Most of you know by now that I spent five weeks traversing the majority of Western Europe. If you don’t read this article. I spent about one week in Germany and Bavaria was my introduction to this country full of friendly people and stunning landscapes. The reasons to visit Bavaria, Germany are endless, but I’ll give you seven of my favorites.
We entered Bavaria coming from Innsbruck, Austria and I hated to see the Alps fade away in the rearview mirror. But what came next was even better. After thinking about it long and hard, I believe Germany was my favorite country on the trip. The culture, food, and history all had an impact.
I don’t know about you, but the hardest part about vacation planning for me is deciding where to go. I always want to be sure and pick the BEST place because life is short and you never know what the future holds. Is that too morbid?…
Related: How to Plan a Dream Vacation
Really though, with so many options it can be tough to make a decision. That vacation time (not to mention the money) is hard to come by! So the goal here is to show you why a visit to Bavaria will be worth every single vacation day and dime that you spend on your trip.
The disney princess castle of Sleeping Beauty was based on this real one and if you ever see it, you’ll understand why. This towering structure is absolutely gorgeous. It’s slender and tall with the cylindrical towers rising in the skyline. The white and blue colors contrast just right with the lush green of the landscape in summer and in winter the snow gives it a magical feel.
The castle itself isn’t the only thing that’s stunning. The landscape alone was enough to make me happy that I visited. I could see why a king would want to build his house there, because the views were beautiful anywhere you looked and from any vantage point.
If you are short on time or money, I wouldn’t bother taking a tour of the interior. I didn’t learn much that I hadn’t already found from a quick search on the internet. Plus there weren’t many rooms open for it to be such a large castle. (as of July 2017)
I do recommend heading down the small path that wraps around the back of the castle to get to Marienbrücke. This is the bridge where the iconic photos of the castle come from. It can get very crowded, but if you wait for a bit the people at the edge of the bridge will head back and people will rotate forward until you can get to the front. It is worth the wait!
It was the middle of July when I visited, and there were many people wading in the lake right by the parking lot. So if you’ll be there for a while, bring some towels to dry off. If you want to make a day of it, there is another castle down the road plus shops and restaurants by the parking area.
Munich: The Capital of Bavaria
Munich was such a fun city. It was my first experience of real German food and they definitely know how to eat. Their meals are mostly meat and potatoes which is exactly what I’m used to growing up here in the south. Plus they have amazing beer! I also loved the history throughout the city. Here are a few things that I loved while in Munich.
Take a city tour – There are so many options for this, you can do a walking tour, food tour, bike tour, you name it. Whatever you do, just take one! There are so many little interesting facts about Munich that I wouldn’t have known had I not been on the walking tour.
Like how Hofbrauhaus saved Munich during the 30 Years’ War. Or what the lions represent on the stairs where Hitler would initiate his new SS members.
Climb St. Peter’s Church – This offers the best bird’s eye view of Marienplatz. There is a small entrance fee, but I would gladly pay it again for that beautiful view.
Eat at Hofbrauhaus – This may be more commercialized than a smaller local restaurant but you can’t beat the story behind Munich’s first brewery. The brewery was founded in 1589 (holy cow I know) and even saved the city from the Swedish Army during the Thirty Years’ War. For more on the history of the Hofbrauhaus see this article.
Sit In a Beer Garden – The quintessential German pastime. Maybe not, but that’s what I like to think. Every chance I got, I would sit in a beer garden and have a brew with a meal or snack. Pretzels anyone? I especially loved the Victual Market Beergarden (Viktualienmarkt).
The day I visited Dachau may have been the most somber day of my trip. There is definitely a sense of unease that surrounds you as soon as you walk into the camp. Once you enter through the doors that read “Arbeit Macht Frei” which translates to “Work Sets You Free” there is a building with an exhibition on your right. Walk through this area to learn more about the history of Dachau and the concentration camps.
Once you learn about the grounds you can tour the reconstructed barracks. They only reconstructed two and left the spaces where the others were located wide open. It’s hard to imagine that many people being put in this one place.
The crematoriums are at the back of the camp and you can walk through the gas chamber and then the ovens themselves. Dachau was just a prison camp and not an extermination camp, so the crematoriums were supposedly only used for prisoners who had died from sickness, over-exertion, or starvation.
These are difficult things to think about, but it’s important to study history both good and bad.
One thing I love about traveling is getting to see unique landscapes. Think The Sound of Music and that is the type of landscape you’ll be surrounded by in Bavaria. I could twirl with those views all day.
Bavaria is the perfect place for a road trip because of its breathtaking scenery. If you’d like to know more about a German Road Trip check out this itinerary from Bruised Passports.
Not only are the mountains majestic, but the quaint little towns will have you swooning. The cottages set in the valleys will leave you wondering who exactly lives here and how do you join them?
Like I said, the countryside isn’t the only scenery that will enchant you. The towns and cities that dot Bavaria will make you wonder which Disney fairytale you’ve stepped into. Of course Munich is the most popular and one to make sure that you visit.
There are some others that should probably be on your list also. Places like Nuremburg, Regensburg, Fussen, and Passau. Then you really get to see the charm of small town Bavaria.
This is where a road trip comes in super handy. There are so many towns to visit and you could spend about 1-2 days depending on what each town has to offer. The architecture is one of the most enchanting things about these villages. You could spend the day wandering the streets in awe of the buildings alone.
I’ve already mentioned a bit about the food in Germany, but it deserves a category all its own. German meals are primarily meat and potatoes. Exactly my kind of meal. Here’s a few things you can look forward to on a trip to Bavaria.
One of the most popular entrees is schnitzel. Pork schnitzel, chicken schnitzel, veal schnitzel, all kinds of schnitzel. It’s almost similar to chicken fried steak here in the US, but not quite. It can be served with fries or a cold potato salad.
Another popular one is sausage! This comes in the form of Bratwurst, Currywurst, Knockwurst, basically anything that ends in -wurst is a type of sausage. These are great with sauerkraut and (if you’re an adventurous eater) horseradish. Most horseradish is spicy though so watch out.
Some other common foods in Germany are the pork knuckle (schweinshaxe), gulasch, and sauerbraten. Gulasch is a stewed beef recipe in a rich sauce and sauerbraten is like a roast beef dish usually for special occasions.
Food is always one of my favorite parts of traveling because it’s so much a part of the culture. I also just love to eat. The food alone would be reason enough to visit Bavaria. And don’t forget the beer.
The oldest brewery in the world, The Weihenstephan Brewery, started brewing in 1040, yes 1-0-4-0. And you guessed it – they are located in Bavaria. Even the first brewery in America, Yuengling, was started by German immigrants. Obviously if you’re in search of good beer (which I always am) this is the place for you.
ALMOST a Different Country
So why Bavaria over any other German state? If you look back through European history, states, countries, and borders have always been in a state of flux. Ever since the Roman Empire ruled over most of the land there have been wars over borders. So this is a bit of a history lesson.
In 1180 the Roman Emperor gave Bavaria to Otto Wittelsbach which was the start of the Wittelsbach Dynasty. This dynasty lasted until 1918. Either a very smart family or very lucky.
Throughout that whole time there were wars involving and surrounding Bavaria and kingdoms rose and fell. Bavaria was constantly growing and shrinking depending on which side of the war they were on until the early 19th century. In 1805 after the Treaty of Pressburg, Bavaria won the boundaries that it has today for the most part.
After World War I in 1918, a socialist overthrew the last ruler in the Wittelsbach dynasty and created a socialist regime. He was overthrown himself just a few months later. Finally in August of 1919 Bavaria joined the Weimar Republic which turned into the Germany of today. That’s after another war of course that split the country in two.
That bit of history shows that Bavaria has only been part of Germany for a short time in the grand scheme of things. Bavaria has its own culture that came from a long history of being its own kingdom. If you want to know more about Bavaria’s history I found all of this in Britannica’s article on Bavaria.
One thing that jumped out is I found the people of Bavaria to be incredibly friendly. Though less people spoke English in this part of the country (in my experience) these were the most friendly and helpful people.
Reasons to Visit Bavaria In Review
Bavaria was one of my absolute favorite areas in Europe. The landscapes were breathtaking and looked like they came straight out of a movie. The people were friendly. There was enough history to make a nerd like me very happy. And the food, my goodness. There are so many amazing reasons to visit Bavaria. I’d say a road trip should be high on your bucket list!