Escape to Bavaria and experience Germany’s most breathtaking landscapes, thrilling adventures and an abundance of history. Here are some items you’ll want on your Bavaria bucket list!
Our home base for a visit to Bavaria is always Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a beautiful village at the base of the Alps. Stunning mountain views await at this quaint German town full of timbered houses and cabins with rustic vibes.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also home to Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, an American-owned resort for U.S. military ID cardholders and their guests. There are plenty of beautiful places to stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but many U.S. service members living abroad choose Edelweiss for a taste of home.
Now, let’s get to the fun stuff! Here is a bucket list for your next trip to Bavaria.
1. Visit Germany’s highest peak
Take a trip 9,718 feet (2,962 meters) into the clouds and visit Germany’s highest peak — the Zugspitze. The peak can be reached by cogwheel train and cable car.
The Zugspitze cable car breaks world records for highest elevation difference, tallest steel tower and longest span.
The weather can be hit or miss at the summit. On a clear day, you can see thousands of mountain peaks covering Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. On other days, you might see nothing but clouds.
I was never blessed with good weather conditions during my visits to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, so on my fifth trip I decided to just go for it! Even with nothing to see but clouds, being at the Zugspitze was still one of the coolest experiences.
Not only does the Zugspitze offer beautiful views — there are restaurants at the top where you can kick back, relax and enjoy a beer or two while looking out at the peaks below.
2. Stroll through the Partnachklamm
The Partnachklamm is a gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with rocky walls rising more than 200 feet and a rushing river flowing through. Visitors can walk through pathways and tunnels and experience breathtaking beauty that cannot be captured in photos alone.
If you get a chance to visit in the winter, the gorge is really a sight to see. Spectacular icicle formations turn it into a winter wonderland you can’t find elsewhere.
3. Go on an outdoor adventure in the Alps
Pick your activity based on which season you visit!
During summer and early fall, go on beautiful hikes in the mountains and visit Lake Eibsee.
During winter and spring, snowboard or ski down the steep mountains that make up the Garmisch Classic. You can also go sledding — fun for the entire family!
4. See the castle that inspired Walt Disney
About an hour’s drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen are the sister castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Neuschwanstein, which served as Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle, boasts one of the most picture-perfect postcard views you can find in Germany.
Know before you go:
- Booking a guided tour is required in order to enter the castles. Due to the popularity of this attraction, it is recommended to buy tickets in advance.
- You can walk up to and around the outside of the castles without buying tickets. You can also pay for a bus or horse carriage ride up the mountain if you wish.
- The picture above is taken from Queen Mary’s Bridge, or Marienbrücke, which can sometimes close in bad weather. No ticket is required for Marienbrücke, but it can be quite crowded in peak season.
5. Get your adrenaline pumping at highline179 suspension bridge
The highline179 suspension bridge is located in Reutte on the Bavarian-Austrian border. It’s right along the route between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Neuschwanstein Castle — in fact, you’ll see the bridge directly above you as you drive along the highway.
It’s a nice hike from the parking area up to the ruins of Ehrenburg Castle, and the bridge begins just below the ruins. From the bridge there are beautiful views, and it’s cool to watch the cars pass by below.
6. Take a day trip to Munich
Munich is famous for its world-renowned Oktoberfest celebration, but it has more to offer than beer and rowdy people! Stroll the city and admire centuries-old buildings, and be sure to check out Marienplatz and the life-sized cuckoo clock (the Glockenspiel), which puts on a show at certain times each day.
If beer is what you seek, pay a visit to the Hofbräuhaus, a beer hall that dates all the way back to 1589. You can enjoy Oktoberfest vibes here year-round, sip liter beers and eat pretzels bigger than your head.
7. Pay your respects at Dachau Concentration Camp
We shift here from fun activities to somber — but a visit to Dachau is important.
Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp to open in Germany. There were 32,000 document deaths at Dachau, and thousands more undocumented.
Most of the camp’s buildings were torn down, but the two most haunting remain — the crematoriums. In addition, some barracks have been rebuilt as a memorial to give visitors a look at the daily conditions prisoners faced. An exhibit offers information, pictures and a somber reminder of this tragic part of human history.
Expect to feel overwhelmed by emotion as you walk through Dachau. It’s a quiet, eerie place that holds some of Germany’s darkest secrets.
In conclusion, there is no shortage of things to do in Bavaria. While the list above doesn’t encompass them all, hopefully it gives you a strong starting point!
If you’re still looking for things to do, check out:
What else would you add to a Bavaria bucket list?