Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, view to the Franconian Switzerland

Franconian Switzerland


The global pandemic has thwarted a great deal of my (and everyone else’s) scheduled holidays and confined me to my apartment in Nuremberg since mid-March.

Fortunately, solitary exercises outdoors were and are still allowed to date, and so I’ve made the best of the situation and cycled extensively through solitary landscapes in Franconia.

The Franconian Switzerland is an upland in Upper Franconia not far off from Nuremberg (which is situated in Middle Franconia).

I visited the Franconian Switzerland quite often during my student days with my buddies, for the most part for short distance hiking and for drinking the delicious local dark Franconian beer (the focus was clearly on the latter).

Later in participated in the annually organized “Fränkische Schweiz Marathon” – but I ran solely the sixteen kilometers from Forchheim to Ebermannstadt, an alternative competition to the actual marathon (just for the records: my best performance was 1 hour, 9 minutes for this distance).

Franconian Switzerland, near Ebermannstadt
Franconian Switzerland, near Ebermannstadt (view onto the famous “Ehrenbürg” peak)
Franconian Switzerland, Pretzfeld
Half-timbered house in Pretzfeld

In the following, I want to illustrate one of my recent bike tours and give you some background information about these interesting and quiet places in the immediate neighborhood of my home town Nuremberg.

Franconian “Switzerland”

The denomination “Switzerland” (Schweiz in German) derives from the specific geological and cultural composition of this region.

Largest cities and simultaneously the boundary points of the Franconian Switzerland are Bamberg (north respectively north-west), Bayreuth (east), Erlangen (south) and Forchheim (west), so the Fränkische Schweiz stretches over a total area of more than two thousand square kilometers.

Typical landscape in the Franconian Switzerland
Franconian Switzerland in its quite typical appearance (near the town Pottenstein)

Characteristic are the numerous castles, castle ruins, caves and the bizarre rock formations that make it a very popular climbing destination as well.

Upper Franconia is also very famous for its brewing tradition – here you will find the highest density of breweries in the world (which makes it highly popular among engineering students, as already mentioned).

Bike tour

The whole tour from Nuremberg-Erlenstegen to Heiligenstadt (and retour) via Erlangen, Forchheim and Ebermannstadt took around nine hours, excluding breaks.

The area is plane for the most part, so I had only trouble with the distance itself, which summed up eventually to more than one hundred kilometers (what was for me a pretty good performance).

Franconian Switzerland, rapeseed field in Forchheim
Rapeseed field in Forchheim (view to the east)
Franconian Switzerland, fields near Forchheim
Fields near Forchheim (view to the south)

You can spot ancient mill-wheels and water-wheels here and there during your tour, in Waischenfeld or Veilbronn for example. A worthwhile target for taking photos.

Waterwheel near Egloffstein (Franconian Switzerland)
Waterwheel near Egloffstein (not part of the described tour)

In Heiligenstadt one can visit one of the countless castles, and a very splendid one.

It is owned by the Stauffenberg family with its famous son Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, a leading figure of the German resistance in the 2nd World War.

He attempted to assassinate the dictator Adolf Hitler in July 1944 and was shot in the aftermath by a firing squad, as well as many other members of his resistance group.

Franconian Switzerland, Schloss Greifenstein near Heiligenstadt
Schloss Greifenstein near Heiligenstadt
Franconian Switzerland, Heiligenstadt
Heiligenstadt in Oberfranken


In an era of threatening pandemics, vacation in local (domestic), quiet and not so easily accessible destinations like the Franconian Switzerland might be the future and the substitute to the so far predominant urban tourism with low-cost carriers or beach holiday in south-east Asia.

Who knows, and only time can tell.

I hope you enjoyed this short article about one lovely region in the heart of Franconia and you get well through the current corona crisis.

Further reading

Rhine-Main-Danube Canal

Featured image: View to the Franconian Switzerland near Hausen at the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal

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