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The most beautiful destinations in Franconian Switzerland take us on a magical journey into the past. Legendary castles and palaces, impressive caves, picturesque half-timbered villages and spectacular rock formations are among the most beautiful Franconian Switzerland sights that should not be missed..
A castle perched high on prominent rock pinnacles like a man-made eagle’s nest. Pretty half-timbered villages with quaint Franconian inns and breweries nestle in the idyllic mountain and hilly landscape with its dense forests, picturesque rock spires, ruins and dripstone caves. As I chug comfortably through Franconian Switzerland in the car, lots of photo motifs jump in front of my lens and the idyllic landscape enchants me. I have already made several extended weekend trips with an overnight stay in one of the rustic, typical Franconian inns in the heart of Franconian Switzerland and fall in love with this area every time anew.
Franconian Switzerland stretches between Bamberg, Bayreuth and Forchheim in Upper Franconia in northern Bavaria and is the northern part of the Franconian Alb. The region is a typical karst area with over 1,000 small and large caves containing dripstones and fossil bones of cave bears and other prehistoric creatures. Evidence of the recent past are the about 170 castles, ruins and palaces and pretty villages with medieval half-timbered houses and magnificent churches and buildings from the Baroque period. It is a true paradise for nature lovers, geologists, small and large speleologists and explorers, culture enthusiasts and hikers.
I’ll tell you which highlights you should definitely see and which hikes are definitely worthwhile. Among my excursion tips, there are also a few lesser-known insider tips in addition to the prominent Franconian Switzerland attractions such as Pottenstein, which simply belong on every list. Watch out. Some of the most prominent photo motifs and Instagram hot spots are only worth it for a quick stop to take a picture – even if you definitely want to post that photo. Tüchersfeld, for example, offers probably the most famous photo motif and if you don’t want to go to the Franconian Switzerland Museum, a short stop there is enough.
On Abenteuer Freundschaft you will find even more excursion recommendations! Do you know already in these most beautiful excursion destinations in Upper Bavaria, the best places in the Allgäu and many more excursion destinations in Bavaria and Germany?
It’s worth exploring some of the most beautiful destinations in Franconian Switzerland on foot during a short (or long) hike. My favorite hikes include several highlights as stopovers along the way and are easy to master for everyone (with baby in the belly carrier and toddler in the Kraxe). You can find them with a short description at the following Franconian Switzerland sights.
Rabenstein Castle with tavern and falconry can be approached directly by car and you can also park there. From there you can start the circular hiking trail in the direction of Sophienhöhle, which you reach after about 10 minutes walking time or you put the Sophienhöhle as a highlight at the end of the hike.
During the hike you will always have a beautiful view of Rabenstein Castle, which you will go around. On the way there are many small caves and idyllic nature with rocks.
Sturdy shoes are highly recommended, especially if it has rained. The small hike can be done easily with the belly carrier and the Kraxe – but the path is partly quite steep and slippery. For me, the small hike is one of the most beautiful in the region.
The medieval Rabenstein Castle sits majestically high on the rocky peak. The ceremonial rooms, armory and knights’ halls of the 800-year-old medieval castle can be visited on a guided tour – today the castle is used as an event location, restaurant and hotel.
The castle also has a tavern with an idyllic beer garden where you can stop before or after your hike.
The Rabenstein Castle Falconry is home to over 80 species of birds of prey. Daily flight shows are held, where up to 12 birds of prey are demonstrated.
The Sophienhöhle is a still active stalactite cave, which means that it drips around you all the time and on the interesting guided tour you visit all three halls. In the finale of the tour, an excerpt from the Hall of the Mountain King from the Per Gynt Suite is played, which together with the play of light on the stalactites in the massive cave dome creates a grandiose effect.
The Sophienhöhle is one of the Franconian Switzerland sights, which already visited the fairy tale king Ludwig I!
Pottenstein Castle was founded in the 11th century and is one of the oldest castles in Franconian Switzerland. It was never destroyed by fires or wars! The castle contains a museum with objects from the 30-year war, household goods and tithe barn from the 16th century, several exhibitions and you can look at the palace with three showrooms
Pottenstein may be a small, pretty Franconian nest, but there’s really a lot going on here in terms of tourism. From Pottenstein itself, it’s just a short walk to the Devil’s Cave, there’s a summer toboggan run and a skywalk. Pottenstein also offers a climbing forest and a fun park with e-bikes and Segways for rent and a go-kart track.
Even the cave entrance, the gateway to the underworld, is mighty and not to be overlooked: 25 meters wide and 14 meters high, the portal lies on the steep slope 2 kilometers south of Pottenstein. Once the cave ended after 85m, but the final wall was broken through from 1922 and further beautiful dripstone decorated halls of the cave made passable. Today they are connected with tunnels and the cave is about 3000m long – the part of the show cave in it is 1700m, of which 800m are shown during the guided tours.
The Teufelshöhle is one of the most famous Franconian Switzerland sights and with about 140,000 visitors a year, it is also one of the most visited show caves in Europe. It is definitely worth seeing and the 45-minute guided tour, which is decorated with music and light effects, is entertaining and exciting for families with children from 3 years. However, tours only take place every 1.5 hours or so!
On the way, rock formations such as the Wiesenthauer Nadel and the Steinerne Frau and the pretty Walburgis Chapel offer beautiful photo opportunities. From the top you have a fantastic view. From the second peak, the Rodenstein, the Walberla looks like a table mountain with the chapel nestled in the middle.
I highly recommend to visit the following Franconian Switzerland sights or to plan a (photo) stop: the Imperial Palace in Forchheim, Egloffstein Castle in the Trubach Valley (photo stop or possibility for a nice walk through the picturesque Trubach Valley from the hikers’ parking lot), Gößweinstein Castle and place of pilgrimage with the beautiful basilica.
Tip: In Aufseß, the place with the largest density of breweries in the world, you can typically Franconian with Brotzeit and a typical Franconian beer stop.
The castle Gößweinstein is a beautiful photo motif from a distance and can be visited for a few euros (for me, however, the visit was not a must). Beautiful is the 360 degree view from the castle, beyond that you can explore on your own the dungeon and the bower as well as the chapel. Especially the castle chapel with its late Gothic figures is worth seeing.
In Gößweinstein you can wonderfully stop in one of the Franconian rustic restaurants or strengthen yourself in a café.
Hiking tip: A nice little hike that leads to great viewpoints like the Kreuzberg and the Gernerfels is the 3.5 km long Balthasar Neumann Circular Trail.
It is important to know that trips only take place on Sundays, alternating between steam locomotives and historic diesel trains. The more beautiful photo motif and more exciting experience for children is the puffing, steam emitting steam locomotive. If getting a ride on the steam locomotive is important to you, make sure you pay attention when booking! Tickets are available online and locally at the ticket office in Ebermannstadt, at the Bischof tailor shop at Behringersmühle station, and from the conductor on the train.
Tip: Especially nice photo spots with the steam locomotive are the Hindenburg Bridge and the Marienfelsen in Gößweinstein!
“Following the wind, the clouds come to the rock and give way, but unchangingly the rock stands in time”.
I was enormously impressed by the giant castle with its imposing rock arches with a span of up to 11.5 meters, the stone bridges and caves. The Riesenburg stretches over a height difference of 25 meters and is 43 meters long. Since 2007, it has been one of the 100 most important geological wonders of nature in Bavaria, does not cost an entrance fee and is one of the very special Franconian Switzerland sights, not only for geologists!
The rock garden Sanspareil is one of the Franconian Switzerland sights, which is worth visiting especially because of the great photo motifs. The park is open throughout and does not charge admission. Today, unfortunately, only a few of the former buildings remain: the ruined theater and Zwernitz Castle with the Morgenländisches Bau. From the keep of the medieval castle you have a great panoramic view over Franconian Switzerland.
For even more tips on lesser-known Franconian Switzerland attractions, check out the feed and stories on Instagram and Facebook!
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