Germany’s Free State of Bavaria is famous for the stunning countryside, culture, history, pristine forests, clean air, beautiful lakes, high mountains, and of course, medieval castles. There are charming hotels and restaurants to choose from in each town and village welcoming you with laid back Bavarian hospitality. If you are visiting Munich, Bavaria’s capital and biggest city, be sure to extend your trip for a few days and experience a fairytale adventure in nature fit for a queen or king. Here are a few must-do experiences and attractions in Bavaria.
Forest Bathing In The Bavarian Woods
We already know time spent in nature is good for our body, mind and soul, the challenge is finding the right place and busy schedules. But there is no better time than traveling to escape the daily hustle and bustle of hectic life. A refreshing walk in the Upper Bavarian countryside with rolling hills and nature in every direction brings peace, fresh air, allows us to breathe more deeply, and can even boost our immune systems. In Bavaria you can go “forest bathing” with a certified forest health trainer or go alone and do your own mediation in nature. Forest bathing is a form of ecotherapy that is increasingly practiced in Germany and is a term that emerged from Japan called shinrin-yoku. Although the concept of spending time in a forest for healing has been around for a long time, this idea began to offer a solution to burnout in Japan and inspired people to reconnect with nature for their physical and mental well being.
I stayed at Ralais Chalet Wilhelmy, a boutique hotel in Bad Wiessee close to Lake Tegernsee, a short walk to the peaceful green and lush forest. Leave your phone behind (Unless you absolutely must capture photos) and start with a digital detox. The magnificent Bavarian forest is the perfect place to appreciate natural surroundings and find inner peace. Bring a mat or blanket so you can sit, meditate, listen to singing birds, streams, wind blowing through trees, or simply walk through the forest and consciously connect with your surroundings. On a more structured tour, a guide leads the experience.
The Wendelstein Cog Railway And Cable Car
For a vigorous hike in nature that is sure to get your heart racing, head to Upper Bavaria’s Wendelstein Mountain. This remarkable mountain is 1,838 meters high and boasts several exciting activities. The cog railway whisks you from Brannenburg to the Wendelstein in about 30 minutes. The mountain is home to the highest cave in Germany (opening again in May) where you can go right inside and explore the “cold trap” where snow still resides in the summer.
Save time to admire the adorable Wendelstein Church, the highest in Germany dating back to 1890 where couples still tie the knot. Ride the Wendelstein Cable Car up and down the mountain for breathtaking views at a faster pace. If you dare, hike to the look-out platform for stunning views of the Central Alps and the famous Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. Wendelstein mountain is open during winter months and offers sporting challenges for ski lovers at the Wendelstein Ski Arena.
Boat Trips And Island Hopping
When staying at Yachthotel Chiemsee you are within walking distance of Chiemsee Harbour and can easily access the ferry at Chiemsee Schifffahrt. Boats depart year round and tickets can be purchased on board. Start your day of adventure on the water by setting sail to Fraueninsel. Fraueninsel island is a fishing village with lots of character including a free-standing bell tower and 1200 year old Frauenworth monastery church, one of the oldest Christian places of worship in Southern Germany. This adorable island is lined with cute houses, cafés, boutique shops, towering trees, blooming flowers, wild birds, and very friendly ducks.
Hop back on the ferry and sail to Herreninsel where you can have lunch at Schlosswirtschaft Herrenchiemsee, a family owned business serving traditional Bavarian cuisine including a vegan option.
Herreninsel, known as the King’s Island, is home to the famous fairytale Herrenchiemsee Palace. Built by King Ludwig II, this glorious castle was intended to surpass the Palace of Versailles in France, yet was never fully completed. But don’t worry, you will still be in awe of the breathtaking great hall of mirrors, majestic state rooms, shiny marble staircase, glowing bedrooms, and magic table. If glitter and glam is your thing you will feel right at home in this massive royal fortress and the attention to detail is mesmerizing. Just don’t attempt to take photographs inside as it’s strictly forbidden and yes, guards are watching.
The surrounding grounds have impressive water features and thriving gardens to walk, sit under trees, and admire beautiful views of lakes and mountains. You will definitely want to add Herreninsel Palace to your Bavaria bucket list, after all, you can’t visit Germany and not explore at least one castle.