The main reason why Bavaria is so irresistible to visit, aside from the beers in Munich, wines, and medieval towns in Franconia, are the scenic destinations in the Bavarian Alps.
Bavarian Alps has many great experiences to offer to its visitors, not just hiking and ski resorts. From Germany’s most picturesque landscapes to centuries-old culture and iconic fantasy castles… everything makes the Bavarian Alps worth visiting, not to be missed on a trip to Germany.
And if you are looking for an itinerary or guide in visiting the best places in Bavarian Alps, you are in the right blog post. Here, we’ll discuss Bavarian Alps’ destination and their highlights, how to visit them from nearby cities, and the distances between all the mentioned places. You’ll have an efficient sample itinerary at the end of the post based on all we discussed.
Before we dive into the discussion of the places you will visit, I wanna share something…
Whenever I am in leisure mode, one of my favorite things that I always do is to examine the topography of the world using Google Maps. I’m so fascinated by the appearance of the earth’s surface, particularly in the Himalayas, alps, and other mountainous regions.
We can compare the earth’s surface to a sheet of paper. Crumple a portion of it and spread it slightly after. The creased part you’ll see is the part of the earth’s surface where the mountains are.
When you look at Germany, aside from being devoided of Google’s Streetview, you can notice that it’s almost entirely flat! I did not see any crease in the earth’s surface within Germany, as you can see in southeastern France, northern Italy, Switzerland, and Austria.
Where are the German Alps?
It made me wonder, where are the mountains? Well, I found them when I zoomed in on the map a little bit.
So, where are the German Alps? It is located in the southernmost portion of the country, extending along the German-Austrian border from Lindau to Berchtesgaden, west to east. The state of Bavaria solely encompasses the German Alps; that’s why it is also called Bavarian Alps.
In this post, for uniformity, we’ll use the term Bavarian Alps as it is used more often by all too.
Later in another section, after we discuss the different attractions in the Bavarian Alps, I’ll give you an idea about how far is the Bavarian Alps from the major cities in Germany. For now, let’s try to discover what beautiful experiences await you in the Bavarian Alps.
Best Places To Visit In Bavarian Alps
There are five towns in the Bavarian Alps best to visit during your trip to Germany. From east of Bavaria to west, they are:
We can find tourist attractions in these towns that are indeed breathtaking and wanderlust-satisfying. Basically, they will be the highlights of your visit to the Bavarian Alps:
- Eagle’s Nest
- Salt Mine
- Leutasch Gorge
- Hummock Meadows
- Olympia-Skistadion Sprungschanze (Olympic ski stadium ski jump)
- Ettal Abbey
- Linderhof Palace
- Alpine Coaster
- Neuschwanstein Castle
- Hohenschwangau Castle
I just want to share my list of the most beautiful places in Southern Germany. In the list, you’ll discover more scenic (Oberammergau, GaPa, Mittenwald, Berchtesgaden), historical (Bamberg, Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Black Forest), and magical places (Neuschwanstein Castle, Lichtenstein Castle) in Southern Germany where the most unforgettable memories and memorable journeys are made. Click one link to open an article on a new tab and read it later.
Let’s start tackling them one by one, starting from the town in the east Bavarian Alps:
Bavarian Alps Destination #1: Berchtesgaden
Interestingly, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Bavaria and in entire Germany is located in the southeastmost portion of the country: Berchtesgaden. There is beauty in the extremes, I can say. As we discuss the highlights of the visit to Berchtesgaden, you’ll know why.
Berchtesgaden is a town famous for its salt mine, breathtaking views, and pristine lakes. It is almost surrounded by Austria, only connected to the rest of Germany in the northwest direction going to Munich.
The Austrian city of Salzburg is actually closer to Berchtesgaden compared to Munich. If you are in Salzburg, it would only take 30 minutes to arrive in Berchtesgaden.
I think Berchtesgaden has similarities with Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen mainly because of Watzmann Range’s three peaks reminding me of Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger. It’s just that if you love nature’s indulgence, Berchtesgaden will not fail to satisfy you.
Berchtesgaden Visit Highlights
If you plan to visit Berchtesgaden, the three things that you would not want to miss experiencing are:
- Cruising in Konigssee’s crystal clear lake water
- Seeing the epic view of the Bavarian Alps from Eagle’s Nest
- Viewing the spectacular tunnels in Salt Mine
Let’s discuss each one by one below:
Tourist attraction #1: Konigssee
Most people say that Konigssee, the king’s lake, is the most beautiful lake in Germany. Fact is, it is not only beautiful but also one of the cleanest.
Konigssee is a lake you won’t get tired of staring at. From its gentle waves to the reflective, glittering surface and sometimes misty appearance – you’d be more than enchanted to feel absolutely in bliss.
Though it may not surprise you, as you might have seen on social media, Konigssee has a picturesque peninsula where a beautiful pilgrimage church was built. This sanctuary, called the church of Saint Bartholomew, will captivate you more than you’ll notice.
By traveling to Konigsee, you bring yourself closer to three more beautiful attractions in Berchtesgaden. They are the Ice Kapelle, Obersee, and Röthbach waterfall – the tallest waterfall in Germany.
Tourist attraction #2: Eagle’s Nest
Berchtesgaden has several viewpoints, but nothing could be more famous than the Eagle’s Nest. It is where the Nazis used to have meetings. And during one of their rare diplomatic meetings together with the French ambassador André François-Poncet, Eagle’s Nest’s name was coined.
The Eagle’s Nest is perched on a Hoher Goll mountain range ridge at 1834 meters or 6017 feet high elevation. At its location, you can expect to see panoramic views of the Bavarian Alps transitioning to flatlands, from south to north. Konigssee and Salzburg are the two places you would be able to spot immediately during pleasant weather in the Eagle’s Nest.
There is a restaurant in the Eagle’s Nest where you can eat to make both your eyes and tummy satisfied at the same time. Historical tours are offered too in the Eagle’s Nest. Join a tour, so your mind gets filled with new learnings as well.
Tourist attraction #3: Salt Mine
Berchtesgaden has unforgettable experiences to offer you regardless of whether you’re on top of the mountains, drifting on the lake’s surface, or underneath the earth. But, if you like to see something unique on your journey in the Bavarian Alps, Berchtesgaden’s Salt Mine is something you should try.
The tour inside the Salt Mine is a mix of fun activities, salt exhibitions, and experience with technology used in extracting salt under the alps. Laser shows slides through tunnels, trains, and elevators will give you insights into the 500 years of Berchtesgaden salt mining culture.
The activity would be great for kids, but I think, for young adults like me, it wouldn’t be a great fit. Instead, suppose you still have the energy. In that case, the ones you must try visiting are the absolutely scenic-breathtaking-insert all the beautiful adjectives vantage points of the Bavarian Alps in Berchtesgaden.
Some of the scenic spots in Berchtesgaden would require a hike, but definitely, they are going to be worth it. If you visit Berchtesgaden during fantastic weather, your camera’s file storage will be consumed really fast. Check out what spectacles await you in Berchtesgaden from my post about Berchtesgaden’s scenic viewpoints.
How long to stay in Berchtesgaden?
A day tour is enough for you to visit Konigssee and Eagle’s Nest – the two primary attractions in Berchtesgaden. However, it is recommended that you allocate 2 to 3 days for a trip to Berchtesgaden as more beautiful places are there in the region. Berchtesgaden, packed with numerous scenic spots to discover, is an ideal place for hiking as well. With that, you would want to stay for much longer, like 4 to 5 days, 1-week max.
Bavarian Alps Destination #2: Mittenwald
Is “just wandering” one of your favorite things to do while traveling? If that is, then Mittenwald could be the right place for you to visit in the Bavarian Alps. Being so close to the mountains and having the Lüftlmalerei everywhere in its town center, Mittenwald will absolutely end your cravings for some enjoyable wanderings.
Imagine yourself strolling along a street full of Lüftlmalerei houses, with snowy mountain peaks behind, scraping the sky. You’ll be like walking in a fairytale open book! That’s how it’s going to be in Mittenwald.
So, where is Mittenwald, by the way? Mittenwald is in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, sitting at the foot of the Karwendel mountain range. It is so close to the German-Austrian border that you can step foot in Austria in less than 30 minutes of hiking!
Mittenwald is famous for violins, though. Go back centuries ago, and people all over Europe would tell you that it is in Mittenwald all the excellent quality violins are made. Today, you can learn more about this centuries-old craft from Mittenwald’s Violin Making museum, located in the heart of the town.
Mittenwald Visit Highlights
You will love going to Mittenwald if these activities fit your liking:
- Dammkar Skiroute – Skiing in Germany’s longest
- Leutasch Gorge – Exploring a gorge with folklores
- Hummock Meadows – See mesmerizing, picturesque meadows
Let’s tackle why each of these attractions in Mittenwald is worth a visit:
Tourist attraction #4: Dammkar Ski Route
Mittenwald might not have the views that are as epic as Berchtesgaden’s. But here, you’ll find Dammkar Ski Route, one of Germany’s best adventures and the Alps’ best slopes. Passionate off-piste skiers will be thrilled to try.
Dammkar Ski Route’ stretches for 7 kilometers, making a 1300-meter elevation difference from Karwendel to Mittenwald. Along its length, you’ll find firm powdery snow with patches of slushy mogul fields. It is an ideal playground for enthusiasts alike!
Cool things await you before you even reach the start of the Dammkar Ski Route. The top station of the Karwendelbahn cable car, which you can access to reach Dammkar faster, is in the form of a giant telescope that overlooks the valley down below.
Just right beside Karwendelbahn top station is an easy hiking trail to see cirques and views of the Northern Limestone Alps. By the way, you can also eat meals and drink beers from the restaurant at the top station. It has a sunny terrace where you can satisfy both your tummy and eyes simultaneously!
Tourist attraction #5: Leutasch Gorge
There is another attraction near Mittenwald, also a bucket list destination for being another “longest.” That is Leutasch Gorge, the longest accessible gorge in the Eastern Limestone Alps. It is also called the spirit gorge, as myths say it is the home of goblins and other supernaturals.
The gorge will let you conquer your fear of heights as you walk on meshed steel pathways, giving you sights of what’s underneath you tens of meters below. These steel pathways, attached to the limestone wall of the gorge, will bring you to the most spectacular spots in the Leutasch gorge, like narrow rivers, views of the mountains in between the giant rocks, and many more.
You will need at least two hours to visit every part of Leutasch gorge:
- Klammgeistweg – the place where you will learn the gorge’s myths, geology, and ecology.
- Koboldpfad – More exciting and trilling pathways
- Wasserfallsteig – The gem at the end of the gorge, a gorgeous waterfalls 23 meters high.
Tourist attraction #6: Hummock Meadows
Mittenwald’s Hummock Meadows or Buckelwiesen is one simple but rare thing you can find in the Bavarian Alps. This kind of meadow in Mittenwald has thousands of lumps and bumps, creating a playful otherworldly image. Especially during golden hour, when the sunlight hits the Buckelwiesen at a very low angle, you would see the lumps and bumps more clearly because of their shadows.
Hummock Meadows are scattered in Mittenwald. One is located north of Lautersee near the picturesque chapel, and another is just beside Kranzberg Gipfel-Huette. You can bring your car to these locations, but it will be better to visit them on foot or using a bicycle. Along the way, you would see sceneries of the German countryside that are also lovely to experience.
Local farmers meticulously take care of and preserve Hummock Meadows. That’s why Buckelwiesen has won awards in the past, like the diploma for conservation given by European Heritage Europa Nostra Awards.
How long to stay in Mittenwald?
The recommended length of stay in Mittenwald is 1 to 2 days if you plan to ski or have a short hike, walk around town, and see Buckelwiesen and Leutasch Gorge. However, you might need to allocate more days in Mittenwald if you desire to visit the lovely mountain huts and explore the rest of Karwendel by hiking.
There are events in Mittenwald that you would like to witness, like Mittenwalder Musiksommer and the Bringing in Sheep/Goats/Cattle in town. See my post about Mittenwald (click here to learn more) – it shall help you decide if you will include Mittenwald in your journey in the Bavarian Alps.
Bavarian Alps Destination #3: Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Next, we discuss Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the largest town in the Bavarian Alps. It is known for the historic Winter Olympics of 1936, which at the same time, led to the unification of Garmisch and Partenkirchen under Adolf Hitler’s rule. Nevertheless, Garmisch-Partenkirchen or GaPa is the Bavarian Alps’ premier destination because of the numerous activities you can have in the town.
Almost everything you would want to experience in the Bavarian Alps is here. From serene lakes to the country’s highest peaks, hikes to shopping, and fairytale streets to mouth-watering Bavarian cuisine.
GaPa is just the ultimate destination, indeed. Yet other towns have their advantages too you would want to see, of course.
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you have many vantage points to visit for some jaw-dropping experiences. One of them is Alpspix, an observation deck protruding from the cliff near Alpspitze. There, you shall see the entirety of GaPa, resting in the valley surrounded by mountains and green fields.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Visit Highlights
Of all the towns in the Bavarian Alps, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has the broadest range of activities to enjoy. You can check my article about why you will visit GaPa to discover the places and activities you can do there. But, I think, among those, here are the three best to have:
- Olympia-Skistadion Ski Jump
Let me give you ideas of what to expect from these three attractions:
Tourist attraction #7: Zugspitze
GaPa is the gateway to Zugspitze, the country’s tallest mountain, with a peak reaching 2,962 meters (9717 feet) above sea level. Visitors visit the top of Zugspitze to get to the vantage point with the sceneries extending from Germany to Austria and Switzerland. During clear weather, the views extend up to the mountain ranges in northern Italy.
Similar to other famous peaks in the Alps, the summit of Zugspitze is serviced by a cable car. This would cost you a bit, but at least you will no longer hike just before you reach the top.
The cable car going to the top of Zugspitze traverses the world’s highest steelwork pylon (127 meters tall). Most importantly, it is the world’s cable car with the most remarkable overall height difference of 1945 meters. Imagine yourself soaring to the sky more than twice the height of the world’s tallest building – just in minutes!
You won’t only see incredible views at the summit, but there’s Germany’s most elevated beer garden. It will be just where you can indulge your sense of sight with mountain beauty while filling up your tummy.
Tourist attraction #8: Eibsee
Beside Eibsee, a lake in Grainau, you can find one of the cable car stations that leads you to the summit of Zugspitze. But before you hop on the cable car, try to explore the lake for some time. It is the place with the best views of the Bavarian Alps you can quickly reach from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Eibsee is the photographer’s favorite. During calm weather, when the surface of Eibsee isn’t disturbed, it acts like a giant mirror reflecting Zugspitze and the nearby peaks. That’s a fantastic scene that many will surely like on Instagram.
Sometimes, Eibsee transforms into a magical lake, looking misty – so enchanting to see. When the mist is gone, you can rent kayaks and boats in nearby shops. Drift in the crystal clear water of Eibsee and visit the tiny islets scattered in the lake.
Visit Eibsee during the less crowded season, and you can find it very peaceful. Suppose you are looking for a soothing or mind-calming retreat. In that case, Eibsee will be a “must include” in your Bavarian Alps itinerary.
Tourist attraction #9: Olympia-Skistadion Sprungschanze
I am not a fan of the Olympics, but Olympia-Skistadion Sprungschanze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a reason why you should come to this town. Mainly because it’s a unique attraction, and who knows, if you’re lucky, you can witness a flying ski jumping athlete during your visit to GaPa!
I haven’t seen ski jump athletes in person. But when I watch videos on youtube of them performing, I am absolutely amused! The stadium is open to the public if there are no events. Go to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen tourism office to register and ask for permission if you want to try.
From Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you can also visit and see the Olympic Bobsleigh Run, where athletes used to glide on the curvy paths at a speed of 140 kph! However, today, people are no longer allowed to try the run as the authorities try to preserve this monumental landmark.
How long to stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen?
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a big town in the Bavarian Alps with many things to do and places to explore. It is recommended that you stay for 2 to 3 days to see all its attractions. Yet, you would like to be in GaPa for much longer if you plan to hike and visit the picturesque lakes, idyllic hamlets, and stunning viewpoints around the town.
Bavarian Alps Destination #4: Oberammergau
Among all the towns in the Bavarian Alps, Oberammergau is the most unique to visit. It does not have towering mountains, picturesque lakes, or fascinating gorges. But, one thing makes it really special: its culture and tradition.
Almost everywhere globally, especially in the Christian West, Oberammergau is seen as an unmissable destination in Germany because of its Passion Play.
The Passion Play is the promise of the villagers of Oberammergau to God made 400 years ago to be fulfilled and done every 10 years if God spares them from a plague. Miraculously after they made the promise, they were spared from the disease. Impressively, the villagers of Oberammergau stayed firm to their commitment even after the centuries.
What’s really inspiring in Oberammergau? More than 2000 villagers participate in the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ in their Passion Play. It’s an event you’ll just be honored to watch – definitely once in a lifetime.
You don’t have to worry about seeing not so much if you will visit Oberammergau when the Passion Play isn’t premiered. It has beautiful Lüftlmalerei and peaceful countryside your eyes would not get tired of seeing. It also has a wood carving tradition that could fascinate you too.
Oberammergau Visit Highlights
Oberammergau is not entirely uninteresting when you come when the Passion Play is not happening. Here are the attractions you can visit right away if you stay in Oberammergau:
- Alpine Coaster
- Ettal Abbey
- Linderhof Palace
You must check the 7 reasons why you will visit Oberammergau. It is an article showing you the best experiences, best views, and how you can see Oberammergau in a meaningful way.
Ettal Abbey and Linderhof Palace are perfect side trip attractions from Garmisch-Partenkirchen as well. However, they are much closer and easier to access from Oberammergau. Let’s discuss each tourist attraction in the sections below:
Tourist attraction #10: Oberammergau’s Alpine Coaster
Many people say that Oberammergau is only worth a visit during the premiere of its Passion Play. But there is a reason why you should not skip Oberammergau even during ordinary times.
It is because the world’s longest weatherproof toboggan run with magnetic brakes is in Oberammergau! It has a length of 2600 meters starting on a mountain near the town, covering a 400-meter altitude difference from the top. Along the track, you will experience 73 alpine coaster turns, 9 jumps, and 7 waves while whooshing down the slopes at 40kph!
Oberammergau will surprise you with such fun. It will be better if you experience it during good weather as the views from the alpine coaster are breathtaking. Here’s what you’ll experience in Oberammergau’s alpine coaster:
Tourist attraction #11: Ettal Abbey
Ettal is a small village south of Oberammergau where two of the Bavarian Alps’ architectural gems can be found: Ettal Abbey and Linderhof Palace. These two tourist attractions are just minutes away from Oberammergau, each you can reach within 20 minutes.
Between the two, Ettal Abbey is the one closest to Oberammergau. It is a 14th-century Benedictine monastery that operates a brewery, hotel, and show dairy. Ettal Abbey also has an impressive dome painted with mesmerizing frescos inside.
The paintings are so captivating that they can make you stare at them forever! You might get a stiff neck by looking at them for too long. Just kidding! Anyhow, here’s the sample view of the dome from inside:
Tourist attraction #12: Linderhof Palace
We can find Linderhof Palace in the west of Ettal Abbey, 15 to 20 minutes away from Oberammergau. It is one of the three palaces King Ludwig II’s built and the only one he saw completed. The interiors have an awe-inspiring rococo design; bummer that visitors are not allowed to take photos.
Linderhof Palace also has a lovely garden manifesting a mixture of different architectures like baroque and renaissance. The embellishments, plants, and statues you will see in the Linderhof garden will somehow make you feel like you’re royal spending your leisure time.
The main palace is small, but around it, you’ll find other attractions nice to see as well. Like the garden, they exhibit different cultures and architectures from different regions. Based on the names of these attractions in Linderhof Palace, you would know where they were inspired:
- Venus Grotto
- Hunding’s Hut
- Gurnemanz Hermitage
- Moorish Kiosk
- Moroccan House
How long to stay in Oberammergau?
You only need 1 day in Oberammergau to do all the highlights of a visit to the village. You can already explore the town in a day, see the lovely Lüftlmalerei, watch the Passion Play (if it is the 10th year), and have fun on the alpine coaster. If you are planning to hike, you would need another day to spend.
Bavarian Alps Destination #5: Hohenschwangau
The last town or village in the Bavarian Alps that you don’t want to miss visiting is Hohenschwangau, the home of King Ludwig II. It was a small village in Schwangau municipality until Neuschwanstein castle was built and gained popularity throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Now, Hohenschwangau is an urban district visited by approximately 2 million tourists and travelers annually. Being at the northern edge of the Alps, Hohenschwangau allows visitors to enjoy scenic views and the fairytale castles built on top of the hills.
There are hiking trails you can go after right away you visit the castles. You can choose between a lake or a mountain, but regardless, you will be able to spot the two castles wherever you pick to hike.
Hohenschwangau Visit Highlights
Visiting the Bavarian Alps is incomplete without getting to Hohenschwangau. Why? Because of:
- Neuschwanstein Castle
- Hohenschwangau Castle
I’ll tell you furthermore in the following sections. But you can also check out my article about Neuschwanstein Castle and The Nearby Places To Visit if you want to learn more about the tips, scenic spots, and other nearby attractions to Hohenschwangau.
Tourist attraction #13: Neuschwanstein Castle
Without a doubt, Neuschwanstein Castle is the main reason why millions of people go to Hohenschwangau. It is the fairytale castle constructed by the “fairytale king,” Ludwig II, who died before the completion of his beautiful castle. I must quote this from discovery.com:
“While Ludwig’s story doesn’t have a happy ending, his castles inspired a man known for crafting happy endings: Walt Disney. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was inspired by Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein, as was Cinderella’s Castle.”
I must also say that Neuschwanstein Castle has not inspired only one person but countless already. I’ve read so many comments about this castle, and they’ve shown awe and admiration for Neuschwanstein. It’s not hard to understand why, especially if it’s a real castle made by a real royal you’re visiting.
Anyhow, you can only get inside the castle with a tour that lasts for 30 minutes (the tickets sell out fast during summer). But what’s really compelling to visit is the Neuschwanstein Castle’s viewpoints, where you’ll see the full grandeur of the castle and the scenic location it was built. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if you’re like me, who is not from Europe.
Tourist attraction #14: Hohenschwangau Castle
On the other side of the village, we can find Hohenschwangau Castle, the former home of King Ludwig II. It is the castle, perched on a small hill, painted with yellow color you can spot on the balcony of Neuschwanstein Castle.
Hohenschwangau Castle was built in the 12th century but was destroyed, reconstructed, and improved many times. King Maximillian II, the father of King Ludwig II, had the final touches on the castle. It may not be as grand as Neuschwanstein — but the interiors were made very interesting with paintings that seemingly create correlating stories.
Outside, you will barely see Neuschwanstein Castle because of the trees blocking the view. However, the lake Alpsee will be right there in the scenery of the castle’s gardens. Here’s a sample view of the castle:
Tourist attraction #15: Alpsee
Alpsee is the place to visit if you want to see both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles in one spot. You can rent a boat to get the perfect angle or hike around the lake.
As you explore Alpsee, you can encounter cute wild swans drifting along the glittering water. The lake has a circular path around it, but there’s an option for distant hikes if you have time. Nevertheless, the lake should give you a peaceful and relaxing time away from the crowd.
How long to stay in Hohenschwangau?
Typically, one day in Hohenschwangau is enough. A day tour is possible also if you are coming from nearby cities/towns, especially if you’re visiting just the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. Just make sure that you’ll be visiting the castles very early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowd, which destroys the magical experience of the town.
Distance Between the Destinations in Bavarian Alps
Now that we know what the towns and attractions we can visit in the Bavarian Alps are, let’s try now to make an itinerary for our trip to the Bavarian Alps. We begin with the places within the Bavarian Alps first. Then we’ll talk about how you can reach them from other towns or cities with airports.
Scroll down to learn how the table can help you create the Bavarian Alps itinerary OR proceed to the tables showing the distances between the destinations in the Bavarian Alps: Travel by car, travel by public transportation.
In making an itinerary, I always look for four things:
- Road distance – to tell how much we would pay for the fuel or car rent (Just if we prefer to use our car/rent/hire a driver).
- Travel time using a private vehicle – to know when we should leave the current town/attraction so we won’t be late for the next booking or tour. (using our cars)
- Commuting difficulty – this is to tell how many transfers we will make just to reach the next destination. Sometimes, the places that require multiple transfers in the commute get the lowest priority. We don’t want such a hassle! It could also mean more hassle in buying tickets and more expenses unless we avail of unlimited passes for public transit.
- Schedule and travel time using public transportation. This is critical, especially if we will be traveling using public transport and we also have tours and bookings on a particular date/time. We can avoid the stress of missing the schedule by giving ourselves enough time allowance for our commute and syncing it with tour bookings.
These will be the category of data you will find in the tables below. With the help of these tables, we can determine the “real” or “sensible” travel distance between the destinations in the Bavarian Alps.
- The data in the table are from rome2rio.com and Google Maps‘ schedule explorer, two of the best travel planners on the internet based on Google PlayStore and Apple AppStore reviews.
- You must consider the traffic situation in planning your itinerary.
- The travel time using public transportation includes the time in between transfers. These are the fastest estimates and are only here to give you an idea of how long you’ll stay in transit.
- In using public transportation, you can download the DB Navigator app for your Android and iPhones to find the train/bus journey information. You can also find the cheapest tickets, make a quick booking, and find exact transit schedules using the app.
Without further explanation, here are the tables showing the distances between the destinations in the Bavarian Alps:
Road Distance and Travel Time between towns in the Bavarian Alps
From the tables below, you get an idea of:
- How far you’ll drive to get to your next destination.
- How much time you will spend on the road.
|Berchtesgaden||–|| 188.7 km|
| 188.4 km|
| 189.6 km|
| 216.6 km|
| 78.7 km|
| 17.9 km|
|–|| 19.2 km|
| 61.6 km|
| 35.5 km|
|–|| 46 km|
Commute and Travel Time between towns in the Bavarian Alps
From the tables below, you get an idea of:
- How many transfers you will do / how many train rides or bus rides. Example: 3 train rides = 2 transfers.
- How much time you’ll spend in commuting
|Berchtesgaden||–||2 trains, 1 bus|
|2 trains, 1 bus|
|3 trains, 1 bus|
|3 trains, 1 bus|
|Mittenwald||2 trains, 1 bus|
|GaPa||2 trains, 1 bus|
|Oberammergau||3 trains, 1 bus|
|Hohenschwangau||3 trains, 1 bus|
|1 bus, 1 train|
How do I get to Bavarian Alps?
There are many ways you can go to the Bavarian Alps. You can literally start anywhere in Germany or in nearby countries.
Thanks to technology, traveling from one place to another in Western Europe is easier than ever. You will never be lost as long as you know how to use the basic travel smartphone applications. You can download the most essential apps for traveling in Germany/Bavarian Alps here:
- DB Navigator [ AppStore | PlayStore ] – For booking public transportation, finding schedules, real-time information, coach sequence, cheap deals, and so much more!
- Google Maps [ AppStore | PlayStore ] – For navigating with your car, finding the best route, searching for train/bus schedules.
Google Maps alone is sufficient for our navigation, even using public transportation.
With the current tech we have now, regardless if you want to drive or use the trains, you no longer have to memorize streets, stations, and so much more just to get to the place you want to visit.
This is why I will no longer give you the exact steps of which street to turn to, which train line to ride on, and so on. Instead, I will provide more tables showing you how far the Bavarian Alps are from where you plan to start your journey. This is, of course, to help you plan your itinerary.
Using the tables:
- You can assess which destination in the Bavarian Alps is nearest to where you are coming from.
- Coming from overseas, you can select which airport you would want to use for arrival to Germany/Europe, considering Bavarian Alps as your primary destination.
- You can get an idea of which city is next to visit after touring the Bavarian Alps.
- You will also know which city you can use as your home base in some cases.
The use of these tables was further explained here.
Cities and Airports Near Bavarian Alps
Here is the list of cities with airports near the Bavarian Alps we can select for our arrival. The criteria for choosing these cities are the following:
- You can reach Bavarian Alps in less than 4 hours of driving from these cities. We do not want to drive for more than half a day!
- You can use a public transport route from these cities to bring you to the Bavarian Alps in a shorter duration than taking another flight to a nearer city. In other words, land travel to Bavarian Alps from these cities takes a shorter duration than air travel. (Air travel time estimate = actual flight time + time spent during check-in + time spent during security check)
Driving Distance (Cities/Airports to towns in Bavarian Alps)
|Frankfurt||TOO FAR||TOO FAR||TOO FAR||TOO FAR||425.8 km|
|Zurich||TOO FAR||292.6 km|
Commuting Distance (Cities/Airports to towns in Bavarian Alps)
|Frankfurt||TOO FAR||1 train|
|3 trains + 1 bus|
(5h 43 m)
|1 train + 1 bus|
|Zurich||TOO FAR||2 trains|
|TOO FAR||2 trains + 1 bus|
|2 trains + 1 bus|
Here is an example of the use case the table will help you with:
Let’s say you found two flights to Germany. One is going to Frankfurt, and another is heading to Munich. The flights to Frankfurt are on sale, and the flights to Munich are at regular prices.
You might want to see the beautiful places in Munich first before exploring the Bavarian Alps. Read my article to discover the 10 beautiful tourist attractions in Munich: Is Munich Beautiful? 10 Beautiful Places in Munich to See
We should choose the cheaper flight, right? Not too fast. We must consider the land travel between Frankfurt and our destination in the Bavarian Alps too. Now we choose:
- Should I take the cheaper flight but spend more hours on the road? (This means more expense for fuel or train ride) or
- I’ll take the flights to Munich; I don’t care if it’s expensive as long as I get to the Bavarian Alps in no time.
Visiting Bavarian Alps: Public Transportation or Private Car?
We know now the attractions/towns to visit in the Bavarian Alps and which cities near the Bavarian Alps we can start our journey. The next question would be:
What is the better mode of transport in the Bavarian Alps, trains, bus or private car? Generally, public transportation in Bavarian Alps is efficient and convenient. Renting a car is useless, especially if you are only up to the main attractions. You may only need a private vehicle to quickly get to a remote location (i.e., mountains) and far destination, or you want more flexibility during your trip.
Bavarian Alps Itinerary
Based on the information previously mentioned and the tables shown, I created three itineraries for Bavarian Alps:
- Itinerary for the central-western Bavarian Alps. (7 days)
- The itinerary that visits the eastern Bavarian Alps. (3 days)
- An itinerary visiting the entire Bavarian Alps. (10 days)
The third itinerary is the absolute goal. But if you do not have enough time, the first two itineraries are good options.
I do not require you to follow my itinerary, but I hope I can give you an idea of how you can visit the Bavarian Alps. I assume that you will be traveling to the Bavarian Alps during summer/shoulder season when all the attractions are open to the public.
If you need help in visiting Bavarian Alps, I recommend getting a tour or guide so you may not deal with stress or save a lot of time booking individual passes:
Central-Western Bavarian Alps Itinerary
In this itinerary, we start at the westernmost part of the Bavarian Alps (Hohenschwangau) and end up in the easternmost destination (Mittenwald). Overall, it will be a 7-day journey passing through 4 towns in the Bavarian Alps, with Munich as the exit.
|Day||Location||Hours||Things to do||Notes|
|1||Origin City / Hohenschwangau||Whole day||– Buy the important stuff (sim cards, etc.)|
– Explore the city, buy refreshments
– Rest in a hotel/recover from jetlag if there is / immediately go to the first destination in the Bavarian Alps
|Better if you book accommodation in Hohenschwangau / Fussen to go early to Neuschwanstein Castle.|
|2||Hohenschwangau||Morning||– Visit Neuschwanstein Castle very early in the morning. Be sure to be in the castle before the crowd appears!||If you did not book accommodation in Hohenschwangau and use public transport to visit Hohenschwangau, you could leave your baggage at the luggage counter in Fussen station.|
|Afternoon||– See Hohenschwangau Castle / Alpsee|
– Rest in your hotel
|Spend another night in Hohenschwangau after a tiring day. There will be hiking in visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, so, better to rest before visiting another destination.|
|3||Oberammergau||Morning||– Leave Hohenschwangau and go to |
Oberammergau. Check in to another hotel.
– Explore the village
– Ride the alpine coaster
|Most of the hotels will not allow you to check in before mid-afternoon. However, they should let you drop your baggage at the hotel and do the check-in later.|
|Afternoon||– Visit Ettal Abbey or Linderhof Palace|
– Rest in your hotel
|Oberammergau, Linderhof Palace, and Ettal Abbey are serviced by bus #9622. The bus departs every 3 hours.|
|4||Garmisch-Partenkirchen||Morning||– Leave Oberammergau and go to GaPa. Leave bags in the hotel and check-in later.|
– Explore Garmisch and Partenkirchen old towns.
|Afternoon||– See Olympia-Skistadion Sprungschanze|
– Visit Partnach Gorge
|5||Garmisch-Partenkirchen||Whole day||– Hiking Eibsee|
– Visit Zugspitze
|If you plan to hike Zugspitze and other beautiful locations in GaPa, add 2 more days to your stay.|
|6||Mittenwald||Morning||– Take the train to Mittenwald|
– See Leutasch Gorge
|Afternoon||– Ride Cable Car to Karwendel, watch the sunset at the top station|
– Hike to mountain huts, and spend a night there.
|There are lovely mountain huts in Mittenwald. They are located on the western slopes of Karwendel, great for watching the sunset over Mittenwald/Gapa.|
|7||Garmisch-Partenkirchen / Mittenwald||Morning||– Continue hiking and go back to GaPa from Mittenwald|
|Munich||Afternoon||– Pack up and take the train to Munich.|
The itinerary could be reversed. But I intended to line up the towns to visit this way, having Munich as the exit. This is to let you quickly go to Berchtesgaden if you want to extend your trip.
You can also start your Bavarian Alps journey in Innsbruck since it is the closest “large” town to the Bavarian Alps. Proceed to Mittenwald and then all the way to Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau. Let Munich be your destination after Hohenschwangau if you want to visit Berchtesgaden after.
Discover the 10 Beautiful Places in Munich to See.
Need help in traveling? See available tours and guides.
Eastern Bavarian Alps Itinerary
We can separate Berchtesgaden into another itinerary since it is located on the easternmost portion of the Bavarian Alps, away from the first 4 towns. We will only be traveling for three days for this itinerary, starting from Munich to Berchtesgaden, with Salzburg as the exit.
Like the western Bavarian Alps itinerary, you can reverse this too, whatever your heart says. 🙂 I intended to start the itinerary from Munich so you can quickly go to Berchtesgaden.
|Day||Location||Hours||Things to do||Notes|
|0||Munich||Whole day||– Buy the important stuff (sim cards, etc.)|
– Explore the city, buy refreshments
– Rest in a hotel/recover from jetlag if there is / immediately go to Berchtesgaden
|“Day 0” because technically, we are not in Bavarian Alps yet.|
If you continue the first given itinerary, you must be heading to Berchtesgaden by the afternoon.
|1||Berchtesgaden||Morning||– Go to Eagle’s Nest|
|Afternoon||– Visit the Berchtesgaden’s Salt Mine|
– Explore the town, shop, dine
|2||Berchtesgaden||Morning||– Explore Konigsee, Saint Bartholomew’s church|
|Afternoon||– Hike to Obersee and see Rothbach waterfalls|
|3||Salzburg||Whole day||– Leave Berchtesgaden and proceed to Salzburg|
– Explore Salzburg
|I would suggest that you check my article about the scenic spots in Berchtesgaden. There are really fantastic hikes that await you in Berchtesgaden. They should extend your trip by another day or two.|
Discover the 10 Beautiful Places in Munich to See.
Need help in traveling? See available tours and guides.
Entire Bavarian Alps Itinerary
Well, the entire Bavarian Alps itinerary is just a combination of the two forementioned itineraries. Ideally, they would take up to 10 days, but if you do hiking, it could extend up to 14 days. That’s two weeks of mountain beauty.
So what you do think about the itinerary? Do you have suggestions? Please comment down below! 🙂
I hope this article helped you plan your visit to the Bavarian Alps, and I hope you will enjoy your trip! The mountains are really a special place; it’s not only fun and awe which you can find there. Sometimes it’s more valuable than that.
Just remember to live every second of your trip! Make it memorable and meaningful. That’s what we aim for travel. Do not only do it for social media or something. Live life!
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