Germany

Our Guide to Germany

Ausschenken, Bierhallen, Biergarten, Brauhauses, GaststĂ€tten, Kneipen, Apfelwein tasting houses and much more…!

Pubs

Germany has two common styles of pub and there is a big gap between the food-focused pub-restaurant  GaststÀtte and the drinks-focused Kneipe, a down-to-earth hangout. Very few German pubs tread the line between the two, meaning it can be difficult to find a precise simulacra of an English pub atmosphere where the two often casually sit alongside each other.

However, if you enjoy central beer halls and/or if you like the sound of entirely unpretentious working-class hangouts, Germany may well suit you.

Socially, pub-going does not mean quite the same thing as England, as it is generally more communal and there is an expectation of social interaction in a lot of places. The forwardness can be surprising as a buttoned-up English person, but it is refreshing to see people of different generations speaking to each other as equals and not dividing their social lives between one another as much. This can spill over into gregarious bouts of singing and joviality but they often find a way of doing it without it feeling loutish or nationalistic.

If you wish for a more English style pub atmosphere head to a ‘Kneipe’ and you’ll find a smaller, cosier drinking hole. It’s still the case that a lot of these places are resolutely working class and unvarnished in their approach, which may be a slight surprise to some people used to more gentrified English pubs. Darts and 'kicker' (table football) is especially popular in Germany, and these places may also allow smoking.

It is far less common to go on a 'crawl' than in the UK, and you'll find any sort of migration from one bar to another a young person's activity.

Drinks

It doesn't need saying, Germany is a crucible of beer. If you're outside Bavaria, the beer scene in Germany may feel like you’re drowning in pils, hundreds and hundreds of attempts at making the same sort of lager with varying degrees of success, rarely ever exceptional.

The Germans love a crisp, pale lager, but beyond that there lies a tradition of varying distinct regional styles, some of which remain almost dormant, waiting to be revived. In order to experience these in their intended glory you often must visit the regions specifically.

Altbier, Kolsch and Dortmunder in the North West, Wheatbeer, Maibock and Dunkelweizen for Bavaria, Gose and Berliner Weisse in Saxony, Rotbier, Rauchbier and Kellerbier in Franconia are just a few examples. This makes Germany feel more distinct in its regional traditions than the UK.

If you’re not keen on pils, don’t worry, there will probably be something for you.

The brewing scene has developed differently regionally, with huge concentrations of breweries in certain areas over others. Bavaria, especially Franconia seems to have a brewery in every town as a badge of honour. Bamberg boasts at least 13 breweries, exhibiting their tradition and obsession with beer brewing.

It’s heartening to spend time drinking in Germany which maintains tradition through a certain obsession/intransigence when it comes to brewing. However, like everywhere they have industrial monoliths churning out some really not great beer. Don't expect to find excellent beer on tap everywhere.

If you are interested in craft styles you may find them difficult to come by, even at the time of writing. Germans' parochialism and refusal to accept the merits of other styles can be pigheaded, and this is one aspect you may find frustrating, but generally, going hunting for good beer  in Germany is an easy and extremely enjoyable task.

Germany also has a strong wine tradition with the Rhineland and South-West providing opportunity to enjoy high quality white wines.

In almost every pub you will be treated to a menu of confusing-looking brandy, local firewater and herbal schnapps which require a bit of translating, sometimes trial and error to get the most out of. These are normally less-corporate than the offerings in the UK and you can find some truly odd, delightful creations. It is very common, almost expected to finish off a meal with a round of schnapps.

Etiquette

Etiquette varies from region to region, but in any larger German venue it is entirely normal everywhere to share a communal table, and if you ask if space at the end is free you will always be invited to sit if it is.

In Cologne, placing a beer mat on your glass signals the end of your session. While this is also a signal in Bavaria, you may find certain beers presented in a steinkrug (stone mug). In Franconia, resting your stone mug to one side when you've finished indicates to the server either you want to settle the bill or you'd like another drink.

Across Germany you can order a 0.2, 0.3l or 0.5l serving of beer, although in Bavaria it is much more expected to get a 0.5l.

Outside of a Kneipe, where you'd generally order around the bar and pay up front, you can normally expect table service. While it isn't typical to tip for 1 round of drinks, if you have had several it would be polite to round up the bill or leave 10% as a signal of your gratitude.

Lastly, if want to squeeze in another beer but don't have time for a whole 0.5l serving, you can ask the serve for a 'schnitt' (called a pfiff in Austria and in some corners of Bavaria) which is a wild pour with a lively head, and normally ends up around 0.3l of beer. This is well worth trying as it can also adjust the flavour and texture of the beer.

If food comes to the neighbours on your table, wish them 'Gut Appetit' and if you are leaving your table bid your neighbours farewell. There is a somewhat formal courtesy to that but it does help grease the gears for conversation and socialising sometimes.

Pricing

The price for a Beer in a German pub used to be a strong point and varies hugely from the expensive North West to surprisingly cheap in the capital, and some the brewing heartlands in Franconia. As per usual, visit working class haunts and fewer central/corporate places if value for money is a key concern.

Zoigl Culture

In the quiet backwaters of the Oberpfalz, a traditional of brewing and hospitality is kept alive. Zoigl culture involves a village of families who each take it in turns to brew a beer, then once a month open their doors for a few days only. While their guesthouse is open you are invited to drink them dry and sample some of their food. The food is majority cold-cuts or processed pork with cheese, pickles and fresh bread. These can be delicious as it is not uncommon for a Zoigl family to run a butcher's as their day job. The prices are otherworldly even in comparison with the relatively cheap region, but even after you've gasped at that, the wholesome welcome and culture of hospitality is the thing that really shines through.

While this culture is alive in small towns and remote villages, and may look distant from a map, the core Zoigl town of Windischeschenbach and its bolted on neighbour Neuhaus is very easily reachable by train from Nuremberg. Take a look at the Zoigl kalendar: http://zoiglbier.de/zoigltermine/ to determine which pubs will be open and when.

If you are interested in beer, German pub culture and tradition, and enjoy walks and nature, then a couple of days in the area is as well spent as any 2 days in any Germany city.

Ratings Key (0-10)

Domkeller Aachen 9.1

Aachener Brauhaus Aachen 7.8

Neruda Kultur Café Augsburg 8.7

Damenhof Augsburg 8.0

Schlenkerla Bamberg 9.7

Pizzini Bamberg 8.7

Rotenschild Bamberg 8.4

Catwheezle's Castle Bamberg 8.3

Brauhaus Spezial Bamberg 8.3

Mahrs Brau Bamberg 8.2

Zum Sternla Bamberg 7.9

Brauhaus Fassla Bamberg 7.9

Hopfengarten Bamberg 7.8

Greifenklau Bamberg 7.5

Yorckschlösschen Berlin 9.2

Bei Schlawinchen Berlin 8.6

E&M Leydicke Berlin 8.3

Peppi Guggenheim Berlin 8.3

Wilhelm Hoeck 1892 Berlin 8.2

Prager Fruhling Berlin 8.2

Dicke Wirtin Berlin 8.1

Fuk;s Berlin 7.9

Dschungel Berlin 7.9

Zur Pinte Berlin 7.7

Zum Goldenen Fass Berlin 7.7

Astra Stube Berlin 7.7

Charlotten- burger Wappen Berlin 7.7

Papa Joe's Jazzlokal Cologne 9.7

Papa Joe's Biersalon Cologne 9.2

Lommerzheim Cologne 8.5

Weisser Holunder Cologne 8.1

Brauerei Paffgen Cologne 7.9

Em Hahnche Cologne 7.8

Schreckenskammer Cologne 7.8

Fruh Cologne 7.8

Sunner Im Walfisch Cologne 7.8

Sion Cologne 7.7

Malzmuhle Cologne 7.7

Peters Cologne 7.7

Gaffel am Dom Cologne 7.6

Brauerei Eichhorn Dörfleins 7.5

Uerige DĂŒsseldorf 8.2

Schumacher DĂŒsseldorf 7.9

Et Kabuffke DĂŒsseldorf 7.8

Julio DĂŒsseldorf 7.7

Noah Erfurt 9.5

Kramer Zoigl Falkenberg 7.8

Zoiglstube Wolfladl Falkenberg 7.7

Brauerei Neder Forchheim 8.3

Stadtlockal Forchheim 7.7

Apfelwein DAX Frankfurt 8.3

Klapper33 Frankfurt 8.2

Rote Bar Frankfurt 7.9

Balalaika Frankfurt 7.8

Doctor Flotte Frankfurt 7.7

Keimling FĂŒrth8.8

Bierblume Görlitz 7.8

Craft Bier Bar Hannover 7.5

Altes Brauhaus Koblenz 7.5

KonichHeinze Leipzig 8.6

Frau Krause Leipzig 8.5

BillHart Leipzig 8.3

Zwille Leipzig 7.8

Bayerischer Bahnhof Leipzig 7.6

RundesEck Limburg an der Lahn 8.1

Zum Batzewert Limburg an der Lahn 7.9

HofbrÀuhaus Munich 8.7

Brandner Kaspar Munich 8.6

Pusser's Munich 8.3

Sehnsucht Munich 8.1

Geyerwally Munich 8.0

Bei Otto Munich 8.0

Gasthaus Isarthor Munich 7.8

Schneider BrÀuhaus Munich 7.8

Alter Ofen Munich 7.8

Alte Utting Munich 7.7

Salon Irkutsk Munich 7.7

Giesinger Braustuberl Munich 7.7

Le Clou Munich 7.6

Landhaus Munich 7.6

Augustiner Stammhaus Munich 7.5

Beim Kack'n Neuhaus an der Waldnaab 8.6

Bayrish Pub Nördlingen 8.0

Sixenbrau Stuble Nördlingen 7.6

Bierwerk Nuremberg 8.1

Schanzenbrau Schankwirtschaft Nuremberg 8.1

Weissbier Hex Nuremberg 8.1

Altstadthof Nuremberg 7.9

Landbierparadies Wodanstrasse Nuremberg 7.8

Kloster Nuremberg 7.7

Tante Betty Nuremberg 7.6

Kater Murr Nuremberg 7.6

Bieramt Wanderer Nuremberg 7.5

Piratenhohle Regensburg 7.9

Kneitinger Regensburg 7.8

Auerbrau Regensburg 7.6

Altfrankisch Weinstube Rothenburg ob der Tauber 8.1

Gaststatte Guckloch Rothenburg ob der Tauber 7.7

Ratsstube Rothenburg ob der Tauber 7.5

Tegernsee Braustuberl Tegernsee 8.0

Tommis Pub Wernigerode 7.5

Café Vinyl Wetzlar 8.0

Pintchen Wetzlar 7.7

Beim

Binner Windischeschenbach7.8

Fiedlschneider Windischeschenbach 7.7

Muzik- kneipe Tscharlie's WĂŒrzburg 7.9
Aachen

pop. 245,345

A town with a lot of history, the crowning of kings, Roman legacy and restored medieval towers, there is enough here to be of interest for a day or so. In respect of its nightlife, the pedestrianised centre becomes lively in the evening. The centrepiece is the terrific Domkeller, a brilliant evening kneipe, the excellence of which compensates for a lack of quantity of alternatives. As per usual, the central brewpub is worth a look too.

Augsburg

pop. 295,135

A pretty city with a touch of class and self-assurance (easily done with the money rolling in), the Renaissance visited Augsburg and touches of Austria and Czechia can be seen in its architecture and monuments. Despite a reputation as being rather staid for nightlife, there are pockets of excitement to look out for, alternative bars, brewpubs and the unique Damenhof courtyard, an unmissable venue.

Bamberg

pop. 95,000

Medieval bishopric with a uniquely bizarre and wonderful town hall, the Altes Rathaus set midway along a bridge. Famous in drinking terms for its many breweries, specialising in Rauchbeer – smoked – a style which is a great example of the concept ‘an acquired taste’. Expect supremely cosy traditional beer halls in winter, but also some excellent late bars both in terms of atmosphere and selection of drinks, reflecting the younger, cosmopolitan side of the city. Yet to become overexposed, Bamberg is truly special and punches well above its weight.

Bautzen / BudyĆĄin

pop. 40,700

A small town, Bautzen could be forgiven for not being the epicentre of the world’s nightlife. It is a very interesting place with one of the most striking vistas of any town, a Sorbian minority (for whom this place is called BudyĆĄin) and a beautiful historic centre. It’s also famous for its mustard, which you’ll find around German twinned with a sausage or several. Speaking of the bar scene, you’ll find a decent neighbourhood brewery (a surprisingly big venue) and the Radeberger Bierstube, a typical example of a classical traditional German GaststĂ€tte. In the old town there are a couple of passable bars.

Berlin

Pop. 3.75M

In this huge city anything goes. This has been a tale right back to the pre-war days, when Berlin’s notorious decadence and liberal nightlife became a byword for excess and debauchery. As a result, Berliner’s took longer than most to fall under the control of fascism. The reunited Berlin in the 90s has left the city with a series of distinct districts, with more well to do Charlottenburg, Wedding, Schoenburg in the West, and the more traditionally working class/socialist side, Kreuzberg (though this is fast-developing), Friedrichshain and Neukolln. There are great bars spread across the city. You will generally find one of the following:

– A smokey kneipe selling 1 cheap beer. Atmospheric, scuzzy, democratic.

– A well looked after drop in pub with a middle aged woman behind the bar. Again cheap, but more respectable. Mixed audience.

– A punk bar covered in stickers and flags, often with live music or sport

– Cookie cutter craft beer venues as Berlin makes belated committed efforts to keep up with the trends.

This is not to state there isn’t more. There is of course far more, many venues falling in between the lines. Our favourite was the jazz bar Yorckschlosschen, which combined great beer, dĂ©cor, atmosphere, amenities, both nostalgic and vital for the present.

Bonn

pop. 318,800

We hope you like generic cafés for middle-class pensioners.

Cologne

pop. 1,061,000

A large city with a vast nightlife encompassing several boroughs. While modern, alternative venues can be found in the student neighbourhoods, in the centre, the Kölsch houses hold sway, a local ritual that’s not to be missed.

Kölsch is a pale lager/ale hybrid is served in a 0.2l stange which are endlessly replenished by Cologne's brusque Kobes, the middle-aged male servers whose grey area between banter and abuse depends what side of bed they woke up on. Huge beer barrels are winched up to the bar via a barrel and the beer is served straight from it. Remember not to order Altbier, the beer style of Cologne’s deadly rivals Dusseldorf unless you want to be treated like dirt under someone's shoe! Don’t forget to visit Papa Joe’s Biersalon and sister pub Jazzlokal, cult institutions of the city and remember that this is a large city - the pub culture isn't all about the Altstadt.

Dresden

pop. 543,825

A large modern shopping area, a small restored pile of admittedly dramatic, if obnoxious, imperial central monuments, and an interesting little brown and frequently rain-sodden Northern arts quarter. Dresden is hardly the stuff of a backpacker’s dreams, really a monument to the tragic deleterious effects of war rather than a well-integrated vibrant feeling city. There is a rather middle-aged brauhaus near the river, and you’ll find some cosy, quiet venues in the Innere and Aussere Neustadt. Although we haven’t had the time to really explore we get the impression there are a few decent venues lurking around which we'll endeavour to return to find.

DĂŒsseldorf

pop. 612,000

As with Cologne, DĂŒsseldorf city centre is studded with beerhalls this time serving you Altbier, brown well-hopped beer from the barrel. It’s surprisingly easy to dispatch, despite the strength and texture.

DĂŒsseldorf is not as large a city as Cologne and so the nightlife is more concentrated in its centre, which you will find to be atmospheric and lively to say the least. Don’t ever order a Kölsch here unless you are prepared to suffer the ignominy of being outed as a dilettante and traitor to the city! They don't seem to care if you drink Radeberger pilsener though.

Another city claiming the 'longest bar in Europe' which gives you some impression of the parade of drinking venues in its buzzing old town, that certainly deserves experiencing. For the ur-typical experience, head to Uerige in the centre, and when you've had your fill of Altbier go for Killepitsch (deadly aniseed liqueur) at the next door bar Et Kabuffke, and you'll be partaking in a ritual most locals still partake in.

Erfurt

pop. 210,118

This medium sized city in Thuringia struck me as a nice place to live. Sizeable enough to have most of what you need, but also compact enough to get around, both out into the country and to the lovely low-rise Altstadt. As the centre-ground for the cities nightlife you will find yourself twisting around old lanes and stone walls, timber houses and gates, ducking into courtyards and backstreets. It’s all quite charming. While the courtyard bars seemed reasonable, there is an outstanding kneipe, Noah, which is undoubtedly one of the best in Germany. All boxes are ticked, from the wide beer selection, the ultra-cosy bunker interior, biergarten and kitchen, with fair value on offer. Can we have a pub like this everywhere, please?

Erlangen

pop 105,201

Inbetween Bamberg and Nuremberg, Erlangen was destroyed in a freakish fire in 1704, then rebuilt in a Renaissance style you can still easily trace today. A well-connected low-rise University city with a young population should be the setting for many great pubs, but unfortunately that's not really the case. A couple of alternative pubs pass muster and the city brewpub is as stolid as ever, but since the closure of Hinterhaus, there's a void waiting to be filled. While Erlangen also boasts a historic Kellerwald for beer garden drinking (and the festival Bergkirchwehr), it simply doesn't bear comparison with the likes of Bamberg.

  Forchheim

pop. 30,400

For a town of its size, Forchheim is very lucky to boast 3 local breweries brewing Bier that is some of the freshest and tastiest in the world. Family operations with simple but enjoyable pubs go hand in hand with the traditional Fachwerk architecture of this market town. The prices are similarly historic too, diving to often unseen levels proving that other operations are taking the piss with their prices. Beers on an autumn evening inside Brauerei Neder are superbly enjoyable, while the city is otherwise known for its Kellerwald, medieval cellars on the hills outside town where the breweries' beers used to be stored. These days it is a huge complex of beer gardens which hosts 'Annafest', a former folk festival that is now moving towards being as tacky, corporate and outrageously priced as a certain larger, more famous Bavarian festival.

Frankfurt

pop. 736,400

Frankurt’s alcohol claim to fame is Apfelwein rather than beer, and so many of its neighbourhood pubs – especially in Saschenhausen district and in the outskirt villages will offer this strong, deliberately dry and sour cider typical of the Hesse region. It divides opinion but I enjoy it very much.

In other respects the venues are similar to your usual German GaststÀtte or Wirtshaus serving food and rarely getting out of second gear.

The south bank borough of Saschenhausen is your best best for congregations of nightlife and changes of speed, with some smokey, raucous but nevertheless atmospheric bars to enjoy. Conversely, be careful to avoid bars in Frankfurt’s red light district, which operates very close to the train station and may create alarm if you aren't expecting it. As for the 'old town' it has been scenically rebuilt but the bar options are a little mediocre around the Romer Platz in my view.

FĂŒrth

pop. 124,750

A city that has become part of Nuremberg’s conurbation, you can easily reach this place within 15 minutes on the U-Bahn from Nuremberg central station.

Its central nightlife is oddly parochial and small-town feeling, which may be due to the low rise Altstadt. The quaint market town pubs certainly don’t reflect the size of the place. Nevertheless, beyond immediate impressions you will find the local venues friendly and lively, while if you're seeking something patrician and obvious, the Gruner Brauhaus ticks many of the big beer hall features, and its Rotbier is worth a try.

Goslar

pop. 41,700

Another traditional Fachwerk town, Goslar is a magnificent and distinctive place, but not one with a huge array of nightlife. This is a common problem with quaint towns mainly inhabited by and visited by retirees.

However, with a central brewery tap and a couple of hangout spots for the small number of youngsters, Goslar is in a slightly better position than the almost comatose Quedlinburg, nearby.

Görlitz

pop. 55,900

This beautiful border city is an architectural jewel, but no-one in town would argue with me when I say it is not a hotbed of nightlife (mind you, neither is the Polish half, Zgorzelec). This may be due to the aging inhabitants and appeal to elderly day-trippers, which is a shame. Instead, the pockets of evening drinkers congregate in dispersed venues.

There are some nice alternative options such as a Kino-bar (one of the increasingly popular bars where you turn up for a drink and the venue screens a film) and you’ll find the nano-brewery and medieval dining room Bierblume excellent - a must-visit venue in the evening. Unfortunately you’ll be scraping around for other options that are worth your time. These are mainly sleepy old corner kneipen, some of which don't exactly fling open their doors to welcome tourists. Someone please give the town a shot of adrenalin.

Halle

pop. 233,705

Immediate appearances from the station shouldn’t deceive you, as Halle is a very pleasant town with dramatic towers and expansive central square, park and network of streets boasting pre-war architecture that, with the tram network gives off more than a hint of Czechia about it. You could even visit Praguer Wenzel, their Czech restaurant to fool yourself in that slightly out-of-place experience. Unfortunately, the range of bars in the centre leaves much to be desired, with far too many Irish theme pubs and little in the way of local character. There are a few venues north of the centre worth noting and the typical reliable central Brauhaus. Other than that, happy hunting - let us know what you find.

Hannoversch MĂŒnden

pop 24,612

Known for its intact Fachwerkstadt that looks like a more complete version than Chester's mock Tudor. Here you will find an ensemble of timber-framed buildings are not just in the majority but take up virtually every plot in the grid layout of its old town, which is also, to all intents and purposes, the whole town proper. Very impressive visuals are augmented by the riverside setting which is also a confluence of two rivers. Forested hilltops complete what is an almost dreamlike realisation of small town fairytale Germany. And even many people in Germany don't realise it exists. That said, don’t expect the Prancing Pony type wooden inns. Sadly, no-one has seen the potential here of developing a pub which utilises the innate natural advantages. You will find a few busy locals, whether they have football on or people playing darts, and a central Ratskeller that is half-decent. Sadly nothing outstanding.

Hanover

pop. 531, 200

Hanover’s centre is an artificial but convincing enough recreation of its pre-war old town, and it’s a reasonable base for average bars, the odd smokey working-class kneipe and one nice craft beer venue. However, given the size of the city, it must be said that Hanover disappoints, ultimately, in its drinking options. Even the central brewery is remarkably, almost pointedly soulless. Let’s hope that’s subject to change.

Leipzig

pop. 585,023

The old East German 2nd city, much neglected and partly still frozen in time in some districts. However, since reunification the centre has been cleaned up and restored. While not a dramatic city, there are pretty areas, landmark monuments and several places of interest. The Altstadt is to be avoided if you are seeking a drink or regular pub going (although the historic Auerbachs Keller is worth going for dinner), whereas the neighbourhood districts of Plagwitz and Connewitz are the exact opposite. Head out into the suburbs on Leipzaig’s excellent tram system to experience true alternative pub going and a selection of solidly left-wing anti-fascist down-and-dirty bars that along with their haze of smoke and raw atmosphere will take you back decades.

Leipzig's other distinctive feature is Gose, a salty/lemon cloudy beer that is surprisingly understated and quaffable. There are brewpub options and while it isn't a default beer like Altbier is in Dusseldorf, it's pretty common to find out and about.

 

Limberg an der Lahn

pop. 33, 406

One of Germany’s Fachwerkstadts, the historic centre of town is a complete tableaux of timberframe houses, and ensemble which is genuinely impressive, not so much for its jaw dropping scale but for the recreation of a medieval aesthetic. You really can imagine the scene from hundreds of years past. Don’t forget to drop by the enormous Romanesque cathedral, or take a view from the old bridge.

Limburg’s nightlife is restricted, as with many of these genteel middle aged towns, however you will find a provincial buzz and a couple of outstanding venues. Firstly RundesEck, a kneipe with a preserved interior, and Zum Batzewert, the oldest place in the town and the clearest central hangout going. They do a wide range of drinks and it’s a nice convivial venue.

Whisky fans take note: Villa Konthor is among the finest rated tasting houses in all of Germany.

Marburg

pop 81,147

This university town has two clear distinct districts. Prepare to climb. The castle hill and Altstadt are perched high above the town below, which contains most of the civic buildings, college infrastructure, petrol stations and so on. On a map Marburg may look small, and the old town is rather small, but it’s bigger, longer and stretchier than you may think. We didn’t have sufficient time sadly, but there are two clearly popular pubs, Hinkelstein and Die Schlucke which look worth exploring.

Munich

pop. 1.4 million

While Oktoberfest supplies the rest of the world with a caricature of Bavaria, Munich itself proves to be a more complex picture. Sure, the central Beer Halls are as expected. They are fun, up to and including the most famous of all: Hofbrauhaus. Hitler’s favoured piss-palace has acquired a certain notoriety which never really fades away while you’re there, but nevertheless, the venue is bloody enjoyable. Augustiner is the chin-strokers beer of choice in the city, and a couple of their beer halls are also astounding venues to visit, many pouring from the wooden barrel in the evenings.

Munich is also famous for its biergarten (outside of winter) and its Boazn, traditional little family-run pubs, often with an older lady running front of house. These can be cosy and act as a counterpoint to the vastness of the central brewery venues run by the ‘big 6’ Munich brewers. However they are quickly dying out.

The city is wealthy, something which often dampens nightlife, but there is simply too much going on to restrain it here. You can find bars fitting virtually any description you could mention, including a nice range of classier neighbourhood venues but also fun sleazy Berlin-esque venues like Geyerwally and Sehnsucht.

Between all these, and a relatively easy-to-traverse city centre, you won’t go far wrong.

Nördlingen

pop. 19,119

Rothenburg ob der Tauber sweeps up the acclaim (quite rightly) when it comes to historical walled towns. Nordlingen is its quiet cousin, perhaps because it is so annoyingly difficult to reach via public transport from the North. This market town is exceptionally pretty, with a fully intact wall – you can complete the circumference without stepping down at any point. Famous for a historical meteor crater and its appearance at the end of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film, this town has its own quirky place in history. Nightlife is as you’d expect for a market town. You will find a nice early evening Gaststatte in Sixlbrau-Stube, and a couple of decent, if provincial town pubs which at least provide atmosphere and local colour. It's far from the worst small town we’ve visited for nightlife.

Nuremberg

pop. 518,365

One of the most unheralded and under-visited cities in Germany, here is a large city which still retains an integral old-town character across a vast expanse. Sure, there are some ordinary shopping areas on the Lorenz side of the river but the huge city walls, Kaiserburg and riverside setting are superb, as are the rows of grand stone buildings and timber-frame houses. Nightlife is dispersed a little, though the focal point by the castle proves to be the closest it has to a central hub. There are multiple venues elsewhere, and a little planning is necessary to join them together into a pub crawl. Luckily we have done just that, in our Days Out guide right here!

Don't forget about Gostenhof though, the district Nuremberg desperately wants to 'happen', but seems constantly a few venues short of doing so and both the North and South side which can easily be navigated by tram, which show the scale of the city.

Quedlinburg

pop. 21,500

There is a criminal lack of truly good drinking options in Quedlinburg, suggesting a town not in great shape economically nor socially. This is a great shame given it is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved towns in Europe.

Unfortunately I can only direct you to its small number of bland venues and its so-so brewery tap. A shop in the centre does periodic beer tasting sessions as well.

Regensburg

pop. 152,610

Well-to-do Regensburg could be a little dull, reserved for middle-aged day trippers, but is livened up by its student population who crowd the squares, the Avignon-esque Steinerne Brucke (better to look at than be on) and the islands north of the fast-flowing Danube. You’ll find a varied nightlife of beer halls, basement and corner pubs and wine bars catering for a range of tastes. Regensburg is certainly well worth an overnight stay.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

pop. 10,930

One of the best preserved “cities” in the world (actually a small town), you will have seen images of Plonlein even without knowing where it was based. There is beauty around every corner in Rothenburg, however it lacks a really killer pub or bar, a shortfall which is unfortunately painfully apparent when you see the young folk of the city in the evening scratching around for a venue of some sort.

You will find a couple of passable backstreet venues, but the overall bar going experience is regrettably disappointing. This is still no reason to not visit what is an extraordinary place.

One of the better experiences is at Altfrankisch Weinstube which is a wine inn with a really lovely genteel, supremely cosy interior.

Wernigerode

pop. 35,050

Wernigerode’s street layout lends itself well to generating a bit of atmosphere, with a long street leading to a central square. While this beautiful Fachwerk town is still relatively quiet by some standards, it’s one of the livelier Harz towns, and you will find Tommi’s Pub has atmosphere and their central brewery has, if nothing else, good beer.

Wetzlar

pop. 31,022

Wetzlar is another central German hideaway, with a town centre notable for its distinctive slate roofs, winding hilltop lanes, and rainy climate. It’s another town where history feels only a touch away. Pleasingly, for a small town there are 2 outstanding bars, the labour of love CafĂ© Vinyl, and historic Pintchen, a jazz memorabilia smokey kneipe that is called ‘the last quaint pub in town. Even these are supplemented by a few other perfectly serviceable venues dotted around town.

Windischeschenbach

pop. 5,351

The centre of Zoigl culture on Earth, this otherwise fairly unremarkable town has a claim to fame unlike any other. Families in the town and adjoining hilltop village of Neuhaus take it in turns to use a communal brewery, then opening their doors a few days every month to unfurl their hospitality on the town. Although it is a neighbourly, communal enterprise, this throwback culture is internationally recognised and draws in visitors from the region, along with a very few intrepid travellers like ourselves. With extremely good value food and drink, genuine welcome and hospitality and a fully non-corporate approach, this is a curio that cannot be overlooked. The pubs themselves are generally large guesthouses with a homely kitchen feel. While the Zoigl beer quality itself is variable you may find, as we did, that some of it is the best you've ever tasted.

WĂŒrzburg

pop. 127,880

With a pretty riverside setting, Schloss towering above the city, large monuments and cobbled footbridge, there is certainly plenty to enjoy visually about WĂŒrzburg. However, it must be said that the nightlife leaves something to be desired. WĂŒrzburg is a wine rather than a beer region, and perhaps cafĂ© culture is more popular than beer culture around here. Still, for a university town you’d hope and expect more from a place of its size. Other than the fun Muzikkneipe Tscharlie’s you may find yourself alternating between bland cafĂ©s and non-descript local pubs serving rubbish beer.