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Things to do in Bavaria: 20 beautiful places you must see [with map]

Bavaria will enchant you with its sights. Here in the south, you'll discover untouched nature, deep forests, gentle low mountain ranges, rugged mountain peaks in the Alps, turquoise-blue mountain lakes, idyllic half-timbered towns, old castles, and fairytale castles.

We'll take you on a tour of Bavaria and reveal the 20 most beautiful sights (limiting it to "only" 20 attractions was damn hard). On our interactive map, you'll find an overview of all the highlights. And now have fun with the most worth seeing Bavarian attractions.

Updated on 05.01.2024
Die Reiseblogger Biggi Bauer und Florian Westermann

Discover Bavaria: Our top 10 sights at a glance

We’ll start by presenting our personal top 10 sights in Bavaria – briefly and succinctly. Bavaria is so beautiful 😊.

Castle Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle is world famous and the number 1 of our top sights in Bavaria
  1. Neuschwanstein Castle
  2. Zugspitze with Eibsee
  3. Bamberg Old Town
  4. Königssee & Upper Lake
  5. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  6. Castle of Burghausen
  7. Golden Hall Augsburg
  8. New castle Herrenchiemsee
  9. Munich Residence
  10. Romantic Road

Map with all sights in Bavaria

On our interactive map, you will find where to visit the top highlights in Bavaria:

[mapsmarker map=”234″]

1. Neuschwanstein Castle – Bavaria’s top attraction

View of Neuschwanstein Castle
This view of Neuschwanstein Castle you have from the Marienbrücke. A visit here is a beautiful thing to do in Bavaria!

Neuschwanstein Castle, located in the beautiful Allgäu region, lands on our list of the most beautiful sights in Bavaria at number one. Neuschwanstein is certainly not a secret destination. The fairytale castle near Füssen in the south of the Free State attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year. This also makes Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria’s most visited attraction.

Given the setting, that’s understandable. The castle, commissioned by Bavarian King Ludwig II, even served as a model for Walt Disney’s fairytale castle at the Disneyland Resort in California.

A guided tour of Neuschwanstein Castle is a must-do. To avoid long waits, be sure to buy your tickets in advance online. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the castle. But you can fully concentrate on the many exciting details and stories on the castle tour.

By the way, you have a great view of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke – definitely one of the most beautiful vantage points in Bavaria – to which you can either take a leisurely hike or take the shuttle bus. If you hike a little higher through the beautiful nature, you can see the imposing peaks of the Alps rising into the sky behind Neuschwanstein Castle- a fun and impressive thing to do here!

Also worth seeing are the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle (a guided tour of the royal castle is also recommended) and the idyllic Alpsee Lake, which is located between mountain peaks and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria.

Two swimmers in the Alpsee in Allgäu
The Alpsee is one of the most beautiful Bavarian lakes and is located near the royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. So here you will discover three attractions in a small space

If possible, avoid the weekends, especially in summer and the vacation season in Bavaria. In the best case, visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the morning sometime during the week outside school vacations. Then it’s not quite so crowded around Neuschwanstein Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle is also very beautiful in winter when the dream castle and the surrounding mountains are powdered with snow.

2. Zugspitze with Eibsee – an unforgettable nature experience

Biggi in the morning at the summit cross of the Zugspitze
Early in the morning, we have the summit of the Zugspitze all to ourselves- an unusual thing to do in Bavaria!

The Zugspitze near Garmisch-Partenkirchen is 2962 meters high and is Germany’s highest mountain (here you can find a list of Germany’s highest mountains). It’s also one of the most famous tourist activities in Upper Bavaria.

We think: At least once in your life you should have stood on the Zugspitze and experienced the incredible distant view from almost 3000 meters into the Alpine foothills and the Alps. We have already hiked up the Zugspitze several times. Here we tell you how to get to the Zugspitze on foot. It’s not a secret place but still a wonderful place to go!

By the way, here you can find more beautiful hikes in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

If hiking is not your thing, take one of the two cable cars (from Eibsee or Ehrwald in Austria) or the rack railroad (from Garmisch-Partenkirchen) up to Germany’s highest mountain.

Unfortunately, the overbuilt summit plateau is a bit like Munich’s Oktoberfest. There is food and drink and countless beer benches outside. Peace and quiet only return to the summit when the last cable car descends into the valley. Then there are only a few mountaineers on the Zugspitze who spend the night in the Munich House (unfortunately, there areonly a few places to stay overnight). And that’s exactly what we recommend. Enjoy the sunset on the Zugspitze – and the sunrise in the morning. And without any crowds – a real micro adventure and an unforgettable nature experience.

Remember that even in the summer months it can get sensitively cold at this altitude, especially at night (even frost and snow are possible).

Der Sonnenuntergang am Eibsee mit Blick auf die Zugspitze
The Eibsee is fantastically beautiful and offers photographers many great photo motifs. In the background, you can see the summit of the Zugspitze on the right. A trip to the Eibsee is a unique nature experience and is definitely worth a stop on your sightseeing tour through Bavaria!

A seven-kilometer hike around the Eibsee lake at the foot of the Zugspitze is part of the must-do program when visiting the Zugspitze. The mountain lake is one of the most beautiful in the Alps and a popular excursion destination around Munich in summer and winter. By the way, the Eibsee is also one of the top photo spots and one of the best things to see in Bavaria.

Tip: For us, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is one of the most beautiful areas in Bavaria. Here you will find many more great highlights, such as the Partnachklamm.

3. Bamberg – Journey into the past

View from the Geyerswörthsteg to the Old Town Hall in Bamberg
This is the Old Town Hall in Bamberg. The entire old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a wonderful sight to see and one of the best things to do in Bavaria!

Bamberg, the “true capital of beer”, is one of the most beautiful half-timbered towns in Germany. We don’t want to highlight any particular sight here: you simply have to see the whole old town with its beautiful half-timbered houses and discover it during a day trip.

What to see in Bamberg? Must-see highlights in this Franconian city include the Old Town Hall, Little Venice, Bamberg Cathedral, and the New Residence with its Rose Garden. It’s just incredibly fun to stroll through the winding alleys and drink a beer or two in a beer garden or cellar.

Beer fans should visit the Franconian Brewery Museum Bamberg in the building of the monastery. We also recommend the 90-minute beer tour with a guide (more information*).

Great travel guide for your vacation in Germany

You want to discover not only Bavaria but the whole of Germany even more intensively? Then we recommend DK Eyewitness Munich and the Bavarian Alps (buy it here*). Have fun with this great travel guide. You must have a look at Lonely Planet Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest (get it here*).

4. Lake Königssee & Obersee – Experience Bavaria’s most beautiful nature firsthand

A boat on the Königssee in autumn
A boat trip on the Königssee is a very special experience – especially in autumn when the leaves of the trees turn colorful a visit to the Königssee is an amazing thing to do!

Lake Königssee in the Berchtesgaden National Park in southern Bavaria at the foot of the famous Watzmann massif is one of the most beautiful and famous mountain lakes in Bavaria and should not be missing from our list of top sights. Here you will experience the Alps and nature at its best.

You can explore a small part of the impressive mountain lake, which is reminiscent of a deep fjord in Norway, quite comfortably on foot, for example on the Malerwinkel circular trail. It’s a cool place to see!

The famous natural pools at Königssee are also close by. However, access is now strictly prohibited. If you are caught by the rangers at the pools or on the way there, you could face heavy fines.

So it’s better to stay on the signposted paths. In addition to the Malerwinkel circular trail, there is also the leisurely hike to the Achenkanzel with a fantastic view over Lake Königssee or the quite challenging Rinnkendlsteig, which leads to the famous church of St. Bartholomä. Here we tell you even more beautiful hikes in the Berchtesgadener Land.

If you like it more comfortably, book a boat trip on the Königssee. With the electric boat you can also reach the dock Salet. From here, a wide hiking trail without any major climbs leads in about 15 minutes to Obersee, another popular tourist attraction in Berchtesgadener Land. The view of the impressive mountain lake is breathtaking.

Here you can find even more sights in Berchtesgadener Land including great excursion tips for the whole family.

A boathouse in the Obersee in the Berchtesgaden National Park
The Obersee offers photographers many great photo motifs and is for us one of the most extraordinary things to see in Bavaria

5. Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Bavaria’s most romantic town

The Marienapotheke at the marketplace
The marketplace is the most beautiful place in the romantic town in Middle Franconia in the north of Bavaria

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the most romantic places and at the same time one of the most beautiful small towns in Bavaria, in the north of the Free State is another sight you should not miss.

The old town with its cute half-timbered houses is picturesquely beautiful. Be sure to stroll through the old alleys in the morning and enjoy the flair of the half-timbered town. An absolute highlight is the walkable city wall, which leads completely around the old town. From the city wall, you have fantastic views over the old roofs.

The most famous photo motif is the Plönlein. The Plönlein is a beautiful square with a small fountain. There is also a small, crooked half-timbered house in the triangle of two intersecting streets. Both streets are flanked by city gates and towers- a top thing to do in Bavaria!

The Plönlein in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the top sightseeing attraction
The Plönlein is the top sightseeing attraction in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

It’s also worth taking a guided tour with the night watchman, who will tell you all kinds of interesting facts about Rothenburg and the history of the romantic town.

6. Castle of Burghausen – the longest castle in the world

The view of Burghausen Castle in the evening
Burghausen Castle – this is only a small part of the fortress – is the longest castle in the world and therefore for us one of the coolest things to do in Bavaria

In the small town of Burghausen on the Bavarian-Austrian border, you will find the longest castle in the world, another popular tourist attraction. At 1051 meters, the castle above the picturesque old town is considered the longest castle complex in Europe. In the Guinness Book of Records, Burghausen Castle even holds the title of “longest castle in the world“. From the fortress, you have a great view of the city.

A large part of the castle complex with six courtyards, including a beer garden, you can visit for free and enjoy the great distant views. The castle museum, which is also worth a visit, charges admission.

Of course, a trip to the old town of Burghausen is also worthwhile. By the way, the castle hill was already settled in the Bronze Age (around the 16th century BC). The oldest parts of the huge fortress, which had an important military significance for centuries, probably date back to around the year 1025. A massive expansion of the castle complex took place in view of the approaching Turks in the year 1490.

One of the inner courtyards of Burghausen Castle
You can visit a large part of the imposing fortress free of charge. You will discover many small and big highlights. Burghausen Castle is one of the best places to visit in Bavaria!

In December, the castle hosts the famous Burgweihnacht, a very special Christmas market in Bavaria.

7. Golden Hall Augsburg – a top attraction in the Fugger city

The Golden Hall in the Augsburg City Hall
The imposing Golden Hall in Augsburg City Hall is one of the most beautiful things to do in Bavaria for us

The beautiful old town of Augsburg is always worth a visit. We would like to highlight one special feature here: the Golden Hall in the town hall of the old Fugger city.

The Golden Hall is considered one of the highlights of Renaissance interior design in Germany. Its ceiling is covered with gold leaf and there is no shortage of magnificent gold ornaments. Believe us, you will be amazed.

What else to do in Augsburg? Besides the Golden Hall, there are many other highlights in Augsburg, such as the Fuggerei, Augsburg Cathedral, and the Lech district.

Here you can find even more great sights in Augsburg.

8. New castle Herrenchiemsee – popular excursion destination

Herrenchiemsee Castle on Lake Chiemsee
Herrenchiemsee Castle on the island of the same name is a top thing to do in Bavaria!

Lake Chiemsee is one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria and a popular excursion and vacation destination in the summer. One of my good friends from Berlin spends two weeks every year with his children at the Chiemsee. The largest lake in Bavaria not only offers beautiful beaches. Of course, a steamboat trip on Lake Chiemsee is one of the must-dos in Bavaria.

A special highlight and for us, one of the top sights in Bavaria, is the New Herrenchiemsee Castle on the island of Herrenchiemsee. You can reach the largest island of the Chiemsee by excursion boat. A walk across the idyllically situated island with beer gardens is worthwhile. Herrenchiemsee Castle is a place you have to visit.

Like Neuschwanstein Castle, this worthwhile attraction was built by King Ludwig II, who was inspired by Versailles Castle near Paris. After the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, most of the complex unfortunately remained unfinished.

Today, the King Ludwig II Museum is located in the palace. In addition, the Herrenchiemsee Festival takes place once a year in the large hall of mirrors of the castle – this is also a very special highlight.

9. Munich Residence – an imposing palace complex

The Antiquarium of the Munich Residence
The Munich Residence is one of the top sights in Bavaria

One of the most beautiful Bavarian sights is definitely the Residence in the state capital Munich. The magnificent city palace – the largest inner-city palace in Germany, by the way – once housed dukes, electors, and kings. Today you can visit the impressive complex with its imposing rooms as a tourist.

What is to see in the Residence? The museum is huge. Particularly impressive is the Antiquarium, a huge vaulted magnificent building. But you should not miss rooms like the Emperor’s Room or the Porcelain Chamber.

The Residence also includes the Hofgarten, which is a popular summer destination in the middle of the city.

During Advent, the Residenz hosts a beautiful Christmas market in one of the ten courtyards of the huge complex.

Absolutely worthwhile is a guided Munich tour with a guide (book a city tour here*). You can also find all the cool things to do in Munich here.

10. Romantic Road – the perfect road trip through Bavaria

The Romantic Road is our top sight number 10 in Bavaria. The Romantic Road is one of the most famous vacation roads in Germany (also worldwide) and leads since 1950 on 413 kilometers from Würzburg to Füssen at the edge of the Bavarian Alps (famous for Neuschwanstein Castle, our number 1 sight in Bavaria).

Of course, the Romantic Road follows existing roads – so no road was built here specifically for tourism. Over the decades, the route has been slightly modified a few times to preserve its rural character.

The old town hall in Landsberg am Lech
The Romantic Road also passes through Landsberg am Lech- a cool thing to do in Bavaria!

Not only Würzburg and Füssen are worth seeing. There are some beautiful towns along the way. What’s at the Romatic Road to do? Major stops include Wertheim (also known throughout Germany for Wertheim Village), Bad Mergentheim, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (our top sight number 5), Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, Augsburg, Landsberg am Lech, and Schwangau.

Theoretically, you can easily manage the Romantic Road, a small part of which also runs through Baden-Württemberg, in one day.

But to see and experience something, you should plan at least five days for this great road trip through Bavaria.

By the way, here you can find our perfect road trip through Germany.

11. Emperor’s castle Nuremberg – top sightseeing in Middle Franconia

You simply have to see the Kaiserburg in Nuremberg. The landmark of Bavaria’s second-largest city, located in Middle Franconia, has served as a fortress, imperial residence, imperial castle, and Hohenzollern burgrave’s seat over the centuries, making it one of the most important castles in Europe in terms of history and architecture.

Two towers of the Imperial Castle in Nuremberg
The Kaiserburg is one of the top things to do in Nuremberg
A horse-drawn carriage in the Weißgerbergasse
If you like, you can also take a horse-drawn carriage through Nuremberg and get a taste of history

By the way, the Kaiserburg is located on the Felsenberg and stands high above the city. The view from the castle over Nuremberg is magnificent. In addition to the Imperial Castle, Nuremberg has a wonderful old town with many half-timbered buildings, through which it’s worth strolling.

Here we tell you all the sights in Nuremberg. In addition, you will find the most beautiful hikes around Nuremberg.

12. Kehlsteinhaus – popular destination in the Bavarian Alps

The Kehlsteinhaus in imposing mountain scenery
The Kehlsteinhaus is one of the most famous things to do in Berchtesgadener Land

Another highlight on any trip to Bavaria are Kehlstein and Kehlsteinhaus in Berchtesgadener Land in the south of the Free State. The Kehlstein (1881 meters) towers above the Obersalzberg documentation and is one of the most visited peaks in the German Alps.

The Kehlsteinhaus looks back on a dark history. The building was once built by the NSDAP and served the Nazis as a representation building. Adolf Hitler and his followers were regularly on site. Today, only a photo exhibition reminds us of this dark part of German history. From the summit, you have a fantastic view of Watzmann and Königssee.

From the Obersalzberg parking lot (Google Maps), you can reach the Kehlstein summit on foot via a pleasant panoramic path in about three hours. Alternatively, you can take the bus (line 849; from the beginning of May until the end of October) to the Kehlsteinhaus. The last meters of altitude you overcome with a historic elevator.

Once you reach the summit, you should walk the Kehlstein circular route (1.5 kilometers, 100 meters in altitude). Remember to wear sturdy shoes to be comfortable and safe.

13. Danube Breakthrough & Weltenburg Monastery – Experience Nature

The Danube breakthrough with the Liberation Hall in Kelheim
A boat trip through the Danube breakthrough is a great experience – here with a view of the Liberation Hall in Kelheim

The Danube Breakthrough near Kelheim is also one of Bavaria’s most popular things to do. From Kelheim you take a boat to the Danube breakthrough near Weltenburg. The narrow passage in the Danube valley is known far beyond Germany. The nature here is simply beautiful.

Be sure to make a stop at Weltenburg Monastery with its famous beer garden. Also worth seeing is the Befreiungshalle Kelheim. In addition, the famous Valhalla is very close by.

14. Felsburg Tüchersfeld – landmark of Franconian Switzerland

The half-timbered houses in front of a rock in the village of Tüchersfeld in Franconian Switzerland
Tüchersfeld is one of the most famous places in Franconian Switzerland – Photo: Nadine Becherer

Franconian Switzerland is one of the most scenic places in Bavaria. You can expect wacky rock formations in the midst of nature. One of the most famous things to do in Franconian Switzerland is the rock castle Tüchersfeld in the beautiful Püttlach valley.

Above the small village towers an imposing rock castle, which today is considered the coolest landmark of Franconian Switzerland. At the foot of the steeply towering rock are some beautiful half-timbered houses.

We guarantee you: you will be thrilled by this photo spot.

15. Steinerne Brücke Regensburg – historical sight

The view of the Steinerne Brücke in Regensburg
The Steinerne Brücke in Regensburg is Germany’s oldest surviving bridge- a top thing to do in Bavaria!

Regensburg is also worth seeing. By the way, Biggi studied here for a few years and knows her way around the beautiful city on the Danube. A very special highlight is the Steinerne Brücke (stone bridge), the landmark of Regensburg.

Construction of the imposing bridge began as early as 1135, making the Steinerne Brücke the oldest surviving bridge in Germany – and a very special sight for that reason alone.

A pact with the devil

Legend has it that the bridge builder made a bet with the cathedral builder as to which of them would be the first to complete his structure. The construction of the cathedral went faster, whereupon the builder of the bridge made a pact with the devil.

If he helped him, he would get the first three living souls to cross the bridge. The devil went along with the deal, and the bridge was completed before the cathedral. With a ruse, the bridge builder tricked the devil: He first sent a dog, a hen, and a rooster across the bridge.

In revenge, the devil wanted to destroy the bridge. But all he managed to do was to form a hump in the middle of the bridge. Right here, a monument was erected to the master bridge builder, showing him looking towards the cathedral. The statue is called Bruckmandl (bridge man) by the people of Regensburg.

16. Großer Arber – Highlight in the Bavarian Forest

The Bavarian Forest will enchant you with its beautiful nature. The Großer Arber (Great Arber) is with 1456 meters the highest mountain in the Bavarian Forest and next to Zugspitze, Watzmann, and Brocken in Saxony-Anhalt one of the most famous mountains in Germany and should not be missing from our list of Bavarian top sights. The Große Arber is a popular hiking destination in summer and winter.

Biggi between snowy trees at the summit of the Großer Arber in the Bavarian Forest
The hike up the Großer Arber leads through a winter wonderland
The icy chapel on the Großer Arber in winter
Shortly below the summit stands the Arber chapel – a great photo spot in winter and a cool thing to do in Bavaria!

Very popular is the ascent from the Arbersee with the Arberseehaus via the Arberweg to the summit. The hike is – there and back – about eight kilometers long. There are almost 500 meters of altitude to overcome.

17. Devil’s Cave Pottenstein – the most beautiful cave in Bavaria

Inside the Devil's Cave Pottenstein
Deep in the Devil’s Cave Pottenstein – this tourist attraction you can not miss

The Devil’s Cave Pottenstein is another cool thing to do in Franconian Switzerland, where there are more than 1000 caves. The Devil’s Cave Pottenstein in the district of Bayreuth is the largest of them and also very well developed for tourism. The show cave is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Germany.

You can explore the dripstone cave as part of a guided cave tour (about 45 minutes). You will dive deep into the Franconian underworld. Many impressive stalactites await you. The cave is about three kilometers long, about half of which you can visit on the guided tour.

18. Valhalla – Greece in Bavaria

The view of the Walhalla memorial site
In the Walhalla memorial, important personalities of “German tongue” have been honored with marble busts and memorial plaques since 1842. Valhalla is one of the most popular sights in Germany

In the famous memorial Valhalla near Regensburg, since 1842 – originally at the instigation of the Bavarian King Ludwig I – important personalities of “German tongue” are honored with marble busts and memorial plaques overlooking the Danube. In the imposing hall are busts of personalities such as Johannes Kepler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich v. Schiller, Richard Wagner, and Sophie Scholl.

For us, Valhalla is clearly one of the top things to do in Bavaria – if only because of its architecture, which reminds us very much of Greece.

19. Marienplatz Munich – meeting point in the village of millions

The view of the Marienplatz and the Munich city hall from above
When the carillon plays in the town hall at noon, it gets even more crowded than usual on Marienplatz, one of the top things to do in the Bavarian capital

We would like to show you another of Munich’s sights: the Marienplatz. World famous is the New City Hall, completed in 1905, with its carillon.

The carillon in the town hall tower depicts the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V with Renate of Lorraine in 1568 and the Schäffler dance. After a plague epidemic, the barrel makers were the first to dare to go out on the streets again and cheer up the people of Munich by dancing, so the story goes.

The carillon can be seen daily at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., from March to October additionally at 5 p.m.. At 9 p.m., the night watchman also blows his horn while the “Münchner Kindl” (child of Munich) is being put to bed.

20. Würzburg Residence – Highlight in Lower Franconia

The Würzburg Residence in its full splendor
The Würzburg Residence is a wonderful thing to do in Bavaria!

We don’t want to forget the Würzburg Residence in Lower Franconia. The magnificent baroque palace is one of the most important residence buildings in Europe. Since 1981, the complex has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One highlight you definitely shouldn’t miss is the picturesque staircase with the largest continuous ceiling fresco in the world. You can visit around 40 of the 340 rooms, including the Mirror Cabinet decorated with reverse paintings on glass, the pompous Emperor’s Hall, and the White Hall, which, in contrast to the other rooms, appears plain and colorless.

You should also visit the richly decorated Court Church of the Most Holy Trinity, which is impressive not only because of its elaborate decoration but also because of its three oval dome vaults. In the courtyard garden, you can relax after a tour and enjoy the view of the residence and parts of the Lower Franconian metropolis.

We hope you enjoyed our travel tips with the most beautiful Bavarian sights and you spend an unforgettable vacation with us in the south of Germany 😊.

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