The breathtaking beauty of Bavaria
Visiting Bavaria is a magical experience. Time slows down in this magnificent corner of the Alps, where locals still dress in Lederhosen and Dirndls, and you are just as likely to see a tractor on the road as a car. From fairy-tale castles to walkways stretching across the sky and picturesque hikes, Bavaria has something for everyone to make this the trip of a lifetime.
The castles — Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau & Linderhof
Yes — you read right! Castles, plural! Neuschwanstein is the most popular of the three, but King Ludwig’s boyhood home, Hohenschwangau, and his smallest but still exquisite castle, Linderhof, are also open for tours. Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau are a short hike apart, near Füssen, and Linderhof is 15 minutes outside of Oberammergau (about 50 minutes east).
Reserved tickets are the magic wands that transform this excursion into a fairy tale – versus a nightmare. Learn travel hacks for your trip to Neuschwanstein.
Walk in the clouds at the treetop walkway & Highline 179
Crossing the Austrian-German border is the treetop walkway in Füssen, stretching more than a third of a mile. Afraid of heights? Not to worry, this is a sturdy pedestrian bridge that even the most timid will feel comfortable on. Plus, you’ll be treated to views of the Alps and Tirol River — which ranges from powder blue to green, depending on rainfall and season.
Thrill seekers will enjoy Highline 179 located near Reutte, Austria. This footbridge hangs more than 300 feet above the valley floor and claims to be the longest of its kind in the world. Suspended with ropes and see-through wire mesh flooring for a vertigo-inducing view, this bridge is not for the faint of heart.
Step back to the 14th century at the Ettal Monastery
It’s been said that cathedrals were built to join earth and the heavens, and nowhere is that more evident than the Ettal Monastery. Established in 1328, this stunning Benedictine abbey has produced everything it needed for centuries. It remains a self-contained community with living quarters for the monks, gardens a dairy farm and more. Here, the brothers also make their famous liqueurs, brew beer, run a hotel, and produce a number of items for sale at the onsite Klosterladen and the Klostermarkt, just across the street.
Hike to Partnach Gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Partnach Gorge, located near Garmisch-Partenkirchen and 10 minutes from the Edelweiss Lodge & Resort, provides a stunning trek alongside misty waterfalls and rapids that cut a path through rock caves and tranquil meadows.
Over time, the Partnach River cut a 262-foot-deep crevasse into pure rock, creating one of the most beautiful gorges in the region. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a rain jacket, as the path through the gorge runs alongside the river. You won’t get soaked, but you will get wet!
For the best experience, beat the crowds by getting here no later than 9 a.m. (it opens at 8 a.m.). Partnach is also a popular starting point for hikes to the Ferchenbachtal and Reintal valleys and up to theZugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Thus, the path becomes significantly more crowded as the day progresses.
Enjoy small-town beauty
There are several small towns to enjoy in Bavaria, each with walkable, neat downtowns. And each town has unique draws:
- Füssen –Neuschwanstein Hohenschwangau castles, treetop walkway and Tegelberg luge
- Oberammergau –Ettal Monastery and alpine slides
- Reutte – hikes and Highline 179
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen – Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Partnach Gorge, and gateway to hikes, including Zugspitze.
Pick one town as your home base, then make an itinerary to visit the others and their attractions.
Travel tips for Bavaria
- Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great place to stay and offers several tours, which can help take the pain out of event planning (especially for families). Book trips before you go, as they can fill up quickly.
- It’s best to have a car. You could take trains/public transit, but getting between small towns and attractions will be easiest via private car.
- If you drive on the Austrian highways, you’ll need a vignette, which can be purchased in most gas stations near the border for about 16 euros.
- For bigger and more popular attractions, getting an early start is really worth the effort.
- In general, budget extra time when traveling to destinations, particularly if reservations are involved. It’s common to find yourself stuck behind some miscellaneous farming contraption puttering along the winding roads.
Don’t forget the camera and sunscreen — and prepare for an experience of a lifetime!
Images by Kristi Adams