What not to miss on a trip to the Bavarian Alps.
Blue skies, green meadows and majestic mountains: just a few words capture perfectly the true essence of the Bavarian Alps. However, there is so much more to this region in the south of Bavaria. Here’s a top ten list of things to do and see. Some a little more unexpected together with some old favourites.
1. Visit Neuschwanstein Castle
It’s kitsch, it’s over the top, it’s absolutely stunning and it’s a definite must-see! Walking up the steep hill to “Schloss Neuschwanstein” is breathtaking, but the site of this fairytale castle looking down on the village of Füssen will leave you lost for words for more than one reason. King Ludwig II asked his architects to build an idealised version of a medieval knight’s castle and this is “castle romanticism” at its best. Originally intended as his own private retreat, the castle was opened to the public only a few weeks after Ludwig’s death in 1886. Each year some 1 million people are drawn to the palace by its unique and inimitable allure. There are tourist traps worth visiting and Neuschwanstein Castle is definitely one of them. More about castles in Bavaria...
2. On top of the world: the Zugspitze
This is a highlight in the truest sense of the word since the Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain at some 9, 717 ft ASL. It is possible to walk up but there is an easier option: mountain railways and cable cars make for a much more leisurely ascent to the summit. From here, the surrounding views of some 400 Alpine peaks are simply breathtaking. Visit the top of Germany or the nearby Alpspitze with its new and totally awe-inspiring AlpspiX viewing platform that promises visitors spectacular views over the southern Bavarian Alps. More about the Zugspitze in Bavaria...
3. The lady of the lakes: Lake Chiemsee
Delightful Lake Chiemsee covers 30 square miles and has two inhabited islands, the Fraueninsel (Women’s Island) and the Herreninsel (Men’s Island). The Herreninsel is home to Bavaria’s largest castle, built by King Ludwig II in imitation of Versailles, a homage that’s echoed in magnificent views through parkland to the castle and its fountains. More about Lake Chiemsee...
4. Passion Play – once in a lifetime
The world’s longest-running play returns once more to the little town of Oberammergau where the Passion Play has been performed since 1634, when the people of the town vowed to act out a biblical tableaux in gratitude for being spared the plague. Every ten years that vow continues to be honoured in Oberammergau, which is also famed for its religious woodcarvings. The next Passion Play in Oberammergau will take place in 2020!
5. Meet the monks
Ettal Abbey, a beautiful baroque edifice, is one of the most significant Benedictine abbeys in the Bavarian Alps, dating back to 1330. Stepping through the gate, visitors are firstly confronted with the impressive facade of the original Gothic church before joining a tour to be introduced to the abbey, the church and the monks’ working quarters. The abbey that was established way back in the 17th century is famed not only for its beer but also for its fabulous schnapps! More about Oberammergau in Bavaria...
Equally interesting is the abbey Ottobeuren with its magnificent Basilica. An enthusiastic audience attends the organ concerts here every Saturday afternoon. More about Ottobeuren in Bavaria...
6. Hikers’ heaven
Exploring the region on one of the many hiking trails is an absolute must. The trails come in different levels of difficulty to suit everyone from the leisurely rambler to the more ambitious climber.
While the Mount Zugspitz region features 1, 200 km of hiking trails, the Allgau in the western part of the Bavarian Alps boasts an impressive 7, 000 km. Trails are divided according to their altitude level: valley walks, mid-altitude trails and summit hikes.
Travelling further south-east, the Chiemgau and its marvellous Lake Chiemsee invite visitors to the “Chiemgau Hiking Autumn” featuring guided hikes plus the opportunity to try some of the local seasonal game and fish.
8. Grand designs – Golfing in Bavaria
There are more than 170 golf courses in Bavaria varying from Alpine landscapes to grand parklands. In the Allgäu alone, 21 courses are within an hour’s drive of Allgäu-Airport in Memmingen. Oberstaufen has many courses where you can play without it even costing you a penny. All you need is the Oberstaufen-Plus Golf ticket, which you get free of charge when you book with a participating hotel in Oberstaufen.
Or why not visit the luxurious Sonnenalp resort in Ofterschwang/Allgäu, one of Bavaria’s grandest hotels catering especially for fans of golf, spas and gourmet food who enjoy a little exclusivity and pampering. More...
9. Learn how to make cheese
The Bavarian Alps are a land of plenty and its people rightly proud of their culinary specialities. In the Allgäu, where it is claimed that the grass produces particularly happy cows, visitors can enjoy a foray into the local food culture and learn how to make cheese.
Apart from the fact that a cheese making session is really good fun with participants sporting silly hats and big aprons, you also learn a lot. Take the recipe away with you and try it at home!
It would be a crime not to mention the region’s most famous dish, the “Kässpätzle (cheese “Spätzle”, a special kind of pasta). Very filling indeed! If you’re worried about the calorie intake, simply head out for a hike the following day, see above.
10. Value for Money
Bavaria is not only a paradise for outdoor activities, nature experiences and skiing, it also provides its visitors with competitive holiday offers and excellent value for money. To make your holiday money stretch further, several Bavarian Alps destinations such as Inzell, Ruhpolding, Oberstaufen and Oberstdorf are featuring special visitor attraction cards offering the opportunity to enjoy some spectacular mountain scenery and a range of add-on attractions and services at no extra charge. Low cost airlines, affordable public transport, great value for money accommodation, food and beverage – Bavaria is well worth a visit!