Top 10 Things to Do in Bavaria, Germany

Berchtesgaden in autumn, Bavaria, Germany Europe View to town of Berchtesgaden and Mount Watzmann.

Achim Thomae/Getty Images 

Bavaria is one of the most popular and most scenic travel destinations in Germany. For many, Bavaria means sausage, beer, and lederhosen. If you want to escape the crowds and experience the down-to-earth Gemütlichkeit Bavaria is famous for, make sure to spend time in some rural villages along the way. Stop in a town you never heard of before, head to a Gasthaus (restaurant) for some Bavarian fare, buy some goodies in a local store, or go for a hike in the beautiful mountains and forests.

Here are the most exciting things to do in Bavaria, from city breaks, and nature spots, to castles, scenic drives, and historic sites.

01 of 10

Visit the Zugspitze

Zugspitze
Heidelbergerin / Pixabay
Address
Zugspitze

At 9,718 feet, the Zugspitze is the highest peak of Germany and is reachable by a 10-minute cable car or a 35-minute train. The platform at the top sits on the border of Austria and Germany, making it possible for tourists to quickly jaunt between countries and check out the view from both sides. On a totally clear day, it's possible to see not just Germany and Austria, but also Switzerland and Italy.

The best way to get to the peak is to take the cable car from Eibsee, which travels through the clouds on an unforgettable high-altitude journey. However, if you prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, there is also a train that can take you to visit the mountain's glaciers. If you are arriving from Austria, you can also take a cable car from the town of Obermoos.

02 of 10

Visit the World's Oldest Brewery

Weltenburg Abbey as seen from the Danube
Address
Asamstraße 32, 93309 Kelheim, Germany
Phone +49 9441 2040

If you won't arrive in time for Oktoberfest, you can still get an authentic beer experience in Bavaria by visiting the world's oldest brewery. It's worth noting that two breweries claim the title, but they're both in Bavaria and both worth visiting if you're a fan of beer.

The Weihenstephan Abbey began brewing in the year 1040 and offers tours and tastings of its historic premises, which are still bottling beer to this day. However, the Weltenburg Abbey is technically the world's oldest monastic brewery, and Germany's oldest monastery, having begun its brewing operations in the year 1050. Located on a sandy riverbank on a bend in the Danube River, the Weltenburg Abbey makes for a lovely day trip and has a modern beer garden, where you can order your lunch with a beer-tasting.

03 of 10

Take in the City Sights of Munich

Munich, Germany

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Address
Munich, Germany
Phone +49 89 38666390

Munich—or München—is the capital of Bavaria and the gateway to the Alps. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany and offers first-class museums and traditional German architecture, a salute to Bavaria's royal past.

Whether you sun yourself in Munich's English Garden or make do with rainy day activities, Munich is the Germany most visitors dream of. From the sinuous tones of the clocktower in Marienplatz and the bustling energy of the beer halls, there is a lot of beauty and fun to be had in the city in addition to its great museums like the Deutsche Museum, the world's oldest science and technology museum, and fantastic restaurants like the historic Fraunhofer Wirsthaus.

04 of 10

Tour the Disney-Like Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein

Christopher Larson / TripSavvy

Address
Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany
Phone +49 8362 930830

The world's most famous castle, Neuschwanstein, is nestled in the Bavarian Alps and comes straight out of a fairy tale. King Ludwig II designed his dream castle with the help of a theatrical set designer, and it has inspired modern fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland. For those who want to avoid a steep climb to the top—or have a fairytale moment—it's also possible to take a horse-drawn carriage up to the castle.

You can take a tour through the flamboyant castle's interior. Highlights include a gaudy grotto, the Throne Room with its giant crown-shaped chandelier, and the lavish Minstrels' Hall. The castle's design is an homage to the German composer Richard Wagner and takes its name from the fictional castle in his opera Lohengrin.

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05 of 10

Drink Beer and Eat Sausage at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest celebration in Munich.

Michaelangelo Gratton/Getty Images 

Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair and one of the best festivals in Germany. Every year, more than six million visitors from all over the world come to Munich to drink beer, eat sausage, and join together in song. Despite its name, the festival actually begins in mid-September and ends during the first week of October.

Oktoberfest is a steadfast tradition that has taken place since 1810 when a feast was held to celebrate the royal wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The festival is famous for its huge beers in massive steins, but there is more to the Oktoberfest: link arms with locals, swing to the oompah of Bavarian bands, admire traditional costumes, enjoy hearty food, and get a good helping of German hospitality.

06 of 10

Visit Nuremberg, Bavaria's Second Largest City

Visitors look at Christmas decorations for sale at the traditional Christmas market 'Nuernberger Christkindlesmarkt' ahead of the opening ceremony in Nuremberg, Germany..

Johannes Simon/Stringer/Getty Images 

Address
Burg 17, 90403 Nürnberg, Germany
Phone +49 911 2446590

The 950-year old city of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) is alive with history. See the Imperial Castle, which was the residence of Germany’s Kaiser and kings; check out the romantic Old Town with original timber-framed buildings; rub the Schöner Brunnen fountain for luck, visit Albrecht Dürer’s House, and see the Nazi Rally Party Grounds.

During the holidays, the Old Town becomes a winter wonderland when Nuremberg celebrates its Christkindlmarkt, which is one of the country’s best Christmas markets. Need a warm-up? Order a plate of signature Nuremberg Rostbratwürste.

07 of 10

Take a Moment for Remembrance at Dachau

Dachau

TripSavvy / Maria Ligaya

Address
Alte Römerstraße 75, 85221 Dachau, Germany
Phone +49 8131 669970

The concentration camp of Dachau, which is 18 miles northwest of Munich, was one of the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany and would serve as a model for all subsequent camps in the Third Reich. Dachau was one of the longest-running camps until it was liberated in April of 1945 by American troops who freed 32,000 survivors.

Dachau visitors follow the "path of the prisoner," walking the same way prisoners were forced to after they were brought to the camp. You will see the original prisoner baths, barracks, courtyards, and the crematorium, as well as an extensive exhibition.

08 of 10

Stroll Fairy-tale German Streets in Bamberg

Bamberg Rosengarten

Fred Romero/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Located over seven hills, this Bavarian town is nicknamed the "Franconian Rome." Bamberg has one of Europe’s largest intact old town centers and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its early medieval plan, winding narrow streets and half-timbered architecture is the holy grail of fairy-tale Germany.

But the city is more than just a gorgeous still life. The University of Bamberg brings in more than 10,000 students, the nearby U.S. army base has around 4,000 members and dependents, and there are nearly 7,000 foreign nationals that reside here.

The city is also well-known for its glorious beer tradition. Its many breweries and Biergartens are a continual source of entertainment, plus they offer a Bamberg specialty, Rauchbier (smoked beer).

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Admire Medieval Architecture in Rothenburg

City ramparts in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fortified town and is one of the most visited spots in Germany. Famous for its medieval architecture, half-timbered houses, and cobblestone lanes stretch from one wall to the other in this perfectly preserved town on Romantic Road, a 260-mile trail that travels from Würzburg to Fussen.

This medieval town has over a millennium of history, but after the bubonic plague depleted Rothenburg of its money and power, the city has been frozen in time with its 17th-century look. After it was bombed during the second world war, 40 percent of the town's historic buildings were reconstructed and restored.

10 of 10

Explore the Bavarian Alps

Male freestyle skier jumping mid air from mountainside, Zugspitze in Germany

Holger Thalmann/Getty Images 

Address
Zugspitze

Whether you're walking, hiking, mountain biking, or skiing, the Alps are one of Bavaria’s (and Germany’s) premier holiday destinations. Running along the border between Germany and Austria, the Bavarian Alps are home to Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze, where you can go glacier skiing until May. Some of the most well-known resort towns in the German Alps are Oberstdorf, Füssen, Berchtesgaden, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The Bavarian Alps are a year-round destination and offer opportunities to visit sobering historic attractions like the Eagle's Nest, which was a gift from the Nazi party for Hitler’s 50th birthday. Perched on a mountain summit close to the town of Berchtesgaden, its construction in 1938 was an architectural phenomenon. The chalet is now a restaurant and beer garden, both offering stunning views of the Bavarian mountains.

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Amazing Places You Must See in Bavaria, Germany