Coburg’s pretty squares, medieval buildings and cobbled streets make it a picturesque place for a weekend break, as well as an ideal base to explore the area for a few days if you’re touring Germany. I was there with Guy in the autumn and we had a lovely time visiting castles and discovering the royal connections in Prince Albert’s birthplace – who doesn’t love a bit of royal gossip?
I’ve already written some articles about our weekend in Coburg and now I’ve made a video to give you a flavour of what this pretty German town has to offer. I’d definitely put Coburg on your list for a spring or summer break in Germany. Enjoy the video below – A Weekend in Coburg, Germany
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If you visit Coburg, here are some of the things to see that are mentioned in the video;
From the town of Coburg, walk up the hill through the Hofgarten park to the fortress that overlooks the town. The Veste Coburg overlooks the surrounding countryside, with thick walls, ramparts and towers and was the residence of the Princes of Saxe-Coburg until they moved to the Ehrenburg Palace in the town in the 16th century. The castle is now a museum containing all the art collections and treasures of the Saxe-Coburg family with everything from Venetian glass, carriages and suits of armour, to a fine collection of medieval religious paintings. You can walk the ramparts and peer down on Coburg and the surrounding countryside just like the soldiers of past centuries.
Martin Luther in Coburg
One notable visitor to Coburg was Martin Luther, the great reformer who spent 6 months in Coburg in the safety of the Veste fortress in 1530. While his patron Elector Johann Friederich and a party of nobles continued to the diet of Ausburg to meet with the Emperor, Luther studied, worked on translations of the Bible and was in constant touch by letter with the events at Ausburg. Among the many interesting things to see in Veste Coburg are the rooms where Luther is said to have spent his time, with his portrait hanging on the wall. An adjoining room was created to commemorate Luther in 1844 by Duke Ernst II of Saxony-Coburg and Gotha, which contains other paintings of Luther and the beautiful Hedwig Tumbler, a 12th century drinking glass.
St Maurice – the Coburg Moor
All around the town you might notice a moor’s head on mountains, public buildings and even man-hole covers. He’s St Maurice, patron saint of the city of Coburg as well as many other towns, who was adopted by the rulers of Coburg, to appear on their coats of arms from the Middle Ages. St Maurice was the Christian leader of a Roman Legion and was martyred after refusing to worship Roman Gods while on campaign in what is now Switzerland. Around 1100 the German Emperor decided to move St Maurice’s remains to his new cathedral at Magdeburg and the procession passed through Coburg, giving rise to a medieval cult of the saint in the town.
Try the Coburger Sausage
The people of Coburg are extremely proud of their Coburg Bratwurst, a long, thin, sausage that’s traditionally cooked over a wood fire of pine cones and served in a crisp white roll. It’s made with a mixture of beef and pork, with a smoky flavour from the fire which needs only a squirt of mustard for the authentic Coburg taste. You’ll find a van selling the Coburger on Marktplatz all year round, since the local butchers take turns to have a stall there.
Coburg may be a modest sized town, but it has another large palace in addition to Veste Coburg. Ehrenburg Palace was built from 1543, when Duke Johann Ernst decided that it would be more convenient to live in town than in the fortress up on the hill. The palace was inspired by the fashionable renaissance palazzos of Italy and was rebuilt in baroque style after a fire in the 17th century and further improved by Duke Ernst I, father of Prince Albert. The lavish state apartments are painted in the fashionably bright colours of the 18th century, filled with portraits of the Coburg Dukes, the ceilings covered with ornate plasterwork and dripping with chandeliers. The palace saw many gatherings of European royalty and the ornately decorated ‘Hall of Giants’ hosted a meeting between Queen Victoria and Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph in 1864.
Just outside Coburg we visited Schloss Rosenau, the birthplace of Prince Albert and a favourite with Queen Victoria. The castle is set on a hill, and was used as a summer residence by Duke Ernst I, father of Prince Albert, who renovated it in romantic medieval style. After Albert married Victoria, she ordered paintings of the castle and interiors to remind the homesick Albert of his birthplace. There’s a point on the castle drive known as the Queen’s view, where the Queen would stop her carriage to have one last nostalgic look up at the castle on the hill, before driving back to Coburg.
Also a 15 minute drive from the town is Schloss Callenberg, which is the residence of Prince Andreas, the head of the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The rooms are decorated with beautiful paintings and there’s an unusual shooting museum here as well as rooms dedicated to portraits and memorabilia of Victoria and Albert and their large family.
Christmas in Coburg
If you decide to visit Coburg in December, you’ll experience the magic of Christmas in Germany, where they seem to strike just the right balance of festive spirit, local tradition and religious meaning. The Christmas market is set up around the statue of Prince Albert in Marktplatz, as friends gather to chat over a steaming mug of Glühwein and parents watch their little ones enjoying a ride on the traditional merry-go-round. The woodsmoke wafts from food stalls as you catch the warm, aromatic scent of mulled wine and hear the sizzle of onions and mushrooms cooking in a big metal pan. This is a great place to experience a more authentic and local Christmas market as an alternative to the big city markets.
Plan your Visit to Coburg
For more information about what there is to see and do in Coburg, visit the Coburg Tourism website and follow them on their social media channels: Facebook and Twitter. You can also find information to plan your holidays in Germany at the Germany Tourism Website.
From the UK you can reach Coburg via Nuremberg airport (1 hr 15 min drive), Frankfurt (2 hrs 50 mins drive) or Munich (2 hrs 50 mins drive) and we recommend hiring a car, which will enable you to easily visit all the castles and places of interest around Coburg.
We flew from Bristol to Frankfurt with bmi regional who fly up to three times daily between Bristol and Frankfurt. One way fares cost from £93 and as with all bmi flights, include a generous 23kg of hold luggage, a complimentary in-flight drink and breakfast snack, allocated seating and a speedy 30 minute check-in.
Where to stay in Coburg
We stayed at Hotel Villa Victoria in Coburg which was the perfect place to spend a few days while exploring the town and the castles nearby. The accommodation is in a very pretty turn of the century villa, just outside the old town walls, with convenient parking outside for our hire car. In the villa are 12 rooms and ours was a most delightful suite with adjoining sitting room and view of the city gatehouse.
The house had been beautifully renovated and we had the use of a guest sitting room on the same floor, with a tea and coffee station on the landing. We especially enjoyed breakfast in the charmingly furnished ground floor room, with pretty floral china and lace tablecloths. Across the road is a more modern residence, and guests staying there can also have breakfast in the villa, but I would check when you book that you can have a room in the older house if possible. Be sure to let the owners know your arrival time as the reception is not manned throughout the day.
Thanks to German National Tourist Board who hosted my visit to Coburg and to BMI Regional who covered my flight via Frankfurt. Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which helps to support this blog.