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, and although you’ll find all of that on your vacation, this part of Germany has much more to offer.

If you want to escape the crowds and experience the down-to-earth Gemüetlichkeit Bavaria is famous for, make sure to spend time in some rural villages along the way. One of the most popular regions is the beautiful Allgäu. 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, and take a hike in the surrounding area.

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

Take in the City Sights of Munich

Germany, Bavaria, Munich, View of cityscape with crowded houses and roof

Westend61/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Address
Munich, Germany
Phone
+49 89 38666390

Munich—or München—is the capital of Bavaria and 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.

02 of 10

Tour the Disney-Like Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein castle in Germany

Jan Starcke/EyeEm/Getty Images 

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.

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.

03 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.

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.

04 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 13, 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.

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05 of 10

Go for a Hike on 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.

06 of 10

Hang out in an Old-School Ski Town

Old Town at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany.

FooTToo/Getty Images 

Address
82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is best known for the 1936 Winter Olympics, but a lot has happened since then. The two Bavarian towns joined shortly before the Olympics and together, Garmisch-Partenkirchen remains one of Europe's top winter sports destinations.

07 of 10

Visit Hitler's Eagle's Nest

Hitler's Eagle's Nest

Danny Butler Photography/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Address
Kehlsteinhaus, 83471 Berchtesgaden, Germany

The Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) 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 1939 was an architectural phenomenon.

You can tour a vast underground bunker system, then head through a tunnel to the original brass elevator, built right into the rock, which brings you up to Hitler’s mountain retreat. The chalet, where Hitler entertained world leaders, is now a restaurant and beer garden, both offering stunning views of the Bavarian mountains.

08 of 10

Take a Moment for Remembrance at Dachau

Dachau Concentration Camp
GettyImages / Joerg Koch
Address
Alte Römerstraße 75, 85221 Dachau, Germany
Phone
+49 8131 669970

The concentration camp of Dachau, which is 10 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 visitors follow the "path of the prisoner," walking the same way prisoners were forced to after their arrival in the camp. You will see the original prisoner baths, barracks, courtyards, and the crematorium, as well as an extensive exhibition.

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09 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).

10 of 10

Admire Medieval Architecture

People on the street amidst buildings in town against sky in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany

Sina Ettmer/EyeEm/Getty Images 

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. Take a tour with the nightwatchman, walk the ramparts, and celebrate Christmas year-round.

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Amazing Places You Must See in Bavaria, Germany