Bayreuth is a sizeable town in northern Bavaria, Germany, on the Red Main River in a valley between the Franconian Jura and the Fichtelgebirge Mountains.
The town’s roots date back to 1194 and it is nowadays the capital of Upper Franconia with a population of 72,576 (2009). It is world-famous for its annual Bayreuth Festival, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented.
The town is best known for its association with the composer Richard Wagner, who lived in Bayreuth from 1872 until his death in 1883. Wagner’s villa, “Wahnfried”, was constructed in Bayreuth under the sponsorship of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and was converted after World War II into a Wagner Museum. In the northern part of Bayreuth is the Festival Hall, an opera house specially constructed for and exclusively devoted to the performance of Wagner’s operas. The premieres of the final two works of Wagner’s Ring Cycle (“Siegfried” and “Götterdämmerung”); the cycle as a whole; and of Parsifal took place here.
Every summer, Wagner’s operas are performed at the Festspielhaus during the month-long Richard Wagner Festival, commonly known as the Bayreuth Festival. The Festival draws thousands each year, and has persistently been sold out since its inauguration in 1876. Currently, waiting lists for tickets can stretch for 10 years or more.
Owing to Wagner’s relationship with the then unknown philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the first Bayreuth festival is cited as a key turning point in Nietzsche’s philosophical development. Though at first an enthusiastic champion of Wagner’s music, Nietzsche ultimately became hostile, viewing the festival and its revellers as symptom of cultural decay and bourgeois decadence – an event which led him to turn his eye upon the moral values esteemed by society as a whole – “Nietzsche clearly preferred to see Bayreuth fail than succeed by mirroring a society gone wrong.”
Frequent train services connect Bayreuth to other regions of Franconia and Northern Bavaria. Regular services exist seven days a week to and from:
- Regional-Express (RE) trains once an hour (66 minutes travel time). Many times these trains separate en route, so make certain to board the correct train segment.
- As a stop on the Interregio-Express (IRE) service between Nuremberg and Dresden (49 minutes from Nuremberg, 3.5 hours from Dresden).
- Direct RE trains every two hours (2.5 hours).
- Otherwise a change in Nuremberg or Lichtenfels is necessary.
- Dresden – With the IRE in 3.5 hours.
- Bamberg – 1.5 hours by RE, sometimes a change in Lichtenfels is necessary.
The Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is located approximately 1 km north of the city centre, easily accessed by foot. Several buses also run from the train station to the central bus station in the town centre (Lines 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, and 13).
Bayreuth is easily accessible on the autobahn A9, approximately 70 km north of Nuremberg and 40 km south of Hof.
The nearest airport with regular commercial service is in Nuremberg. Many international flights arrive in Germany via Frankfurt or Munich, however. The nearby Airport Bayreuth is available for private planes or to charter planes.
The bus network around Bayreuth provides extensive coverage of the city and surrounding areas, with most buses running in 20-minute intervals. The central bus station (Zentrale Omnibus Haltestelle, ZOH) is located one block north of Maximilianstrasse near the city hall (Rathaus). The bus plan and schedule can be found at the website for BVB-Bayreuth (in German only). Day passes (Tageskarte) are available.
Compared to larger cities, Bayreuth is relatively easy to tackle by car. The pedestrian-only area in the centre of town is confined to a few streets, and parking garages are easy to find.
Biking is easy and convenient in Bayreuth. Many scenic bike paths radiate from Bayreuth into the surrounding areas.
Most sights of interest are easily reached by foot within the city. Exceptions to this are the Festspielhaus and the Eremitage, both of which are easily accessed by bus or bike.
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.
Things to Do in Bayreuth
One can easily keep occupied right in Bayreuth for the length of the Festival, taking advantage of the many concerts, lectures, and local attractions. What one does is predicated upon just how deeply one wants to become immersed in the Festival Experience. Wagner was not the only famous person who lived in Bayreuth. The Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth got here first and left his mark.
The Bayreuth Card is a three-day pass which covers public transportation, a city tour, and free entry into nine museums (Historisches Museum, Richard-Wagner-Museum at Haus Wahnfried, Jean-Paul-Museum, Franz-Liszt-Museum, Masonic Museum, Fayence Museum, Maisel Beer Museum, Urwelt Museum in Oberfranken, and Art Museum). You can purchase a Bayreuth Card at the Tourist Information office (which is located at Luitpoldplatz 9, between the city centre and the train station), at many attractions, and at some hotels.
Margravine Wilhelmine Palaces Combination Ticket
The Margravine Wilhelmine Palaces Combination Ticket covers these attractions: Bayreuth New Palace, Margravial Opera House, Hermitage Old Palace, Garden Museum Fantaisie Palace, Oriental Buildung at Sanspareil Rock Garden, and Zwernitz Castle.
A city map for Bayrueth is available for you to view, download, or print. It is 2 pages long. The page size is larger than A4. It is 59.41 cm x 42.01 cm (23.39 inches x 16.54 inches) but you can scale it for printing double-sided on A4 paper if you wish: Bayreuth City Map
Nature, Culture and Enjoyment
A brochure about cultural pursuits in Bayrueth is available for you to view, download, or print. It is 2 pages long. The page size is A4. It can be printed double-sided on A4 paper if you wish: Bayreuth Culture Brochure