Located in the southeast of Germany (see map of Bavaria), Bavaria (Bayern in German) is the largest state of Germany and one of the most popular German tourist destinations. Although renowned for its stereotypes (leather trousers, sausage-eating and beer-drinking), Bavaria has a lot more to offer to travellers. With its strong identity and breath-taking landscapes, this bundesland is definitely worth a visit.
Must-see destinations and Things to Do during your Holiday in Bavaria
- Visiting Munich (München) during the Oktoberfest: As the capital of Bavaria, Munichis the most popular Bavarian destination. The city is renowned for hosting the world-famous Oktoberfest, a festival held each year from late September to early October which lasts for around 17 days. Attracting over 5 million people every year, this fair is one of the most popular events in the world. The Oktoberfest festival has long been part of Bavarian culture, as the first fair took place in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The Oktoberfest is the perfect occasion to drink beer, sing and party with German locals dressed up in Bavarian costumes.
- In addition to the excitement of Octoberfest, Munich holds many other attractions. The city is centered around two large squares: Karlsplatz and Marienplatz, an area that holds most of Munich’s must-see sights: the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), the Frauenkirche (Church of Our lady) and, of course, the Hofbräuhaus, Europe’s most famous beer hall. Schwabing is a trendy neighbourhood with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops, and the Olympic Area dates back to the 1972 Summer Olympics.
- Exploring the Bavarian Christmas markets: The Christmas season is one of the best times to visit Bavaria, as various wonderful Christmas markets are held in cities, towns and villages throughout the region. With their unique atmosphere, the Bavarian Christmas markets, held during the Advent period, feature food and drink as well as gift and decoration stalls. Enjoy the markets at night with their lights on and make sure to have some delicious mulled wine while eating some typical gingerbread and pretzels. The most famous Bavarian Christmas markets include Regensburg, Rothenburg, Nuremberg and Coburg markets.
- Taking one of Bavaria’s tourist routes: Bavaria features a wide network of tourist routes that link the most beautiful sights of the state. The most famous is probably the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße), which goes all the way down from Würzburg to Füssen. The route is particularly renowned for its many castles, such as Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein), one of King Ludwig’s castles. King Ludwig II (also called “Mad King Ludwig”) ordered the construction of many fancy castles in Bavaria, as he was inspired by the French Palais de Versailles and wanted to outdo the palace in both beauty and opulence. The Herrenchiemsee castle, built on an island located in the middle of Bavaria’s largest lake (Chiemsee) is supposed to be a replica of the Palace of Versailles. Another interesting tourist route is the German Alpine Road which will take you throughout the Bavarian Alps from West to East. You can also enjoy some canyoning in the Breitachklamm, one of Europe’s most beautiful gorges, or just relax in one of the numerous spa resorts.
- Berchtesgaden is one of Bavaria’s most scenic destinations. This small town is nestled in the mighty German Alps, surrounded on three sides by the Austrian border. Close-by Bad Reichenhall and Berchtesgaden itself are renowned for their salt mines. Those interested in history may want to visit what is left of Hitler’s summer retreat, the Berghof at Obersalzberg. Today this mountain holds a documentation centre with information in several languages.
- In close proximity to Berchtesgaden is one of Bavaria’s most famous mountains, the Watzmann, and nearby you will find a picturesque glacial lake called Königssee. A bit further west is the famous mountain resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen which is nestled against the Zugspitze, at 2962 metres of altitude Germany’s highest mountain. When most people think of Bavaria, the picture-postcard perfect images of the Bavarian mountains usually come to mind. The Bavarian Alps offer amazing opportunities for skiing, hiking, mountaineering, paragliding and all sorts of other outdoor endeavours.
- Discovering Bavarian breweries: If you like beer, Bavaria is definitely the place where you want to be. With around 600 breweries, Bavaria is famous for its beers. Bavarian beers can be of different types: light beer (Helles Bier), dark bear (Dunkles Bier), pilsner (Pils) or wheat beer (Weißbier). Most cities have their own breweries and provide visitors with special tours. Take a brewery walking tour and discover the brewing process while tasting some beer samples.
- Exploring Bavarian UNESCO World Heritage Sites: A lot of Bavarian sites are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Among them is the city of Bamberg, located in Upper Franconia and renowned for its stunning architecture. Popular attractions in Bamberg include the Cathedral, the Altenburg castle, the Neue Residenz Palace, the Old Palace (Alte Hofhaltung) and “Little Venice” (Klein-Venedig). Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites include stunning Old Town (Alstadt) of Regensburg and the Würzburg Residence (Würzburg Residenz), a beautiful palace.
- Nuremberg (Nürnberg in German) is Bavaria’s second largest city. Its famous castle overlooks the city and the Old Town has a number of medieval-era sights, from the Heilig-Geist-Spital to the Hauptmarkt, renowned as the location for Nuremberg’s famous Christmas Market, to the Renaissance-era bridge called Fleischbrücke, a myriad of churches as well as the German National Museum and the German National Railway Museum. The Reich Party Rally Grounds hold a documentation centre. Nuremberg’s Underworld features a network of vaulted cellars and secret passageways that have been hewn into the sandstone rock of Nuremburg’s Castle Hill. The Albrecht Dürer House shows where this famous painter lived from 1509 to 1528.
- Taking a cruise on the Danube: Taking a cruise on the Danube, Europe’s second largest river, can also be a nice way to discover Bavaria and even more. The river flows through some of Bavaria’s most popular destinations, such as Regensburg, Passau and Ulm. River cruises are organized by different companies and offer a stress-free vacation.
- Camping in Bavaria: If you are more adventurous, however,you may want to experience some camping in Bavaria. Not only is this accommodation solution cheaper than many others, it is also a nice way to be in harmony with nature. Bavaria offers plenty of campsites with stunning views and affordable services.
Bavaria not only provides you with stunning landscapes and historic sites but also offers many diverse activities, both for the winter and the summer season. So get out and start to discover this amazing German gem.