Some 600 metres in altitude, Dillberg in the district of Nürnberger Land is the highest of the hills around the town of Neumarkt. It is well known for its wonderful views. When the weather is fine, you can gaze across central Franconia as far as the uplands that separate Nuremberg from Regensburg. Dillberg is one of the hills marking the dividing line between the central and upper Palatinate, two of northern Bavaria's main regions.
Lasting some three hours, the Dillberg hiking trail is of medium difficulty. The starting point is the station at Pölling, a suburb of the town of Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz. The route covers some 6 km, taking you through a lovely landscape with wide open fields and dense pine woods before you reach Dillberg, with its tall radio masts. The largest one measuring 231 m in height. Bavaria's local broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk started using Dillberg as a broadcasting base as long ago as 1955.
Hiking from Pölling to the foot of Dillberg hill
Leaving Pölling station along Bogenstrasse, turn right at Bergstrasse, then stay on Bergstrasse by going left at the following junction. Stay on Bergstrasse for 130 m, then go left at Höllbachstrasse. When you come to the next road junction, go right, walk to the end and turn left. Keep going for 1 km. The road's name changes to Am Herrnhof, and stay on this for some 1.5 km, near where it ends. The route crosses the B8 main road, and twisting paths lead into the conservation area. You'll see some allotments: turn left before you reach them and take a look back over Pölling. Immediately afterwards, go right: the path climbs into the woods on Schlossberg, and once you reach the top, follow the directions provided by the yellow lines. These markings lead you to wider paths and the flat terrain at the top of Dillberg hill.
Pack your binoculars for a beautiful panorama
When you reach the top, you can take in the sweeping view over central Franconia and the hilly landscape that covers the middle of Bavaria. If the weather is good, you can make out Nuremberg's radio tower and castle, some 27 km away, while a combination of perfect conditions and binoculars should even bring the Swabian Alb range into view, far away to the southwest.
The route then leads downhill along Eppeleinsweg, past the cave of Bücher Hohle and on towards Ezelsdorf, before you reach the clusters of houses at Dillberg and Kleinvoggenhof and start the return leg of your hike. Our tip: don't miss the opportunity to visit the cave in the hillside. Bücher Höhle (also called Dillberghöhle or Silbersandhöhle) is open to the general public. Full of branches and passageways, it extends for some 70 m. The local farmers dug the cave out of the sandstone bedrock in the inter-war period, and it was used for shelter. Back outside, follow Eppelsteinweg and the signs that bring you to Buch. Pass through this small settlement. The path leads back to the edge of the woods, and you can then start the trek back to Pölling station.
Take a break to refuel
Enjoy regional specialities at the rural-style Goldene Krone restaurant, tuck into a pizza at Mauro's Sicilian osteria or sit down to a traditional meal at family restaurant Zur Linde. All kinds of culinary choices are available to hungry hikers.
Landgasthof Goldene Krone "Bucher Wirt"
Just after you complete your descent from Dillberg, Landgasthof Goldene Krone "Bucher Wirt" in the hamlet of Buch should be the first port of call for hungry hikers who want big portions but small prices. The rural restaurant offers classics like schnitzel, cordon bleu, the local take on Germany's classic consommé (called "wedding soup") and roast carp (available September-April). It is located right beside the path back to Pölling, just 15 minutes in total from the Bucher Höhle cave. When you leave the cave, follow the narrow track for 10 minutes until it widens and brings you straight to Buch on the right. Goldene Krone is located on the left just a few metres after the first houses. Simply walk in and enjoy its relaxed atmosphere.
Osteria da Mauro
In the mood for a perfect pizza? Then head for Osteria da Mauro, the restaurant attached to Ezeldorf's football club, located in Bucher Strasse. Chef Mauro was born in Sicily, and his team treats diners to home-made classics from all over Italy. From the cave, head in the direction of Ezelsdorf instead of walking towards Buch as the first point on your trek back to Pölling. Ezelsdorf's sports grounds are about 20 minutes' walk away. This is where the football pitch is located. Stay on the main path and walk past the pitch. Then go right – then the osteria is right in front of you.
After an excellent meal, you can begin the walk to Pölling either by starting out in the direction of the cave, or you can turn left at the pitch and take the wide road (Bucher Strasse) – it brings you first to Buch, and then ultimately on to Pölling. If you want to shorten the return journey, you have the option of continuing along the road that brought you to Mauro's. Once you reach the end in Ezelsdorf, go right, then left down Hauptstrasse until you reach Bahnweg on your right. Oberferrieden station is located at the end. Wrap up your Dillberg hike here and just wait for the S-Bahn to take you home.
Gasthaus Zur Linde
Located in Ezeldorf itself, the family-style restaurant Zur Linde has a lovely beer garden, generous servings and excellent prices. Its curry sausage and shashlik skewers are incredibly popular. After stopping for food, it's time to head for home. Walk down Hauptstrasse until you reach Bahnweg – go right here and follow the road. It takes you to Oberferrieden station. Ending your journey here saves you the walk back to where you started in Pölling. Oberferrieden station is served by S-Bahn trains to Nuremberg and Neumarkt.