While a 3-day trip may not be enough to fully experience the Bavarian Alps, it’s certainly sufficient to visit some of the region’s most beautiful and noteworthy destinations, such as Neuschwanstein Castle and Berchtesgaden.
These two attractions are located on opposite ends of the Bavarian Alps, with Neuschwanstein on the westernmost side and Berchtesgaden on the easternmost side. However, visiting both is not entirely impractical.
In fact, you can visit both even if you’re based in a single city, Munich. By choosing to stay in Munich, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore what makes this city so amazing!
With these destinations on your itinerary, you can look forward to a 3-day trip that offers a blend of different experiences, making your journey truly worthwhile. From cultural discoveries and architectural marvels in Munich to the enchanting sights of Neuschwanstein Castle and the breathtaking natural beauty of Berchtesgaden, you should be more than excited for a trip guided by this itinerary!
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IMPORTANT: Before we dive into the specifics of this 3-day Bavarian Alps itinerary, let’s set some expectations.
- Firstly, while this itinerary promises a visit to many places, it’s important to understand that time constraints may limit the depth of each experience.
- This itinerary is ideal for first-time visitors, as it provides a personal introduction to various attractions in the Bavarian Alps. The experiences gained here should inspire a return visit for a more dedicated exploration of the attractions that piqued their interest the most.
- Lastly, this itinerary is designed for travelers who want to maximize their time during their visit to Bavaria and the Bavarian Alps, rather than those seeking a completely laid-back trip.
If you’re seeking a vacation filled with numerous discoveries in the Bavarian Alps, I would recommend planning a 7-day Bavarian Alps trip. This duration allows ample time to explore and experience the region’s diverse attractions.
However, if your goal is to experience all the highlights this region has to offer, then a 10-day Bavarian journey would be even better. This extended timeframe ensures you won’t miss out on any of the must-see sights and experiences in the Bavarian Alps.
For more information about Bavarian Alps (planning your trip and tips) check my post about the 20 Things to Do in Bavarian Alps.
To summarize, your 3-day trip to the Bavarian Alps will take you to three main attractions: Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle, and the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden.
- Day 1 marks your arrival in Germany. This day should be dedicated to all the necessary preparations for the trip (example, dropping your bags on your hotel, buying SIM cards and more). Once everything is set, you can spend the rest of the day exploring Munich’s rich culture, history, and architecture.
- Day 2 is reserved for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, the most famous tourist attraction in the Bavarian Alps. If time permits, you can also stop by Lindenhof Palace and Oberammergau to make the most of your day.
- Day 3 is all about immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Berchtesgaden. From the town, you’ll visit the Eagle’s Nest, another iconic historical landmark in the Bavarian Alps, and Konigsee, one of the most picturesque lakes in Germany. If time allows, you can also join a tour of the town’s historic Salt Mine. This itinerary promises a blend of cultural, historical, and natural experiences, making your 3-day trip to the Bavarian Alps truly memorable.
Neuschwanstein Castle and Berchtesgaden are both accessible from Munich via public transportation, including trains and buses.
However, I would advise against relying solely on public transportation. The reason being, the travel duration from Munich could consume valuable time that could be better spent exploring each destination. I’ll provide more details on this later.
If possible, consider renting a car. This can significantly reduce your travel time. Alternatively, joining a tour can offer the utmost convenience, allowing you to make the most of your visit to these stunning locations.
If you’re still in the process of securing accommodation, you can find the best hotel deals in Munich here.
Day 1: Munich
Munich is the most convenient city to start your three-day Bavarian Alps trip, whether you’re flying into the Bavarian Alps or coming from other European cities. It’s the capital of Bavaria and the gateway to the Bavarian Alps.
Most importantly, Munich is a beautiful destination by itself, with many places to visit. That’s why you’ll also be spending time in Munich on this three-day Bavarian Alps trip.
Arriving in Munich in the morning gives you a full afternoon and evening to soak in the city’s charm. Even in this short time, you can have a variety of delightful experiences. Start with a leisurely stroll around Marienplatz, the city’s central square, and take in the grandeur of the New Town Hall. Next, visit Viktualienmarkt, a bustling food market.
Afterwards, enjoy a peaceful walk in the English Garden, one of the city’s largest public parks. End your day by immersing yourself in Bavarian culture at the Hofbräuhaus, a renowned beer hall.
To maximize your time, consider joining a walking tour of the city, particularly through Munich’s old town. This area is home to some of the city’s most stunning architecture. Being part of a tour allows you to uncover the fascinating history behind these buildings. A bonus of joining a tour is the opportunity to ask your guide for insider tips and the latest happenings in the city.
Feel free to ask your tour guide about the latest attractions in the city. You might also want to inquire about the best spots to enjoy panoramic views of Munich. Don’t hesitate to ask about the currently trending restaurants in the city. Following their recommendations will surely make your time in Munich unique and memorable.
If you’re a fan of stunning vistas and want to catch a sunset in Munich, the Olympic Tower would be my top pick.
The Olympic Tower, soaring at a height of 291 meters, offers the highest viewpoint in Munich. You can ascend to the viewing platform, situated at a dizzying 185 meters, via super-fast lifts. On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of the Alps in the distance.
Day 2: Western Bavarian Alps (Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, Oberammergau)
Your second day in the Bavarian Alps promises to be magical, with visits to two fairy-tale landmarks and a stroll through a village that seems straight out of a storybook. Your destinations are Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Oberammergau.
Neuschwanstein Castle is the top highlight of the Bavarian Alps and should be your priority. Given the time it takes to fully explore the castle and its surroundings, you might want to save Linderhof Palace and Oberammergau for another day. This is especially true if you’re visiting Neuschwanstein Castle on DIY and relying on public transportation.
It’s worth noting that it’s quite challenging to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Oberammergau in a single day using public transportation. There are no direct bus routes connecting these places. While it’s possible to travel from Neuschwanstein Castle to Oberammergau and Linderhof Palace by bus, it involves two transfers and can take up to three hours, which might not be the best use of your time.
However, if you have a driver or are driving yourself, visiting all three places in one day is feasible. Oberammergau is just a 45-minute drive from Neuschwanstein Castle, and Linderhof Palace is a mere 15 minutes from Oberammergau.
If you prefer not to drive and want a hassle-free experience, joining a tour is a convenient option. There are several tours from Munich that visit Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Oberammergau in a single day. There are also tours dedicated solely to Neuschwanstein Castle.
To help you decide whether to dedicate your day to Neuschwanstein Castle or include Linderhof Palace and Oberammergau in your itinerary, let’s explore the unique attractions each location has to offer.
Morning of Day 2: Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle, with its fairytale-like appearance, is a sight to behold. Commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle is a blend of Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine architectural styles. Despite its medieval design, it was equipped with the latest technological comforts of the time.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle is like stepping into a storybook. The castle, with its towers and turrets, is so enchanting that it inspired Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It’s not just a visual treat, but also a journey into history, having been built as a retreat for King Ludwig II and in honor of composer Richard Wagner.
The castle’s location, perched on a rugged hill in the Bavarian Alps, offers breathtaking views that are sure to leave you spellbound. Inside, you’ll find rooms adorned with frescos inspired by Wagner’s operas and old German myths. To make the most of your visit, consider booking a guided tour inside the Castle. This will give you a deeper understanding of the castle’s history and architecture.
I’ve prepared an article about Neuschwanstein Castle and its surrounding attractions. This guide will guide you and help you make the most of your time during your visit.
Afternoon of Day 2: Oberammergau
After departing from Neuschwanstein Castle, your next stop on the second day of your three-day Bavarian trip will be Oberammergau. This is simply because it’s much closer to Neuschwanstein Castle, whether you’re traveling by car or bus.
Oberammergau has several attractions that make it worth visiting. If you wish, you can spend an entire day in this town. However, for a 3-day Bavarian Alps trip, I believe an hour would be sufficient. This will allow you to see the aspects of this village that make it a unique destination in the Bavarian Alps.
Oberammergau is a charming village; one of the places in the Bavarian Alps with the richest history and culture. It’s best known for its once-a-decade Passion Play, a tradition that has been upheld for over 400 years. The play is a community affair, with half the town’s residents participating in the performance.
As you wander through the town, you’ll notice the intricate wood carvings in the local shops. This craft is deeply rooted in the town’s culture. You’ll find everything from religious figures to whimsical toys and humorous portraits.
The buildings in Oberammergau are a sight to behold, adorned with beautiful frescoes depicting Bavarian themes, fairy tales, and religious scenes. This art form, known as “Lüftlmalerei”, originated here in a house called Zum Lüftl, home to the renowned painter Franz Seraph Zwinck.
If you’re planning a brief visit, start with the historic Passion Play Theater or Pilatushaus. Then, take a leisurely stroll through the town center, admiring the frescoes and popping into woodcarver shops. If you have a little extra time, treat yourself to some local Bavarian cuisine at a cozy café.
Additional Destination for Day 2: Linderhof Palace
If you feel that you’ve fully immersed yourself in Neuschwanstein Castle in the morning of the second day of your Bavarian Alps trip, you might choose to skip Linderhof Palace. While the two landmarks are distinct in their own right, they share a common thread – their connection to King Ludwig II. This shared history contributes to the similar experiences they offer.
For the sake of variety and new discoveries, it could be more rewarding to spend additional time exploring Oberammergau after your visit to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Suppose you still wish to visit Linderhof Palace after your trip to Oberammergau, and time permits. In that case, there are several exciting aspects of Linderhof Palace that you might look forward to.
Linderhof Palace, nestled in the Ettaler Forest of Bavaria, Germany, is renowned for its stunning gardens and various park buildings. It’s the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and the only one he saw completed. The palace, inspired by Versailles, boasts a hall of mirrors and a dining room famous for its disappearing dumbwaiter in the middle of the dining table.
If you’re planning a short visit to Linderhof Palace, start by stopping at the Moroccan House on your way from the parking lot. Then, pass the Royal Lodge, originally located where the palace now stands.
After touring the palace, take some time to admire the beautiful gardens to the east and west. Near the east garden is St Anna Chapel, the oldest building in the Linderhof complex. End your visit at the Temple of Venus, which offers the best view of Linderhof Palace.
For more detailed information on how to spend your time at Linderhof Palace, you can refer to the palace’s official website.
Day 3: Eastern Bavarian Alps (Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest, Salt Mine, Konigssee)
On the previous day of your three-day trip to the Bavarian Alps, you’ll explore Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Oberammergau, immersing yourself in the region’s rich heritage.
For the third day, you’ll fully embrace the natural beauty of the Bavarian Alps, a must-see for any visitor. But where should you go from Munich? You have several options, including Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. However, I highly recommend the town of Berchtesgaden, located in the southeastern corner of the country.
Berchtesgaden offers a richer blend of experiences, from historical sites atop mountains (Eagle’s Nest) to adventures beneath them (Salt Mine), and a visit to one of Germany’s cleanest and most picturesque lakes (Konigssee).
Here’s how you can spend a day in Berchtesgaden visiting these attractions:
- Experience all: Konigssee (Morning) —> Eagle’s Nest (Lunch or Early Afternoon) —> Salt Mine (Late Afternoon)
- Nature focused: Konigssee (Whole morning until late lunch) —> Eagle’s Nest (Afternoon)
- Cloudy weather: Konigssee + Salt Mine + Old Town Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden’s proximity to Salzburg, just a few kilometers away, is another advantage. A 30-minute car ride or an hour by public transportation will take you to this Austrian city, offering an opportunity for even more memorable travels if you wish to extend your Bavarian trip.
Salzburg is home to historical landmarks and musical experiences inspired by Mozart and the movie “The Sound of Music”, among other attractions. If you wish, you can conclude your journey in the Bavarian Alps with Salzburg as your final stop. The city has its own airport, making it a convenient departure point for your return home.
Considering the travel duration from Munich to Berchtesgaden, which is approximately an hour and a half by car or two and a half hours by train, a round trip from Munich may not be the most efficient option. A more practical itinerary would be to travel from Munich to Berchtesgaden, then on to Salzburg after spending the whole day at Berchtesgaden’s tourist attractions. This is actually my recommendation.
However, there can be advantages to making a round trip from Munich to Berchtesgaden, especially if you’re interested in exploring more of southern Germany. This region is home to a host of beautiful destinations, including Nuremberg, Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, Wurzburg, Bamberg, and more.
Anyway, let’s return to the topic of the day trip to Berchtesgaden. Unlike the second day of your three-day Bavarian Alps trip, where hiring a car or joining a tour is essential to make the most of your day, doing so for the third day isn’t as necessary.
However, if you’re visiting Berchtesgaden for the first time, I would recommend joining a tour to maximize your time. Visiting places like Eagle’s Nest and Konigssee can be a little bit complex and require several steps and additional research to fully experience them.
But don’t worry, if you prefer to visit these places on your own, I will provide the necessary information for a do-it-yourself approach using my posts Things to Do in Berchtesgaden and Scenic Spots in Berchtesgaden. Below is the summary of how you can spend the day in Berchtesgaden visiting Eagle’s Nest, and Salt Mine, and Konigssee.
Good Weather Must-See: Eagle’s Nest
Perched high atop the Kehlstein mountain, the Eagle’s Nest or Kehlsteinhaus is a historic site near the town of Berchtesgaden in southeast Germany. Built by the Nazis, it was used for government and social meetings. Its high, remote location led the Allies to name it the Eagle’s Nest.
Visiting the Eagle’s Nest is like stepping back in time. You’ll be walking through the same rooms where members of the Nazi Party once gathered. The building itself is an architectural marvel, featuring a golden elevator and a famous Italian marble fireplace.
But it’s not just about history. The Eagle’s Nest offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Bavarian Alps. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love the restaurant. Try to get a table on the outdoor terrace for the best views of Berchtesgaden and the lake.
In my view, lunchtime is the ideal moment to visit the Eagle’s Nest during a three-day excursion to the Bavarian Alps. The lunch experience is truly one-of-a-kind, offering a feast for both your eyes and taste buds.
However, if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, particularly during the busy season, an early morning visit could be a good option. This allows you to soak in the serenity of the surroundings.
Before setting off, it’s a good idea to visit the Eagle’s Nest’s official website. Here, you’ll find all the information you need for your visit. You can also get a glimpse of the current view from the Eagle’s Nest through the live webcam on the site. While the Eagle’s Nest is a fantastic destination when the weather is clear, it’s worth considering other attractions if the view is obscured by clouds.
Here is a quick summary of how you can get to Eagle’s Nest from Berchtesgaden:
- First, travel from Berchtesgaden Hbf to the Eagle’s Nest Bus Stop, also known as Kehlstein Busabfahrt. This is where you can also park your car.
- From the Eagle’s Nest Bus Stop, you’ll board the RVO Bus 849. This bus will take you to the Eagle’s Nest Tunnel, or Kehlsteinparkplatz. Please note that you’ll need to purchase separate tickets for this bus. Also, you cannot drive your car on this route. This part of the journey can only be covered by Bus 849.
- Finally, you’ll walk through the tunnel and ride the elevator to get to the Eagle’s Nest.
Cloudy Weather Alternative: Salt Mine
Berchtesgaden boasts of an ancient Salt Mine, the oldest in Germany. This is another highlight of the area. In case your visit to the Eagle’s Nest is hindered by unfavorable weather, the Salt Mine presents a convenient alternative. This way, you won’t have to spend your time waiting for the skies to clear.
The thing is, Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, nestled under the mountains of Bavarian Alps, is a fascinating place to visit. It’s not just any salt mine; it’s the oldest active one in Germany. The mine has been extracting salt since before the 13th century, and it was the economic backbone of the Berchtesgaden Provostry.
When you visit, you’ll be taken on a journey deep into the heart of the mountain. A miners’ train will whisk you 650 meters (2,133 feet) below the surface. There, you’ll find a gigantic salt cathedral and a thrilling miner’s slide. You’ll also get to see 3D animations that bring the process of salt mining to life. And the highlight? A boat trip across an underground salt lake. It’s an hour-long adventure that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
Getting there from Old Town Berchtesgaden is straightforward. You can hop on a regional bus (RVO 837 or RVO 848) from the Berchtesgaden Hbf and get off at the Salzbergwerk (Salt Mine) stop. Just remember to check the current bus schedules and routes as they may vary.
Before setting off on your journey, it’s a good idea to visit the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine’s official website. This will provide you with any recent announcements that might affect your visit. Additionally, the website will have the most up-to-date information on opening hours. This will help you plan your visit to make the most of your time at the mine.
Unmissable Destination: Konigssee
If you’re ever in Berchtesgaden, there’s one place you simply can’t miss – Konigssee. This is particularly true if you’re a photographer or a nature enthusiast. The breathtaking natural beauty of this place is sure to leave you spellbound.
Konigssee, tucked away in the Berchtesgaden National Park, is a sight to behold. This natural lake, formed by glaciers during the last ice age, is Germany’s third deepest and is renowned for its crystal-clear water. Surrounded by towering mountains, it’s often hailed as the country’s most beautiful Alpine lake.
Imagine embarking on a boat ride across this pristine lake, with the steep mountain flanks providing a dramatic backdrop. As you glide across the water, you’ll hear fascinating stories and legends about the lake from your boat guide.
The highlight? The moment when the guide plays a trumpet, and you hear the sound echoing off the mountain walls. It’s an experience that’s as magical as the scenery itself.
If you have 2 to 3 hours to spare, you can opt for the shortest boat ride. This ride includes a stop at the Saint Bartholomew Church, nestled in the middle of the lake. This brief visit should be enough to let you soak in the beauty of Konigssee. It’s a place that will make you yearn to return soon!
The church in Konigssee isn’t just any ordinary church. It’s a Roman Catholic pilgrimage church with a rich history. The first structure was built in 1134, and it was later rebuilt in a Baroque style in 1697.
Every year, a pilgrimage to St. Bartholomew’s is held. It starts from the Austrian municipality of Maria Alm and crosses the Berchtesgaden Alps. This annual event adds to the historical significance of the church.
Traveling from Berchtesgaden to Konigssee is a breeze. If you’re taking public transportation, hop on bus no. 841 or 842. These buses will take you directly to Schoenau am Koenigssee. The journey is short and sweet, with bus no. 841 getting you there in about 10 minutes, and bus no. 842 in around 20 minutes.
If you’re keen to explore Konigssee further, a visit to its official website is a must. Here, you’ll find the boat ride schedules that can help you plan your visit. The website also hosts a wealth of other important information and a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section. This can provide answers to any queries you might have about your visit.
Where to Go Next After Bavarian Alps
The Bavarian Alps, as you can see from the 3-day itinerary, is a destination filled with incredible experiences. It offers everything from castles and quaint villages to mountains, lakes, and even salt mines. This wonderful destination truly has something for everyone.
If you’re planning a longer vacation and the Bavarian Alps is just one stop on your journey, there are plenty of other places brimming with beautiful scenery and fascinating discoveries. You don’t even have to leave Germany to find them. The Black Forest, another mountainous region in Baden-Württemberg, is one such place.
If you’re a car enthusiast, Stuttgart is a must-visit. This city is home to the Porsche Museum and Mercedes-Benz. Near Stuttgart, you’ll find Lichtenstein Castle, a beautiful castle much like Neuschwanstein Castle.
For a different experience, consider destinations outside Germany. One recommendation is to visit one of the most beautiful villages in the South of France. Alternatively, you could explore the beautiful destinations in Northern Italy. Each of these places promises a unique and memorable experience.
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