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Germany’s largest state in size, Bavaria is full of forests, mountains and lakes as well as home to Munich, Nuremberg, a zillion castles and enough picturesque towns to fill a year of long weekends. Here are the best 10 things to see and do in Bavaria.
At 1079 metres (3540 feet) above sea level, right near the Czech border, Hohenbogen is special to see – even without hurtling down a mountain at up to 50km/h (31 mph) on a wooden toboggan. The dedicated 14-km (8.7-mi) run takes 45 minutes and, no matter how it ends up, is a truly unforgettable experience.
Loads of lakes are scattered throughout the Alps in southern Germany, but one of the most spectacular – a place just made for skinny dipping – is Obersee in Berchtesgaden National Park, close to the Austrian border. Camp nearby or snag a real bed in affordable accommodation.
Obersee, Berchtesgaden National Park, Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Germany, +49 86 529 790 600
Bayerisches Staatsoper reopened in 1963 after nearly being destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943 with its famous eight-columned portico, ready to receive the great and the good again. For most of its life, the Staatsoper has been a major stop on the opera circuit, hosting the finest singers and sopranos as well as many important premieres. Though tickets can exceed €250, it is possible to get standing tickets for €4 or student seats for €10.
Bayerisches Staatsoper, Max-Joseph-Platz 2, Munich, Germany, +49 89 218 501
Germany has excellent roadtrip-worthy places to drive. Before it unified, Germany’s many royals needed palaces, hunting lodges and rural retreats, so the Bavarian countryside is dotted with tons of stupendously romantic castles and palaces. For the full experience, drive the Burgenstraße (Castle Road) from Mannheim to the Czech border.
Visitors can hardly turn around in Germany without bumping into a castle, and the best known to American tourists is Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, the inspiration for the Disney castle. Across the lake, King Ludwig II had his summer home, Hoheschwangau. Both castles can only be visited by scheduled tours, and summer visits should be reserved in advance.
Hohenschwangu Castle, Alpseestrasse 30, Schwangau, Germany, +49 83 629 30 830
Munich’s German Museum leaves dinosaurs and paintings behind to focus on science, technology, and astronomy. Children and adults alike can explore physics and other disciplines in the hands-on Experimental Workshop, and the rest of the 25,000m² (nearly 27,000-sq-ft) space is divided into five sections: natural sciences, energy, communication, humanity and transportation.
Deutsches Museum, Museumsinsel 1, Munich, Germany, +49 89 217 91
Founded in 2016 by collector Christian Utz, Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA) is Germany’s first museum of urban art and focuses on artists like Shepard Fairey, Herakut, Andy Warhol and Banksy as well as emerging artists.
MUCA, Hotterstrasse 12, Munich, Germany, +49 89 215 524 310
Fairy tale aesthetics of rural, un-bombed Germany are difficult to resist, and Rothenberg – 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Nuremberg – has half-timber houses, gabled roofs, cobblestone streets (be sure to wear sensible sneakers), gatehouses, towers and lovely town churches in spades. For an extra bit of magic, visit at Christmas and enjoy the twinkling lights and Christmas market.
Zugspitze, the Goliath of the Germany’s skiing resorts, lies approximately 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level and offers skiing seven months out of the year. There are 22 kilometres (13.7 miles) of pistes for beginning and advanced skiers. Expert skiers (or those with more bravado than sense) can try the thigh-crushing 3-km Super-G course. Stop halfway down the mountain for dinner and take in a view of 400 mountaintops over dessert.