Maibaumsteigen Rottenstuben: Das Publikum feuert die Burschen am Maibaum an
Eastern Bavaria

A holiday region where you can relax and unwind. In the Bavarian Forest National Park the forest is left to its own devices. And the first Bavarian capital was located in the east of the state! Plus everything else that is exciting, fascinating and spectacular. Text: Markus Stein

Reading time: 7 minutes

Stroll through Eastern Bavaria

Regensburg, founded by the Romans under the name of Castra Regina, was the seat of the first Bavarian dukes from the 6th century. This city on the River Danube is noted for its medieval old town, its Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral, Germany’s oldest preserved bridge - the Stone Bridge - and the youthful flair of a university city.

Exploring the city: Marseillaise and Air Museum

Amberg in the north also boasts a historic setting with an almost complete city wall and many other attractions that include the pilgrimage chapel of Maria Hilf, the “glass cathedral” designed by Walter Gropius in the 1960s and the original Air Museum.

The most striking feature of Neumarkt, an urban gem in itself, is the modern Lothar Fischer Museum. In Weiden, in the Oberpfälzer Wald (Upper Palatinate Forest), gabled Renaissance houses stand next to Jugendstil buildings. Cham with its historic marketplace enjoys a charming location in the Upper Bavarian Forest.

It’s claim to fame is that Nikolaus Graf von Luckner, a marshal who was actively involved in the French revolution, was born here. Every day at 12.05 the Rathaus plays the Marseillaise.

Civic pride and Trutzburg

High above Kelheim on the River Danube in the northwest of Lower Bavaria sits the Befreiungshalle, or Liberation Hall, conceived by King Ludwig I and a symbol of the city. Landshut on the River Isar captivates visitors with its wonderful historic old town complex and its romantic twisting alleyways, as well as Trausnitz Castle.

With splendid churches, a spacious central square and fine town houses, Straubing in Gäuboden is a fine sight. Deggendorf, which also has a large, medieval central square, is the gateway to the Bavarian Forest. Visitors can stroll through lovingly restored streets in Vilshofen on the southern edge of the Bavarian Forest, where the Danube meets the Vils and Wolfach rivers.

Record-breaking pipes and glass art

In Pfarrkirchen, the main town of the Rottal valley, the late-Gothic church of St. Simon and Judas Thaddäus dominates the townscape. Passau, the city on the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers has Italian master builders to thank for its Baroque city image.

The cathedral of St. Stephan, which boasts the world’s largest cathedral organ, rises up majestically in the heart of the old town. A visit to Frauenau in the Bavarian Forest should definitely take in the Glass Museum with its modern glass art and the Rococo church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Regensburg: Nur 30 Minuten von Regensburg entfernt thront seit 1842 die Walhalla, ein einem griechischen Tempel ähnelnde Prachtbau
Kristin Biebl: Aufstieg zur Großen Kanzel im Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald
Mittelalter und Renaissance: Die Fassade der Veste Oberhaus über der Stadt Passau

Forest, forest and more forest

The Oberpfälzer Wald lies between the Fichtelgebirge mountains and the lake district of the Upper Palatinate. A landscape of pools and lakes, castles and palaces. To the south it joins the Bavarian Forest, forming together with the Bohemian Forest the largest contiguous forest in Europe.

The Bavarian Jura landscape in the west is the remains of a vast ocean, which in prehistoric times covered the region between Sulzbach-Rosenberg and Kelheim. Narrow river valleys divide the land into high plateaus, crests and hillocks. This region is home to some of the Upper-Germanic Roman Limes, limestone caves and the spectacular Danube Gorge near Weltenburg.

In the triangle of the three cities of Regensburg, Passau and Landshut lies Bavaria’s golf and spa region, featuring the spa resorts and healing baths of Bad Füssing, Bad Griesbach, Bad Birnbach, Bad Gögging and Bad Abbach. The Gäuboden on the Danube plains is Bavaria’s breadbasket. Meanwhile, the valley running both sides of the River Rott, the agricultural Rottal, is the heart of the Lower Bavarian hill country.

Year after year: Drachenstich Festival and princely wedding

Yes, the traditional symbols of all things Bavaria tend to come from Eastern Bavaria. The iconic blue and white diamonds formerly graced the coat of arms of the counts of Bogen, near Straubing. When that blood line died out, the House of Wittelsbach assumed the diamonds. Every four years, the Landshut Wedding is a major cause for celebration in the town of Landshut.

This historical festival lasts several weeks and involves over 2,000 participants in authentic costumes. It has been celebrated since 1903. The Drachenstich Festival of Furth is another long-standing tradition re-enacting the slaying of the dragon - complete with fire-spewing animatronics.

Gillamoos: Annual fair since 1313

The Gäubodenfest in Straubing causes quite a racket and is one of the biggest folk festivals in Bavaria. In contrast, the atmosphere at the one-week mountain festivals held through the summer in Amberg, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Frohnberg and Mausberg is more family-oriented. They owe their existence to pilgrimages dedicated to Our Lady.

The Gillamoos, the folk festival of the Hallertau in Abensberg, takes place in September each year and is one of Bavaria’s biggest and oldest annual fairs. The tradition has been going since 1313!

Kloster Weltenburg: Die Benediktiner-Abtei liegt direkt in einer Donau-Schlinge

Thirst-quenching: Zoigl, Weiße and Dampfbier

Brewing beer in Eastern Bavaria looks back on a long and proud history - not least because it is here in the Hallertau, quasi on the doorstep, that the hops are grown. Today, 160 breweries produce a wide range of different beers. A one-off creation, the Zoigl is a bottom-fermented beer which is brewed and hopped in the so-called communal brewery in the Oberpfälzer Wald.

At the Danube Gorge near Kelheim, Weltenburg Abbey runs the world’s oldest monastic brewery, with beer having been brewed in this Benedictine Abbey since the year 1050. In Kelheim itself, the Brauerei Schneider is the oldest wheat beer brewery and in Herrngiersdorf the Pausinger family create their own speciality beers in the oldest private brewery - dating back to 1131. Finally, Zwiesel produces the Volldampf, a top-fermented beer variety in which the bubbles soon burst during the fermentation process. This is known as “steam beer”.

Carp, trout, pike

Visitors keen to eat good fish will be richly rewarded in the Oberpfälzer Wald. More than 1000 years ago, monks of the Cistercian Abbey at Waldsassen created 4000 fish ponds and began breeding fish.

Around one quarter of the ponds are still farmed today. Trout and pike thrive in the fishponds around Tirschenreuth, in the Rußweihergebiet near Eschenbach and between Schwarzenfeld and Schwandorf.

One of the specialities of the Danube is the catfish, usually cooked in a root vegetable stock. The sandy soil and mild climate in the Naabtal valley near Schwandorf offer great conditions for growing asparagus, but it also thrives around Abensberg, while the Hollertau is known for an unusual vegetable: the hop asparagus, also known as hop sprouts.

Die Wallfahrtskirche Mariä Himmelfahrt in Weißenregen
Passau: Blick von der Wallfahrtskirche Mariahilf auf den Inn und den Dom St. Stephan

Juradistl lamb and herb liqueur

The lambs bred in the Bavarian Jura end up in delicious meat dishes. “Juradistl” lambs, which are slaughtered before six months of age, grow up on traditional sheep farms and graze on herb-rich grasslands and juniper heath.

These habitats need the shepherds and their flocks, as without the grazing they would soon be overgrown. Prepared according to tried and tested recipes as well as in new creations, lamb is served in selected inns and restaurants. Maybe followed by a Lower Bavarian dessert? Alt-Passauer “Golden Bonnet” pralines take the form of a tradition head covering. And as a digestif from the Bavarian Forests, there is Blutwurz or Bärwurz, herb liqueurs or cordials. Cheers!

More about Eastern Bavaria: (only in German)

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