trees – Franconia lifestyle in its purest form! There’s also Scheuferla (roasted pork should with a crunchy crust) and dumplings. It’s one of the regional specialities. And the prices for food and drink in Krug-Bräu are very fair.
After a leisurely stop, make your way back to Waischenfeld. All you have to do is retrace your steps following the signs for the town. A path through the woods and more signs will return you to town centre.
The trip is for people who enjoy being outside in nature and don’t mind hiking longer distances. With the breaks described, your outing will take four-and-a-half to five hours. Of course, you can also have a seat one of the many benches and enjoy a “Brotzeit” – a picnic – but visiting a Franconian beer garden under chestnut trees with a cold beer in front of you truly is a highlight. When you first arrive in Waischenfeld, have a look on the schedule when busses make return trips. You can then schedule your breaks accordingly.