Is Oberammergau Worth Visiting: 7 Things to See & Experience

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When I first heard of the Bavarian Alps in Southern Germany, all I could picture in my mind were rustic alpine villages, serene lakes, and majestic mountains. Little did I know, the Bavarian Alps also have a rich culture and tradition, which you can clearly see in Oberammergau.

When I was exploring Oberammergau, I was both amazed and intrigued. This village, nestled at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, has an incredible artistic and religious heritage. If you’ll ask me if Oberammergau is worth visiting, here’s what I can say:

Oberammergau is known for its unique, centuries-old tradition called the Passion Play. It’s definitely a must-see during the time the village celebrates it. However, it’s not just the Passion Play that makes Oberammergau special. The village’s eye pleasing Lüftlmalerei and impressive wooden handicrafts are also amazing. These things make Oberammergau worth a stop on every trip to the Bavarian Alps, even when the Passion Play is not taking place.

Together with other beautiful I found in Oberammergau, let me tell you everything I discovered about this unique village which I think are enough to be a reason to Oberammergau.

First of all, if you’re in search of beauty during your trip, Oberammergau is sure to meet your expectations. From its charming village center to the picturesque scenery at the outskirts, there’s plenty to admire in Oberammergau. The photos below will surely give you a glimpse of the beautiful sights you can discover here.

Considering a visit and stay in Oberammergau? Check the best hotel deals here. Also, don’t miss out on the day trips and guided tours that feature Oberammergau. These tours will ensure your trip is not only hassle-free, but also filled with insightful experiences.

1. Oberammergau Passion Play — A Tradition Like No Other

No matter what kind of traveler we are, there’s one thing I’m certain about: every time we travel, our top priority is to experience something unique and special. Oberammergau, with its Passion Play, certainly delivers on that front!

So, what exactly is the Passion Play in Oberammergau? Simply put, Oberammergau’s Passion Play is the most renowned passion play in the world. It stands as one of the most amazing UNESCO intangible cultural heritages.

The play is a grand event, featuring over 2000 performances by local actors. This makes it the world’s longest-running play and one of the greatest amateur dramatic shows. The play tells the story of Jesus’s journey from Jerusalem to his crucifixion. The performance lasts between five and eight hours. There is a long intermission for the audience to enjoy a sit-down dinner.

The Passion Play of Oberammergau is more than just a cultural event. It represents a solemn vow made by its inhabitants to God. In the face of a devastating plague, the villagers made a promise. They vowed that if they were spared, they would re-enact the Passion of Christ every decade. Miraculously, the plague ceased, and the villagers were indeed spared. This is the origin of the tradition that continues to this day.

True to their word, the first Passion Play took place in 1634. This tradition, now nearly 400 years old, continues to this day.

As a Christian, I find Oberammergau’s Passion Play to be an inspiring tradition. It stands as a testament to faith and a spectacle of devotion. The play offers a profound spiritual experience. This experience is brought to life by the dedicated residents of Oberammergau.

The Oberammergau Passion Play is indeed an amazing experience. However, it does not take place every year, but every ten years. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to witness it, you should not miss it. It can be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us.

But don’t worry if you’re planning to visit Bavaria and want to include Oberammergau in your itinerary when there’s no Passion Play taking place. You can still visit the Passion Play Theater in the village.

The foyer of the Passion Play Theater in Oberammergau, Germany
The foyer of the Passion Play Theater

Here, you can gain insights into this remarkable event. There’s an exhibition in the foyer that you can explore, or you can take a guided tour that includes a look behind the scenes. This will provide you with a unique insight into the history and making of the Passion Play. You’ll also have the opportunity to admire the clear, monumental shape of the stage, which has remained largely unchanged since 1930.

The pictures of the villagers of Oberammergau who joined in their Passion Play, Oberammergau, Germany
The pictures of the villagers of Oberammergau who joined in their Passion Play

When you visit, don’t forget to check out the authentic medieval clothes used in the Passion Play. There are also hundreds of photos of Oberammergau’s residents who participated in different performances from different years. These images showcase the incredible dedication of the village residents to the vow their ancestors made.

2023 Update: The last time I checked; the foyer of the Passion Play Theater had undergone a redesign. Gone were the old photos that once adorned the walls. In their place, you’ll now find informative boards. These boards are a treasure trove of history, showcasing photos and details about the various Passion Plays that have taken place throughout the centuries. The old clothes used in the event are still in place.

If you’re interested in visiting the Passion Play Theater in Oberammergau, there’s a great resource available for you. The official website of the Oberammergau Museum provides a wealth of information about the theater.

2. Lüftlmalerei in Oberammergau — An Art of History and Culture

Another reason why Oberammergau is such a beautiful place to visit is the village itself. It’s one of the most charming villages I’ve encountered, thanks in large part to the Lüftlmalerei. These are traditional Bavarian frescoes that can be found all over the village, adding to its unique appeal.

Oberammergau Germany, Bavarian culture murals on the houses

So, what is Lüftlmalerei? It a kind of mural art you’ll often see in southern Germany and Austria, especially in places like Upper Bavaria and the Tyrol. The name might come from Franz Seraph Zwinck, an artist known for this style who lived in a house called “Zum Lüftl” in Oberammergau.

Oberammergau Germany, Murals and flowers in the houses

Now, what makes Lüftlmalerei special? Well, it’s a type of art that uses tricks to make flat walls look like they have depth or texture. It can show a variety of things, from saints and biblical stories to scenes from everyday life and even hunting.

Oberammergau Germany, A mural in Oberammergau depicting a saint

You’ll often see banners with mottos, and sundials are pretty popular too. The amazizng thing is these paintings are made to last. They’re painted onto fresh plaster, and the colors become part of the plaster itself.

Oberammergau Germany, Murals in the houses

If you’re ever in Oberammergau, you can check out some great examples of Lüftlmalerei along Dorfstraße. The murals there show the Star of Bethlehem leading the way to Jesus and the local mountain, Kofel. There are also some that depict scenes from the Bible, the lives of saints, or something personal to the people who live there.

Oberammergau Germany, Murals and flowers in the chalets

One of the most notable buildings in Oberammergau, known for its impressive Lüftlmalerei, is the Pilatushaus. This building is conveniently located north of the Tourist Information Center. The mural in Pilatushaus is particularly interesting because it uses Trompe-l’œil. This is an art technique that creates an optical illusion, making the objects in a painting appear three-dimensional.

Oberammergau Germany, Pilatushaus
Front of Pilatushaus

Pilatushaus’ Lüftlmalerei, created by Franz Zwinck in 1784, depicts the moment when Jesus was denounced by Pontius Pilate, which is how the building got its name.

Inside Pilatushaus in Oberammergau, Germany
Inside Pilatushaus

The more amazing thing about Pilatushaus is found when you step inside. You’ll find a workshop where artists are hard at work on carvings, paintings, and even metalwork. Not only you can watch the artists do their work. If you want, you can learn about their craft and even engage in conversation with them.

Woodcraft exhibit inside Pilataushaus, Oberammergau, Germany
Woodcraft exhibit inside Pilataushaus

For the most up-to-date visiting information for Pilatushaus, I recommend checking out its page on the official website of the Oberammergau Museum. And here’s some good news – the last time I checked, there was no entry fee!

3. Oberammergau Parish Church — A Deeper Look to Village’s Heritage

Oberammergau is a true gem when it comes to architecture and art. This charming village allows you to immerse yourself in its rich culture and tradition, and it’s as simple as taking a leisurely stroll. The village is filled with Lüftlmalerei, a traditional form of mural art, making it feel like an open-air museum.

But the experience in Oberammergau goes beyond just art and architecture. The village is deeply rooted in religion, offering visitors a chance for a peaceful retreat.

Oberammergau Germany, Frescoes in the church
Frescos of the Church of Saint Peter and Paul

And indeed, if you’re looking for a moment of tranquility, simply step into the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Paul, located in the heart of Oberammergau. The beautiful interiors of the church are sure to inspire a sense of peace and contemplation. In my view, the Church of Saint Peter and Paul in Oberammergau is an attraction that truly enhances the appeal of the village.

Oberammergau Germany, Beautiful church frescoes and murals
Artworks on different floor levels of the church of Saint Peter and Paul

In brief summary, the Church of Saint Peter and Paul in Oberammergau is a remarkable example of South German Baroque architecture. It’s believed that a church has stood on this site since the 9th century, with the current Baroque building being constructed between 1735 and 1749.

Inside, the church is beautifully adorned with numerous stucco works and sculptures. It features one main altar and four side altars, each with its own unique theme. The main high altar, for example, depicts the Mother of God as a heavenly helper to those who ask for her intercession.

The Church of Saint Peter and Paul in Oberammergau is also adorned with some truly impressive frescoes. These artworks include depictions of the rosary being presented to St. Dominic, Mary receiving the angel’s salute, and Apostle Peter and Paul leaving the dungeon.

However, one of the highlights of your visit to the church will undoubtedly be the ceiling fresco in the nave. Dating back to 1741, this fresco is not just a work of art, but also a marvel of illusion. It’s designed in such a way that it gives the interiors an additional sense of space, making the church feel even more grand and awe-inspiring.

If you’re looking for a more insightful and enriching experience, the Church of Saint Peter and Paul offers a spiritual guided tour. This tour can provide you with a deeper understanding of the church’s history and significance. For more information about the guided tour, I recommend checking out the official website of the Oberammergau Museum.

4. Wooden Handicrafts of Oberammergau — The Talent of the Locals

One of the things that truly fascinates me about Oberammergau is the way its residents express themselves artistically. You’ve probably noticed this too, with the stunning murals and the renowned Passion Play. But there’s another way they showcase their creativity, and that’s through their craftsmanship in woodcarving. This is our third reason to visit Oberammergau.

Oberammergau Germany, Ols Woodcarvings
Owl wood carvings

The remarkable thing about the woodcarving in Oberammergau lies in its deep-rooted tradition, which extends back to the 12th century. This craftsmanship is not only ancient but also highly respected for its quality and precision.

This art form has been passed down through generations, earning the village international acclaim. Most of the carvings have a religious background, with an extensive number of hand-carved wooden sculptures, liturgical furnishings, and other artwork with religious motifs.

Interestingly, every piece is a unique hand-carved masterpiece, produced exclusively for the client. The artisans take pride in creating something unique for the people and their sacred space.

Today, Oberammergau is home to over 100 woodcarvers, and their products can be purchased in dozens of shops. They are passionate about individual commissions, enjoying the direct contact with people, listening to their ideas, and ultimately capturing these ideas in a wooden masterpiece.

There are several places where you can immerse yourself in this cultural heritage. ALBL Oberammergau, a family-owned company that has been crafting fine wooden masterpieces since 1556, collaborates with various workshops and artisans in the area. You can explore their creations in their local store or online.

Another place of interest is the woodcarving workshop of Toni Baur. For over 40 years, this family business has been delighting lovers of carved figures and nativity scene collectors. They offer a wide range of products to satisfy almost any wish.

Paul & Robert Eder, a family business with a history of woodcarving in Oberammergau spanning generations, offers a diverse range of products. From religious figures and universal wood carvings to unique pieces, cradles, chests, mirrors, display shelves, animals, and stylish and rustic lighting appliances, there’s something for everyone.

5. Oberammergau Serene Alpine Views — The Start of Many More

Thanks to the mural-adorned houses and the majestic mountains that surround the village, Oberammergau offers a visual feast wherever you find yourself. In fact, even before you reach Oberammergau from other towns, tranquil views of the countryside and mountains are already within your sight.

These sceneries, so pleasant to watch, are straight out of a fantasy movie. This is one reason why you’d never regret visiting Oberammergau.

The truth is, even more incredible views await you outside the village of Oberammergau and along the roads from the valley where Oberammergau is situated. You have the option to either hike or use a chairlift to get the best views of the town and its surroundings.

From the village of Oberammergau, you can visit three scenic destinations: Laber Panoramaview in Laber Mountain, the peak of Mount Kofel, and Kolbensattelhütte, also known as Kolbensattel Lodge.

Laber Panoramaview

Nestled in the Laber Mountain, east of the village of Oberammergau, you’ll find the Laber Panoramaview. This observation deck offers a bird’s eye view of the picturesque towns of Oberammergau and Ettal, located to the south.

View of the town of Ettal from Laber Mountain, east of Oberammergau

When you come to Laber Panoramaview, the breathtaking scenery is perfectly complemented by the delightful snacks and beers from Ettal Abbey, served at the Laber Berggaststätte, a charming mountain restaurant.

Getting to the Laber Mountain observation deck is a breeze. Simply catch a ride from the Mount Laber Cableway Oberammergau Station, located near the WellenBerg Oberammergau resort in the easternmost part of the village.

If you’re starting from the Tourist Information Center, it’s a leisurely 22-minute walk to the Mount Laber Cableway ground station. For those with a car, it’s a quick drive from the village center. For more information, please check the official website of Laberbergbahn.

Mount Kofel

Mount Kofel is a prominent mountain in the Bavarian Alps, standing at 1,342 meters. It’s often likened to the Matterhorn due to its distinctive white head and similar shape. The mountain is a signature feature of the town of Oberammergau, which is situated just a kilometer away from the summit.

From the summit, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding areas, including Pulvermoos and the Ammertal to the north, and Weidmoos to the southeast. These two moors are remnants of an Ice Age glacial lake, adding a touch of prehistoric intrigue to the landscape.

View from Mount Kofel, Oberammergau, Germany
View from Mount Kofel

If you’re considering a hike, the trail to Mount Kofel begins at Oberammergau. The path zig-zags up to Kofelsattel, and from there, the Kofelsteig leads you to the summit. This route is considered an easy via-ferrata, with only a few exposed sections. The entire hike can be completed in about two hours. The elevation gain is 484 meters.

The hike is steep but beautiful, leading through a splendid forest. After reaching the Kofelsattel, the views start to get spectacular since you’re climbing the steep walls of Kofel. It’s relatively not hard to hike, but it’s always important to be prepared and take safety precautions.


Nestled deep in the mountains east of Oberammergau, the Kolbensattel Lodge is a destination not to be missed. Perched at a height of 1270 meters, this traditional mountain lodge is surrounded by lush meadows and towering pine trees, offering a breathtaking view of the valley where Oberammergau lies.

Kolbensattelhütte in Oberammergau, Germany
Kolbensattelhütte in Oberammergau

The lodge features a patio where visitors can savor meals and enjoy beers from Ettal Abbey, all while taking in the pristine alpine views. A visit to the Kolbensattel Lodge promises a feast for both your eyes and your palate, immersing you in the mountain’s natural goodness.

To reach the lodge, you have the option to hike or take a scenic chairlift ride. Starting from the tourist information center, a 20-minute walk west will lead you to the Kolbensesselbahn, the ground station for the chairlift. After a few minutes aboard the chairlift, you’ll find yourself at the lodge, ready to soak in the beauty of your surroundings.

For the visitor’s information about Kolbensesselbahn, kindly check its official website for latest updates.

6. Alpine Coaster in Oberammergau — There’s Fun and Adventure!

Oberammergau is often recognized for its Passion Play, Lüftlmalerei, and wood carving traditions. However, this doesn’t mean that a visit to Oberammergau lacks adventure or fun.

In fact, Oberammergau is home to one of the most family-friendly attractions in the Bavarian Alps: the Alpine Coaster. Nestled at the Kolbensattel, it holds the title of the world’s longest weatherproof toboggan run with a magnet system.

Your journey begins at the Kolbensattel Lodge, from where you embark on a thrilling 2,600-meter descent into the valley. The ride is filled with excitement as you navigate through 73 bends, 9 jumps, and 7 waves, reaching speeds of up to 40 km/h and experiencing an altitude difference of 400 meters.

Safety is a priority on the Alpine Coaster. It’s equipped with a modern magnetic brake system, brake levers on both sides of the cart, and optimized seats with backrests and seat belts. You have the freedom to control your speed, making the ride as leisurely or as thrilling as you prefer.

Getting to the beginning of the Alpine Coaster at Kolbensattel hut from Oberammergau is part of the adventure itself. It can be reached either by a leisurely hike of about 1.5 hours or by using the Kolben chairlift.

To find the most up-to-date information on operating hours and other visitor details, please refer to the latest announcements on the official Kolbensattel website. This will ensure you have the most accurate and current information for your visit.

7. Oberammergau’s Nearby Attractions & More Outdoor Activities

Oberammergau, with its strategic location in a mountainous area, serves as a perfect starting point for a variety of relaxing and fun outdoor activities. Whether you’re a fan of hiking, such as trails on Kofel or Laber, or other nature-based activities, there’s something for everyone here.

During the summer months, you can embark on a journey of self-discovery on the scenic Ammergau Alps Meditation Trail. If you prefer a more leisurely activity, the WellenBerg Leisure and Fun Pool offers a chance to sunbathe, swim, and relax in the refreshing mountain air.

For those who enjoy cycling, mountain bikes are available for rent. You can cycle across beautiful meadows and the German countryside, all while enjoying views of the mountain.

Winter in Oberammergau also offers its own unique attractions. The Snowpark Oberammergau is a must-visit for adventurous snowboarders, offering different obstacles to challenge your skills. Cross-country skiing trails in Oberammergau, awarded 4 stars by ADAC, provide another exciting winter activity. For a more fun experience, you can join guided snowshoeing tours to the Ammergau Alps.

The thing is, if you make Oberammergau your base for doing these outdoor activities, you might want to stay for longer. Why?

Because Oberammergau lies close to some of the best attractions in the Bavarian Alps. From this village, you can get to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald, and even Neuschwanstein Castle within an hour or slightly more than that.

Actually, there are some really amazing places near Oberammergau that are even closer than the ones I just talked about. These include Ettal Abbey and Linderhof Palace. Both of these places are just a short 30-minute car or bus ride from Oberammergau.

To learn more about Ettal Abbey, Linderhof Palace, and other attractions in the Bavarian Alps, check out my list of 20 best things to do in the Bavarian Alps.

Briefly, Ettal Abbey is a working Benedictine monastery that’s rich in history and filled with stunning architecture and beautiful frescoes. You can wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens and explore the outhouses. And if you’re interested in local culture, the abbey has its own brewery to check and chat with the monks, during your visit.

On the other hand, Linderhof Palace is another architectural gem; the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and it’s the only one he saw completed. The palace is a sight to behold, with its design inspired by the grandeur of Versailles. As you walk through the palace, you’ll be able to explore its cozy rooms, each one designed specifically for King Ludwig himself.

When to Visit Oberammergau

Considering the beauty and experiences that Oberammergau offers, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re planning a visit. If that’s the case, there are a few things to keep in mind before you book your trip.

The timing of your visit is the most crucial. Oberammergau is primarily an outdoor destination, and the weather can significantly impact your experience. Ideally, you should plan your trip during the sunniest season, typically summer. With clear skies, every scene in Oberammergau becomes a stunning spectacle. The Lüftlmalerei murals appear more vibrant, and the alpine scenery transforms into a paradise.

When the weather is great, you’ll also find it more enjoyable to try Oberammergau’s attractions like the Alpine Coaster and other outdoor activities nearby. However, don’t be disheartened if the weather turns gloomy during your visit. You can still explore the village’s woodcrafts and learn about the history of the Passion Play in its theater.

Ultimately, it goes without saying that the Passion Play, which only takes place every 10 years, is the time that you must really visit Oberammergau. This unique event truly brings the village to life and offers a cultural experience like no other.

How Much Time in Oberammergau

During the regular season, when the Passion Play isn’t taking place, half a day is usually sufficient to enjoy the highlights of Oberammergau. You can spend that time exploring the village’s charming streets, admiring the stunning Lüftlmalerei murals, visiting the historic Pilatushaus, and checking out the authentic wooden handicrafts.

And if you’re looking for a bit of excitement and adventure, the Oberammergau Alpine Coaster and the hiking destinations around the village are a great addition to your trip to Oberammergau. However, keep in mind that adding this to your itinerary could extend your visit to a full day.

Unless you’re planning to use Oberammergau as your base for exploring the Bavarian Alps, I wouldn’t recommend staying longer than a day. There are other places in the Bavarian Alps that are worth spending more time in.

You can check out my 7-day Bavarian Alps Itinerary or my 10-day Bavarian Alps Itinerary to get an idea of how you might like to spend time in the Bavarian Alps, including Oberammergau. If you still want to stay for a night in Oberammergau, here is where you can find the excellent hotel deals.

How to Get to Oberammergau

If you’re planning a trip to Oberammergau and flying into Germany, your journey will likely start in Munich. As the largest city in Bavaria, Munich offers excellent connectivity to Oberammergau, whether you choose to travel by car, bus, or train.

For those opting for public transportation, you can find schedules and availability on the Deutsche Bahn’s official website. The journey from Munich to Oberammergau typically takes between an hour and a half to two hours, regardless of whether you’re driving or using public transport.

As for whether to use a car or train to reach Oberammergau, it really depends on your personal preferences and travel plans. If your main goal is to explore the village and you don’t plan on venturing to locations not serviced by buses, I’d suggest skipping the car rental. Public transportation should serve your needs just fine.

Places Similar to Oberammergau

Oberammergau is just one of the many beautiful places you can find in Southern Germany. If you’re planning a trip to this region, there are several other locations I can recommend.

In the Bavarian Alps, you’ll find enchanting places like Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Mittenwald. Another location that I believe you’ll enjoy is Berchtesgaden. This town, renowned for its salt mine, offers breathtaking views that are arguably the best in the Bavarian Alps! It’s nestled on the southeasternmost side of the country, just 20 kilometers from Salzburg in Austria. From here, you can visit Germany’s tallest waterfall, cleanest lake, and a World War II historical site perched on a mountain ridge.

Beyond the Bavarian Alps, you’ll want to explore Franconia in Bavaria and the Black Forest in Baden-Wurttemberg. Franconia is home to some of the most beautiful, historically rich towns in southern Germany, such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Wurzburg, and Bamberg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a must-visit for its preserved medieval walls and its landmark that has become an icon of Germany on the internet.

For a diverse range of experiences, consider visiting the larger cities in southern Germany like Nuremberg and Stuttgart, in addition to Munich. Nuremberg is a haven for history and architecture enthusiasts, while Stuttgart caters to those interested in modern museums and car exhibits.

Before you finish reading this post, make sure to add at least one of these places to your itinerary. You’re sure to make plenty of new discoveries! Anyway, this would be all for Oberammergau. I hope this post helps you a lot in discovering this beautiful village. Have fun and safe travels! 🙂

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  1. Michaelsep says:

    I am already wondering how much my approach to this topic will change after reading your articles.

    1. engr.eljonrdeocampo says:

      Oberammergau seems like a little gem in Bavaria overlooked by some. I hope this post positively affected your approach! Stay safe. 🙂

  2. MarvinBes says:

    I would love to read the next article. Keep it up!

    1. engr.eljonrdeocampo says:

      Thank you! Hope it helps. 🙂

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