“What Switzerland offers in large quantities, can be found here in lesser quantities but often more pleasing to the eyes because you can overlook it and perceive it as a single picture.” This is how writer Josef Heller from Bamberg described “Franconian Switzerland “ in 1829. The term was first used in 1812 in a travel guide written by Johann Christian Fick.
He used it to describe a multifaceted region in Franconia, characterized by lovely valleys, bizarre Jura rocks, meandering rivers, dense forests, flowstone caves and idyllically located castles and villages. And a region that offers a large variety of routes for motorcyclists.
Franconian Switzerland is a tourist attraction because of its idyllic landscapes and diversity. Bikers can expect fantastic routes. A lot of winding roads go through interesting landscapes, over hills and through valleys and with an immense amount of sights to see.
As you enter the region, you pass through old tons such as Neunkirchen am Brand with the gothic St. Michael’s Church or Effeltrich with the romantic St. George’s Church. The town is known for the fact that women wear their lavishly decorated traditional dresses even on regular week days. Forchheim, the county seat, with the Pfalz Museum and the Wiesent river, idyllically lined with houses, is near by. We are now in the Wiesent valley which presents itself deeply cut into and often lined with high-rising rocks. Characteristic of the region is the “Ehrenbürg,” also known as “Walberla.”
Inhabited since early history, the Ehrenbürg consists of the 532-meter-high Rodenstein and the 512-meter-high Walberla, topped by a chapel built in the 17th century but first mentioned around 1350. Locals refer to the entire Ehrenbürg area as Walberla. Today, it is Franconia’s cult mountain which is a favorite travel destination in the summer and winter. Passing by well-kept fruit meadows whose harvest provides the fruit for the finest fruit brandies, we travel to the north on country roads that wind through green landscapes. The villages with their typical half-timbered houses and the many private breweries are very welcoming. Buttenheim even has two breweries: St. George’s Brewery and “Löwenbräu” (Lions’ Brewery). Next door, the Levi Strauss Museum welcomes visitors.
This region offers a lot of culture. Memmelsdorf features an impressive, lavishly decorated baroque church and Seehof Palace. The impressive, Rococo-style building was formerly the summer residence and hunting seat of the Bamberg prince-bishop. And then you have reached the center of the Franconian Switzerland Nature Park where one fantastic bike route follows another.
Starting in the beer village Tiefenellern, the narrow Ellertal valley features an extremely winding mountain ascent with beautiful views. No wonder that this area has become a small Eldorado fro motorcyclists where bikers meet at one of the many bends and not far way from there, bikers can enjoy the former race tracks on Würgauer Berg (Würgau Mountain) and Ellerberg mountain near Tiefenellern-Litzendorf.
The well-built, winding country road through the Wiesent valley leads to the center of Franconian Switzerland where one valley after the other cuts through the light limestone rocks. Three valleys come together at the small village of Behringersmühle: the Wiesent valley, the Ailsbach valley and the Püttlach valley. All of the are idyllically lined by green hills. Bend after bend, the road follows the course of the rivers, past old mills and weirs, and because we are traveling along the Castles’ Route, medieval castles are built on top of the rocky mountains.
Impressively narrow and steep ascents lead up to the medieval Rabenstein Castle, to Pottenstein Castle, or to Gößweinstein Castle, fortified with battlements and gables. Everywhere, steep climbing rocks, occupied by free climbers, line the route and bizarre flowstone caves invite bikers to stop and visit.
The wide valley near Ebermannstadt is another important junction. Many sights are located nearby: Feuerstein Castle, the spa town Streitberg with its distillery, the ruins of Streitburg Castle and Neideck Castle, and the Binghöhle (Bing cavern) with its bizarre flowstones. It is also the beginning of another exciting valley, the Leinleiter valley. Snug against the steep limestone rocks, the narrow country road winds up onto a wide, light plateau.
The Aufseß- and Trubach valley aren’t any less winding. Here, you will also find old castles such as Egloffstein Castle majestically sitting on top of the mountains. In the south, the towns of Gräfenberg and Weißenohe, where a well-known monastery beer is brewed, completes the tour of Franconian Switzerland.
TIPS for Franconian Switzerland
While there are no road closures, there are rigorous speed controls along the most beautiful routes.
Tips for breaks
Bruckmayer brewery in Pottenstein (www.hotel-bruckmayer.de), Krug brewery in Breitenlesau, Hübner brewery in Steinfeld (www.huebner-braeu.de).
Biker meeting point
Kathi-Brewery is a cult location. It is located in Heckenhof 1, near Aufseß and on weekends THE magnet for motorcyclists. If you like it more quietly, stop by on a weekday. Opens at 9 a.m., phone: 09198-277.
Spending the night
In Aufseß, the town that holds the Guinness-record of the town with the most breweries, you can spend the night in a brewery: Gasthof Reichold, Hochstahl 24, 91347 Aufseß, phone: 09204-271, www. reichold.de. In the center of the region: Gasthof Drei Linden, Dorfstraße 38, 91286 Obertrubach (www.drei-linden.com).