If soulmates were travel destinations, Bavaria might be mine. The Free State of Bavaria has everything I need for a soul-stirring, adventure-inspiring, photo-worthy trip. Fairy-tale castles and storybook medieval towns, sweeping mountain landscapes, and epically windy, stop-for-photos type road trips. And don’t even get me started on the hearty food.
If it’s your first time in Bavaria, this 3-day itinerary packs in some of the most unmissable experiences. This is Germany’s largest state, so you won’t have time to see it all, but don’t worry—you’ll be back.
Bring a sweater for the cool mountain air, but sunscreen and a hat for the sun.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Neuschwanstein Castle.
Prebook your skip-the-line tickets for Neuschwanstein Castle and make an early start to dodge the crowds—entrance lines can take upwards of an hour when it's busy. Set aside the morning to tour King Ludwig II’s fairy-tale castle, take a peek at the lavish interiors, and drink in the mountaintop views.
Visit the alpine village of Oberammergau to see its elaborate frescos and ornate building facades—it’s one of the most Instagrammable spots in the Bavarian Alps. Continue to another of the Mad King’s fantastical creations, Linderhof Castle to see its Hall of Mirrors, King’s Bedroom, and immaculate palace park and gardens.
If you can’t make it to Munich for its legendary Oktoberfest, visit the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum. Follow it with a traditional Bavarian dinner at the famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall)—the perfect place to try local specialties such as pretzels, dumplings, and pork knuckle, accompanied by Bavarian beer.
Bavaria’s top road trip is the aptly nicknamed Romantic Road, which winds its way between alpine towns, medieval villages, and Franconian vineyards. From Munich, it’s about an hour’s drive to join the road at Augsburg. From there, head north to Harburg Castle and to explore the medieval town of Dinkelsbühl.
Continue to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the most-visited of the Romantic Road towns. Leave plenty of time to discover its cobbled alleyways and historic squares, photograph the half-timbered buildings, and walk along the old medieval city walls. At sunset, head to a traditional beer hall for a hearty Bavarian dinner.