With the charms of the alluring Munich, Regensburg and Nuremberg all nearby, Augsburg doesn’t get much of a look-in on the Bavarian tourist trail.
In fact we have lived an hour’s drive away from here for two years now and hadn’t even bothered to visit Augsburg ourselves until this weekend.
This was due to a bad review from an American expat friend (who wasn’t that impressed) and a less than enthusiastic write-up in the Lonely Planet.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find that Germany’s third oldest city is a beautifully buzzy place with astounding architecture and a thriving market perfect for foodie types.
In typical German style the Stadtmarkt (city market) must also be one of the world’s cleanest and most organised.
In one lane you will find around half a dozen bakeries, selling delicious German breads and mouth-watering cakes.
In another there are the colourful fruit and veg stalls peddling autumn truffles among the florists and a few home ware shops.
Then on a third aisle you have all the fishmongers and a few eateries where you can snack on fresh fish buns while watching the world go by.
As if that’s not enough the market also boasts a food hall full of international goodies in its Viktualienhalle.
Here you’ll find stalls brimming with Italian antipasti, Asian spices and fine smoked meats as well as a couple of pop-up bars where weary shoppers pause for a wine or beer. Nice!
It’s the perfect place for stocking up (particularly at Christmas time) and soaking up a great atmosphere at the same time.
As I grew up in Essex in the UK I used to think of markets as being the kind of place where dodgy guys sold cheap clothes and knocked off shampoo somewhere under a grimy underpass.
So I’m forever impressed when I stumble on a market that has charm, class and sells fruit a bit more exotic than apples.
After munching our way through the market we checked out Augsburg’s colourful Altstadt (old city) with its 17th century Renaissance Town Hall and gothic cathedral.
The sun even popped out for a bit, causing a rush of Germans to the nearest ice-cream sellers (they are mad for ice-cream here. When sun shines, Brits sunbathe. Germans buy ice-cream).
Large chains and independent shops are in abundance in compact Augsburg too (perfect for shopping) with some cool arty places dotted along winding backstreets such as Dominikanergasse. I was impressed and wondered why the hell no one had gushed to me about this wonderful place before.
I guess the moral of the story is, don’t trust American dudes or Lonely Planet. Find out for yourself.
After being seduced by the market and the shops we didn’t have time to see much else, but hopefully we’ll pop back one day to see the Art Nouveau synagogue and the famous Augsburg Puppet Box.
Until then, Auf Wiedersehen!