Top Sights in Gunzenhausen & the Altmühlsee, Germany

The Bavarian Altmühl Lake & Great Fossils and Lithography Museum

Gunzenhausen in Bavaria has an excellent Fossils and Lithography Museum while the nearby Altmühlsee (Lake) is popular with nature and water sports lovers.


The main attraction of Gunzenhausen is its excellent fossils and lithography museum, one of the best of its kind in Germany. The Altmühltal is famous for fossils and the local museum in Gunzenhausen has an excellent collection.

Although Gunzenhausen once had a Roman fort and sports a written history going back to 823, the town itself is less interesting than its population of 17,000 would suggest. From the 14th century, Gunzenhausen belonged to the burgraves of Nürnberg (Nuremberg), who gave it some Baroque buildings, but nothing that compares with the Baroque splendor of nearby Ansbach or Eichstätt.

However, it is worth stopping in Gunzenhausen for the museums. A further draw for tourists is the nearby Altmühl Lake. The completion of the Altmühlsee (Altmühl Lake) in the 1980s gave Gunzenhaseun a growth spurt, as it became a popular starting point for water sport on the lake and in the valley.

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Top Sights to See in Wolframs-Eschenbach, Germany

Visit a Romantic Small, Wall-Enclosed Town in Bavaria

Bavarian Wolframs-Eschenbach is a romantic small Bavarian town completely encircled by its town wall. Troubadour Wolfram von Eschenbach, writer of Parsifal, lived here.

© Die Burgenstraße
© Die Burgenstraße

The Bavarian town Wolframs-Eschenbach is mostly visited to see its old town walls and to visit sights associated with German medieval troubadour Wolfram von Eschenbach, who lived here from 1170 to 1220. In 1917, to honor him, “Wolframs” was added to the town name by royal decree.

Eschenbach’s history goes back to the mid-8th century but its golden age was the late Middle Ages when Eschenbach was half the size of Ansbach but twice the size of nearby Gunzenhausen. Its history was determined for six centuries by the Teutonic Order, which controlled the town up to the late 18th century.

Wolframs-Eschenbach is a lovely small town of less than 3,000. The old town is fully encircled by its original defensive wall and worth the slight detour from the Altmühl Valley. Wolframs-Eschenbach, 20 km/12 miles south of Ansbach and 10 km/6 miles north of Gunzenhausen, is best reached by private transportation.

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Top Sights to See in the Altmühltal Valley Germany

Fossils, Romans, Teutonic Order, and Outdoor Adventures

The Bavarian Altmühl Valley is famous for water sports, cycling, hiking, unique fossils, Baroque Eichstätt, roman treasures, and other historic castles and sights.

Jura Museum - Eichstätt - Rhamphorhynchus intermedius

The southernmost parts of Franken, and some parts of northern Upper Bavaria, have been incorporated in to the Naturpark Altmühltal (Altmühl Valley Nature Park). This is one of the largest nature parks in Germany and a true haven for nature lovers and outdoor pursuits.

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Top Sights in Weißenburg in Bavaria, Germany

See a Former Free Imperial City with a Roman Heritage & Treasure

Weißenburg was a Roman garrison town and a free imperial city before becoming part of Bavaria. Major sights to see include the old town and Roman treasure and sites.

Weißenburg - Ellinger Tor

In AD 89, the Romans forced the local Celtic population out of the Weißenburg area and founded a garrison town. Around two centuries later, Aleman tribes forced the Romans back across the Danube and the town was forgotten until a royal court was erected in Merovingian times. By the end of the 13th century, Weißenburg became a free imperial city, a status it maintained, although it had to buy itself free twice, until it became part of Bavaria in 1806.

The town of 18,000 has an attractive old town with well-preserved town defenses but the main attraction is the Roman heritage.

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Top Sights in Pappenheim & Solnhofen, Germany

Pappenheim, Panoramablick von der Burg, 2018

Picturesque Towns with Castles and Fossils in the Altmühl Valley, Bavaria

Pappenheim and Solnhofen are small, picturesque towns in a beautiful part of the Altmühl Valley in Bavaria. Pappenheim is famous for its castle while fossils and nature enchant in Solnhofen.

Pappenheim, Panoramablick von der Burg, 2018
© Derzno (via Wikimedia-Commons)

Pappenheim is a small town with a picture-perfect location where the Altmühl makes a complete U-turn. From here downstream towards Eichstätt, the Altmühl valley is narrower with some of the steepest cliffs. The Altmühl valley can be enjoyed by road, rail, hiking, cycling, or of course kayaking – all routes mostly follow the flow of the river.

Pappenheim’s written history goes back to 802 when the area was given to the Monastery of St Gallen. From the 12th century, it was under secular control with the descendants of the counts of Pappenheim still living in the Neue Schloss.

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Cheap and Legal Fossil Hunting in the Altmühl Valley

Buy, Search, and See Fossils in Quarries and Museums

The Altmühl Valley is famous for fossil hunting opportunities in limestone quarries and museums in Gunzhausen, Solnhofen, and Eichstätt. The hunt for the 10th archaeopteryx is on…

Archaeopteryx - Eichstätt Exemplar

Around 150 million years ago, the Altmühl Valley in Bavaria had a tropical climate and was at the edge of the Jura Lake. Many animals and plants were preserved as fossils in the lime slurry at the bottom of the lake. The Altmühltal Valley area is a true haven for fossil hunters with over 800 different plants and animal species discovered up to date including ammonites up to 2 m/7 ft. Many opportunities exist for hunting fossils cheaply and legally.

The Altmühl Valley’s prize finds are the nine archaeopteryxes, fossils only found in this area of primitive reptile-like birds that hints at a link between dinosaurs and birds.

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Top Sights to See in Baroque Eichstätt, Germany

Baroque Palaces and Churches, Willibaldsburg Castle, and Fossil Museums

Eichstätt has an Italian Baroque style old town, an interesting cathedral, a copy of the Holy Sepulcher, and unique Altmühl Valley fossils in the Jura and Bergér Museums.

Blick über den Garten von Eichstätt und die  Stadt

The Episcopal town Eichstätt has a history going back to 741 when St Boniface founded a monastery here. During the Thirty Years’ War, three quarters of the town was destroyed allowing Eichstätt to be rebuilt during the 18th century in an Italian Baroque style.

Following secularization in 1802, the bishopric became part of Bavaria. Almost a third of the town’s population of 14,000 is students at the local university, the only Catholic one in the German-speaking world.

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Hotels & Restaurants in the Altmühl Valley in Bavaria, Germany

Cheap accommodation and great food are available in small Altmühl Valley towns including Wolframs-Eschenbach, Gunzenhausen, Weißenburg, Pappenheim, and Eichstätt.

Pappenheim, Panoramablick von der Burg, 2018
© Derzno (via Wikimedia-Commons)

The Altmühl Valley towns have pleasant hotels and restaurants at cheap prices. Chain hotels are far and few between in this beautiful part of Bavaria. It is worth using major internet hotel reservations to see what deals are available and to compare prices in the Altmühltal region but reservations are often best made directly with the hotels themselves.

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Outdoor Adventures & Activities in the Altmühltal Valley, Germany

Cycling, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Kayaking

The Altmühl Valley in Bavaria, Germany has beautiful nature and easy access for cyclists, bikers, hikers, rock climbers, and canoeists.

Altmühl 2009

Countryside Hikes in the Altmühltal Valley

The Altmühl Park has around 3,000 km/1,900 miles of marked hiking routes. The most famous is the 200-km/125-mile Altmühltal-Panoramaweg (Altmühl Valley Panorama Route), which closely follows the flow of the river from Gunzenhausen to Kelheim. It goes through both the valley and surrounding hills but without challenging inclines. The route is particularly busy in spring and autumn. Things are much quieter on the numerous routes that go up many side valleys.

The Limesweg follows the route of the original Roman defense wall that ran from Rheinbrohl on the Rhine to Kelheim on the Danube. It goes through the Altmühl Park from Gunzenhausen to Kelheim on a direct 110-km/70-miles route.

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