Near Pottenstein there are many beautiful walks with magnificent views of Franconian Switzerland

3. June 2023 - Anika Semmer

Franconian Switzerland Sights: 10 Best Things You Have to Do


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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?

The Most Beautiful 10 Franconian Switzerland Sights

"A destination in Franconian Switzerland when it rains is the Franconian Switzerland Museum"

Typical for Franconian Switzerland: hills, rocks and a quaint half-timbered village with castle and rocks

These 1o destinations in Franconian Switzerland are a variegated mix of my highlights from several trips to the region – there are also sights that probably do not appear on any other best list and are insider tips. Except for the caves, none of my excursion tips costs admission. All Franconian Switzerland sights are easily accessible by car, most also by public transport (except the Riesenburg, which is on.

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.

1. Promenade Trail With Rabenstein Castle and Falconry – Top Hike With 3 Franconian Switzerland Sights

"The beautiful Rabenstein castle in Franconian Switzerland"

One of the most beautiful destinations in Franconian Switzerland is Rabenstein Castle and the Promenade Trail

Limestone rocks, caves, unspoiled nature and a pretty medieval castle with falconry and tavern: the beautiful, varied only about 4 km long circular hike along the Promenadenweg offers many highlights and is absolutely recommended. The partly narrow and sometimes steep hiking trail is peppered with roots and leads through and past several rocks and caves including the Sophienhöhle and offers magnificent views over the Ailsbachtal and on Rabenstein Castle. The castle itself can be visited!

The Promenade

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.

Rabenstein Castle, Castle Tavern and Falconry

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.

  • Castle tours season (March-November): Tuesday-Sunday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on the hour + 4:15 pm last guided tour | closed Monday
  • Admission prices: Adults: 7,50€ | Children (4-14 years): 4,00€ |
  • Arrival: Parking is available in the parking lot of the castle Rabenstein.
  • Falconry Season(April – October): Tuesday – Friday 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Admission prices to the bird park : Adults: 4,00€ | Children (5-14 years): 2,00€ |
  • Flight shows: Tuesday – Sunday at 15:00 | Adults: 9,00€ | Children (5-14 years): 5,00€

2. Sophienhöhle – One of the Franconian Switzerland Sights Ludwig I Visited

"Sophienhöhle is one of the smaller show caves in Franconian Switzerland"

Several cave bear skeletons and other ice age bones were found the Sophienhöhle

Elephant ear, millionaire and angel – what do they have to do with the Sophienhöhle? All three jump out at you as particularly impressive stalactites in the halls of the cave. Compared to the famous Devil’s Cave, the Sophienhöhle is smaller, but less visited by tourists. With its three dome-like halls, the winding corridors and the magnificent play of colors of the stalactites, it is in no way inferior to the Devil’s Cave. Just like in the Devil’s Cave, there is also a cave bear skeleton that was discovered in the cave together with many other ice-age bones.

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!

  • Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 10:30am – 5:00pm | Closed Monday – Plan to wait for tours
  • Admission prices: Adults: 7,50€ | Children (4-14 years): 4,00€ |
  • Getting there: Sophienhöhle is located on the northwestern valley wall of the Ailsbachtal near Borg Rabenstein. You can park in the parking lot of Rabenstein Castle and walk about 10 minutes the way to the cave. Alternatively, you can park in the valley bottom and climb 35m up the path to the cave.
  • Tip: Jacket and long pants do not forget, because in the Sophienhöhle it is fresh even in summer!

3. Pottenstein – Circular Walk to the Castle and Through the Town

"Pottenstein belongs with its half-timbered houses and the beautiful castle to the most beautiful Franconian Switzerland attractions"

Hike to the castle with beautiful views of Pottenstein and the countryside

Pottenstein is a beautiful Franconian town with pretty half-timbered houses and quaint Franconian restaurants and breweries. Worth seeing is the old town and the beautiful castle, to which you can hike up a beautiful circular trail. Our beautiful hike went through Pottenstein steeply up to the Sängerhäuschen, with the great view over the valley, to the Dohlenloch and the castle Hohe Warte. After the castle tour we went down to Pottenstein.

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

  • Opening hours Pottenstein Castle season: Tuesday-Sunday from 10.00am – 5.00pm | Monday closed
  • Admission prices: Adults: 6,00€ | Children (5-15 years): 2,50€ |
  • Arrival: There is a road leading directly to the parking lot at the castle gate, which, however, has only a few parking spaces. But you can also simply climb the path on foot from the old town, it is well signposted.

Franconian Switzerland Sights and Attractions Near Pottenstein

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.

4. Teufelshöhle – Underground Wonderland With Stalactites and Cave Bears

"The Teufelshöhle is a show cave, which belongs to the most famous Franconian Switzerland sights"

Impressive stalactites and stalagmites and a cave bear can be found in the Teufelshöhle

The Teufelshöhle (Devil’s Cave) is considered one of the most beautiful dripstone caves in Bavaria and is the largest cave in Franconian Switzerland. It is a natural karst cave with extraordinary stalactite and stalagmite stalactite jewelry and one of the most beautiful show caves in Germany. The cave can only be visited as part of a guided tour.

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!

  • Opening hours: daily from 9.00am – 5.00pm – guided tours throughout (allow for waiting)
  • Admission prices: Adults from 16 years: 7,00€ | Children (4-15 years): 4,00€ | Family ticket for parents with up to 3 children: 20,00€
  • Getting there: It is located 2 km south of Pottenstein and you can reach it well from there on foot. Parking is available directly below the cave. 2.5 hours parking costs 2 euros.
  • Tip: Jacket and long pants do not forget, because in the Teufelshöhle it has constantly about 9 degrees!

5. Walberla – Hiking on the Local Mountain of Franconian Switzerland

"The Walberla is one of the most famous Franconian Switzerland sights"

There are many easy hikes at Walberla

The Walberla is the local mountain of Franconian Switzerland and the circular hike over the Ehrenbürg to the Walberla is the hiking classic. It leads over the two domes Walberla and Rodenstein and offers fantastic views. For the hike you should plan at least 3 hours – depending on whether a detour for a snack in Wiesenthau or Leutenbach is planned or it goes straight back to the parking lot.

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.

  • Arrival: Starting point is the hiking parking lot in Kirchehrenbach. From there, the hiking trail is well signposted!

6. Castle Road – Road Trip to the Most Beautiful Castles, Ruins and Palaces

"A road trip along the Castle Road leads past some beautiful Franconian Switzerland sights"

Some of the 150 castles and palaces of Franconian Switzerland are located along the Castle Road

Around 155 castles, ruins and 15 palaces make Franconian Switzerland one of the places in Germany with the highest density of castles. Some are best reached on foot and lie hidden in the landscape. Others are perched on rock formations or above the valleys and blend picturesquely into the landscape. The Castle Road, one of Germany’s oldest vacation routes, also runs through Franconian Switzerland, past about a dozen castle complexes, and is a great road trip.

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.

7. Gößweinstein – Castle, Pilgrimage Church and Magnificent View

"Gößweinstein is one of the most beautiful places in Franconian Switzerland"

Grandiose view of Gößweinstein from the Gerner rock

Gößweinstein is one of the most beautiful places in Franconian Switzerland and offers a summit castle from the Middle Ages and a pretty town with a beautiful old town and is the starting point for beautiful walks. Absolutely worth seeing is the pilgrimage church to the Holy Trinity, which is considered one of the most beautiful of the famous baroque master builder Balthasar Neumann.

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.

8. Steam Locomotive Trip Through Franconian Switzerland

"One of the most recommended excursion destinations in Franconian Switzerland is a ride on the steam locomotive"

Ride with historic steam locomotives through the idyllic Wiesent valley

Puff, steam, toot, full throttle with lots of smoke with the steam locomotive through the idyllic Wiesenttal. This experience has long been on my to-do list for excursions in Franconian Switzerland with my children and is something very special. Every Sunday, historic trains twitch between Behringersmühle and Ebermannstadt through the beautiful landscape along the Wiesent River, passing castles, caves and beautiful rock formations. On the way, it is also possible to make a stop and get on one of the next trains to continue or to drive only part of the way.

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!

  • Website to book tickets: To the website of the steam railway (just German)
  • Times: always Sundays and holidays
  • Ride prices: Round trip for adults 15 years and older: 17,00€ – in 1st class (upholstered class): 24,00€| Round trip for children (4-15 years): 9,00€ – in 1st class (padded class): 12,00€ | and from 4,00€ for one stop up to 12,00€ for 4-6 stops for adults and half for children

9. Riesenburg – One of the Most Impressive Franconian Switzerland Sights in Nature

"The Riesenburg is one of the most impressive natural monuments in Bavaria"

Once a cave today an imposing cave ruin: The Riesenburg

The Riesenburg is a natural karst cave ruin and an imposing natural monument that became a destination for excursions during the Romantic period and also attracted Ludwig I. The visit of the Bavarian fairy-tale king is still commemorated by a stone tablet in the middle of the Riesenburg:

“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!

  • Arrival: Parking is available directly below the Versturzhöhle Riesenburg on the state road 2191 near Engelhardsberg in the municipality of Wiesenttal. From there, a short walk over stairs in about 5 minutes to the Riesenburg.

10. Rock Garden Sanspareil

"The rock garden Sanpareil is one of the Franconian Switzerland sights for which you do not have to pay an entrance fee"

Great photo spots can be found in the rock garden Sanspareil

“C’est sans pareil” – “This is unparalleled!” is said to have been exclaimed by a guest upon seeing the garden, thus creating the name of the pleasure garden. The English landscape garden with the special rock structure of the Franconian Jura is unique and dates back to the time of the Bayreuth margrave couple Friedrich and Wilhelmine in the 18th century. The rock garden is located at the gateway to Franconian Switzerland not far from Bayreuth in Wonsees.

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.

  • Opening hours: open all year
  • Admission prices: Admission free!
  • Arrival: Parking spaces are available in Wonsees directly at the entrance to the park.

For even more tips on lesser-known Franconian Switzerland attractions, check out the feed and stories on Instagram and Facebook!

On our blog you will find excursion tips for many regions in Germany and ideas for activities with friends, activities for two or with the family. True to the theme: There’s no such thing as boredom! 🙂

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