Quite possibly the most popular of all the beery hiking circuits, the Fünf Seidla Steig surely also has the coolest name. Even those with minimal German skills know there’s something with the number five involved and that it does, there are five breweries on this 20 kilometer Steig (steep path). Okay, okay so what’s a Seidla you ask? It’s Franconian dialect for a small (well, in Bavaria a half liter is small) beer. It comes from an old German word Seidel, which is a small mug, generally with a handle (on the side, get it). The suffix -la is added to many words in Franconian, imparting smallness to the meaning of the original word.
Aside from the great name, it has it all: a castle, a monastery that still brews, a Franconian beer legend, some verdant forests, hills and relatively easy accessibility.
Distance: 20 km
Starting Point: Classically Gräfenberg or Weissenhohe as both are easily accessible from Nürnberg by regional train. This allows for a true circuit walk. Alternatively, you can get a bus from Gräfenberg to a number of points where you might find overnight accommodation if breaking the walk into two days. If you are mostly interested in the breweries and cutting the walk in half, I’d suggest getting the bus to Thuisbrunn (Elch-Bräu) and walking back to Weissenhohe past the remaining four breweries and getting a train back from there.
I will refer to the stages of the classic circuit.
Stage 1: Weissenhohe to Thuisbrunn (9-10km) You can follow few a different paths but I found it best to take the longer (more scenic) route to Gräfenberg. You walk past the Kloster (monastery) this way and can view it while it’s open. You could eat/drink at the Kloster brewery but I’d suggest finishing there. Once in Gräfenberg, follow the Fünf Seidla signs that say “Variante” towards Neusles. This is a longer route but quite nice. It does not pass any breweries but you enter Thuisbrunn with great views of the castle. Do NOT follow the sign that says Elch-Bräu 500m this way or you will miss the views and won’t save all that much walking.
View of Thuisbrunn Castle & their tasty beer
Stage 2: Thuisbrunn to Hohenschwärz (2km). This is a short pretty stretch of the trail. If you wanted another beer at Elch-Bräu but didn’t have it, your second brewery (Hofmann) is waiting for you here.
Scenic walk to Hohenschwärz & Hofmann’s beers/snacks
Stage 3: Hohenschwärz to Gräfenberg (4-5km). Follow the Frankenweg signs back to Gräfenberg. It’s more direct but equally as scenic. You will go over a few hills and through some nice forests en route. Go to Friedmann’s first. It’s a nice little pub with outside seating. Food is good but beer is not as good as nearby Lindebräu, just up the road. You’ll have to backtrack a little to do it but it’s a better way to drink the beer. Save most of your drinking for Lindenbräu.
Lindenbräu in Gräfenberg & it’s noted Vollbier
Stage 4: Gräfenberg to Weissenhohe (2.5km). If you’ve already made a stop at the Kloster Brewery, you can just walk half that distance to the train station in Gräfenberg (on the way) but for my money, it’s best to finish at the Kloster. They have some of the best beer and food on the circuit. They also have a wider range of beers so finishing the walk here, after “the work” of hiking makes life a lot easier. The same trains that run from Gräfenberg pass through here.
The monastic brewery in Weißenhohe
Places to stay: Lindenbräu in Gräfenberg is ideal but obviously very popular. Reasonable prices for simple but nice modern rooms with a fair breakfast. There are numerous other options in Gräfenberg as well as Weissenhohe and Thuisbrunn. Staying overnight is well worth it with five breweries to enjoy at a more relaxed pace.
How to get there? Regional trains go once an hour from Nürnberg’s Nordost Station (a short U-Bahn trip from the main station). The end station is Gräfenberg. From there, Bus 229 runs up to Thuisbrunn (and a bit beyond) often enough but never as often as you want it to! Plan accordingly and if planning on using the bus, use it early and walk back as it runs more frequently then and you won’t get stuck somewhere far from the train station.
If you have any questions about access, please drop me a line. If you’re not up to doing it on your own, I’m available for guided trips into this pretty valley with timeless breweries.
Not your kind of walk? How about the 13 Brauereien Weg?