From my perspective, a visit to the Bavarian Alps that lasts less than 10 days isn’t enough to fully experience the region’s wonders. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that a shorter trip wouldn’t be enjoyable.
Suppose you only have 7 days to explore the Bavarian Alps. There’s no need to worry about missing out on too much! In fact, a week-long journey can already offer you a taste of the top attractions in the Bavarian Alps.
Within this time, you can visit a palace, two castles, and three charming historical towns. You can also experience a variety of amazing attractions, including cable cars, mountain tops, lakes, and gorges. It’s a mix of everything, making it already worthwhile!
Specifically, our focus for this 7-day itinerary will be on the western and central parts of the Bavarian Alps. This includes must-see destinations in the region like Neuschwanstein Castle, which inspired Walt Disney, and Zugspitze, the highest peak in the German Alps.
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Important: If this will be your first time in the Bavarian Alps, there’s no need to stress. I’ve crafted this itinerary to be as beginner friendly as possible. Like, for those destinations that might be a bit tricky to get to and need a deep dive of research to visit, I’ve got you covered with some tour suggestions. These tours can also be a real lifesaver if you’re pressed for time or can’t do the research yourself. Conveniently, the tour coordinators and guides have taken care of all the details for you, from arranging transportation to ensuring skip-the-line entry and providing an insightful tour of your destination.
If there’s a place where you can best start a trip to the Bavarian Alps, it has to be Munich. As the largest city in Bavaria, with the most flight connections to various parts of the world, and the closest to the Bavarian Alps, Munich is a convenient starting point for your trip.
Furthermore, Munich is an excellent place to prepare for your journey. As a major city, it offers a wide range of travel services. Whether you need to get a local SIM card, rent a car, exchange currency, or shop for travel essentials, Munich has everything you might need.
This is why we begin this 7-day Bavarian Alps itinerary in Munich. Munich can also be your exit point. However, if you’re planning to explore more of Europe, you can easily continue your journey to Innsbruck after your trip to the Bavarian Alps. Innsbruck is just a short distance away from the Bavarian Alps, making this Austrian city a logical extension of your trip.
As short summary: This 7-day trip to the Bavarian Alps is divided into two parts, each defined by the home base where you’ll be staying: Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
- For the first two days of your trip, you’ll be based in Munich. During this time, you’ll also take a day trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle.
- From Day 3 to Day 7, you’ll be based in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This location allows you to conveniently visit other attractions in the Bavarian Alps that don’t offer dedicated tours from Munich. Specifically, these attractions include Oberammergau, Linderhof Palace, Eibsee, Zugspitze, Mittenwald, Ettal Abbey, Leutasch Gorge, and the Karwendel Mountains.
If you haven’t secured accommodations yet, find excellent hotel deals in both Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen now. It’s advisable to book as early as possible to save money. Typically, the closer you get to your travel date, the more expensive the room rates become. There are hotels that don’t require a reservation fee. You can take advantage of these options, even if you’re uncertain about your exact travel dates yet.
Day 1: Munich
Since you’ll be starting your 7-day trip to the Bavarian Alps in Munich, you also have the opportunity to explore the city. Don’t miss it. Munich is an amazing city that blends tradition with modernity, and it has many beautiful landmarks and attractions you can see.
Within a day, you can already get a glimpse of its architecture, rich history, and lively beer culture. Marienplatz, the heart of the city’s old town, is the most famous attraction. It’s home to the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) and the Church of St. Peter, both architectural marvels, offering breathtaking views of the city.
For a unique experience, head to the Eisbach wave in the English Garden. Here, you can watch skilled surfers ride a man-made wave on the Eisbach River, regardless of the weather.
To give yourself an appetizer to the amazing views that await in the Bavarian Alps, you can go to the Olympic Tower. It is Munich’s tallest building, offering panoramic views of the city and the distant Alps. From this viewpoint, you’ll be treated to a view of the city’s beautiful architecture, bustling streets, and of course, a sweeping panorama of the Alps.
For a quick but insightful or memorable visit to Munich, you might want to join a short walking tour in the city center. There are plenty of things you can discover.
Day 2: Neuschwanstein Castle & Linderhof Palace
For a lasting beautiful first impression of Bavarian Alps, let Neuschwanstein Castle be your first destination in the Bavarian Alps.
Nestled high in the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle is a destination you’ll never regret visiting. This 19th-century palace, commissioned by King Ludwig II, is renowned for its fairytale-like architecture and stunning alpine surroundings. It’s no wonder that it served as the real-life inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella’s castle.
A guided tour offers a peek into the opulent world of King Ludwig II. But don’t just stop at the castle. The surrounding Alpine lake and nature preserve are a treasure trove of natural beauty. One of the most amazing experiences at Neuschwanstein Castle is the view from Marienbrücke. This bridge, a short walk from the castle, offers an iconic view of the castle against the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps.
While the castle’s exterior is impressive, the interior is equally enchanting. Each room is adorned with intricate frescoes, recreating imagery from ancient myths. It’s an immersive experience you wouldn’t want to miss. You can learn more about Neuschwanstein Castle and its nearby attractions from my separate post.
Did you know that Neuschwanstein Castle isn’t the only architectural masterpiece of King Ludwig II in the Bavarian Alps?
Another one is Linderhof Palace. It’s near Neuschwanstein Castle, and you can visit both of them in a single day trip from Munich! So, what’s Linderhof Palace all about? Linderhof Palace is the smallest of the three palaces that King Ludwig II built, and it’s the only one he saw completed. Despite its size, it’s known for its opulence and beauty.
It’s a testament to Ludwig II’s reclusive nature, filled with ornamental and decorative features that surpass those that inspired it. Each room in the palace, from the large bedroom to the Hall of Mirrors, is elaborately decorated, offering a glimpse into the king’s world. Guided tours available in different languages, you can gain insights into the life and times of King Ludwig II.
What’s more interesting? The surrounding park is a wonderland of King Ludwig II’s imagination, featuring the Venus Grotto, an artificial version of the Blue Grotto on Capri, and the Moorish Kiosk where the king sat on his peacock throne. You can learn more about Linderhof Palace from its official website.
If you have a private car, visiting both Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace in a single day is feasible. However, if you’re relying on public transportation, it becomes practically impossible. Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct bus link between the two attractions.
Most importantly, visiting them involves more than just walking up to a ticket booth from the parking lot or bus station. If it’s your first time visiting these castles, joining a tour from Munich is a good idea. For more information, you can visit the official website of Neuschwanstein Castle.
Day 3: Garmisch-Partenkirchen
The third day of your 7-day trip to Bavarian Alps is the start of the second leg of your journey. Bid farewell to Munich and it’s time to head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Wondering how to get from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen? It’s a breeze! A scenic drive via the E533 route takes just over an hour. Prefer trains? Hop on the hourly service from München Hbf and you’ll be there in an hour and 30 minutes.
What makes Garmisch-Partenkirchen or GaPa an ideal base for your Bavarian trip is its strategic location. From serene lakes like Eibsee to mountain peaks like Zugspitze, and colorful towns like Oberammergau and Mittenwald, all can be quickly reached from GaPa. Interestingly, Zugspitze is Germany’s tallest mountain!
In addition, the town of GaPa itself is a gem. GaPa is home to quaint sceneries like flower-decked chalets and mural-adorned houses that will inspire you to take photos as you stroll its streets. With a range of accommodations to suit all budgets, and a variety of restaurants serving local cuisine, you’re in for a treat. Simply, GaPa is worthwhile for the blend of amazing experiences it offers!
Once you arrive in GaPa, you might feel the urge to immediately explore the nearby attractions. However, I’d suggest — not so fast! As mentioned earlier, there are some interesting sights to see within the town itself that are definitely worth discovering.
Moreover, it’s a good idea to plan your visits to the tourist attractions around GaPa across different days. This is because these attractions can be conveniently grouped for various day trips from the town.
So, what’s the first thing that you must see in the town of GaPa? It’s Ludwigstrassee — the most beautiful street in the town. Its colorful houses set against the spectacular mountain peaks are a picture-perfect sight to behold. Many people describe it as being straight out of a fairy tale street, and I definitely agree!
After the beautiful stroll in Ludwigstrasse, you might want to visit Museum Werdenfels. The museum houses a wide range of exhibits, from prehistoric finds to works of art and craftsmanship. It also showcases collections related to local culture and carnival customs.
What’s more, the museum hosts special exhibitions and offers an interactive experience with its new Zugspitz room. This room brings the history of the Zugspitze mountain closer to visitors in an exciting and playful way.
If you still have time and you’re ready for a short hike, you might want to get to Burgruine Werdenfels, located north of the town. Burgruine Werdenfels, or the Werdenfels Castle ruins, sit majestically about 80 metres above the Loisach valley.
This spot offers a unique opportunity to explore the region’s past and take in sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. It is a beautiful place to watch the sunset in GaPa.
Day 4: Eibsee and Zugspitze
On the fourth day of your week-long journey through the Bavarian Alps, be sure to have your cameras at the ready. You’ll be visiting two of the most stunning locations in the region: Eibsee (lake) and Zugspitze (mountain peak).
However, please note that these visits are dependent on the weather. If the sky is completely covered with clouds, you might need to adjust your itinerary. In such a case, consider swapping these two destinations with Oberammergau, the Alpine Coaster, and Ettal Abbey. These are your planned destinations for Day 5, and they offer enjoyable experiences even under an overcast sky.
So, what is the experience in visiting Eibsee and Zugspitze? Imagine being in a place where you can experience the tranquility of clear, emerald, green waters and the thrill of standing at the highest point in Germany. That’s what Eibsee and Zugspitze offer.
Eibsee, with its crystal-clear, mirror-like water and the mountains in the backdrop, is straight out of a scene from a fantasy novel. You can spend your time hiking around the lake, boating on its serene waters, or even taking a refreshing swim.
There are also plenty of hidden gems waiting to be explored around Eibsee, including the Eibsee Nordufer and Eibsee-Brücke.
On the other hand, Zugspitze offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous landscapes. You can walk along the tall ridge line, or simply enjoy the view from the golden summit cross, marking the most elevated spot across Germany. Zugspitze is also home to the highest beer garden in Germany!
Since you’re already in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, getting to Eibsee and Zugspitze is a breeze. Amazingly, Eibsee is not out of the way to get to Zugspitze, so it is pretty logical to go on a day trip to these two in a single day.
First, you need to get to Eibsee. You have a few options:
- Hop on a train from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Grainau, then catch the Eibsee Zugspitzbahn. This should take around 35 minutes.
- There’s also a bus service that can take you directly from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Eibsee in about 40 minutes.
- If you prefer a quicker route, consider taking a taxi or driving. It’s a short 15-minute journey.
Once you’ve soaked in the beauty of Eibsee, Zugspitze is your next stop. Here’s how you can get there:
- Take the cogwheel train from Eibsee. It meanders through the valley before climbing up the Bavarian Zugspitze Railway rack railway to Zugspitzeplatt. From there, a cable car will whisk you up to the peak.
- If you’re up for a more direct route, catch the cable car from Eibsee straight to the mountain.
Day 5: Oberammergau, Alpine Coaster, and Ettal Abbey
You might think that a trip to the “Bavarian Alps” would be all about mountains. But once you visit, you’ll find that it’s not just about the peaks. It’s a blend of heritage, culture, beautiful landscapes, exciting adventures, and even impressive architecture!
The destinations on your 5th day in Bavarian Alps will reveal it to you: Oberammergau, Ettal Abbey, and Alpine Coaster.
What makes these destinations even nicer, aside from what’s been mentioned, is the convenience of their transportation. They’re all serviced by just one bus line (#9606) to and from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There’s no need to memorize a multitude of bus numbers or check various bus schedules for this day! Most importantly, here are several reasons why you should Oberammergau.
Oberammergau is known worldwide for its Passion Play, a tradition that has been upheld for 380 years. The play, which is performed every ten years, involves more than 2,000 actors, singers, instrumentalists, and technicians, all of whom are residents of the village.
Even if your visit doesn’t coincide with a performance of the Passion Play, you can still visit the theater where it takes place. The Passion Play Theater, which has been hosting performances since 1830, offers tours that provide visitors with a deep understanding of the significance of the Passion Play to Oberammergau.
After your visit to the theater, take some time to explore the village and admire the Lüftlmalerei. These beautiful façade paintings, which adorn Oberammergau, depict biblical scenes and everyday life in the village.
Finally, don’t miss the chance to appreciate the town’s renowned wood-carving skills, which have been recognized since as early as 1520. At Pilatushaus, you can watch as an artist skillfully transforms a piece of wood into a beautiful creation.
Adventure calls from Alpine Coaster in Oberammergau. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or a family with kids, the Alpine Coaster is a fun-filled ride for everyone.
Imagine being in a place where you can experience the thrill of the world’s longest weatherproof toboggan run with a magnet system. That’s what the Alpine Coaster in Oberammergau offers.
This coaster isn’t just about the thrill, though, it’s about the breathtaking views and adventurous curves you’ll encounter as you go downhill from the Kolbensattel Lodge on an 8,530 ft long slide! What’s more? Getting to the Alpine Coaster is part of the adventure. You can either take the Kolben chairlift or enjoy a leisurely 1.5-hour hike.
Learn more about Alpine Coaster in Oberammergau in its official website.
Nestled between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberammergau, you’ll find an architectural gem of the Bavarian Alps: Ettal Abbey.
This Benedictine monastery, with a community of more than 50 monks, is one of the largest Benedictine houses and a major attraction for visitors. It is a fantastic stop on your journey to Oberammergau from Berchtesgaden
Founded in 1330 by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian, the abbey is steeped in history. The original Gothic abbey church was a modest structure, but the subsequent spectacular re-building in the Baroque style, with a double-shelled dome, transformed it into an architectural marvel.
As you explore the historical and architectural beauty of the abbey, you’ll also discover its educational tradition at the Knights’ Academy. Ettal’s importance as a place of pilgrimage grew with the new buildings, making it one of the most important monasteries in the Alpine region.
Learn more about Ettal Abbey from its official website.
Day 6: Mittenwald, Karwendel, and Leutasch Gorge
The sixth day of your journey in the Bavarian Alps will be about another blend of experiences.
From Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you will be going to Mittenwald. There, you’ll see another amazing view of the mountains from a different perspective. You’ll wander through a village as if you’re walking on the pages of a children’s book. And you’ll also marvel at a mystical place carved by the power of nature.
Mittenwald, nestled near the Austrian-German border, lies very close to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s a 15-minute drive or a 30-minute train ride from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
This village, like Oberammergau, is famous for its Lüftlmalerei, which makes it a feast for the eyes. The houses, with the mountains in the backdrop, create a scene I can’t get out of my mind.
Mittenwald is also famous for violin making. If you want to learn more about this specific heritage of the village, you can drop by the violin museum. It’s nestled in the village center and surrounded by cute, colorful houses. There are several more things to do in Mittenwald. However, there’s something you should not miss: the Leutasch Gorge and Karwendel.
Leutasch Gorge is a testament to the power of nature, with the Leutascher Ache river carving its way through the mountain over millions of years. The river’s vibrant hues of blues, turquoise, and greens add a touch of magic to the place.
When you visit, you can explore the gorge via a themed trail that’s full of interesting information, stories, and breathtaking views. The trail includes a panoramic bridge that takes you right over the Leutascher Ache river. If you’re traveling with a pushchair or a dog, there’s a shorter 500-meter-long circular walk that’s just as enjoyable. For a bit of fun, try the ghost quiz or wander through the fairy tale forest.
From Mittenwald, hop on the 431 Bus headed towards “Seefeld i. T. Bahnhof.” Enjoy a brief journey of around 10-15 minutes, winding around the mountain, and disembark at the “Leutasch Geisterklamm” stop. Once you’ve arrived, it’s a simple matter of following the paths that lead up to the gorge.
The Karwendel Alps, the largest mountain range in the Northern Limestone Alps, are easily accessible from Mittenwald. Here, you can soak in the stunning views of the snow-capped mountains, which are even more spectacular than those at Zugspitze.
To get here from Mittenwald, hop on the Karwendelbahn cable car, which is located on the eastern outskirts of Mittenwald. In just seven minutes, the cableway will whisk you into the high mountain region without any stops.
Once you’ve arrived in Karwendel, there’s plenty to keep you busy. You can explore the impressive cirques, visit mountain huts, and take in the epic viewpoints. I After a day filled with adventure, unwind and enjoy the view at the Berggaststätte Karwendelbahn Mittenwald, a restaurant conveniently located near the Karwendelbahn.
Day 7: Relaxation, Another Adventure, or Day Trip to Innsbruck
While there are still plenty of things to do in the Bavarian Alps, I recommend spending your last day of your trip relaxing so you can return home fully renewed. In Garmisch-Partenkirchen alone, you can find day-spas. These are perfect places to wind down so that you’ll be ready for your next trip, or you’ll feel fully renewed for another day at home.
If you’re up for more adventures, consider taking it easy rather than going to extremes. Scenic hikes are a great option. The good news is, since you’re in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you can start hiking right away without the need for long drives or multiple train rides.
One trail you might want to try is the Partnach Gorge Trail. This loop trail is a favorite among hikers and is considered one of the most beautiful in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The trailhead is conveniently located near the Olympic Ski Jump area.
Once you step into the gorge, you’ll be captivated by the ever-changing scenery. The water, with its striking blue color, is truly a sight to behold. The gorge itself extends for 702 meters and plunges to depths of up to 80 meters.
As you make your way through the gorge, you’ll come across dark tunnels and waterfalls, adding an element of excitement to your hike. For more information about the Partnach Gorge, you can check out its official website.
For a change of pace, consider a day trip to Innsbruck. It’s just over an hour away by bus or car. Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is a jewel in Austria, offering a mix of history, architecture, and stunning natural scenery.
During your visit, I recommend joining a guided tour. This will ensure you get the most out of your visit, learning about the city’s fascinating history and taking in its architectural highlights. If possible, make sure to visit the court church, Ambras Castle, and Tyrol Panorama. These sites are among the city’s most prized attractions.
More Information About Bavarian Alps
If you’re keen on delving deeper into each of the attractions highlighted in this guide, or if you’re thinking about crafting your own itinerary for the Bavarian Alps, I recommend checking out my article on the Top 20 Experiences in the Bavarian Alps.
In that post, I share advice on the best time to visit the Bavarian Alps, suggestions for your subsequent destination, and a whole lot more. It’s a great tool for organizing your journey through the Bavarian Alps.
If you want to extend your trip to Germany, I recommend the following beautiful places in Southern Germany that are also conveniently accessible from Bavarian Alps Munich.
- Nuremberg — a must-visit for its well-preserved medieval old town and the iconic Imperial Castle, offering a rich history and a vibrant cultural scene.
- Wurzburg — famous for its baroque architecture and the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Wurzburg Residence, blending history, culture, and wine.
- Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber — a preserved medieval city, is known for its half-timbered houses, cobblestone lanes, and the iconic town hall.
- Bamberg — renowned for its UNESCO-listed old town and unique smoked beers, is a blend of stunning architecture, captivating art, and distinctive wine.
- Stuttgart — known as the least stressful city in the world, offers a mix of history, culture, and wine, and is home to the iconic car brands Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
That’s it for now! I trust you found this guide useful. If you have any insights or queries, don’t hesitate to post them in the comment section of this article. I’m always eager to hear from you. Here’s to an unforgettable journey ahead!
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