The 10 Best Things To See And Do In Bavaria

29 June 2015
Read Time: 3.7 mins

World leaders who attended the G7 summit in Bavaria this month received a tantalising taste of what is on offer in one of the most picturesque regions of Europe. They sampled the wheaty Weissbier popular in these parts and the Weisswurst (white sausages) consumed with pretzels and a honey-infused mustard.

They were served by dirndl-clad waitresses and cheered by locals wearing lederhosen; they were entertained with Alpine horns and enjoyed spectacular scenery in the form of pine forests and mountain peaks.

Here are a few suggestions for how normal folk can make like a world leader and explore further.

1. Getting schlossed (Neuschwanstein)

The G7 leaders were very comfortably ensconsed in the Schloss Elmau, but this huge southern German state, formerly home to scores of princes and dukes, contains many more striking castles, none more celebrated than those constructed by the former Bavarian 'Mad' King Ludwig II.

 The legendary Neuschwanstein (image: AP/Fotolia)

The most famous is the oft-photographed fairytale extravaganza at Neuschwanstein, but Ludwig’s legacy includes the magnificent Herrenchiemsee Palace (built on an island in the middle of Lake Chiemsee and fashioned after Versailles) and the Linderhof Palace, which includes a marvelously over-the-top Wagner-inspired Grotto of Venus.

2. The Passion Play (Oberammergau)

Not far from the Linderhof Palace, Oberammergau is where, once every 10 years, locals re-enact the Passion of Christ, a tradition which dates back to 1633 when the community was spared the ravages of the plague.

Admittedly, the next staging is not due until 2020, but this pretty town in the foothills of the Alps is worth a visit at any time, if only for the beautifully painted (frequently religious-themed) facades on many of its buildings, a trompe l’oeil effect known as Luftlmalerei.

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3. On A High (the Zugspitze)

I’m not sure many of the G7 leaders would have wanted to hike to the top of the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, but there is a cable car to the summit, from where you can see more than 400 peaks stretching into four countries – Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Germany itself.

Another way to the top is on board the scenic cogwheel railway that begins its journey in the quintessentially Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (think onion-shaped church domes, pretty facades and steaming great knuckles of pork), Germany’s most important ski resort.

4. The Land Of The Five Lakes (Starnberger Funf-Seen-Land)

Although there are many lakes in Germany, the Starnberger region to the south of Munich actually bears the name of the “Funf-Seen-Land”, the ‘land of five lakes’. The largest are the Starnberger See and the Amersee; the smaller, often more secluded, ones are the Pilsensee, Worthsee and Wesslinger See.

Here you can swim, sail and windsurf – and travel between the lakes along a well-marked set of hiking and cycling trails.

5. Hit The Road, Barack (Munich)

Our esteemed leaders may of course prefer to drive (or be driven).

 Face of the Oktoberfest (image: Getty)

And in this part of the world that has to be in a top-of-the-range model produced by the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). There are plenty of scenic options for a drive, including stretches of what is known here as the “Romantic Road”.

Those of a technological bent may wish to satisfy their curiosity further with a visit to the BMW Welt, BMW Museum and BMW Plant near Munich. Munich itself is a city of huge architectural and cultural value and the rather lovely Englischer Garten.

6. Dear Albert (Coburg)

Make a pilgrimage to the town in the far north of Bavaria in which Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – the future Prince Consort to Queen Victoria – was born. The birthplace itself, Schloss Rosenau, is one of five castles in and around the town which testify to the extraordinarily successful marriage policy of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (there is scarcely a royal family in Europe to which it is not related).

 Christmas market in Coburg's town square (image: Getty)

In the pretty town square itself, there is a statue of Prince Albert holding the plans for one of his greatest triumphs – The Great Exhibition of 1851.

7. Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree (Nuremberg)

Prince Albert was responsible for the introduction into England of all sorts of Teutonic Christmas traditions, not least of which was the habit of cheering up the festive home in late December with a tree. The Germans do a very good Christmas – and a very good Christmas market.

The Nuremberg market is one of the country’s largest and most famous (and arguably the oldest). This too is the city of the great painter and engraver Albrecht Durer, the infamous Nazi rally grounds (and an excellent visitor centre documenting what happened here), and the spicy Nuremberger sausage.

8. Rivers Deep (Passau)

While many cities count themselves blessed to be situated on a river, Passau is at the meeting point of no less than three – the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz – which come together at the “Dreiflusseeck” (three river corner). This charming town close to the border with Austria contains an intoxicating mix of gothic, baroque, rococo and neo-classical forms.

St Stephen’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of Italian baroque containing the largest organ of any catholic church worldwide.

9. A Night At The Opera (Bayreuth)

The music of Richard Wagner may not be everybody’s glass of schnapps, but for fans, Bayreuth is the Holy Grail.

 Oberammergau street scene (image: Getty)

Here in the town where the composer lived from 1872 until his death in 1883, every summer the Bayreuth Festival is a celebration of the great man’s works.

10. Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit! (Munich)

Sight-seeing is thirsty work, and Bavaria is no bad place to be when this becomes an issue. The annual Munich Oktoberfest is a beer fest which attracts some six million people, and a lot of fun it is too.

For something a little less obvious, try a smaller beer festival (there are some good ones in the beautifully preserved medieval town of Bamberg, famed for its dark, smokey beers). Or clink glasses at one of the many smaller-scale summer wine festivals held in the towns and villages of Franconia, a lesser-visited region in the north of Bavaria which is home to some surprisingly good white wines. As Queen Victoria discovered.

Visit your local Flight Centre or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Bavaria.

This article was written by Adrian Bridge from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Adrian Bridge

Adrian Bridge combines the role of travel production editor with commissioning, editing and, on a good week, travelling and writing. A former foreign correspondent, his specialist regions include Berlin, central and eastern Europe and the Far East.