Bavaria holds breathtaking natural beauty, Disney-esque castles and the highest mountain in Germany. With this, it is the perfect place to hike, swim in lakes and relax throughout the summer months – not to mention the winding cobbled streets in Munich, Hallstatt and Salzburg City in which you can get lost and hope never to be found.
We spent eight days exploring Bavaria and regularly crossed the border to Austria, there are so many things to do it can be hard to select the best with limited time. So, we’ve decided to remove the guesswork for you and pick our top 10 favourite places to explore while in Bavaria.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is located in an adorable village called Hohenschwangau, near Füssen in Germany. The most famous castle in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle – although if we’re honest it remind us more of the castle in Beauty and The Beast – but who are we to disagree with Walt Disney.
Neuschwanstein Castle is incredible and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. In our opinion the castle is better to look at further away, rather than up close. Luckily for us, there are many viewpoints around the castle which are worth a visit including Marienbrücke,a well-known bridge which overlooks the castle, 47.5551690,10.7503320 (Google Maps) and Colomanstrabe.
Alpsee Lake, Germany
Next to Hohenschwangau, not too far from Neuschwanstein Castle, is Alpsee Lake. The water the crystal blue and the perfect place to take an afternoon dip. The best place we found to relax was Alpseebad Hohenschwangau, the cutest little lake club which is only €3 entry.
To get the Alpseebad Hohenschwangau all you need to do is walk from Hohenschwangau, round the left-hand side of the lake until you reach the entrance.
We spent the afternoon here reading our books on the grass, swimming in the lake and napping in the sunshine. To be honest, we probably could have spent a whole day here if we had the time. Who doesn’t love relaxing in a place with stunning scenery?!
Lake Plansee, Austria
Lake Plansee might have been the prettiest lake we saw on our road trip. The water was so clear and fresh, you could spend hours swimming around. Not to mention the most beautiful backdrop of mountain after mountain.
The locals come here to sail their boats, paddle in the canoes or swim lengths across the water. We loved spending the afternoon watching the world go by, sometimes dipping in the lake for a swim. We found a perfect little sandbank which we had all to ourselves and refused to move for hours… well until the sun set.
Eibsee Lake, Germany
We spent the most amount of time around Eibsee Lake during our road trip and it quickly became our favourite. It takes around two hours to walk around the whole lake – something we would highly recommend. It is beautiful from every angle and you’re able to watch the locals paddle board.
Eibsee Lake seemed to have the most wildlife compared to everywhere else. We befriended a local family of ducks, or more like the ducklings, the mother was more wary as so it should be.
We would also highly recommend visiting Eibsee Lake at sunset, the colours across the sky are magical. We found the perfect spot/ rock to watch the sun go down. We only had to walk around 20-minutes to find it.
Zugspitze is located right next to Eibsee Lake and the tallest mountain in Germany. On one side it has the most amazing view over Eibsee Lake and the surrounding areas. On the other side it has glaciers. In the winter months the glaciers are popular for skiing, but in the summer months it is like you’re on a different planet… perhaps Mars.
We caught the cable car to the top of Zugspitze from the car park next to Eibsee Lake. It costed €48 each for the round trip, so not cheap but well worth it. Then we jumped on the second cable car which takes you to the glaciers. We spent hours exploring before settling down to enjoy the sunshine.
Finally, we caught the train back down the mountain, which took us through the most amazing scenery.
Lake Walchensee, Germany
Lake Walchensee is one of the biggest and deepest lakes in Germany, trust us when we say you’re unlikely to walk around the whole thing. It is best to simply find a spot to lie and not move… unless for a swim. It has deep turquoise waters and is surrounded by incredible mountain views.
We spent hours here tipping our toes in the water until we were brave enough to jump in, it is absolutely amazing when you do. Then we napped and read our books until we’d dried off.
We caught the boat from Lake Konigssee to Obersee to see the famous boathouse. When we first arrived we hopped off the boat and walked round to the boathouse. The view from the boathouse was beautiful. However, we weren’t prepared for what was coming next.
We continued walking around the lake until the reached the other side. From this side Obersee was the most breathtaking lake on our road trip – it was like nothing we had ever seen before. The surrounding mountains and trees reflect perfectly in the water almost as perfect as a mirror. It is a must see when you’re in Germany.
We spent the morning walking and exploring, before we paddled in the water and stared at the most amazing view in front of us.
Lake Konigssee holds many treasure troves, not only is it the pathway to Obersee but it has secret waterfalls, natural pools and hiking routes. If we’re honest it is not the easiest place to reach, but it is oh so well worth it!
The views over Lake Konigssee from the natural pools and waterfalls are absolutely stunning, beautiful, literally a ‘I can’t believe I’m here moment. The top pool is smaller and trickier to get to, but incredible at the same time. The bottom pool is larger and the perfect place to sit down, relax and spend a couple of hours. In our opinion both are worth a visit.
The route: Hike to Malerwinkel viewpoint and follow the signs to Rabenwand viewpoint. Once you arrive at Rabenwand cross the barrier and follow the abandoned path through the forest, parallel to kings lake. After around 40-45 minutes you’ll reach the waterfall, from here you can hike up to the upper natural pool or down to the lower natural pool.
Hallstatt in Austria is the cutest little town, the only way to describe it would be to think of the little town in Beauty and The Beast. It is full of trinket shops, traditional restaurants and cafes, as well as as winding cobbled streets.
Our favourite place in Hallstatt was the Classic Village Viewpoint, also known as Hallstatt Postcard Angle. It has an amazing view over the lake and the town below. most importantly the church – which unfortunately was covered up on our visit.
We spent the whole afternoon exploring the streets, stumbled across the most beautiful graveyard and church high on a hill and ate our weight in Austrian food.
Salzburg City, Austria
Salzburg City is an amazing place to spend the day. It is full of things to see from markets to castles and beautiful gardens. Our favourite places included Fortress Hohensalzburg, Mirabell Palace, Hellbrunn Palace, Slaxburg Cathedral, Salzburg Old Town and Getreidegasse.
Once you’ve finished exploring and you want to rest your legs, then Salzburg has plenty of restaurants full of delicious Austrian food. We spent the late afternoon eating Schnitzel and drinking wine with the locals.
Want to know more about our trip and logistics? Read our eight day itinerary around Bavaria.