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The Bavarian Alps Travel Guide

  • Photo: Tiberiu Stan / Shutterstock

Plan Your Bavarian Alps Vacation

Fir-clad mountains, rocky peaks, lederhosen, and geranium-covered houses: the Bavarian Alps come closest to what many of us envision as "Germany." Quaint towns full of frescoed half-timber houses covered in snow pop up among the mountain peaks and shimmering hidden lakes, as do the creations of "Mad" King Ludwig II. The entire area has sporting opportunities galore, regardless of the season.


Bavaria (Oberbayern) fans south from Munich to the Austrian border, and as you follow this direction, you'll soon find yourself on a gently rolling plain leading to lakes surrounded by ancient forests. In time the plain merges into foothills, which suddenly give way to jagged Alpine peaks. In places such as Königsee, near Berchtesgaden, snowcapped mountains rise straight up from the gemlike lakes.

Continuing south, you'll encounter cheerful villages with richly painted houses, churches, and monasteries filled with the especially sensuous Bavarian baroque and rococo styles, and several spas where you can "take the waters" and tune up your system. Sports possibilities are legion: downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating in winter; tennis, swimming, sailing, golf, and, above all (sometimes literally), hiking, paragliding, and ballooning in summer.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Herrenchiemsee Take the old steam-driven ferry to the island in Chiemsee to visit the last and most glorious castle of "Mad" King Ludwig II.
  2. Great nature From the crystalline Königsee lake and grandiose Karwendel Mountains, to Garmisch's powdery snow, and the magical forests, it’s everything a nature lover needs.
  3. Meditating in Ettal monastery If it isn't the sheer complexity of the baroque ornamentation and the riot of frescoes, then it might be the fluid sound of the ancient organ that puts you in a deep, relaxing trance. A great brewery and distillery round out the deeply religious experience.
  4. Rejuvenation in Reichenhall The new Rupertus spa in Bad Reichenhall has the applications you need to turn back your body's clock, from saltwater baths to mudpacks.
  5. Confronting History in Berchtesgaden Explore the darkest chapter of German history at Obersalzberg, Hitler’s mountain retreat.

When To Go

When to Go

This mountainous region is a year-round holiday destination. Snow is promised by most resorts from December through March, although there's...

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