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Breathtaking gorges, mystical lakes and mountains, magnificent castles, quaint villages. These Upper Bavaria scenery and places to see are among the most beautiful places in Germany and are my absolute favourites and insider tips.
Enchanted lakes, thundering gorges, Germany’s highest peak and the infamous Watzmann. Several of the most impressive excursion destinations lead to stunning Upper Bavariy scenery. If you’re there on the perfect day at the right time of year, they can be so impressive that they are etched in your memory forever and make your eyes light up: that’s what happened to me with the Partnach Gorge, the hike, a climb up the Zugspitze and the Eibsee.
Culturally, I limited myself to the most impressive buildings I had visited myself, and that wasn’t easy at all. All of them are embedded in a bombastic setting, such as Linderhof Castle, Herrenchiemsee on its namesake lake or the beautiful Andechs Monastery.
In the middle of the largest Bavarian district lies the state capital Munich, the “white sausage capital”, from where you can head for all the destinations in Upper Bavaria listed here as a day trip. I lived in Munich for 4 years and for me it is the most liveable city in Germany, purely in terms of location. It has a lot to see – and I’m not just talking about the famous sights of Marienplatz, Viktualienmarkt, Nymphenburg Palace, the Olympic grounds, the English Garden, the magnificent Asam Church and at least one rustic brewery cellar.
However, Munich is only listed as one of the destinations in this list – the city offers so much that we have to write a separate article for it, which will then also contain a few real personal insider tips. 🙂
Real Bavaria – that’s Upper Bavaria. It starts with the dialect, traditional costume and culture and is still wonderfully lived in rustic villages with onion shaped roofs and special painting called “Lüftlmalerei”, such as Oberammergau with its famous festival. Beer gardens and rustic breweries with hearty fare that look back on a long history make up the Upper Bavarian culture of life. And then in Upper Bavaria there are impressive natural sites, destinations of longing, right on the doorstep in the middle of Germany.
Upper Bavaria borders Austria to the south and east, Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate to the northeast, Middle Franconia to the northwest and Swabia to the west, which also includes the Allgäu region.
The 20 most worthwhile Upper Bavaria scenery and places to see start with Munich, and move first from Munich further and further away to the northwest and finally to the southwest and south close to the border with Austria.
Munich in fine weather means: definitely stopping off at the beer garden in the Flaucher and dangling your feet in the Isar. If you’re visiting the Bavarian capital for the first time, it’s best to walk from the Stachus through the pedestrian zone past the Frauenkirche, across Marienplatz with the Wurmeck to Lueg ins Land or Odeonsplatz. A veal sausage or a so called typical Bavarian “Leberkäs” at the Viktualienmarkt is almost obligatory for meat eaters – vegetarians and vegans will also find a wide selection of delicacies here. It’s also worth visiting Dallmayer with its in-house roasting, the fresh chocolates there are an insider tip.
What else must you see? The English Garden with the surfers at the Eisbach wave, the baroque Asam Church and at least one brewery pub (Augustiner or Schneider are much nicer and less crowded than the Munich Hofbräuhaus). For your first time in Munich, all you can do is go round the sights and get a taste of Munich life. Nymphenburg Palace with its beautiful palace park is also very worthwhile – but you should definitely plan several hours for it and the palace is a destination in its own right. A visit to the Olympic Park is also worthwhile – most of all when the visibility is good: then you have a great view of the city and even as far as the Alps.
For rainy days, Munich offers super nice boutiques – the most frequented is the pedestrian zone (Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse), but it is worth visiting the small shops in the Glockenbachviertel. Museums worth seeing are the Pinakotheken, the Lembachhaus and the Deutsches Museum.
Oldest brewery in the world and birthplace of the famous Obazden – in culinary terms, the Weihenstephan brewery looks back on a proud history. The beer garden is located on the Weihenstephan “Nährberg” in the middle of the campus of the Department of Brewery Technology and while having a bite to eat, you have a fantastic view over Freising and the countryside.
For almost 1000 years – since 1040 – the Weihenstephan State Brewery has been brewing beer according to the German Purity Law – meanwhile, like almost all large Bavarian breweries, in many different varieties. The Obatzda, which landlady Katharina Eisenreich is said to have invented there about 60 years ago, is now an indispensable snack in a Bavarian beer garden: you mix camembert cheese, spices, onions and Weihenstephan beer to make the creamy, Obazdn, which tastes great with a fresh pretzel. After the stop, you can round off the excursion with a stroll through the beautiful town of Freising.
The Andechs Monastery, with its characteristic onion shaped tower, is enthroned on the Holy Mountain and has been the destination of many pilgrims since the 12th century until today. Their destination used to be relics, but today it is the Gothic image of Our Lady at the lower high altar for the roughly 30,000 pilgrims every year and the justly highly praised beer for many more pilgrims. Even today, the monks run the brewery independently.
Andechs Monastery is based in beautiful Upper Bavaria scenery that is best visited on foot, just like all the pilgrims! I recommend the 1.5-hour hike from Herrsching through the shady Kiental valley up the Holy Mountain to the monastery. You should definitely take a look at the magnificently decorated rococo church, visit the brewery and stop at the recommendable Monastry food court for typical Bavarian food. There is also the opportunity to buy culinary souvenirs: freshly baked bread and pretzels, monastery schnapps and other delicacies.
What does fairytale king Ludwig II have to do with the Jaudesberg? The story goes that the famous king, in search of a building site for his summer residence, also stood on the 80m high Jaudesberg. Unfortunately, the weather was bad and Ludwig II was not convinced by the location. For when the Föhn wind blows and the weather is fine, the view can reach as far as the Alps and is considered the most beautiful vantage point on the Ammersee! Even today, an upper sanatorium on the Jaudesberg reminds us of the visit.
We started our hike in the recreation area at Wörthsee, the car park there costs 3 euros, and hiked over the Jaudesberg with its magnificent view over the Ammersee to the Alps, via the Europakapelle to Breitenbrunn. From there we hiked to the Dampfersteg on the Ammersee with its small kiosk and pebble beach. This is a perfect place for a rest with a beautiful view over the lake with a beer or drink and snacks. The most beautiful stage leads along the shores of the Ammersee, where you also have to cross two watercourses and enjoy great views and swimming opportunities. Via the Seven Bridges Trail you then head to Wörth Island, unofficially called “Mouse Island”, and back to the car park.
A foray through history back to the time of the dinosaurs. In this fossil quarry you have a good chance of finding ammonites, prehistoric fish and prehistoric plants and it is beautifully situated near Altmannstein. The free fossil quarry is hidden on the outskirts of the village and you have to bring everything you need for tapping yourself: Hammer, chisel, gloves, safety goggles and sturdy shoes! It is not overrun with tourists and if you are very lucky, you have the whole hollow to yourself. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find something, but at least you’re guaranteed to find fossilised plants. If you are looking for excursion destinations in Upper Bavaria with children, you should be careful: Tapping fossils can be addictive and is incredibly fun even if you don’t discover the big find. 🙂
This excursion destination is suitable for all seasons except the height of summer on very hot days, as the hollow gets very hot in summer and there is no sun protection!
The Karlstein castle ruins are enthroned on the Pankraz rock. Its oldest structure is said to date back to the 8th century, and from the 12th century it was owned by the Bavarian dukes. The castle was once used to control the old salt road and collect tolls. Today, the castle offers a wonderful panoramic view of the Alps, Lake Thumsee, Bad Reichenhall and the church of St. Pankraz. It is a place of peace and quiet where you can unwind and which is not as overrun with tourists as larger and more imposing castle complexes.
The best way to get there is to hike from the Thumsee hiking car park with its lily pond “Seemösl” through the mountain forest to the summit of Karlstein Castle. The path is not suitable for prams as there are many steps. A wooden staircase leads to the inner courtyard of the castle, where there are benches for a rest. After the tour of the castle with its many fabulous views, you can visit the church – although it is not always open. Finally, it is worthwhile to hike around the Thumsee and on warm days you can even jump in. You should plan about 1.5 hours for the short hike, which can also be done with children (but not with prams).
Waving waves frozen into stone – the karst plateau between the Watzmann massif, Königssee and Hochkalter massif owes its name to this impression. The impressive sea of stones is one of the most beautiful destinations in Upper Bavaria for experienced mountaineers and hikers. Twenty peaks can be hiked and climbed there via hiking trails or ascents, and the many huts make it ideal for a hut tour lasting several days.
The most prominent is the 2,653-metre-high Schönfeldspitze, which is one of Berchtesgarden’s landmarks as the “Berchtesgaden Matterhorn”. Particularly worthwhile is the 2,655-metre Selbhorn – the highest peak in the Sea of Stone and Funtenseetauern. I particularly liked the Riemann house and the Kärlinger house with their Bavarian homemade delicacies to stop at and spend the night.
The mighty rock faces of the Berchtesgaden Alps rise almost vertically from Lake Königssee with its shimmering dark blue water. Bavaria’s most famous mountain lake is up to 192 metres deep and you can only get to the most beautiful spots by electric boat! On the trip you can hear the famous echo that the boatman sends across the lake with his flugelhorn, which can sound very different depending on the weather and the blower – once it was loud bollerschüsse. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Salet at the other end of the lake, from where you should definitely walk to Obersee, which was once separated from Königssee by a moraine – there, depending on the weather, one of the most beautiful photo motifs Upper Bavaria scenery has to offer awaits you.
Against the backdrop of the Watzmann East Face stands the baroque pilgrimage church of St. Bartolomä with its characteristic wine-red onion domes – you should definitely stop there on the way there or back and take a walk to the ice chapel or along the lake.
Don’t miss the last ride – a private fare costs around €250!
What a view over the Königsee! When you reach the legendary east face to the Königsee after some very demanding passages, which are narrow and sometimes secured with steel ropes, then you know why the Watzmann hike is considered the most beautiful tour in the Bavarian Alps. On this incredibly beautiful mountain tour, you cross three peaks. You start at the Wimbach bridge, the trail leads over the Watzmann house to the Hocheck, over the ridge to the South peak and back to the Wimbachgries.
You should plan 15 hours for the approximately 23 kilometres – on the way back you can also hike with a headlamp from Wimbachgries. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful excursion destination in Upper Bavaria scenery, but it can only be done by experienced mountaineers who are absolutely free of giddiness, sure-footed and in good physical condition.
For those who are not so badass, I recommend the doable and beautiful hike to the Watzmannhaus from the Wimbachbrücke in Ramsau!
Picturesquely set against the backdrop of the foothills of the Alps lies Bavaria’s largest lake, the “Bavarian Sea”. Beautifully situated in the countryside, the 80 square kilometre Chiemsee offers many different excursion destinations in Upper Bavaria scenery, the most famous and magnificent of which is Herrenchiemsee Castle.
Ludwig II is famous for choosing the most beautiful places for his magnificent castles. For his Herrenchiemsee Palace with its beautiful gardens, he chose the island of Herreninsel, which gave it its name. King Ludwig II set himself the insane goal of surpassing Versailles with his last palace – he didn’t succeed, but the similarities to the model are clear to see.
“I gangat gern auf d’Kampenwand, wann i mit meiner Wamp’n kannt’.” (Bavarian Saying)
Translation for all non-Bavarians: “I would like to go on the Kampenwand, if I could with my fat belly.” Supposedly, the well-known Bavarian shaking rhyme contributes to the prominence of the summit ridge, which is reminiscent of a cockscomb. Visible from afar, the mountain is popular with mountain bikers, climbers and hikers and offers many options for tours including the mountain railway from Aschau to the top station, which takes you up and down in a very relaxed manner. From the top, there is a magnificent view of the Alpine foothills and Lake Chiemsee. If the view is good, you can even make out the Watzmann, the Großglockner, the Großvenediger and even Munich with its television tower.
Tour tip: The jagged rocky ridge can be viewed most beautifully from the Steinling Alm as a reward after the ascent to the Wiesenboden (you can then also use the Kampenwand cable car for this). Continue on to the east summit, which requires easy climbing and for which you must be sure-footed. The east summit is adorned by the imposing 12 m high summit cross – it is the highest in the Bavarian Alps!
Tegernsee and Schliersee are beautiful destinations in Upper Bavaria – but terribly overcrowded! You can walk around both lakes – but you won’t find solitude and silence. It’s a completely different story if you lace up your hiking boots and set off on the moderately difficult hike up to the chapel on the Riederstein. Once you reach your destination, you will be rewarded with a wonderful panoramic view of Lake Tegernsee and the Alps. You should allow about 3 hours for the 8-kilometre hike. It is not lonely at the top, especially at peak times on weekends on nice days – the view is simply too beautiful for that – but you will definitely find a quiet spot to unwind.
A good start for the tour is the hikers’ car park at the shooting range at Tegernsee. From there, take the forest path to Berghaus Galaun with its sun terrace. Behind the mountain hut begins the Way of the Cross, which leads to the chapel via a wooden staircase. The path has 14 panels describing Christ’s suffering until death. At the chapel, the wonderful view rewards you. Return via Galaun to Rottach and via the Leeberghöhenweg back to Lake Tegernsee.
The hike is also recommended in summer, as most of the paths lead through the forest!
Glistening gold, exuberant paintings in pastel shades, magnificent carvings and stucco everywhere you look. While from the outside the monastery church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is part of an originally Gothic central building with a curved Baroque finish and Baroque façade, a different world awaits the visitor inside the monastery church.
In terms of art history, the interior is classified as Rococo or South German Baroque, and if I have my way, this church is one of the most beautiful buildings of this era. The church is bright and colourful, crowned by a lavishly painted dome with baroque round-arched windows through which light streams into the interior. Putti – little angels – on the cornice represent allegories of virtues. The side facing the choir shows a large fresco. The longer you look around, the more details there are to discover – including a unicorn (where is not revealed).
There is no entrance fee to the monastery church of the Assumption, I always leave a donation for the preservation of the building.
Magnificent views of the Walchensee and a very scenic and varied tightrope walk with a panoramic view. The tightrope walk from Heimgarten to Herzogstand, two of Munich’s local mountains, is a classic in the foothills of the Alps, but it’s really worth it. The day tour itself is not difficult, but you should be sure-footed and not afraid of heights. The accomplished hiker can have a wonderful stop with a fantastic view at the summit of the Heimgarten in the Heimgartenhütte and below the Herzogstand in the Berggasthaus Herzogstand.
You should plan a total of 7 hours of walking time for the tour, the ascent takes about 3.5 hours, on the ridge with a great view of Kochelsee and Walchensee you hike for 1.5 hours and then it’s quite a brisk 2 hours downhill again – who its If you want to take it easy on your knees, you can also get on and off the Herzogstandband.
The most beautiful circular tour starts at the Herzogstandbahn car park. It first goes in the direction of Heimgarten and then over the ridge, which is repeatedly secured with steel cables, to the summit with the summit pavilion of the Herzogstand with its magnificent panoramic view.
Oberammergau is one of those destinations in Upper Bavaria that fulfils the Bavarian village cliché in the best sense. Carvings, painted house fronts with quaint Bavarian paintings, onion domes on the church and pretty alleyways. Time seems to have stood still in this little town of 5,500 inhabitants. Every 10 years, the Passion Play takes place there – Oberammergau is famous for this, but it has much more to offer.
Woodcarving has been a tradition here since the Middle Ages. Perhaps this is because there was a great interest in religious motifs due to the nearby Ettal monastery.
There still seem to be many artisans here, who offer their mostly carved wares for sale in the houses decorated with painted house facades called “Lüftlmalerei”. It is worth taking a leisurely stroll through the alleyways! The façades of the Mußldomahaus, the Pilatushaus and the Forsthaus are particularly worth seeing.
I’ve already done a few gorge hikes in Upper Bavaria and I’ll say right up front: the Partnachklamm gorge can’t be topped in winter! Water roaring in your ears and cascades of glittering, bizarrely shaped icicles lining the rocks along the Partnach. If you are lucky enough to visit the Partnachklamm in the icy winter, you will be rewarded with a natural wonder that is second to none. The Partnachklamm is “my fifth gorge” and is rightly considered one of the most worthwhile excursion destinations in Upper Bavaria scenery.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the car park in Garmisch Partenkirchen to the Partnachklamm gorge. On tunnels and passages blasted into the rock, you then walk a total of 700 m on an easily accessible path through the gorge. The walls rise up to 80 m!
The Partnachklamm is no longer an insider tip – according to the official website, around 200,000 visitors come here every year. And for good reason!
Important: Before visiting, be sure to check the website to see if the Partnachklamm is open!
Ticket price: 6 € adults | 3 € children & youths up to 17 years of age
Lake Eibsee lies in an unspoilt mountain landscape below the Zugspitze. The view from the north shore of the lake is breathtaking – deep blue, crystal clear water, dark coniferous trees on the shore, small islands in the water and above them the Zugspitze towering steeply towards the sky. This is definitely one of the most beautiful panoramic views in the Alpine region!
The Eibsee is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the Alps – in the Allgäu, however, I have another insider’s tip that even tops this fantastic excursion destination in Upper Bavaria scenery. However, the Allgäu mountain lake can only be reached after a demanding hike, while the Eibsee can be reached quite comfortably by public transport or the Zugspitzbahn. Surprisingly, the Eibsee is privately owned; the owners built the Berghotel, which is still the only building on the otherwise pristine lake.
A family-friendly, easily walkable circular trail leads 9.67 kilometres around the Eibsee, for which you should plan about 2.5 hours. It starts at the hotel and leads past the Eibsee pavilion all the way around – on the north shore you have a fantastic view of the Zugspitze. You can go pedal boating on the Eibsee and you can also use one of the narrow pebble beaches to swim in it.
400 Alpine peaks from 4 countries, 3 glaciers and dotty Bavarian lakes – what a 360 degree panoramic view! Germany’s highest mountain rises with its golden summit cross from the Wetterstein Mountains in the southwest of Garmisch-Partenkirchen at 2862 metres and has an east and a west summit. From the terrace of the mountain railway you have an incomparable view – no matter what time of year, it is always worthwhile! The flag of the Free State of Bavaria flies here and Germany’s highest beer garden, which is hopelessly crowded during the holidays, tempts you with Bavarian specialities.
Passionate hikers can hike the Zugspitze in summer and in suitable weather – the tour is worthwhile, it is very scenic, but you should be experienced and book a mountain guide if necessary. All others can take the Zugspitzbahn to the Zugspitz glacier and, depending on the ticket, also make a stop at the fabulously beautiful Eibsee. It is highly advisable to buy tickets online in advance, otherwise you might not be able to get a ticket on the spot! However, the prices are also quite steep – the round trip, which can be made either by glacier cable car, cog railway or cable car, costs adults a hefty 63 euros in summer. One-way tickets cost 37.50 euros – so you should make the most of the whole day!
Gurgling, roaring and foaming, the Hammersbach in the Höllental tumbles over boulders into pools. The impressive gorge is the big sister of the Partnach gorge and is only open in the summer months, weather permitting. In a spectacular natural setting, it lies in the Zugspitze massif and cuts deep into the Wetterstein mountains. Today, the Höllenklamm is well accessible and you have to hike about 3 kilometres and 300 metres in altitude from the Hammersbach car park until you reach the entrance hut.
A narrow path has been cut into the rock through the gorge, through which you can walk safely along the Hammersbach, which swells into a roaring torrent in the Höllenklamm.
Prices: Admission costs 5 euros for adults, 2 euros for children aged 7-17, younger children may visit the gorge free of charge.
The path leads along the Linder River through the park to Linderhof Castle.
Strictly speaking, Linderhof Castle is not a castle but a stately villa. It is the only building that King Ludwig II was able to complete. Unfortunately, when I was there, Linderhof Palace and parts of the park were closed due to the weather. Nevertheless, the walk from the visitors’ car park through the park to the castle is worthwhile, especially when there is snow!
I will definitely return in spring or summer, as the park is considered one of the most beautiful parks of the 19th century. For example, the water games are stopped in winter (it’s obvious, if it freezes otherwise it probably blows up the pipes) and the park buildings are also not open for viewing in winter.
A worthwhile alternative is the hike along the Linder River to the castle, which I took instead of visiting. It costs nothing and offers beautiful nature.
Ticket price Linderhof Palace (and park buildings): €8.50 adults | €7.50 concessions
Bavaria has much more to offer – here you’ll find a big list of 50 personal recommendations for best places to visit in Bavaria. If you haven’t had enough yet, check out these 7 enchanting places to see in the Allgäu region, which borders Upper Bavaria to the west. On Abenteuer Freundschaft there are not only places of longing to discover, but also lots of unusual ideas for activities with friends, family and your partner. Take a look around!
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