German Sights

Discover Franconian Switzerland

Where is Franconian Switzerland?

Franconian Switzerland sounds an odd name for a region in northern Bavaria. The triangular area between Bayreuth, Bamberg and Nuremberg actually has no relationship with the Alpine country far to the southwest.

This kind of description is used in other parts of Europe as well - Saxon Switzerland ("Sächsische Schweiz") in Germany and Norman Switzerland ("Suisse Normande") in France are two examples.

The term generally dates from the Romantic era in the 19th century and refers to a hilly area in an otherwise flat region where visitors might be reminded of Alpine landscapes.

Hiking trail in Franconian Switzerland
Hiking trail in Franconian Switzerland

Franconian Switzerland is very popular with walkers and mountain bikers - there are a number of long-distance trails winding their way through the valleys and the rock formations.

It also makes an excellent day trip for anyone staying in one of the larger towns and cities nearby.

The scenery can be spectacular, the villages and towns are attractive and there are plenty of places of cultural interest to visit.

At Easter time (and for a fortnight afterwards) the wells and fountains in the area are decorated with flowers, a historic practice which was revived in the later 20th century and now brings lots of visitors to the region.

Itinerary for a trip to Franconian Switzerland

Franconian Switzerland lies to the southwest of Bayreuth and one of the easiest ways to reach the heart of the area is to take the Bamberg road out of Bayreuth and then head south into the Ahorn valley.

The scenery becomes more interesting as a visitor travels further south along the road.

Rabenstein castle in Franconian Switzerland
Rabenstein castle in Franconian Switzerland

One of the principal attractions in the valley is the spectacular Burg Rabenstein hanging above the floor on a cliff face. The castle is used as a hotel but can also be visited, along with the nearby Söphienhöhle cave.


Shortly after Rabenstein Castle a country road heads off to the south-east in the direction of Pottenstein.

The descent into the small town, the administrative centre for the immediate area, is impressive and offers great views of Pottenstein's ruined castle on the cliff above the settlement.

View over Pottenstein in Franconian Switzerland
View over Pottenstein in Franconian Switzerland

Down on the valley floor, there is plenty of parking just outside the picturesque old centre with its traditional timbered houses.
Town website:


Driving west from Pottenstein, the road reaches the small town of Tüchersfeld in the few kilometres. The rock spires above the buildings are one of the most photographed features of the area. One of the higher buildings houses a cultural museum.

Rock formations in Tüchersfeld in Franconian Switzerland
Rock formations in Tüchersfeld in Franconian Switzerland

Gössweinstein is situated a little bit further along the valley. Three streams meet at the Behringersmühle area, overlooked by the bustling town with its castle and basilica. The road down to the Trubach valley head south from the town towards Egloffstein.
Town website:

The Trubach valley

Egloffstein is yet another town with a castle perched at the top of a rockface and lies in the middle of the Trubach valley.

The 20-plus kilometres between Egloffstein and Obertrubach, where the Trubach emerges from a spring, encapsulate much that visitors find most attractive about Franconian Switzerland: steep cliffs, castles, pastoral countryside and a good network of walking trails.
Valley website:

From Obertrubach, a main road winds through the woods up to Pegnitz and the motorway junction for a quick return to Bayreuth.

Check accommodation availability in Franconian Switzerland

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