Things to do in Bavaria

Things to do in  Bavaria

Let’s do the time warp again

Bavaria is a mountainous land in the southeast of Germany rich in both history and culture, where Oktoberfest—an annual festival featuring beer, sausage, and lederhosen—draws in revelers in their droves. The festival is held in Munich, the Bavarian capital, which boasts some of the finest architecture in Europe. But Bavaria is a vast area with much to offer beyond Munich—from the walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber to King Ludwig II's unfinished island castle of Herrenchiemsee, you won't be short on things to do. With that in mind, tours that link several sights are often the best way to experience the region. Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle, can easily be combined with the villages of Oberammergau and Hohenschwangau on a day trip from Munich. Private tours take visitors into the Bavarian wilderness, from the high mountains to the deep lake of Berchtesgaden National Park, as well as the area's dense forests where a local guide is your best bet for exploring. For sports enthusiasts, the Bavarian Alps offer ski resorts that are cozier and less expensive than those in neighboring countries. Finally, many people choose to visit Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site on guided tours which provide insight into a dark chapter in German history.

Top 15 attractions in Bavaria

Neuschwanstein Castle

With its snow-white limestone facade and fanciful turrets peeking out from the forested mountain tops of the Hohenschwangau valley, Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) could easily have been lifted from the pages of a fairy tale. In a way, it has—the German castle famously inspired Disney'sSleeping Beauty castle.More

Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds

A vast tract of untended land southeast of Nuremberg's medieval city center, the Nazi Party Rally Grounds were once the stage for some of Adolf Hitler's most infamous and dangerous speeches during the rise of the Third Reich. The nearby Documentation Center museum chronicles the terrors inflicted by the Nazi party during World War II.More

Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus)

Just an hour’s drive outside of Salzburg lies the alpine town of Berchtesgaden and the historic Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus), Adolf Hitler’s mountaintop chalet and the former southern headquarters of the Nazi party. Perched atop Mt. Kehlstein, Eagle’s Nest offers a dark history and panoramic views of Germany’s Bavarian Alps.More

Linderhof Castle

Inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France, Bavaria’s 19th-century Linderhof Castle is one of the country’s most magnificent structures. The smallest in a trio of elaborate royal palaces built by King Ludwig II (also known as the “Mad King”), Linderhof was the only one he saw completed.More


A public plaza in the center of Munich, Marienplatz is full of history—it’s been the city’s main square and central heart of Munich’s Old Town (Altstadt) since 1158. Marienplatz is a popular gathering spot and possibly the busiest location in all of Munich, with crowds of locals and tourists visiting its landmarks, shops, and restaurants on foot from early morning until late at night.More

Victuals Market (Viktualienmarkt)

Munich's historic Victuals Market is the city’s main destination for gourmet Bavarian goods. Its stalls—many family-run for generations—overflow with exotic fruits, fresh vegetables, truffles, flowers, spices, sausages and hams, artisanal cheeses, honey, and much more. Snack as you go or gather items for a picnic at the nearby park.More

Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady (Frauenkirche)

A Munich landmark, the Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady (Frauenkirche) features two 325-foot (99-meter) towers topped by spherical domes. According to local ordinance, no other building in the city may be taller than this, preserving the cathedral’s central position on the skyline of Bavaria’s capital.More


Located close to the Austrian border and soaring to a height of 9,718 feet (2,962 meters), the snow-crowned Zugspitze is Germany's highest mountain and one of its most popular ski resorts. The views from the top are spectacular, spanning the German and Austrian Alps.More

Munich Residence (Residenz München)

Elaborately adorned rooms and royal art collections define the Munich Residence, the former royal palace of the Bavarian Monarch. This landmark is the largest city palace in Germany, containing museum displays spread across 130 rooms, including collections of porcelain, silver, antiquities, and paintings.More


Hemmed in by Italianesque palaces, grand concert halls, and Baroque churches—Odeonsplatz is a testament to Munich’s storied past and the site of some of the city’s key historic events. At the northern end of Munich Old Town (Altstadt), the busy public square is the gateway to the Hofgarten gardens and the Munich Residenz.More

Imperial Castle of Nuremberg (Kaiserburg)

Built in 1120, Imperial Castle of Nuremberg (Kaiserburg) was once a residence for kings of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite suffering damage over the years (especially during WWII), the castle has been carefully restored to showcase its original Gothic and Romanesque architecture.More

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

The Dachau Concentration Camp was opened by Adolf Hitler's Nazi government in 1933, and served as a model for later concentration camps. Today, the camp is a memorial to the more than 32,000 people who died and the more than 200,000 who were imprisoned there during the Nazi regime. The memorial was established as a site of memory and education in 1965, 20 years after Dachau was liberated by American troops.More

English Garden (Englischer Garten)

One of the largest urban parks in the world, the English Garden (Englischer Garten) is Munich’s most popular green space, boasting over 48 miles (78 kilometers) of walking and cycling trails. It offers plenty to explore, including a Japanese teahouse, a boating lake, and traditional beer gardens.More

St. Peter's Church (Peterskirche)

Explore a piece of Munich’s history with a visit to St. Peter’s Church or Peterskirche, a Roman Catholic church built in the 12th century. The building is known for its Gothic paintings, sculptures, and a ceiling fresco, plus panoramic views from its spire. Colored rings at the lower platform reveal details about the view from the spire; a white ring means the Alps are visible.More

King's Square (Königsplatz)

King's Square (Königsplatz) was initially built to serve the urban notionsof King Ludwig I, who wished to integrate culture, administration, Christianity and Bavarian military in one massive green space. The king opted for a European Neoclassic style based on the Acropolis in Athens. He even had two museums built in the same style; first was the Glyptothek, where he could house his sprawling collection of Greek and Roman sculptures, and second, the Bavarian State Collection of Antiques, which contains Greek, Etruscan and Roman artifacts. King Ludwig I also commissioned the Propylaea, an imposing and austere gate which served as a memorial to his son, the Bavarian prince Otto of Greece.Despite this architectural and urban prowess, the square is now infamous for being the place where the Nazi party held marches and mass rallies during the Holocaust. In fact, the national headquarters of the Nazi party, the Brown House, was located on Brienner Straße just off the square. It was even featured in a Nazi propaganda film, The March to the Führer. Two temples were built on Königsplatz to honor the 16 Nazis killed in the failed coup attempt by Adolf Hitler to seize power in 1923 – they were later on destroyed (except for their platforms, which are still visible today) as part of Munich’s denazification by the US Army in 1947.However, not all Nazi constructions were systematically demolished; the Führerbau, for example, where the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, still exists to this day and houses a music school.Today, Königsplatz has returned to its pre‐war appearance and remains one of Munich’s most significant attractions. It is now regarded as the center of Munich’s museum quarter, the Kunstareal.More

Top activities in Bavaria

VIP tour to the royal castles Neuschwanstein and Linderhof from Munich
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Neuschwanstein Castle, Ettal Abbey and Oberammergau Private Tour from Munich
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All about Bavaria

When to visit

To see Bavaria’s countryside beauty at its best, hike the Alps, and avoid the crowds, visit during spring or fall. YOu can also time your visit to one of the major local festivals: The Bayreuth Festival (Bayreuther Festspiele), which runs from July to September is a tribute to German composer Richard Wagner that draws visitors from from all over to celebrate Bavarian food and culture. Gäubodenvolksfest, in Straubing, is the second-largest beer festival in Germany—and a less-crowded alternative to Oktoberfest.

Getting around

It’s hard to beat the magic of driving along Bavaria’s Romantic Road (Romantische Straße), a 220-mile (354-kilometer) route from Würzburg to Füssen that passes picturesque villages, UNESCO-listed sites, and idyllic scenery. If you don’t have a car, you can get around via Bavaria’s excellent train and bus networks. If you want to see a lot in a short time, opt for a Bayernticket from Deutsche Bahn, which allows unlimited travel in Bavaria for a day.

Traveler tips

Travelers flock to Bavaria’s main cities like Munich and Nuremberg, but there are plenty of fairytale towns and villages fartjer off the beaten track. Try Mittenwald, a small town and ski resort with painted houses and cobblestone streets; or UNESCO-listed Bamberg, which is known for its stunning old town, historic buildings, and unusual smoked beer. Another great option is Würzburg, which sits at the heart of the Franconian wine country and boasts excellent wineries and cellar bars.

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People Also Ask

What is Bavaria known for?

Germany’s largest state is known for its southern mountain landscapes, fairy-tale lakes and castles, and alpine culture and cuisine. Bavaria’s most famous attractions include Neuschwanstein Castle and the Eagle’s Nest in the Bavarian Alps, the storybook medieval towns along the Romantic Road, and the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich.

What is the difference between Germany and Bavaria?

Bavaria is the largest of the 16 federal states of Germany, encompassing a large portion of southeast Germany and bordering Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Bavaria is known as a free state because it maintained its independence through the Prussian Kingdom and only became a German state in 1948.

What is typical Bavarian food?

Bavarian food is known for its rich, hearty meat dishes, typically paired with knödel (dumplings), sauerkraut, and Bavarian beer. Traditional Bavarian specialties include schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), spaetzle (egg noodles), and weisswurst (white sausages), served with pretzels, sweet mustard, and apple strudel.

How many days in Bavaria is enough?

Bavaria is huge—about a fifth the size of Germany—so allow a minimum of a week to take in the highlights. Spend a couple of days discovering Munich, visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps, and then follow the Romantic Road to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Nuremberg.

What should you not miss in Bavaria?

Unmissable attractions in Bavaria include the state capital of Munich, the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein, and Zugspitze—Germany’s highest peak. Don’t miss the medieval walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the storybook scenery along the Romantic Road, as well as the WWII sites of Nuremberg.

What is the prettiest town in Bavaria?

The walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is often called Bavaria’s most picturesque town, with its medieval ramparts, cobbled lanes, and colorful half-timbered buildings. The medieval villages of Bamberg and Dinkelsbühl, along the Romantic Road, and the alpine village of Oberammergau, known for its elaborate murals, are also pretty.

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