1 The Bavarian Alps
The Bavarian Alps extend south from Munich to the Austrian frontier and from beautiful Lake Constance in the west to the neighborhood of Salzburg in the east. In some cases, such as the spectacular Zugspitze, the mountains reach heights of almost 3, 000 meters, their beauty enhanced by deep glacier-carved valleys and high plateaus with numerous lakes. The Bavarian Alps offer excursions of all kinds, from magnificent forest walks to easy climbs and rewarding views. Walkers are particularly drawn to the Berchtesgaden National Park, the only such park in the German Alps, whose plateaus - Untersberg and Steinernes Meer - are a paradise for hiking. (Hiking programs and tours are available.)
2 Lindau and Lake Constance
Lindau and Lake Constance
Lindau, the largest town on the Bavarian shores of Lake Constance, consists of the picturesque Old Town on an island in the lake, its harbor, and the garden city of Lindau, spaciously laid out amid orchards on the slopes of the mainland. The harbor is a wonderful place to enjoy the delights of Lake Constance, including the Alter Leuchtturm (the old lighthouse) and the 13th-century Mangturm. Also of interest are the six meter high Bavarian lion (Löwe) and the 33-meter-high new lighthouse, the Neuer Leuchtturm, both built in 1856. The pedestrian friendly Old Town, too, is well worth exploring, with its many lovely streets lined with Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque homes. Particularly attractive is Maximilianstrasse, the town's main street, with its arcades, fountains, and cafés. A 20-minute drive from Lindau, the sunny city of Lindenberg perched above Lake Constance at the foot of the Alps, is a health resort famous for its hat-making heritage and cheeses.
Lindau Map - Attractions
3 Zugspitze: Germany's Largest Mountain
Zugspitze: Germany's Largest Mountain
Bavaria's Zugspitze is part of the Wetterstein Alpine mountain range that spans the frontier between Austria and Germany. Surrounded by steep valleys, its eastern summit stands 2, 962 meters tall and is famous for its gilded cross and superb views. Accessible by the excellent Bayerische Zugspitzbahn cog railway, it's extremely popular among hikers and casual walkers alike, with numerous trails of all levels to choose from (for many, the best way is to take the cable car up and walk down). The journey includes Zugspitz-Westgipfel Station and its panoramic restaurant at 2, 950 meters. Come winter, the nearby Schneefernerhaus on the northern edge of the Zugspitzplatt, the highest skiing area in Germany, comes alive as winter sports enthusiasts from across Europe come for the superb snow and après ski activities.
4 The Bavarian Forest
The Bavarian Forest
The spectacular Bavarian Forest extends along the border between Germany and the Czech Republic and encompasses the Bavarian Forest National Park as well as two other large parks: the Bavarian Forest Nature Park, and the Eastern Bavarian Forest Nature Park. The largest protected area of forest in Europe, this expanse of woodland once extended across much of southern Germany. Today, the area is crisscrossed by countless excellent walking trails, including some leading to the 1, 455-meter-high Great Arber, the highest peak of the Bavarian-Bohemian-mountain ridge and home to one of Germany's most popular ski areas. A must-see is the 44-meter-high Tree Top Walk in Neuschonau, consisting of a spectacular 500-meter-long wooden ramp leading through the forest to the base of the wooden tower, built over tall trees and offering incredible views.
5 Marienplatz, Munich
Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is the third largest city in Germany and home to many of the country's top tourist attractions. On the River Isar along the fringes of the Bavarian Alps, it's one of the best places from which to explore Bavaria. A good place to start is Marienplatz, the city's large central square and home to the Old and New Town Halls. It's also where you'll find the city's most important churches: Peterskirche, built during the Romanesque period; the Cathedral of our Lady; and Michaelskirche, the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. Marienplatz also offers plenty of distractions, most notably its many shopping opportunities, including everything from department stores to boutique shops and galleries. It's also where many of this always-busy city's cultural activities occur, from regular concerts and carnivals to its fabulous Christmas Market. Munich's also well known for its wonderful parks and open spaces, including Englischer Garten, the world's largest urban public park.
6 Editor's Pick The German Alpine Highway
The German Alpine Highway
The spectacular German Alpine Highway - the Deutsche Alpenstrasse - was started in 1933 and now runs for 450 kilometers all the way from Lake Constance through the Allgäu and Bavarian Alps to Berchtesgadener Land. It's a popular way to tour this picturesque area, with numerous attractions of interest to both nature lovers and those in need of a culture-fix. From Lindau, the road runs northeast into the Allgäu, climbing steadily to the winter sports resort of Oberjoch and skirting the beautiful Grüntensee. Numerous magnificent castles line the route, including the former homes of Kings Ludwig II and Maximilian II of Bavaria, along with several beautiful lakes. Other sites include the Benedictine abbey of Ettal, founded in 1330 and converted into a domed Baroque church, and the picturesque town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, home to numerous winter activities.
Address: Siedlerstraße 10, 83714 Miesbach
7 Berchtesgaden and Königssee
Berchtesgaden and Königssee
Berchtesgaden, at the end of the Deutsche Alpenstrasse, is one of the most popular resort towns in the Bavarian Alps. Surrounded by mountains - the Hoher Göll, Watzmann, Hochkalter, and Untersberg - it's drawn sightseers for centuries. A highlight of a visit is the handsome palace of the Wittelsbachs, originally a house of Augustinian canons founded in 1100 and now home to a museum with displays of weapons, furniture, porcelain, and paintings. Also of interest is the six-and-a-half-kilometer-long Kehlsteinstrasse, a private road built for Adolf Hitler. Accessible by special buses, a tunnel leads to a lift up to the Kehlsteinhaus at 1, 834 meters where you'll find a restaurant and magnificent panoramic views. Be sure to visit the Königssee, a lovely lake and one of the great beauty spots of Berchtesgadener Land. A footpath leads along the east side of the lake to the Malerwinkel with its superb views.