Oberammergau is a town in Upper Bavaria, Germany, famous for the centuries-old meaningful Passion Play tradition that occurs every 10 years. Here you’ll see beautiful murals called Lüftlmalerei, endless Alpine wonders, and fascinating wood craftsmanship mastered by the locals.
But do these make Oberammergau worth a visit?
Well, we all have reasons why we travel. If a destination satisfies our wants, it becomes a place worth visiting for us. In this blog post, you will learn about Oberammergau, the scenery, and things to do in the town to help you decide if you will visit Oberammergau or not.
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Use the table of contents to skip to topics.
Facts and information (i.e., opening hours, etc.) are based on the official website of Oberammergau unless stated.
So yeah, I hope you learn something from this post! Without further ado, let’s now discover Oberammergau, Germany:
Reasons to Visit Oberammergau
Ever since I experienced a wholesome cultural event in Southeast Asia, I have never wanted to stop visiting places full of culture and tradition. It was a blissful, absolutely humanizing experience! It was a trip that made me feel so human again after being fed up with a job that treated me like a machine.
That experience further deepens my desire to travel to Europe. Not only does it has the alps, one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, but also a preserved culture that narrates more than a millennium of history.
You might have heard “Brusselization” or “La Defence,” the laws implemented to prevent bland or soulless buildings off from Europe’s skyline. It’s just one of the things so admirable about this continent. Architecture-wise, Europe keeps its culture thriving against modernization and globalization.
In the case of Oberammergau, it is the town that has the things that I’m looking for from a destination: scenic views and culture. That’s why I’m excited to visit Oberammergau. Yet, I discovered that Oberammergau lets you experience more than these two.
From my research, here are 7 things – the reasons why visit Oberammergau:
- The Centuries-old Passion Play Tradition
- Oberammergau Beautiful Murals
- The Craftsmanship of Oberammergau’s Residents
- Scenic views in Oberammergau
- Oberammergau’s Alpine Coaster
- Oberammergau’s Outdoor Activities
- Your Homebase When Exploring Bavarian Alps
Reason #1: Oberammergau Passion Play
Undoubtedly, people visit Oberammergau because of its famous tradition, Passion Play.
So, what is Oberammergau’s Passion Play? It is the world’s most famous passion play, a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, and a tradition, which attracted more than half a million visitors during the months it was performed last 2010. In the Oberammergau Passion Play, the passion of Christ is retold and performed by more than 2000 citizens of the village.
Oberammergau Passion Play History
The Passion Play tradition also is a vow made by the inhabitants of the Oberammergau with God. Back in the day, the residents of Oberammergau promised God that they would re-enact the Passion of Christ every 10 years if they were spared from a plague.
What’s more interesting about Oberammergau Passion Play? The vow worked miraculously based on the stories. The village was spared from the plague after the vow was made. The first Oberammergau Passion Play occurred in 1634; thus, the tradition lives – even today!
To think that it has been around nearly 400 years, an experience with this living tradition will be such an honor. Moreover, watching the Passion Play will be more than just witnessing a legendary tradition if you are a Christian. It will be a spiritual inspiration brought to you by the devoted residents of Oberammergau.
The 42nd Oberammergau Passion Play was supposed to happen in May of 2020, but because of the Corona Virus Pandemic, it was postponed to 2022. You can learn more about Oberammergau Passion Play from the video below:
Passion Play Theater
“If I will visit Oberammergau without the Passion Play, what can I find?” You may not witness the actual Oberammergau Passion during your visit. However, you can still visit the Oberammergau Passion Play Theater, where you can see a gallery of the previous performances of Passion Play.
In a quick stop at Oberammergau Passion Play Theather, you shall see some authentic Jewish clothes used in the Passion Play. There are also hundreds of photos of Oberammergau’s residents who participated in different performances from different years. All of these shall show you the incredible dedication of the village residents to the vow their ancestors have made.
Below is a 360 view of the Passion Play Theater gallery. Feel free to swipe the image in any direction to see more.
Reason #2: Beautiful Murals in Oberammergau
If you just arrived in Oberammergau and you start walking to the Passion Play Theater, you’ll be amazed on your way by how houses are decorated in the village. That is especially if it’s your first time in Upper Bavaria Region.
Because, here in the Upper Bavaria region, including Oberammergau, homes are embellished with lovely murals called Lüftlmalerei. These artworks painted on the facade and walls of the houses in Oberammergau often depict the profession, the daily life in the village, and the homeowner’s favorite saints.
Have a look at some of them:
Some houses in Oberammergau have much creative Lüftlmalerei. You can go to the north of the Tourist Information Center, and you will find the Pilatushaus, the house with the most impressive Lüftlmalerei in Oberammergau. The mural in Pilatushaus uses Trompe-l’œil, an art technique that creates an optical illusion that makes the objects in a painting look like they exist in three dimensions.
Overall, It’s a fairytale-ish town, right? Definitely, it’s a reason why visit Oberammergau.
Furthermore, seeing these Lüftlmalereis, even a simple walk in town can satisfy anyone’s wanderlust absolutely! It’s like exploring an open-air artwork exhibit, but it’s much more special as it involves the history and culture of Oberammergau.
Can you imagine if every village, town, and city in the world has these houses and art instead of just plain lifeless buildings? I think no one will be depressed with all these beauties everywhere to admire!
Parish Church of Saint Peter and Paul
You might be wrong when you think you’ve seen every wall art in Oberammergau. Because the Church of Saint Peter and Paul in the southern portion of the town center is more than just a religious structure. It’s a work of art, and your eyes will be wide open when you enter.
Beautiful interiors with mixed rococo-baroque architecture are inside the Church of Saint Peter and Paul. More impressive than that are the beautiful frescos and paintings everywhere in the church. Heavenly – they should make you feel.
Reason #3: The Craftsmanship of Oberammergau’s Residents
Oberammergau’s residents express themselves in a very artistic way. I know that you’ve noticed that, too, with the murals and the Passion Play. However, there is another way they do it. That’s through their livelihood and craftsmanship in woodcarving – our third reason why visit Oberammergau.
Woodcarving is another thing that Oberammergau is famous for. Based on the books, Oberammergau’s woodcarving had already been practiced in the Oberammergau as early as 1520. It was documented in a journal of an Italian traveler who visited Oberammergau and praised the sculptures for the outstanding craftsmanship manifested during their creation.
Living Workstudio Oberammergau
Like the Passion Play, woodcarving in Oberammergau is a living tradition. More than 60 wood sculptors in the town whom you can meet in woodcarving workshops in Pilatushaus, the center of arts and crafts in Oberammergau, between May 15th and October 17th.
During the workshops, you will learn about the town’s woodcarving history and witness how craftsmen and craftswomen create their wooden masterpieces. If you visit during the days without the workshop, you must still go to Pilatushaus to see the “Living Workstudio,” where you get insights into traditional art from Oberammergau.
Oberammergau’s Living Workstudio is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Please always check for announcements or changes of schedule from Oberammergau’s website.
Reason #4: Scenic Views All Around Oberammergau
Another reason why you visit Oberammergau is that it is idyllically located in the peaceful and scenic Bavarian Alps. The Alps is just a piece of heaven on earth, don’t you believe?
The scenery in Oberammergau is heavenly. The green meadows, the lush pine trees, and the blue mountains are picture-perfect scenes better than any place on earth!
The first time I’ve been to the mountains with views alike, I never wanted to stop seeing more. It has been my healthiest addition ever since. You must try it too.
Very close to the mountains, mountain peaks are clearly seen even if you’re within Oberammergau’s village. It makes scenes in the town even more charming and picture-worthy. I bet you will like the white limestone peak of mount Kofel.
However, far more incredible views await you outside the village of Oberammergau. You can either hike or use a chairlift to get the best views of the town and its surroundings. Here are the three scenic destinations you can visit from Oberammergau village:
- Laber Panoramaview in Laber Mountain
- Mount Kofel’s Peak
- Kolbensattelhütte (Kolbensattel Lodge)
Laber Panoramaview is an observation deck located in Laber Mountain east of Oberammergau village. At this point, you see the bird’s eye view of both towns of Oberammergau and Ettal, located south. The jaw-dropping scenery is partnered with the snacks and beers from Ettal Abbey served by Laber Berggaststätte (Mountain Restaurant).
To quickly go to the Laber Mountain observation deck, get a ride from Mount Laber Cableway Oberammergau Station near WellenBerg Oberammergau resort in the easternmost portion of the town. From the Tourist Information Center, it would take you 22 minutes to reach Mount Laber Cableway ground station on foot. See the map below for the exact path:
Mount Kofel’s Peak
If the much closer view of Oberammergau Village from above you are looking for, it is Kofel that you should hike. It has a hiking trail that suits beginners, so everyone can just have a priceless view from the summit.
Below is the view from the peak of Mount Kofel (1,342 meters). Swipe the image left or right to see more sights.
The hiking trail to the summit of Mount Kofel starts at the southern tip of the village across the River Ammer. There are signages to guide you, but here (see below) is the map to show you exactly where the trail is.
Starting from the tourist information center, it would take an hour to reach the summit. The elevation gain from the town to the summit of Mount Kofel is 484 meters.
Kolbensattelhütte (Kolbensattel Lodge)
Last but not least is the Kolbensattel Lodge, located deep in the mountains east of Oberammergau. At 1270 meters high, this traditional mountain lodge, surrounded by beautiful lush meadows and pine trees, overlooks the valley where Oberammergau is.
The Kolbensattel Lodge has a patio where visitors can eat meals and drink beers from Ettal Abbey while enjoying the pristine alpine views. Expect your eyes and tummy to be blessed with mountain goodness when you come!
You can either hike or get a ride from a chairlift to get to Kolbensattel Lodge. Walk west for around 20 minutes from the tourist information center until you reach the Kolbensesselbahn (ground station). You must be at the lodge after minutes of a scenic chairlift ride. See the route below:
Reason #5: Unforgettable Fun From Oberammergau’s Alpine Coaster
If you thought Oberammergau was not worth a visit because it is all sightseeing, you have to think twice! Fun from an alpine coaster awaits you here in Oberammergau, which is definitely why you should visit this town.
Well, it is not just an ordinary alpine coaster. In Oberammergau, you ride on the world’s longest weatherproof toboggan run with magnetic brakes! What do you think of 2,600 meters of adventurous fun? Sounds great, right?!
Here’s a video to show you how incredible the Oberammergau Coaster is:
During your ride on the two-and-a-half-kilometer alpine coaster, you shall experience an adrenaline-pumping speed of 40 km/hour down to the foot of the mountains. Then, together with the breathtaking scenery that you’ll see along the track, without a doubt, Oberammergau Alpine Coaster shall be one of the most enjoyable experiences that you will never ever forget in your life!
Overall, you will be experiencing 73 alpine coaster turns, 9 jumps, and 7 waves, and you will cover a 400-meter altitude difference from the top station till the end of the coaster.
Here is the link to the Kolbensattel website to learn more about the alpine coaster in Oberammergau (pricing, coaster/chairlift schedule, eligibility, and recent announcements).
Reason #6: Numerous Outdoor Activities
Just like other towns and cities in the region, you are given many opportunities to explore and have a worthwhile time with nature in Oberammergau. Hiking Kofel and the alpine coaster are just two of them, and there are more to try! Whether it is summer or winter, you will never run out of outdoor activities in Oberammergau in a day or two of stay.
Oberammergau Best Summer Activities
- Hike Ammergau Alps Meditation Trail – the most scenic trail to let you discover yourself! See more details about the trail here.
- WellenBerg Leisure and Fun Pool – Sunbathe or swim, relax with the refreshing breeze of mountain air.
- Get a mountain bike and cycle across the beautiful meadows and german countryside with views of the mountain. You can ask the tourist information center for local bike rentals.
Oberammergau Best Winter Activities
- Snowpark Oberammergau – try adventurous snowboarding along with different obstacles to challenge your skills. Learn more here.
- Cross-country skiing trails in Oberammergau are awarded by ADAC with 4 stars!
- Guided snowshoeing tours to Ammergau Alps. Get a tour from these contacts.
Reason #7: Oberammergau – Your Homebase When Exploring Bavarian Alps
The last reason why you would want to visit Oberammergau? Simply, it is near to the most beautiful places in Germany. If you plan to see more landmarks and attractions in Upper Bavaria, Oberammergau can be an ideal place to be your home base. Have a look at the table below of the travel time to other tourist attractions in the region from Oberammergau:
|Destinations to/from Oberammergau||Travel Time using Private Car||Travel Time using Public Transportation|
|Neuschwanstein Castle (Schwangau)||46 minutes||1 hour 30 minutes (1 bus ride)|
|Linderhof Palace (Ettal)||15 minutes||33 minutes (1 bus ride)|
|Ettal Abbey (Ettal)||6 minutes||18 minutes (1 bus ride)|
|Zugspitze (Garmisch-Partenkirchen)||20 minutes||36 minutes (1 bus ride)|
|Karwendel (Mittenwald)||34 minutes||1 hour 12 minutes (1 bus ride + 1 train ride)|
Travel time, route calculation, and public transport were determined using rome2rio.com. Please consider traffic congestion or weather disturbances when planning your travels. You can book your public transportation from banh.de.
Is Oberammergau Worth Visiting?
Oberammergau is a picturesque and peaceful town; worth a visit destination if you want to watch its legendary Passion Play. However, it is not a place jampacked with activities and jaw-dropping scenery like Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which I would suggest that you visit instead.
Nevertheless, Oberammergau has this unique character and exciting culture that you still would want to discover.
Photos of Oberammergau to Travel Inspire You
If you need a more convincing factor why to visit Oberammergau, here are some of the photos of its most beautiful scenery:
How to Visit Oberammergau
Munich is the city that has the airport closest to Oberammergau. From there, you can rent a car and drive south for an hour to reach Oberammergau. You can also get to Oberammergau on a 2-hour public transportation trip with 2 train rides. Check out the steps below:
- Muenchen Hbf Gl.27-36 to Murnau (Rb and Re trains)
- Murnau to Oberammergau (Rb63 train)
You might want to see first the beautiful places in Munich before visiting Oberammergau. Discover the 10 beautiful tourist attractions in Munich from this article.
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