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Bayreuth itself is a smallish Bavarian town of 75,000 people set out in roughly an inverted T-shape. South from the Festspielhaus on the “green hill,” the continuous Burgerreutherstraße-Bahnhofstraße-Luitpoldstraße stretches toward the old city with its pedestrian area centered on Maximilianstraße – Richard Wagner-Straße. The area between the Hauptbahnhof and the Neues Rathhaus might be considered the commercial center of Bayreuth with many hotels and restaurants; while the pedestrian region fanning out from the Spitalkirche is the historic center, with the Marktplatz at its core. Conveniently, all buses converge at the Marktplatz. One can walk from almost anywhere in the city to any other point, but the walk from the old city to the Festspielhaus might be a stretch in high heels or on a very hot day. The walk back, however, is delightful.
View the interactive Google Map of Bayreuth.
Getting There, Getting Around
The Tourist Bureau, located near the Neues Rathaus (City Hall), on Luitpoldplatz, will also assist in finding hotels and rooms in the area (see below). Be sure to pick up not only city maps but calendars of events taking place during your stay as well as brochures for sites you might want to visit (see below). Note particularly brochures on Bayreuth churches, the Festival junger Künstler Bayreuth, and the monthly calendar of cultural events. A nice orientation to the city can be had from the roof of the Neue Rathaus (weekdays 10:00-16:00).
Lufthansa/United has the best flights from San Francisco to Germany with direct flights either to Frankfurt or Munich.
German trains provide terrific service throughout the country. Trains from Nürnberg to Bayreuth run hourly, and there is a public transportation direct from the Nürnberg airport to the train station. Obviously, one can arrive at Bayreuth via train or car from any city in Europe. If one plans to do a lot of train travel within Bavaria, one can purchase a Bavaria Card in any Bavarian train station which permits steeply discounted train travel in the region. Also available are Bahn-50 and Bahn-25 cards good for one year which permit a 50% or 25% discount on travel, including overnight accommodations to neighboring countries. However, one needs to do a lot of train travel to make this Bahn discount card expense worthwhile. In 2004, the Bahn-50 card cost approximately $200 per person and $100 for anyone over 65. The staff in the train station ticket offices (especially in Bayreuth) is helpful and will provide detailed itineraries as well as tickets, and all train stations (no matter how small) have elevators which permit easy transit from track to track.
The Bayreuth bus system is very efficient and well marked so that using the bus for excursions is very easy. However, it is not cheap—€1.70 per ride. Depending on need, you may want to investigate day, 3-day, or weekly passes, all available at machines outside the major stops or from bus drivers. One caution—the buses generally stop running about 20:00, and the night buses run only about once an hour.
Taxis do not cruise but can be ordered from hotels or the nearest commercial establishment. Taxi stands are at the Bahnhof and at Citibank (Marktplatz), and they do line up at the Festspielhaus following the performance. Do not worry if it looks as if there are no more taxis after the first crush, more will appear quickly.
Driving from Nürnberg is faster than taking the train through to Bayreuth. If time is a factor, however, watch the road signs when leaving the airport and avoid the slow, backwood road to Bayreuth. Rather, look for route A-9 autobahn. Be sure to check road conditions in case of construction. Also, in August there are the occasional horrific traffic jams.
In general, it can be less expensive to rent a car from an international company before you leave for abroad than it is to rent locally. You will need a good map of Bayreuth—not the Tourist Bureau variety—and the area which can be found at the Bahnhof book and news stand. Parking is generally easy in town so those who wish to rent cars should not feel they will miss any of the Festival-related special events.
There is free but limited parking available by the Festspielhaus. Be sure to arrive early to secure a space.
Hotels are the most expensive and important investment you will make after the price of the tickets. It is never too early to book rooms, even if you just think you will be attending the Wagner Festespiele. Rooms sell out a year in advance at some hotels and guesthouses, and prices can fluctuate depending on when you book. All prices will rise for the Festival days. Most of the hotels in town are older, smaller hotels or guesthouses that stretch along Bahnhofstraße. Unlike most cities, staying near the train station can be a distinct advantage. Another group of hotels lies within a two-block walk just west of the old city, and at least two major hotels are within the pedestrian confines. Most of the lectures and concerts in conjunction with the Festspiel are held in various venues in the pedestrian zone, making staying in these areas quite efficient. Other people enjoy and seek out small hotels in the outlying districts and adjacent towns. The Tourist Information Bureau will also assist in finding hotels or rooms in private homes. Let them know what type of accommodation you want, a price range, dates, and number of people. In addition to the hotels listed below, a Google search may lead to other finds.
If transportation is important to you, be sure to confirm whether your hotel, if it lies anywhere south of the Neues Rathaus, provides transportation to the Festspielhaus — usually one hour prior to each curtain. One might expect to pay approximately €3 per person, round-trip which is less than the bus fare or a taxi. Also, check to see if your hotel includes breakfast as an option, is included in the cost of the room, or does not offer breakfast at all. If you want to eat after the performances, a full breakfast may not be the attraction it is for someone who eats dinner early. The town is riddled with small, wonderful bakeries where one can pick up an inexpensive, quick, and delicious morning coffee and pastries. Even the Hauptbahnhof has a decent bakery for train food.
Hotels are arranged below in a north to south direction. Subjective comments come from people who have actually stayed there. This is by no means an exhaustive list of hotels but represents places that are in convenient locations or have been specifically recommended.
NEW! In the LEFT SIDE PANEL of the Tourist Information Bureau’s website is a hotel on-line booking service!
Another Internet listing of Hotels in Bayreuth can be found BY CLICKING: here (in German, but easy to follow).
Here a short listing of Hotels . . . (phone and faxnumbers can be found on the hotel’s website)
Mohrenbraeu www.mohrenbreau.de – formerly Gasthaus Kropf. This gasthaus is under new management (2011) The WSNC members met there several times after the opera and the new owner, Klaus Kopszak is very charming and friendly. The viola section of the the Festspiele Orchestra was there having a jolly time after Tannhaeuser. There is some seating outside on the weekends – the patio closes early during the week because the area is residential. Fleischekaese (leberkaese – made without any liver) with kartoffelsalat was fabulous!
Tristanstraße 8. Telephone 0921/1635936
11 rooms. The facility closest to the Festspielhaus, literally at the “Green Hill”. Restaurant open late in the evenings.
Arvena Kongress Hotel
Eduard-Bayerlein Straße 5a, at Hofbahnstraße.
196 rooms. Very close to the Bahnhof. The extensive breakfast-buffet (American-style, the best in town!) lingers to 13:00 and transforms into lunch yet is still included in the price of the room. Afternoon tea and wine precedes complimentary bus trip to Festspielhaus. Reduced rate for early booking. The Wagner Society of New York holds their lectures in the conference room of this hotel. This is the only hotel in Bayreuth which has air conditioning. Parking is free if you use the above ground lot, there is a small fee if you park in the subterranean garage.
Hotel Goldener Hirsch
41 rooms. Restaurant.
Hotel Bayrischer Hof
49 rooms. Indoor swimming pool; excellent restaurant (see below); quieter rooms face an inner garden, but soundproof windows on the street side. Walking distance to the Festspielhaus, but they will arrange for transportation if you wish it. Champagne receptions prior to performances.
Accent-Hotel im Kolpinghaus (****)
Kolpingstaße 5, across from Neue Rathaus.
Hotel Lohmühle (***)
Hotel Goldener Anker
35 rooms. A 16th century building right in the heart of the old city a few steps away from the Markgräfliches Opernhaus. No elevator. Anton Bruckner stayed here. Personal attention to guests’ needs makes this spot, for some, the best hotel in Bayreuth.
Schlosshotel Thiergarten (****) click on “Schlosshotel” and move the mouse to and click on “Angebote”
Oberthiergärtner Straße 36.
Brauerei-Gasthoff Goldener Löwe (click on “Preise” for the price list. On-line reservations can be made)
Kulmbacher Straße 30.
14 rooms. A short walk to the pedestrian zone.
Gasthof zum Herzog
Herzog 2, just off Kulmbacher Straße.
20 Rooms. Restaurant.
Ramada-Treff Hotel Residenzschloss Bayreuth (****)
37 Erlanger Straße 37, at Humboltstraße.
104 rooms. Well run, modern, yet small hotel two blocks west of the old city pedestrian area. Breakfast buffet optional. Bus transportation available to the Festspielhaus for a fee. Not quaint, but a very comfortable hotel. The new wing has very large rooms and wonderful bathrooms and terrific lights for reading. All rooms face the back courtyard so there is little street noise. The breakfast buffet is excellent. Dinner in the hotel was quite good but a bit more expensive than the restaurants in town.
Kemnather Straße 27
Tel. (09 21) 79 80 – 0
Fax (09 21) 79 80 – 100
Just on the outskirts of Bayreuth, it is on the city bus line and also offers a for fee courtesy shuttle to the Festspiele. New, clean and modern with a very good breakfast buffet, this hotel is best for someone who has a car. There is no restaurant in the hotel, but they do have a lobby bar. There is internet access in the hotel, however it is limited to a computer in the lobby. This hotel occupies the top floor of a regional mall, a health club, Chinese restaurant, pharmacy and a geldautomat are among the businesses in the building. There is a market across the street.
6 rooms. Out at the Eremitage Summer Palace. Cosima used to dine at the restaurant.
Pflaum Posthotel (*****) TEMPORARILY CLOSED
Nürnberger Str 12-16, Pegnitz.
100 rooms. A Relais & Chateaux property with wellness spa and golf course. 3 km out of town, bus to the Festspiel provided. Highly recommended by Gourmet Magazine (August 1980) and known for its kitchen.
Herrmann’s Romantik Posthotel (****)
Marktplatz 11, Wirsberg.
89 rooms. About 12 miles north of Bayreuth; twenty minute ride on complementary bus provided by hotel (it’s faster to drive) with drinks served on board (charged to the rooms). Swimming pool; spa; two restaurants. “Great hotel” and surprisingly convenient for driving to Bayreuth; near autobahn. Breakfast is abundant and included; meals are also available after the performances. The hotel sponsors German-language lectures prior to each opera, and a continuously running DVD presentations of historical Bayreuth performances of that day’s performance.
Hauptstraße 11, Seybothereuth. Telephone 09275/206.
Transmar Travel Hotel (Best Western)
Buhlstraße 12, Bindlach. Telephone 49 (0) 9208-6960.
Modern hotel near the Nürnberg Autobahn. This Hotel offers a shuttle to and from the Festspielehaus for a fee. Also – it is equipped with air conditioning which is rare in Bayreuth (info updated in 2011). Positive reports came from several American Wagnerians who stayed there.
Eating at the Festspielhaus
With curtains so early and performances running so late, eating can present a minor problem, but one that is easily overcome with some planning. One may eat before the curtain, during intervals, or after the performances. The Festspielhaus has several options:
1) Full restaurant on the lower level which will take orders in advance and serve the courses between acts. Many people do this every performance, some only once or twice. The food is wildly inconsistent, and one person suggested staying clear of anything hot. It seems expensive relative to more leisurely meals elsewhere in town, but it is convenient. Portions are huge so spread the meal out over several intervals. Reservations recommended.
2) Buffet line on the theater level which features light fare of salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Tables are provided in a large open space and balcony above the full restaurant.
3) Various snack stands, each featuring a specific type of finger food: coffee and dessert, sausages (bratwurst with rolls), large pretzels, champagne, wine, beer, little salmon sandwiches, and delicious ice cream. Put plenty of mustard on the wurst and the pretzels!
Many hotels will also arrange to have picnic baskets delivered to the Festspielhaus for consumption in the park during intervals.
Popular restaurants need reservations but not obsessively in advance. Either during an intermission or sometime during the same day is usually sufficient. For popular restaurants, you may end up sharing a table with other people, but that is expected in simple restaurants in Germany. Also hotel restaurants are usually very reliable choices. Maisel’s Dampfbier (steam beer) is the local brew. Again, this list follows a generally north-to-south direction.
Here is a basic listing of restaurants in Bayreuth with addresses.
An der Bürgerreuth 20
Popular Italian restaurant up behind the Festspielhaus. NY Wagner Society seems to eat here a lot. You will need reservations.
Up the hill on the left, just past the Festspielhaus and the little postoffice.
Informal beer garden (wurst, homemade wine/beer, light fare) on a shaded lawn with picnic tables and tall tables. Less expensive than Festspiele snacking, and a pleasant spot for a snack during the evening’s first interval only – they do not have exterior lighting.
Mohrenbrau formerly Gasthof Kropf (the taxi drivers still call it the Kropf)
The WSNC members met there several times and the new owner, Klaus Kopszak is very charming and friendly. The viola section of the the Festspiele Orchestra was there having a jolly time after Tannhaeuser. There is some seating outside on the weekends – the patio closes early during the week because the area is residential. Fleischekaese (regional name is leberkaese – but it is made without any liver) with kartoffelsalat was fabulous! www.mohrenbraeu.de
They have their own craft brewed beers which are quite good (2011).
Holländer-Stuben (closed as of 2011)
Arvena Kongress Hotel
Eduard-Bayerlein Staße 5a at Hofbahnstraße
It has a nice restaurant – Restaurant Arvena – the bar stays open until . . . . 3:00 a.m. as reported by one WSNC member in 2011.
Bayerischer Hof Hotel, Bahnhofstraße 14
Bistro food and continental dishes with a light touch. Moderate prices.
Bahnhofstraße at Mainstraße
Artists sometimes eat here after performances; pleasant atmosphere and very good food (try Krenfleisch). You may find yourselves sharing tables. Definitely make advance reservations.
Altes Rathaus, Richard-Wagner Straße 24
A lively beer hall known for its potato and bread dumplings served in a variety of ways; kitchen closes at 22:00 for full dinners, but you can appeal for a bowl of soup or a left-over dumpling. The decidedly younger crowd is a pleasant change of pace.
Hotel Goldener Anker, Opernstraße 6
Highly recommended by people who stay at the hotel.
Next to the Markgräfliches Opernhaus. OK meals, but really good coffee and pastries, and a great spot to watch the parade from the street patio. Lovely room and patio inside as well.
Richard-Wagner Straße 38
Brew Pub for Schinner Beer
A tucked away spot in pedestrian zone with lots of outdoor seating. Decent food, amazing cakes, and great people watching. Pleasant spot to get away from the bustle.
Athena or Delphi
Down a side street (north) from Richard-Wagnerstraße. “A nice break from German fare and on a hot day, the downstairs location was pure bliss.”
Walk-away self-serve or cafeteria-style seafood chain with indoor and outdoor seating. Good value/quality; great for a quick bite.
Schulstraße at Mainstraße
Just an example of local cafés that you can stumble across off the beaten track. Wonderful sausage and beers (€10 for two).
Several Turkish Kebab stands throughout the city make for a change of pace from sausage.
Excellent ice-cream to be found on Sternplatz (across from the Markgrafenbuchhandlung) and the Markplatz.