Top 10 Things to Do in Bavaria

From the Alps to Munich - Best of Bavaria Travel Guide

Bavaria is one of the most popular – and most scenic – travel destinations in Germany. For many, Bavaria is sausage, beer, and lederhosen, and although you’ll find all of that on your vacation, Bavaria has much more to offer.

If you want to escape the crowds and experience the down-to-earth Gemuetlichkeit Bavaria is famous for, make sure to spend time in some rural villages along the way. One of my favorite regions in Bavaria is the beautiful Allgaeu. Stop in a town you never heard of before, head to the “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 interesting things to do in Bavaria, from city breaks, and nature spots, to castles, scenic drives, and historic sites.  

  • 01 of 10
    Germany, Bavaria, Munich, View of cityscape with crowded houses and roof
    ••• Westend61/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

    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 are able to sun yourself in Munich's English Garden or making due with rainy day activities, Munich is the Germany most visitors dream of.

  • 02 of 10
    Neuschwanstein fairy tale castle
    ••• Copyright: Romantische Straße Touristik-AG GbR

    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 like Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Disneyland.

    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

    Oktoberfest

    Oktoberfest Munich
    ••• GNTB/Rainer Kiedrowski

    Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair and one of the best festivals in Germany: Every year, over 6 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 heavy steins, but there is more to the Oktoberfest; link arms with locals, swing to the Oompha of Bavarian bands, admire traditional costumes, enjoy hearty food, and get a good helping of German hospitality.

    More on Oktoberfest:

  • 04 of 10
    Christmas Market of Nuremberg
    ••• Photographer Uli Kowatsch/ Courtesy of Congress-und Tourismuszentrum Nuremberg

    The 950-year old city of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) is Bavaria’s second largest city and is alive with history. See the Imperial Castle, which was the residence of Germany’s Kaiser and kings, the romantic Old Town with original timber-framed buildings, rub the fountain for luck, Albrecht Dürer’s home, fountains and sculptures and even the Nazi Rally Party Grounds

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

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Zugspitze and Bavarian Alps
    ••• Hitler's Eagle's Nest. GNTB/Hans Peter Merten

    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
    Old Town Garmisch-Partenkirchen
    ••• GettyImages /Jon Boyes

    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 remain one of Europe's top winter sports destinations.

  • 07 of 10
    Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    ••• Joao Maximo/Creative Commons

    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 Oberberchtesgarden, 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 restaurant and a beer garden, both offering stunning views of the Bavarian mountains.

  • 08 of 10
    Dachau Concentration Camp
    ••• GettyImages / Joerg Koch

    The concentration camp of Dachau, 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. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    bamberg-rose-garten-2.jpg
    ••• Bamberg Rosengarten. Erin Porter

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

    But the city is more than just a gorgeous still life. Universität Bamberg brings in over 10,000 students, the nearby US 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 beirgartens are a continual source of entertainment, plus offer a Bamberg specialty, Rauchbier (smoked beer). 

  • 10 of 10
    Rothenburg ob der Tauber at Night
    ••• GNTB/Andrew Cowin

    This fortified town is one of the most visited spots in Germany - for good reason. Famous for its medieval architecture, half-timbered houses and cobblestone lanes stretch from one wall to the other in this perfectly preserved town on the Romantic Road. Take a tour with the nightwatchman, walk the ramparts and celebrate Christmas year-round.