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Eight beautiful Bavarian day trips you can’t miss

Bavaria’s beauty is unrivalled: from Alpine lakes to quaint medieval towns, the most southerly Bundesland has it all.

Eight beautiful Bavarian day trips you can't miss
A couple goes on a gondola ride in Bamberg. Photo: DPA

Whilst all of Germany’s Bundesländer (states) offer a range of sites of natural and man-made beauty, the combination of the Bavarian Alps, a long-tradition of wealth and stunning architecture means that Bavaria possesses of some of Germany’s most beautiful destinations.

As such, Bavaria – Germany’s geographically largest state – has countless day trips to offer for visitors of all ages and interests.

Walchensee

 
 
 
 
 
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Nestled in the Alps, Walchensee is a gem of sparkling turquoise blue waters which stand in contrast to the dark green of the surrounding alpine forests. During the winter, the snow-capped mountains provide visitors with the chance to partake in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. In summer the lake offers windsurfing and sailing and WWII aircraft wrecks in the depths of the lake make it a popular spot for keen scuba divers.

If you would rather stay high and dry, walks on the mountainside provide stunning views of the lake and the surrounding alps. Walchensee’s own rickety Herzogstandbahn (gondola lift) takes you to the top of the mountain, from where you can embark on a number of walks. Alternatively, soak up the sun and gaze at the sapphire waters below whilst enjoying a beer and Kaiserschmarrn at the restaurant on the mountain.

Bamberg

 
 
 
 
 
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Located in the Upper Franconian region of Northern Bavaria, this quaint Bavarian town provides picturesque views and uncommon beer.

As well as its romantic cobbled streets and timber framed buildings, Bamberg is famous for the speciality of Rauchbier (smoked beer). This beer gets its named from the distinctive smokey aftertaste caused by the specific brewing process.

Another unique aspect of this town is the Altes Rathaus (old town hall), half of which features a baroque fresco and the other half is a timbered building, with both parts located directly on a bridge. Although this town is quintessentially German, along the river fishermen’s houses from the 19th century make up the so-called Klein Venedig (Little Venice).

Linderhof Palace

Just like the world-famous Neuschwanstein castle, Linderhof Palace was built by the eccentric Bavarian monarch, King Ludwig II, in 1886.

Like Neuschwanstein, Linderhof Palace is also located in the Alps, providing the castle with a backdrop of stunning mountains. However, less well-known than Neuschwanstein, Linderhof is not packed with tourists, and tours of the castle last longer and cost less than at Neuschwanstein.

The rooms inside the palace are as majestic as the natural surroundings making it easy to see why this was Ludwig’s favourite residence.

Salzburg

 
 
 
 
 
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Whilst not technically in the southern German state, Salzburg is easily reachable from much of Bavaria, and well worth hopping over the border to Austria for. Named Salzburg (salt fortress) after the salt mountains which funded the city’s opulent buildings, this city combines natural and man-made beauty.

A visit to the Hohensalzburg fortress delves into Salzburg’s past and also offers the best views of the city from above. Schloss Mirabell’s Mirabellgarten is famous for its feature in the Julie Andrews classic ‘The Sound of Music,’ and is well worth a wander through in the spring or summer to see the wonderful fountains and the garden’s beautiful flora.

Head to Café Sacher, at the Hotel Sacher, to indulge in the typically Austrian Sachertorte. Eduard Sacher, the hotel’s founder, was the son of assumed inventor of the original Sachertorte, Franz Sacher. As such, it would seem rude to not sit down at this hotel on the banks of the River Salzach and enjoy the delicious chocolate cake.

Partnachklamm gorge

 
 
 
 
 
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Garmisch Partnachklamm is the ideal place to don your best hiking gear and grab your walking sticks. Famously, Partnachklamm is the site of the 1936 Olympic ski jump, however it also boasts of one of Germany’s most breathtaking sites of natural beauty.

Partnachklamm’s shaded gorge is the starting point for a plethora of alpine walks and wandering under the ragged rocks as water flows through the narrow gorge is an indescribably magical experience.

Whether you visit in the winter when stalactites and stalagmites dramatically blanket the sides of the gorge, or in summer when the hazy sunlight filtering through the gorge gives the rushing water an ethereal quality, you will be sure to return home raving about this site’s natural beauty.

Bavarian Forest National Park

 
 
 
 
 
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The Bavarian Forest National Park is Germany’s first and largest national park and the range of activities on offer reflect the park’s size. Wander through the Treetop Walk to see the forest from a different perspective and end at the 44m high tree tower which gives visitors extensive views of the forest and, on a clear day, the Alps.The entirety of the tree top walk and the tree tower is suitable for wheelchairs and prams.

Another unique experience is the Tierfreigelände (free animal area), where 40 domestic animal species including bisons, wolves, wild boars, lynxes and bears, live in a sprawling animal enclosure which closely resembles the animals’ natural habitats. The lack of visible barriers means its as close as you will get to seeing these animals in the wild in Germany.

Of course, it would not be Bavaria if there were not a number of hiking trails. A significant amount of the dense forest is untouched by man, making it a must-see for nature lovers.

Zugspitze

The Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany and the panoramic view from this peak shows the alps in four different countries.

Even in the height of summer the Zugspitze is covered in snow, but walks up to the peaks are manageable. If you don’t fancy hiking up the 2,962 metres above sea level peak then the Seilbahn (cable car) will you transport you directly to the top. During the winter months it is possible to partake in a number of activities such as tobogganing, snowboarding and skiing. For an even more spectacular view, take to the sky and paraglide over the hundreds of mountain peaks which are visible from the Zugspitze.

Regensburg

This small town in Bavaria is renowned for its Christmas markets as well as its preserved Medieval façades which have earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. With its well-maintained architecture from the 12th century, walking through Regensburg can really feel like a step back in time.

When in Regensburg, a visit to ‘The Historic Sausage Kitchen’ is a must. This restaurant does what it says on the tin and apparently sells 6,000 sausages daily. It is rumoured to be the oldest continually open public restaurant in the world having served sausages to its guests for over 870 years.

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TOURISM

Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

https://twitter.com/cr15b/status/1447491633486995458

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.

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