The Bavarian Alps

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  • 1. Berchtesgaden National Park

    The deep, mysterious, and fabled Königssee is the most photographed panorama in Germany. Together with its much smaller sister, the Obersee, it's nestled within the...

    The deep, mysterious, and fabled Königssee is the most photographed panorama in Germany. Together with its much smaller sister, the Obersee, it's nestled within the Berchtesgaden National Park, 210 square km (81 square miles) of wild mountain country where flora and fauna have been left to develop as nature intended. No roads penetrate the area, and even the mountain paths are difficult to follow. The park administration organizes guided hikes from June through September.

    Franziskanerpl. 7
    - 08652 - 979–0600

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 2. Kloster Ettal

    This remarkable monastery was founded in 1330 by Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian for a group of knights and a community of Benedictine monks....

    This remarkable monastery was founded in 1330 by Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian for a group of knights and a community of Benedictine monks. The largest Benedictine monastery in Germany, it still houses 50 monks. The original 10-sided church was brilliantly redecorated in 1744–53, becoming one of the foremost examples of Bavarian rococo. The church's chief treasure is its enormous dome fresco (83 feet wide), painted by Jacob Zeiller circa 1751–52. Today, the Kloster owns most of the surrounding land and directly operates the Klosterhotel Ettal Ludwig der Bayer, the Kloster shop, and the Kloster market, as well as a brewery and distillery. Ettaler liqueurs, made from a centuries-old recipe, are still distilled at the monastery. The monks make seven different liqueurs, some with more than 70 mountain herbs. You can visit the distillery right next to the church and buy bottles of the libation from the gift shop and bookstore. It's possible to tour the distillery and the brewery. However, English-language tours are available only for large groups. Tours of the basilica for individuals are offered on Monday and Thursday at 3. Brewery tours in German are given Tuesday and Friday at 10 and distillery tours are given Monday and Thursday at 4, both from July to early November and in December.

    Kaiser-Ludwig-Pl. 1
    - 08822 - 746–413 - distillery

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Basilica tour €5; brewery tour €12, distillery tour €9, No tours Nov. and Jan.–June
  • 3. Obersalzberg and Kehlsteinhaus

    The site of Hitler's luxurious mountain retreat is part of the north slope of the Hoher Goll, high above Berchtesgaden. It was a remote mountain...

    The site of Hitler's luxurious mountain retreat is part of the north slope of the Hoher Goll, high above Berchtesgaden. It was a remote mountain community of farmers and foresters before Hitler's deputy, Martin Bormann, selected the site for a complex of Alpine homes for top Nazi leaders. Hitler's chalet, the Berghof, and all the others were destroyed in 1945, with the exception of a hotel that had been taken over by the Nazis, the Hotel zum Türken. Beyond Obersalzberg, the hairpin bends of Germany's highest road come to the base of the 6,000-foot peak on which sits the Kehlsteinhaus (aka the Adlerhorst, or "Eagle's Nest"), Hitler's personal retreat and his official guesthouse. To get the most out of your visit to the Kehlsteinhaus, consider taking a tour. To get there, you need to take a one-hour round trip from Dokumentation Obersalzberg by bus. A tunnel in the mountain will bring you to an elevator that whisks you up to the Kehlsteinhaus and what appears to be the top of the world, or you can walk up in about half an hour. There's also a restaurant at the top serving light Bavarian cuisine.

    Königsseer Str. 2

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Bus ride plus elevator to Kehlsteinhaus €28 (round-trip); tour and bus ride €39.50, Closed late Oct.–early May
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  • 4. Schloss Herrenchiemsee

    Despite its distance from Munich, the beautiful Chiemsee drew Bavarian royalty to its shores for its dreamlike, melancholy air. It was on one of the...

    Despite its distance from Munich, the beautiful Chiemsee drew Bavarian royalty to its shores for its dreamlike, melancholy air. It was on one of the lake's three islands that King Ludwig built Schloss Herrenchiemsee, his third and last castle, which was modeled after Louis XIV's Versailles. As with most of Ludwig's projects, the building was never completed, and Ludwig spent only nine days there. Nonetheless, what remains is impressive—and ostentatious. Ferries leave from Stock, Prien's harbor. You can take an 1887 steam train from Prien to Stock to pick up the ferry. A horse-drawn carriage (from mid-April to late October) takes you from the boat dock to the palace itself. The palace's state rooms can only be visited as part of a 35-minute guided tour; English-language tours are timed to coincide with each ferry's arrival. The most spectacular room is the Hall of Mirrors, and also of interest are the ornate bedrooms, the "self-rising" table, the elaborately painted bathroom, and the formal gardens. The south wing houses a museum about King Ludwig's life. Also on the island is the Augustinian Monastery where Germany's postwar constitution was drawn up in 1948; it is now a museum.

    Herrenchiemsee
    - 08051 - 688–7900

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €10, includes Augustinian Monastery museum and King Ludwig II Museum; €3.50 horse carriage from ferry dock
  • 5. Schloss Linderhof

    Built between 1870 and 1879 on the spectacular grounds of his father's hunting lodge, the Linderhof Palace was the only one of Ludwig II's royal...

    Built between 1870 and 1879 on the spectacular grounds of his father's hunting lodge, the Linderhof Palace was the only one of Ludwig II's royal residences to have been completed during the monarch's short life. It was the smallest of this ill-fated king's castles, but the charming, French-style Rococo confection inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles was his favorite country retreat. From an architectural standpoint, it's a whimsical combination of conflicting styles: lavish on the outside, somewhat overly decorated on the inside. The formal gardens contain interesting elements such as a Moorish pavilion—bought wholesale from the 1867 Paris Universal Exposition. According to hearsay, while staying at Linderhof, the eccentric king would dress up as the legendary knight Lohengrin to be rowed in a swan boat on the grotto pond; in winter he took off on midnight sleigh rides behind six plumed horses and a platoon of outriders holding flaming torches. The palace is only accessible with a 25-minute guided tour.

    Linderhof 12
    - 08822 - 92030

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €10 for castle and grounds (€9 in winter); €5 for grounds (Apr.–Sept.), Park grounds closed in winter
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  • 6. Zugspitze

    The highest mountain (9,718 feet) in Germany is also the number-one attraction in the area. You can't see this world famous peak from Garmisch-Partenkirchen until...

    The highest mountain (9,718 feet) in Germany is also the number-one attraction in the area. You can't see this world famous peak from Garmisch-Partenkirchen until you've made your way up the mountain—it's hidden from view on the ground and is often mistaken for the nearby Alpsspitze—so it's worth braving the glass-bottom cable car for the view both on the way up and for the Alpine panoramas once you've reached the peak. Opened in late 2017, the record-setting cable car ascends 6,381 feet over a distance of 10,451 feet in around 10 minutes. It's an engineering marvel on its own. Combined with the view from one of three restaurants' sunny terraces at the summit, the Zugspitze is awe-inspiring. To use the cable car, start in Grainau, 10 km (6 miles) outside town on the road to Austria. An unlimited one-day round-trip ticket is also valid for unlimited rides on the Gletscher Bahn, a gondola for skiers and hikers that covers the skiable "Zugspitzplatt," or flats. You can also combine a cable car ride with a leisurely 75-minute ride on a cog railroad, the Zahnradbahn. There are also a number of other peaks in the area with gondolas for both skiers in winter and hikers in summer, including the Hausberg Seilbahn, which takes you to a kid-friendly ski area. A four-seat cable car likewise will take you to the top of one of the lesser peaks: the 5,840-foot Wank for €24. From there, you can tackle both mountains on foot, provided you're properly shod and physically fit. Or stop over at the Alpspitze, from where you can hike as well.

    Olympia Str. 27
    - 08821 - 7970

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Zugspitze and Gletscherbahn cable cars, plus Zahnradbahn cog railroad, €52 round-trip (€63 in summer); Wankbahn cable car €24 round-trip
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  • 7. Alte Saline und Quellenhaus

    In the early 19th century King Ludwig I built this elaborate saltworks and spa house, in vaulted, pseudomedieval style. The pump installations, which still run,...

    In the early 19th century King Ludwig I built this elaborate saltworks and spa house, in vaulted, pseudomedieval style. The pump installations, which still run, are astonishing examples of 19th-century engineering. A "saline" chapel is part of the spa's facilities, and was built in exotic Byzantine style. A museum in the same complex looks at the history of the salt trade. As the salt deposits beneath the building are no longer top quality, parts of the building have been converted to office spaces and a trendy restaurant, but you can tour the underground infrastructure.

    Alte Saline 9
    - 08651 - 700–2146

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9, Nov.–Mar., closed Mon. and all but 1st Sun. of month
  • 8. Alte St. Martin Church

    Across the Loisach River stands the original St. Martin church (aka "Die Alte Kirche," or the Old Church), whose original foundation was laid in the...

    Across the Loisach River stands the original St. Martin church (aka "Die Alte Kirche," or the Old Church), whose original foundation was laid in the 9th century. Its current building dates to 1280 and showcases Gothic wall paintings from throughout the centuries, including a 7-meter-high (21-foot-high), larger-than-life figure of St. Christopher from 1330 and a Passion of the Christ fresco dating to the 1400s.

    Pfarrerhausweg 4
    - 00821 - 943–9140

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 9. Dokumentation Obersalzberg

    This center documents the notorious history of the Third Reich, with a special focus on Obersalzberg and its role in the Holocaust and planning for...

    This center documents the notorious history of the Third Reich, with a special focus on Obersalzberg and its role in the Holocaust and planning for World War II. The teaching museum includes some surprisingly rare archive material and access to the bunkers. English-language tours are only available for groups, but there is an audio guide in English. The center has been closed for renovations but is expected to reopen in 2022.

    Salzbergstr. 41
    - 08652 - 947–960

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3, Closed Mon. Nov.–Mar.
  • 10. Fraueninsel

    Boats going between Stock and Herrenchiemsee Island also stop at this small retreat known as Ladies' Island. The Benedictine convent there, founded 1,200 years ago,...

    Boats going between Stock and Herrenchiemsee Island also stop at this small retreat known as Ladies' Island. The Benedictine convent there, founded 1,200 years ago, houses a small community of nuns. One of its earliest superiors, Irmengard, daughter of King Ludwig der Deutsche, died here in the 9th century; her grave in the convent chapel was discovered in 1961, the same year that early frescoes there were brought to light. The chapel is open daily from dawn to dusk. Otherwise, the island has about 50 private houses, a couple of shops, and a guesthouse where visitors wishing to take part in the nuns' quiet lives can overnight. You can walk around the island in about 20 minutes—just don't miss partaking in the Benedictine Sisters' delicious fruit liqueurs, gingerbread, and marzipan.

    Fraueninsel
    - 08054 - 907–159 - monastery shop

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 11. Geigenbaumuseum Mittenwald

    This violin-building history museum describes in fascinating detail the history of violin making in Mittenwald. Ask the museum curator to direct you to the nearest...

    This violin-building history museum describes in fascinating detail the history of violin making in Mittenwald. Ask the museum curator to direct you to the nearest of several violin makers—they'll be happy to demonstrate the skills handed down to them.

    Ballenhausg. 3
    - 08823 - 2511

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5.50, Closed Mon. and early Nov.– late Dec.
  • 12. Grosses Paraplui Hiking Path

    Maximilian showed off this corner of his kingdom to Czar Alexander I of Russia and Emperor Franz I of Austria during their journey to the...

    Maximilian showed off this corner of his kingdom to Czar Alexander I of Russia and Emperor Franz I of Austria during their journey to the Congress of Verona in October 1821. You can follow their steps on a one-hour hike along a well-marked 2½-km (1½-mile) path, starting just opposite Schlossplatz in Tegernsee, through the woods to the Grosses Paraplui, one of the loveliest lookout points in Bavaria. A plaque marks the spot where they admired the open expanse of the Tegernsee and the mountains beyond.

    Asamweg 2
  • 13. Haus der Berge

    Opened in 2015, this interactive museum brings the surrounding national park to life for children and adults alike with a rotating exhibition focusing on the...

    Opened in 2015, this interactive museum brings the surrounding national park to life for children and adults alike with a rotating exhibition focusing on the wildlife and diverse nature to be found in the area. There's also a library and cinema.

    Hanielstr. 7
    - 08652 - 979–0600

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4
  • 14. Herzogliches Schloss Tegernsee (Kloster Tegernsee)

    On the eastern shore of the lake, the laid-back town of Tegernsee is home to a large Benedictine monastery turned royal residence. Founded in the...

    On the eastern shore of the lake, the laid-back town of Tegernsee is home to a large Benedictine monastery turned royal residence. Founded in the 8th century, this was one of the most productive cultural centers in southern Germany; one of the Minnesänger (wandering lyrical poets), Walther von der Vogelweide (1170–1230), was a welcome guest. Not so welcome were Magyar invaders, who laid waste to the monastery in the 10th century. During the Middle Ages the monastery made a lively business producing stained-glass windows, thanks to a nearby quartz quarry, and in the 16th century it became a major center of printing. The late-Gothic church was refurbished in Italian baroque style in the 18th century and was where heirs to the Wittelsbach dynasty were married. The frescoes inside are by Hans Georg Asam, whose work also graces the Benediktbeuren monastery in Bavaria. Secularization sealed the monastery's fate at the beginning of the 19th century: almost half the buildings were torn down. Maximilian I bought the surviving ones and had Leo von Klenze redo them for use as a summer retreat, which is still used by members of the Wittelsbach family and therefore closed to the public. The church and the Herzogliches Bräustüberl, a brewery and beer hall, are the only parts of the monastery open to the public. Try a Mass (a liter-size mug) of their legendary Tergernseer Helles or Spezial beer.

    Schlosspl. 1
    - 08022 - 18020
  • 15. Königssee

    One less strenuous way into the Berchtesgaden National Park is via electric boat. Only the skipper of these excursion boats is allowed to shatter the...

    One less strenuous way into the Berchtesgaden National Park is via electric boat. Only the skipper of these excursion boats is allowed to shatter the silence on the Königssee (King's Lake)—his trumpet fanfare demonstrates a remarkable echo as notes reverberate between the almost vertical cliffs that plunge into the dark green water. A cross on a rocky promontory marks the spot where a boatload of pilgrims hit the cliffs and sank more than 100 years ago. The voyagers were on their way to the tiny, twin-tower baroque chapel of St. Bartholomä, built in the 17th century on a peninsula where an early-Gothic church once stood. The princely rulers of Berchtesgaden built a hunting lodge at the side of the chapel; a tavern and restaurant now occupy its rooms. Smaller than the Königssee but equally beautiful, the Obersee can be reached by a 15-minute walk from the second stop (Salet) on the boat tour. The lake's backdrop of jagged mountains and precipitous cliffs is broken by a waterfall, the Rothbachfall, which plunges more than 1,000 feet to the valley floor. Boat service on the Königssee runs year-round, except when the lake freezes. A round-trip to St. Bartholomä and Salet, the landing stage for the Obersee, lasts almost two hours, without stops. A round-trip to St. Bartholomä lasts a little over an hour. In summer, the Berchtesgaden tourist office organizes evening cruises on the Königssee, which include a concert in St. Bartholomä Church and a four-course dinner in the neighboring hunting lodge.

    Seestr. 29, Schönau, Bavaria, 83471, Germany
    08652-96360

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €20 round-trip from Schonau to St. Bartholomä and Salet
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  • 16. Oberammergau Museum

    This museum dedicated to local traditions displays historic examples of the wood craftsman's art and an outstanding collection of Christmas crèches dating from the mid-18th...

    This museum dedicated to local traditions displays historic examples of the wood craftsman's art and an outstanding collection of Christmas crèches dating from the mid-18th century. There's a bit about Oberammergau's role in organ-building and the influence local organs had on the design of U.S. churches. It's gotten a modern update with multimedia storytelling from the region while maintaining the traditional exhibits of wood-carved animals and puppetry.

    Dorfstr. 8
    - 08822 - 94136

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3.50; €5 including Passionsspielhaus, Closed Mon.
  • 17. Oberammergau Passionsspielhaus

    This immense theater is where the world-famous Passion Play showing the crucifixion is performed every 10 years. In the off-season (for this ten-year period any...

    This immense theater is where the world-famous Passion Play showing the crucifixion is performed every 10 years. In the off-season (for this ten-year period any year that's not 2022), the theater does host other concerts and plays. Tours providing a glimpse of the costumes, the sceneries, the stage, and even the auditorium are held in German at 2 pm Wednesday and Sunday.

    Theaterstr. 16
    - 08822 - 945–8888

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3.50; €5 including Oberammergau Museum, Closed Mon.
  • 18. Pilatushaus

    Wood carving is a centuries-old local tradition that carries on to this day. Here you can have a look at the local craftsmen in their...

    Wood carving is a centuries-old local tradition that carries on to this day. Here you can have a look at the local craftsmen in their workshop, alongside working potters and painters. Completed in 1775, the building itself is considered among the most beautiful in town due to the frescoes by Franz Seraph Zwinck, one of the greatest Lüftlmalerei painters. The house is actually named for the fresco over the front door depicting Christ before Pilate.

    Ludwig-Thoma-Str. 10
    - 08822 - 949–511 - tourist office

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon. and mid-Oct.–Apr.
  • 19. Predigtstuhl

    The pride and joy of the Reichenhallers is the steep, craggy mountain appropriately named the Preacher's Pulpit, which stands at 5,164 feet, southeast of town,...

    The pride and joy of the Reichenhallers is the steep, craggy mountain appropriately named the Preacher's Pulpit, which stands at 5,164 feet, southeast of town, and has been noted as one of the top 10 cable-car rides in the world for its stunning views. You can hike or just enjoy a bite to eat and drink at the Almütte Schlegemuldel, 15 minutes from the cable-car station.

    Südtiroler Pl. 1
    - 08651 - 96850

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €24 round-trip
  • 20. Richard Strauss Institut

    On the eastern edge of Garmisch, at the end of Zöppritzstrasse, stands the home of composer Richard Strauss, who lived there until his death in...

    On the eastern edge of Garmisch, at the end of Zöppritzstrasse, stands the home of composer Richard Strauss, who lived there until his death in 1949. The home itself is not open to visitors, but this institute across town offers a popular exhibition dedicated to Strauss's life. It becomes the center of activity during the Richard-Strauss-Tage, an annual music festival held in mid-June that features concerts and lectures on the town's most famous son. Other concerts are given year-round.

    Schnitzschulstr. 19
    - 08821 - 910–5950

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3.50 for exhibit, Closed weekends

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