Lake Eibsee, Bavaria, Germany

The 10 Best Places to See in the Bavarian Alps

March 21, 2024

Bavaria is Germany’s largest and one of its richest states. In its southern part are the Bavarian Alps, close to the Austrian border. Geographically, it is the northern edge of the Eastern Alps, which is divided into several smaller units. The extremely varied mountain region from Salzburg to Allgäu is of particular importance for tourism, popular almost all year round, mainly because of its easy accessibility from the major Bavarian cities, and has a first-class infrastructure.

The Bavarian Alps are one of the most beautiful areas in Germany, both in our opinion and that of many tourists. The Bavarian Alps offer excellent hiking opportunities, a wealth of attractions and natural and architectural beauty. In the Bavarian Alps, the mountain world is full of gorges and waterfalls, pretty mountain villages and historic castles, all with fantastic views.

When is the best time to visit the Bavarian Alps

The best time to visit the Bavarian Alps is from spring to autumn, generally from May to early October. This is when the lakes are at their most beautiful, the vegetation is colorful and the temperatures are pleasant, with rain being the only problem.

Costs in Bavarian Alps

In terms of cost, the Bavarian Alps are not the cheapest place to visit, in fact they are one of the most expensive in Western Europe. But that’s true everywhere in the Alps: Tyrol, the Dolomites and Switzerland are also expensive places. Accommodation in particular is expensive compared to other places, but in fact everything is expensive (programs, parking, restaurants…etc.). So if you want to breathe in fresh mountain air, hike in green fields of flowers and see clear green lakes with a wonderful alpine mountain panorama, you’ll have to pay for it. What we can say is that it’s worth it, because the Alpine environment has healing powers for both body and soul.

The best places to visit in the Bavarian Alps

In this article, we’ve selected the top 10 sights we think are well worth a visit when traveling to the Bavarian Alps.

1. Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is a castle in Bavaria built in the 19th century. It is the most photographed building in Germany and one of the country’s most visited tourist destinations.

Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for the Disney fairytale castle of Sleeping Beauty. And in fact, Neuschwanstein Castle really does look like a fairytale castle.

Located in the southern part of Germany, in the municipality of Schwangau, it was built by Louis II, King of Bavaria, to fulfil his own childhood dreams. His admiration for Richard Wagner inspired him to decorate some of the rooms and furnishings of the castle with characters from his operas.

Rising above the Alpsee, the castle is built on the lonely rock of the Pöllat Gorge, from which you can see almost the whole countryside in a panorama. The Neuschwanstein Castle is the main attraction of the area, visible from a distance on the road leading up to it.

Entrance to the inside of the Neuschwanstein Castle is for a fee, while the outside is free of charge.

There is plenty of parking available in Schwangau, but with so many tourists, you need to plan your trip well. The closest car parks to Neuschwanstein Castle are P1, P2 and P3.

You can get up to Neuschwanstein Castle on foot or by local bus, which only costs a few euros. The hike is a bit steep, but not too long, so it shouldn’t be a problem for people in good physical condition.

The most famous photo spot, from which you can see the castle from one of the best angles, is the Marienbrücke. To get there, you have to go around the castle from the west.

2. Hohenschwangau Castle

Another great attraction of the Bavarian Alps and Schwangau is Hohenschwangau Castle. Located not far from Neuschwanstein Castle, you can easily visit both in a day.

Hohenschwangau Castle was the childhood residence of King Louis II of Bavaria, the creator of Neuschwanstein Castle, and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. Otherwise, Hohenschwangau Castle was built on the ruins of the Schwangau fortress, which is mentioned in historical records as early as the 12th century.

In Schwangau, the P4 car park is the closest to Hohenschwangau Castle, from where it is an easy walk uphill.

The interior of the castle can be visited with a guided tour, which requires a ticket. The gardens of the castle with the fountains can be visited free of charge.

3. Lechfall

The Lechfall is a spectacular waterfall in the town of Füssen. It is especially beautiful in summer, when the water flow is not too high and the water turns a bright turquoise color.

The best way to see it is from the bridge over the Lech River, which is also a good photo point. There is a car park not far from the bridge, with easy walking access to the bridge and the waterfall.

It’s not a must-see around Schwangau, but if you have the time, it’s worth checking out.

4. Eibsee

Lake Eibsee is a real must-see in Bavaria. It has become very popular on social media sites in recent years, for good reason.

At the foot of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, you will find this beautiful mountain lake with a magnificent panorama and excellent hiking opportunities. Surrounded by green pine forests, the crystal-clear, emerald-green Lake Eibsee at the foot of the huge white limestone mountain ranges is a classic Alpine picture-postcard scene.

Lake Eibsee near Garmisch-Partenkirchen is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the area. It is easily accessible by highway from Munich.

In summer, the area offers many recreational activities such as hiking, climbing, boating, but is also a popular holiday destination at other times of the year. For example, Garmisch-Partenkirchen in winter offers very popular ski resorts.

There is a relatively good infrastructure around the lake, with several car parks, a hotel, restaurants and boat hire facilities. The lake can be circumnavigated in a hike, about 7 km around, and because the road is good, no special equipment is needed.

Furthermore, there is a small lake on the south side of Eibsee called Frillensee, which is worth a visit on your hike.

5. Zugspitze

The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, is located right next to Eibsee. From the car parks next to the lake, you can take a cable car to the peak, from where you can enjoy a stunning alpine panorama. The area offers plenty of hiking and climbing opportunities for visitors.

The unique feature of Zugspitze is that it is not only served by cable cars from Germany, but also from Austria, and the mountain stations of the cable cars are located on the border between the two countries.

6. Geroldsee

Geroldsee is a small, quite hidden lake near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Gerold, Krün. It all feels so private that we almost don’t dare to advertise it. But because we think the Geroldsee is one of the most photogenic places in the Bavarian Alps, it had to be added to the list.

The small mountain lake with its chalets and rocky mountains in the background is a breathtaking sight. The best photo spots are on the grassy hillside opposite the lake.

As written, Geroldsee is a pretty secret spot and the locals like their peace and quiet, so respect that. You can leave your car in front of a guesthouse on a street called In Gerold. Although this is a pay car park, no other places are allowed. The lake is about a 1 km walk from the car park.

7. Hintersee

The other points on the list are a little closer to Salzburg, on the easternmost side of the Bavarian Alps. One of them is Hintersee, a real little paradise in a hidden part of the Bavarian Alps.

The Hintersee is a small green water lake with a wonderful alpine panorama all around. Greenish pine forests surround the emerald green lake, next to the beautiful, clear Klausbach river.

You can get to Hintersee on narrow little roads, where there are surprisingly many tourists. There are several guest houses and restaurants in the area, and it is also possible to rent a boat. There is plenty of parking available around the lake, our favorites are on the northwest side of the lake because that’s where the best photo spots are the closest.

Hintersee can be circumnavigated by foot, about 2.5 km around. The best photo spots are on the northern and western shores of the lake, from where you get a fantastic view of the green lake with the mountains in the background and small rocks jutting out of the lake, sometimes with a tree on them. In social media, this view is often referred to as the Eibsee, which is wrong, because it is the Hintersee.

8. Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden

Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden is located halfway between Hintersee and the town of Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps.

Mostly due to its good photo opportunities, it was added to the list. The turquoise water, the small wooden bridges and the church in the background, together with the often snow-capped alpine peaks, make Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden one of the best photo locations in the Bavarian Alps.

Not far from the village is a gorge called Wimbachklamm, where an elevated walkway leads through the picturesque gorge, where multiple waterfalls cascade into a river. If you have more time, this is well worth a visit.

9. Königssee

At the base of Germany’s third-highest peak, the Watzmann mountain, lies the magnificent Lake Königssee, a popular tourist destination.

Königssee is the third-deepest lake in Germany. It was formed by glaciers during the last ice age. It stretches for approximately 7.7 km in a north-south direction and is approximately 1.7 km in diameter at its widest point.

The best way to see the Königssee is to take the local boat trips, which are very popular, and cruise around the lake. One important stop on the way is at St Bartholomew’s Church, where you can get out and explore the area.

Along the way, the boat offers wonderful views of the cliffs and waterfalls, and a musician on board will show you how the place echoes.

There are huge parking lots just a short walk from the lake. Between the car parks and the lake, you will find interesting shops selling local goods and restaurants serving Bavarian cuisine. It is worth planning more time, even a whole day, to visit Königssee, because the area is huge, the boat trip takes a long time and there are large crowds, which can make you wait in some places.

If you want to read more about the lake, you can find a complete guide to Lake Königssee by clicking on the link.

10. Obersee

Lake Obersee is a smaller lake accessible from Königssee. The Königssee boat network helps you get to the Obersee, which means you have to sail to the end of the Königssee and from there it’s a short walk to the Obersee. There is no other way to reach the lake.

If you visit the Königsse, you should also take a look at the Obersee. The beautiful green mountain lake is perhaps even more beautiful than its larger neighbor.

There are chalets on two opposite sides of the lake, the area around them is very photogenic. The lake is not circumnavigable, but you can walk along one side of the lake. There is also a restaurant on the other side with very good reviews.

The Bavarian Alps therefore offer plenty to see and do, in fact much more than we have listed here. It’s worth spending a few days or even a week there, relaxing and enjoying the wonders of nature. The magical alpine nature and German culture fascinate every tourist who travels to the Bavarian Alps. The area is also a great starting point for further adventures to other parts of Germany or to the neighboring countries.

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