The earliest settlements in the area date back as far as 5000 BC and the first Celtic settlement, called Ratisbona, was in the city's present-day vicinity since the first millenium BC.
The official history starts in 179 AD, when the Romans built the fortress Castra Regina at the northernmost bend of the river Danube. For the following 200 years the fortress served as the Romans main military base in the province of Raetia. After the Romans left the area during the Barbarian Invasions, the town became a civil settlement.
From about 500 Regensburg was the seat of the Bavarian dukes and was therefore referred to as the first Bavarian "capital". In 739, the bishopric of Regensburg was founded by St. Boniface, making it one of the oldest on German soil.
Regensburg grew to strength and prosperity during the Middle Ages. In the 9th century Regensburg was one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of the East Franks. Through the long-distance trade to Paris, Kiev and Venice Regensburg experienced an economic boom in the 12th and 13th century and was one of the most populous and prosperous cities. A sign of the prosperity of the time is the construction of the Stone Bridge (c. 1135-1146). In 1245, Emperor Frederick II raised Regensburg to the Free Imperial City, and remained so until 1803.
The constructions of the cathedral started in 1273, and the building continued for nearly 600 years until 1872 when the structure was complete. Both the Stone Bridge and the Regenburg Cathedral have survived unchanged and are the city's main sights today.
When the Empire dissolved during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon forced Regensburg to agree to become a part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1810, which ended to the city's political importance. This decline in importance in the 19th century, meant that industrialisation and modernisation of that time had a limited effect on the city, and many building prior to this period were preserved.
Regensburg economically regained some strength because of its role as a river port for crude oil imports from Eastern Europe. Although Regensburg was target to 20 allied bombings during World War II, because it was home to one of Messerschmitt's main aircraft factories as well as an oil refinery, the historic city center took only little damage. There were two sub-camps of the Flossenbürg concentration camp located in the vicinity of the town for a brief period of time in early 1945. In 1960 the university was founded and several large companies like Siemens, BMW, Infineon, and Toshiba built factories in the city. In 2006 Regensburg's historic city center was appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Regensburg was also home to the German Pope - Joseph Ratzinger. He spent a long time in Regensburg and from 1969 on he taught theology at Regensburg University.
There are two airports that are convenient for a trip to Regensburg:
- Munich International Airport (MUC), one of the busiest airports in Europe, is located some to the south of the city with many international connections as Lufthansa's second hub after Frankfurt MUC offers superb connections on Star Alliance and sometimes competitive fares on the other alliances or independent airlines. Regensburg is almost better connected to the airport than Munich itself - just take the direct "Airport express" train between the two, no need to "double back" via central Munich as in bygone days. The best part? The Bayern Ticket is valid on this train.
- Nuremberg International Airport (NUE) is situated 100 km (60 mi) to the north-west of Regensburg and has mostly domestic and a few European connections. If you are travelling by public transportation, take subway U2 to Nuremberg Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and change to a train to Regensburg there. The trip will take approx. 90 min. If you are going by car, drive along autobahn A 3 all the way down to Regensburg, which will take you around 60 min.
- ICE 91: Vienna (Austria) - Passau - Regensburg - Nuremberg - Frankfurt - Cologne
- ALEX: Munich - Freising - Regensburg - Prague (Czech Republic)
- IC 26: Passau - Regensburg - Nuremberg - Frankfurt - Hamburg
- IC 31: Regensburg - Nuremberg - Frankfurt - Düsseldorf - Hanover - Hamburg
- RE: Munich - Freising - Landshut - Regensburg - Nuremberg
- ag: Ingolstadt - Regensburg - Landshut
Regensburg is easily accessible via the German autobahn network, with two autobahns intersecting in the city:
- A 3: Cologne - Frankfurt - Würzburg - Nuremberg - Regensburg - Passau - Linz (Austria) - Vienna (Austria)
- A 93: (Munich via A 9 -) Hallertau - Regensburg - (Prague via A 6) - Hof (- Berlin via A 72 & A 9)
There are also major national highways passing the city:
- B 8: Nuremberg - Regensburg - Straubing - Passau
- B 15: Weiden - Schwandorf - Regensburg - Landshut
- B 16: Ingolstadt - Regensburg - Cham
Travelers that go to Regensburg by bus usually arrive at the big bus station in Stadtamhof, on the other side of the Danube. The city has many regional services and also a few national and international connections, most notably an express bus to Prague (Czech Republic), which is much faster than the respective train connection.
Regensburg is located on the banks of the river Danube, that runs via Vienna (Austria), Belgrade (Serbia) and Budapest (Hungary) to the Black Sea. Regensburg is the starting and end point of regular river cruises down the whole length of the Danube.
As the city center is reasonably compact, it's best explored by foot. The historic city center is a pedestrian zone, so if you arrive by car you will have to park in one of the several parking garages around the center. All major points of interest are within a 1 km (1,100 yd) radius.
You can rent bikes from the station.
To reach Walhalla, you also can take a ship, which is leaving from the pier close to the Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke) twice daily. See below for information.
For longer distances, Regensburg features a comprehensive public bus network, operated by RVV and RVB. Buses are frequent (10 min intervals during peak hours) and run until around midnight every day. The centre of the bus network is Albertstraße bus station just opposite the train station. There's also a Altstadtbus taking you through the inner city. The price for a usage of 90 min is €2.40 in Zone 1 (central). You can get an all day pass for all zones for €5.00.
Regensburg used to have a modest tram network until the 1960s and there's talk of building a light rail system in the modern era, but it'll be the late 2020s before anything gets built.
As one of the few cities in Germany that remained mostly undamaged during World War II, Regensburg boasts the largest preserved medieval city centre in Germany. It contains the highlights of the city: the Regensburg Cathedral and the Stone Bridge. The city is sometimes called "the northernmost city of Italy" due to the lively places and streets with lovely outdoor cafes during summer, as well as the large number of Italian-style medieval merchant houses and towers. The historic centre lies next to the river Danube (German: Donau), and crossing the medieval stone bridge into the town provides a perfect entrance to the city and a great view over the whole historic city centre.
phone: +49 941 57973address: Schwarze-Bären-Straße 7The church was first mentioned in 875. It was renovated several times and nowadays the interior is a great example of Rococo architecture. Especially the altar is of outstanding beauty.
phone: +49 941 5920112address: Neupfarrplatz 5Neupfarrkirche is a Protestant church at the central square of Regensburg. The first structures were built in 1519, shortly after the Jewish population, who lived in the neighbourhood, was illegally chased out of the city during a power vacuum caused by the death of emperor Maximilian I.
phone: +49 941 5971660address: Domplatz 1The Cathedral of St. Peter is the seat of the Catholic diocese of Regensburg and the prime example of Gothic architecture in Bavaria. Construction commenced in 1273 and the church was finished in 1872, after more than 600 years of work. The cathedral is open for visitors outside mass. Tours are available for individuals as well as groups.
Regensburg DomspatzenA highlight of a visit to the cathedral is a concert or rehearsal of the world famous boys' choir Domspatzen who perform during the Sunday mass - except in the summer season.
phone: +49 941 466210address: Thundorferstraße 3This tavern by the Danube was the first sausage kitchen in the world and already served the construction workers of the Stone Bridge and the Cathedral in the 12th century. That allegedly makes it the first fast food joint ever. It is still a restaurant specializing in all kinds of sausage dishes and a definite must-see for every Regensburg visitor.
phone: +49 941 50480address: Emmeramsplatz 5St. Emmeram is a palace of the Princely House of Thurn and Taxis, a former key player in postal services in Europe. The palace can only be visited as part of a tour, as the owners still live here. The treasure chamber and royal stables can be visited daily 11:00-17:00 for €4.50 without booking a tour.
Porta Praetoriaaddress: Unter den SchwibbögenThe Porta Praetoria is claimed as Germany's most ancient stone building (although the Drususstein tower in Mainz can be certainly dated to 9 BC). It is dating back to 179 AD and was the northern gateway of the Roman settlement and military camp Castra Regina.
address: Steinerne BrückeThe Stone Bridge is Regensburg's most important landmark, besides Regensburg Cathedral, and a masterpiece of medieval architecture. It was built 1135-1146 and today is a pedestrian bridge that connects the city center with Stadtamhof.
Museums and Monuments
phone: +49 941 5073440address: Rathausplatz 1Regensburg was the seat of the Perpetual Diet of the Holy Roman Empire 1663-1806. The museum, which is located in the Old Town Hall, focuses around the Holy Roman Empire and its influence on German and European history.
phone: +49 9403 961680address: Walhallastraße 48, DonaustaufThe Walhalla is a hall of fame that honours laudable and distinguished people, and famous personalities in German history – politicians, sovereigns, scientists and artists. The neo-classical structure was built 1830-1842 and is considered to be the most important building commissioned by King Ludwig I. It is located outside the city of Regensburg on a hill next to the Danube. The most scenic way to get there is by ferry, which docks close to the Stone Bridge. Alternatively you can take the local bus route 5 to the "Walhallastraße" stop in Donaustauf. Both routes require you to climb about 358 steps on the most direct route up the hill.
- Visit a mass in the cathedral on Sunday morning when the world-famous boys' choir "Domspatzen" is singing.
- Visit the theatre
- Visit the Dult when it's May or September! It's like a small "Wiesn" for Regensburg.
- The Bürgerfest is taking place in Stadtamhof every 2 years (2013, 2015,...)
- Every year in December the Christmas Market is at the Neupfarrplatz.
phone: +49 941 79620address: Domplatz 1Visit a mass in the Cathedral on Sunday mornings when the world-famous boys' choir Domspatzen is singing.
Regensburg made its fortune trading in salt, however it is unlikely that you will be taking this home as a souvenir. Regensburg has many centuries worth of old breweries, so perhaps some local beer, or perhaps a litre Stein (glass) would be a good purchase. Try some "Händlmaier's Senf", the typical sweet mustard that is usually served with white sausages.
There are several shopping malls in Regensburg:
Regensburg ArcadenHandy if you have some time to kill at the station, and has many food shops.
Donaueinkaufszentrum (DEZ)Very big shopping mall, you can find almost everything in it
- The Alex Center
- The KÖWE Center
One famous place is the "Wurstkuchl", just at the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), founded over 900 years ago and presumably the oldest fast food restaurant in the world. There is a small beer garden right at the river bank where you can enjoy the sausage specialties served by waiters in medieval dress. For Bavarian specialties, try the "Kneitinger" on Arnulfsplatz.
A typical pub to visit would be the "Kneitinger" at the Arnulfsplatz 3. Also the beer gardens near the Danube "Alte Linde" and "Spital Garten", both reachable from the Stone Bridge, offer a perfect way to taste Regensburg-brewed beer. The Bischofshof beer can be tasted next to the cathedral in the court of the "Bischofshof", where the brewery used to be.
In the inner city there are over 350 bars, cafés, clubs and discos. The most famous ones, especially for young people studying here, are:
- The Suite 15: St.-Peters-Weg
- The Gloria: Simadergasse
- The Scala: Pustetpassage, Gesandtenstraße
- The Zap: Rote-Stern-Gasse
- Gasthaus Kneitinger
phone: +49 941 6900966address: Obere Bachgasse 21One of two hostels in the city and the only one in the very heart of town and a very inexpensive alternative to a hotel. It has all hostel style amenities, including an in-house supermarket. Furthermore, it's the only hostel in Regensburg that allows guest over the age of 26.
phone: +49 941 99290address: Friedenstraße 7Near the station and the university.
phone: +49 941 4662830address: Wöhrdstraße 60The hostel is located on Unterer Wöhrd island in the river Danube.
phone: +49 941 2000900address: Goliathstraße 10Very nice, small and comfortable Hotel right next to Regensburg Cathedral. You can reach every point of interest from here by foot.
phone: +49 941 81040address: Müllerstraße 7High class hotel near the Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke) on one of the Wöhrd islands in the river Danube.
phone: +49 941 2985 9207address: Dr.-Gessler-Str. 29The hotel is just 3.5 km from city centre making it easy to get out and about and the motorway access is only a few minutes away.
Ibis Syles RegensburgOn the north bank of the river with plenty of (paid) parking, this can be a good hotel for drivers. Walk along the river to the city or hire a bike from the hotel.
Regensburg is, like many Bavarian cities, a very safe place. The biggest threat to your health is the local beer drinking culture in combination with the easy availability of alcohol - be careful, when you try to keep up with the locals in the art of drinking.
phone: +49 941 584080000address: Luitpoldstraße 2The internet café has modern equipment. The software installations of the workstations include everything you might need for travel purposes, like Skype or Open Office.
- Cham is a town in Upper Palatinate, 60 min away by train form Regensburg to the north-east, close to the Czech border.
- Landshut, the capital of Lower Bavaria, is a short 40 min away by train to the south. The city's main attractions are the quadrennial Landshut Wedding, which takes place in the well preserved medieval city center, and St. Martin's Church, the highest church in Bavaria.
- Munich is the capital of Bavaria and its only city of over a 1,000,000. It is best known for the annual Oktoberfest, but is foremost a city of culture and arts. It's located to the south Regensburg and a 90 min train ride away.
- Passau is a quaint university town at the confluence of the rivers Danube, Iller and Ilz. Passau is located close to the Austrian border and it takes approx. 60 min by train to get there.
- Weltenburg Abbey (Kloser Weltenburg) and the Danube Gorge are two famous sites, located upstream of the Danube to the west.