Family vacation itinerary in the Bavaria region

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

At first, you might be thrilled that your family has agreed to make the trek across the ocean. You may have your heart set on going to certain locations and showing your family just how truly amazing Germany can be. However, once you take into consideration what everyone else wants to do, start booking hotels and reserving activities, you might be a little more disinclined to invite the entire family over for a vacation. Talk about time-consuming! In order to alleviate your stress, here is a ten-day itinerary to occupy your guests. You can thank me later!

This itinerary starts and ends in Ansbach, but can be tailored to fit any starting point. This trip was taken with seven adults.

Day 1: Arrival

Remember your guests have flown a long way so don’t plan something for the day they arrive. They’re tired, probably cranky and definitely hungry. Either hit up a local German restaurant or make dinner at home. Send everyone to bed early to start getting used to the local time. 

Accommodations: If possible, have family members stay in your home to save money. If not, book a local hotel. 

Day 2: Relax and get over jet lag 

Sleep in, have a good breakfast, then show your family around the local area. Consider a tour of the base or of your downtown area. 

Day 3: Depart for adventure- Dachau Concentration Camp, Herrenchiemsee New Palace

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site is definitely a heavy place to start your vacation, but it is an important reminder of the history the United States and Germany share. Open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (except Dec. 24).  Admission is free. Parking is three euros, but much of the parking lot is currently under construction. Public transportation is recommended. 

Carry on to Herrenchiemsee New Palace (one and a half hours from Dachau), a beautiful palace built by King Ludwig II. It is known as the “Bavarian Versailles” and sits on the largest island in the lake, Herreninsel. Go to the Prien/Stock harbor and get on a boat to the island. There is a large parking lot for four euros and the Chiemsee Schiffahrt offers boat rides to and from the island for 8.50 euros per person. Once you arrive on the island, purchase tickets for a tour, which is offered in English. Tickets are 11 euros per person. 

Accommodations: Drive to Salzburg (one hour) and stay at Hotel Volgelweiderhof. The rooms are nice, breakfast is decent and they have air conditioning! We booked two double rooms and one triple room for 313.20 euros for one night. Don’t forget to purchase a vignette for driving in Austria for 15 euros or you could be charged a huge fine! 

Day 4: Salzburg Fortress, Open Air Museum

Start your day at Festung Hohensalzburg (the Salzburg Fortress) for a peak at one of the largest fully preserved medieval castles in Europe. Tickets are ten euros per person and can be purchased at the entrance. 

After you grab a snack, head to the Salzburger Freilicht Museum, an open-air museum.  Here you can wander around in the mountains and experience the rich heritage of rural Salzburg. View farmhouses, barns, antique equipment and much more. There are also restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. This location is great for children as they can run around outside! Admission is 11 euros per person. There is a large, free parking lot on site. 

Accommodations: After enjoying the fresh mountain air, pack up the family and head to Berchtesgaden (30 minutes) for your next stop. We opted to stay at Hotel Schwabenwirt. There is a restaurant/biergarten on-site and a hearty breakfast available. For one triple room and one quadruple room, we paid 391.20 euros.

Day 5: Eagles Nest, Königssee

For another look into Germany’s history, visit the Kehlsteinhaus, Eagle’s Nest. This building was used by members of the Nazi party for meetings but is now a tourist attraction with a restaurant. You can either take a bus or hike (approximately two hours) to the Eagle’s Nest, where you get on a golden brass elevator in the heart of the mountain that takes you to the building. The views from here are absolutely spectacular! Open from May - October. Round-trip bus tickets are 16.60 euros per person. Bus rides depart daily from 8:55 a.m. - 4 p.m. every 25 minutes. The last descent is at 4:50 p.m. 

After taking in splendid views of Berchtesgaden, visit one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria, Königssee. Take a boat ride along the sheer rock faces and marvel at the waterfalls along the lake. The emerald green color is sure to blow you away! If you enjoy a good hike, get off at the last stop, Salet, and hike to the next lake. Carry on to the waterfall if you are up for an adventure! Round trip tickets are 19 euros per person. 

Accommodations: The next leg of the journey is a bit lengthy, at over two and a half hours. Drive to Garmisch and get ready to hang out for a few days after a lot of moving around. We opted to rent an apartment for all seven of us called Ferienwohnungen Angelika. It was ideally located for walking to the city center and plenty big enough for all of us with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. For three nights it was 887.66 euros. 

Day 6: Garmisch city center, Eibsee

This was a more leisurely day, as we woke up late, had breakfast, then wandered into the city center for a bit of shopping and lunch. 

In the afternoon stroll around Eibsee, a beautiful mountain lake at the foot of the Zugspitze. Here you can swim, boat, fish or stand up paddle if you choose. The trail around the entire lake is 4.66 miles and easy to walk with minimal inclines. It takes around two hours to complete. Grab some gelato before you set out and keep your camera ready, as the photo opportunities are endless! 

Day 7: Hollentalklamm hike 

After a leisurely day prior, get ready to work! This climb is not for the faint of heart, but it is so worth it! The Höllental Gorge features huge rocks, winding paths, bridges, tunnels and even snow in the summer! Plan on getting wet, as the water will continuously rush around you and sometimes drip from overhead. Park at the Hammerbach parking lot for five euros and hike for about an hour toward the gorge. There is a fee of five euros per person to enter. Once in the gorge, it takes about 45 minutes to get through. If you are feeling extra energetic, carry on for another hour to the Höllentalangerhütte where you can get some much needed refreshments and food. Round trip this hike took approximately six hours and was the only event for the day. Not recommended for young children. 

Day 8: Zugspitze, Neuschwanstein, return home

You can’t leave Garmisch without going to the peak of Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze! Either take the train or cable car to the peak, which towers at 9,718 feet. On a clear day, you can see over 400 mountain peaks from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy! A round-trip ticket on either the cable car or train is 58 euros per person. At the top, you can enjoy the views and grab a bite to eat as well. 

To finish up your Bavarian adventure, head to one of the most famous castles in Europe, Neuschwanstein. Its located in Füssen, about an hour drive, and will knock your socks off! This castle inspired the Disney castle and has everything your inner child dreamed a castle would- towers, balconies, spiral staircases and grandeur that is hard to match. Tickets are 13 euros for adults and must be reserved online no less than two days before your visit. You then pick up and pay for your tickets on-site a minimum of one and a half hours before your tour time, otherwise, your reservations will be forfeited.  

Accommodations: Return home and either use the same hotel as before or cram everyone into your abode. 

Day 9: Relax, Ansbach Residence, orangery

After running around Bavaria and part of Austria, just relax. If you are in the Ansbach area, a 50-minute tour of the Ansbach Residence, an incredibly well-preserved 18th century palace, is worth your time.  After that, head to the courtyard garden with an orangery. Here you’ll find beautiful flowers and a shaded area to stroll through. 

This is your last full day so make sure everyone packs up their things, including passports and cell phone chargers. Check-in to flights and get ready for that lovely flight back over the ocean. 

Day 10: Auf Wiedersehen! 

Having family visit can be both rewarding and stressful, but you survived! The family is at the airport and now you can relax and clean, clean, clean (at least that’s what I did)! 

For accommodations and activities, this trip cost 384.04 per person. This total does not include gas, vignettes, car rental, airplane tickets or meals, except for breakfast at the first two hotels. 

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