With blue skies, green meadows and majestic mountains, the Bavarian Alps make a delightful region in which to spend some time on your European holiday. Close to Munich and Innsbruck, the Bavarian Alps are a hikers paradise but there's something on offer for everyone. Here are three of our favourite places in the Bavarian Alps in which to spend some time.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
It’s no wonder Walt Disney styled his Fantasyland Castle on Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. Bavarian King Ludwig II was fascinated by all things Wagner, and back in 1867 he commissioned the building of the impressive Neuschwanstein Schloss (Castle), not far from the Hohenschwangau Schloss where he grew up in picturesque Bavaria. The castle was to be a place of retreat for Ludwig II where he could immerse himself in a dream world – the Middle Ages, a period which fascinated him.
A pleasant walk, or horse and carriage ride, uphill to the castle is breaktaking but the views from the top, looking down on the village of Schwangau and the surrounding lakes, are equally are as good.
With around 1 million people visiting Neuschwanstein Castle every year, it is one of Bavaria's most popular tourist attractions, so if you can put up with the crowds, it is definitely worth a visit.
2. Lake Chiemsee
Bavaria's biggest lake, Lake Chiemsee, covers an area of 85 square kilometres. At the southern end of the lake, the Herreninsel, Fraueninsel and Krautinsel islands sit close together in the calm waters. Herreninsel is home to another of King Ludwig's famous castles, this one based on France's Palace of Versailles.
An 11th century Romanesque abbey church holds a commanding view on Fraueninsel, whilst the uninhabited Krauteninsel sits between the other two larger islands.
With lakes, mountains, nature reserves and endless outdoor and cultural activities available in the Chiemgau region, this is a destination the whole family will enjoy.
Home to the 1936 Winter Olympics, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is actually two villages rolled into one. A favourite getaway for Munich residents with year-round activities, the town also makes a great base for exploring the many other lovely towns and villages in the area. As the base town for Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze, Garmisch-Partenkirchen becomes a lively ski resort in winter. In summer, visits to the top of the mountain are also popular with both serious hikers and the more leisurely tourist. A rack-railway and cable car make getting to the top a breeze, and with views of the 400 surrounding peaks, it's definitely a must do.
The town centre of Garmisch boasts cobblestoned streets and an abundance of shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Many of the town's buildings still bear their colourful medieval murals from day's gone by. A visit in summer calls for coffee and cake, or perhaps a glass of wine, at one of the traditional Bavarian eateries that offer alfresco dining.
To visit our three favourite Bavarian destinations above, I suggest you stay in Munich, Garmisch Partenkirchen or Fussen which are all easily accessible, but Innsbruck also makes a great base for exploring the area.