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Bavaria is the biggest state of Germany. Its resplendent castles, stunning alpine lakes, charming towns and magnificent mountains will make you fall in love with the region. I have called this area home for a few years now, and would love to share with you some the best places to visit in Bavaria based on my extensive travels here. I hope you find Bavaria as inspiring as I do!
With a charming maze of historical lanes connected by impressive bridges over the river, a 1000-year-old castle, and a laid-back atmosphere, Nuremberg is definitely one of the best towns in Bavaria to include in your itinerary. It’s a city that you can easily to fall in love with; I could walk around the medieval center of Nuremberg for hours and never get bored.
Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria, as well as the unofficial capital of Franconia. This 950-year-old town features plenty of sights and history that you can get a taste of in one day or dive deeper into over a long weekend. It’s located two hours from Munich and you can easily get there by train.
Nuremberg Old Town is best explored on foot, with its gorgeous streets and half-timber houses. All you need are comfortable shoes, a backpack, map, camera, and to just get out there and see what you can find. Highlights include Frauentorturm, St. Lawrence Church, Hospital of Holy Spirit (Heiling-Geist Spital), The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), and Main Market Square.
Yup, this is the “Walt Disney Castle.” The Cinderella Castle. Or simply one of the most beautiful castles in all of Germany. There are many nicknames given to this 19th-century palace perched on a steep hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. And it’s not just a catch; Neuschwanstein Castle is a top contender on any list of the best places to visit in Bavaria. It’s the kind of place you have to see at least once in your lifetime!
Of all the tourist attractions in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein is the most visited one. In the summer, the castle receives as many as 6,000 visitors per day. That is a huge number, especially for such a small town like Hohenschwangau. If you want to avoid the high season, I definitely advise you to visit Neuschwanstein castle in winter.
The interior of the castle can be visited on a guided tour only. A ticket costs 13 Euros for adults, and it always comes with a specified time slot. I definitely recommend reserving your tickets in advance. You can do it easily online here, but the timing can be a bit tricky, you have to make your reservation at least two days ahead. Plus, it is not possible to do so after 3 pm German time.
Situated at the northernmost point of the Danube river, Regensburg offers a rich history dating back to Roman times. It was the first capital of Bavaria and an important center of trade for the region.
Today, Regensburg is one of the most beautiful towns in Bavaria. The town’s sights are easily visited on foot, so you can take a stroll and adore its historical churches and fine aristocratic houses from the 13th and 14th centuries. Regensburg takes pride in its medieval city center, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered among the best preserved in all of Germany.
What I love about Regensburg is the fact that the town is still lively. The center has a nice mixture of shops, offices, flats, hotels, restaurants and cafés. It’s also a student town and the combination of history and laid back atmosphere makes is one of the best places to visit in Bavaria.
Situated at the confluence of the Altmühl and Danube rivers, Kelheim is an access point to unique Weltenburg Monastery, founded back in 600 AD. The complex sits on a peninsula on the Danube, deep in a wooded gorge surrounded by spectacular limestone cliffs. The setting is overwhelmingly beautiful and for this reason, Kelheim is one of the best places to visit in Bavaria. Plus, the area hasn’t become overtouristed yet.
If you like beer, you will definitely enjoy this stop. Weltenburg Monastery is famous for the dark beer, which has been produced here for several centuries. The Abbey houses its own brewery that is considered the oldest monastery brewery in the world (the brewing started in 1050!) You can’t leave this place without tasting a glass of Kloster Barock Dunkel. The biergarten is located in the courtyard and the waitresses serving the beer are dressed in a traditional dirndl.
Every visit starts in Kelheim town, where you can decide either to take the boat or get there by taking a hike. I always do the trip on foot, as it is the best way to enjoy the beautiful nature of the area without too many people around. You can reach the monastery by following the river or follow an alternative path through the forest, which features several great views of the monastery from nearby cliffs.
With an idyllic setting surrounded by vineyards, and defined by its architectural splendors, Würzburg is yet another of the best towns in Bavaria if you are looking to enjoy some sightseeing and finish off your day with glass of amazing wine.
The town is home to the famous Würzburger Residence, whose interior is considered a masterpiece of Baroque/Rococo or Neoclassical architecture. Highlights include a magnificent staircase, the chapel, and the Imperial Hall. The palace is also surrounded by gorgeous gardens.
For me, Würzburg is a little different than any other city, making it one of the best places to visit in Bavaria for a romantic weekend gateway. If you’re into cycling, you will also love the flat cycling paths along the river.
Would you like to take in the view from the highest mountain peak in Germany? Well, it does not get higher than the Zugspitze. Rising 2,962m above the ski town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Zugspitze towers over all other German mountains. It’s definitely one of the most spectacular places in the Bavarian Alps.
Although you can technically climb the Zugspitze, many people opt to take a cable car tour to the peak instead (tickets go for 55 euro apiece, so they’re rather costly). Opened in 2017, the Zugspitze cable car features two fully glazed cabins and passes over the world’s highest steel ropeway towers (127m), travelling the world’s largest total height difference of 1,945 m in one section and the world’s longest free span, at 3,213 m.
Zugspitze is popular year-round:. Winter is all about skiing, while the summer is dedicated to hiking. No matter when you pay a visit, you will always enjoy the panoramic views looking over beautiful Bavaria.
Spend some time looking on Instagram for ideas on the best places to visit in Bavaria, and sooner or later you will come across Eibsee. This beautiful alpine lake is located about 100 kilometers from Munich, a stone’s throw from Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze, so you can consider combining them in the same trip
No matter what time of the year you visit, Eibsee Lake is so photogenic that you will always end up having a great shot.
Eibsee is easily reachable by public transportation and abounds in great hiking trails. If you do only one, though, go for the scenic loop trail around the lake. It’s 7,1 kilometers and takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete. Prepare to take more photos than you imagined!
The Romantic Road
Driving Bavaria’s Romantic Road is one reason you’ll definitely want to consider renting a car in Germany. Running for 400 km between Würzburg and Füssen, the Romantic road connects some of the loveliest and most historically significant Bavaria tourist attractions. Passing through forests, lakes, and towns, you will be overwhelmed with the sheer number of picturesque locations to stop along the way.
Some highlights include Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a picture-perfect small town famous for its half-timbered houses and impressive medieval gates. Another small town, Dinkelsbühl, also offers an almost completely preserved medieval old town. Don’t miss either of these stops!
If you dare, you can even cycle the whole route, or for a serious challenge, walk it!
What would any discussion of the best places to visit in Bavaria be without mentioned Munich? Bavaria’s capital offers so much more than Oktoberfest. Munich is the perfect mixture of old and new both in terms of architecture and lifestyle. It’s a place where you can experience a traditional local festival and take in a world-class modern art exhibition all in the same weekend.
I like Munich because it has many sights, loads of park space, and its streets are spotlessly clean. The standard of living in Munich is very high, and housing prices correspond with it; Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany.
When in Munich, you should definitely visit the famous Marienplatz and nearby St. Peter’s Church (climb its tower for an epic city view!), then take a rest in the Englisher Garten, a green oasis in the middle of the city. If you visit Munich in winter, you should definitely experience its fairy-tale Christmas markets.
By the way, Munich is a great base for exploring the rest of Bavaria: I have listed the best day trips from Munich in my other post.
Situated within the Berchtesgaden Alps just under two hours’ drive from Munich, stunning Königssee is Germany’s deepest lake. Many people claim that it is also Germany’s most beautiful (and cleanest!) Alpine lake. The setting is pretty unique: it is surrounded by the steep mountains slopes which rise up to 2,700 meters. Its emerald waters make it one of the best places to see in Bavaria.
The surrounding Berchtesgaden Region is also a great place to go hiking and spot unique fauna and flora. Covering some 210 square kilometers, the area is home to chamois, ibex, red deer, roe deer, foxes and various birds.
Make sure to visit the famous St. Bartholomew’s Church. Built in 1697, the structure is one of the best examples of stucco work in the country.
Formed about 10,000 years ago by a glacier, Lake Chiemsee is the largest lake in Bavaria and often referred to as the “Bavarian Sea”. Living up to its name, Chiemsee even has tides just like the sea.
Covering 80 square kilometers, Chiemsee even has three islands: Herreninsel, Fraueninsel, and uninhabited Krautinsel. The various sights around the lake can be visited by boat, with frequent departures from the mainland. Most visitors come to Chiemsee in search of King Ludwig II’s Schloss Herrenchiemsee, which is situated on Herrensinsel.
Also make sure to include a stop at the Fraueninsel, which features an 8thcentury Benedictine convent, where the nuns make marzipan and a unique herb liquor.
Due to its crystal-clear waters and tranquility, Chiemsee is a favorite getaway for residents of Munich. I once spent a long weekend there with my boyfriend, doing boat trips and cycling around the lake, and we absolutely loved it!
I hope this article has given you some good ideas to add to your Bavaria itinerary. If you have any questions concerning the best places to visit in Bavaria, feel free to ask in the comments!
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