If your past travel experience in Germany has been limited to a few days in Berlin or perhaps a layover at the airport in Frankfurt, you’ve got some exploring to do. Located in the southeast, Bavaria (“Bayern” in German) occupies almost one-fifth of the country’s total land area; is the second-most populous state in the Federal Republic of Germany, with more than twelve million inhabitants; and is home to the country’s third-largest city, Munich, which serves as Bavaria’s capital. Whether you know it or not, what Americans often regard as German culture—lederhosen, beer gardens, oom-pah music—is actually Bavarian culture. But the state’s unique regional identity isn’t the only thing worth experiencing here—there are awe-inspiring castles, storybook medieval towns, green vineyards, towering mountains, and so much more.
By Michael Alan Connelly