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Home Page > Travelogues > Germany > Bayern (Bavaria)

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Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue.  The colors indicate different regions of Bavaria -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from the CIA World Factbook, inset map comes from www.entry.de)

Introduction.  Bavaria was one of the greatest places in the world.  Gorgeous colorful Germanyarchitecture with great Alpine scenery in the south, and charming river towns of Franconia and the Danube valley in the north.  The food was fabulous, the beer even better, the festivals constant, and the people were among the friendliest in Europe.  It was also one of the more prosperous of the German states, maybe that was why they are so festive and friendly!  

Quite frankly, I hadn't really scratched the surface of Bavaria, even though I had State of Bayern (Bavaria)been there more than a dozen times.  The tendency among Americans visiting the region was to congregate on Bavaria's best-known locales, which were in the south -- often using the resort double-town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen as a base.  This was a year-round locale:  the winters offered snow-capped mountains like the Zugspitze, and summers had the beautiful flowered gardens and scenery of King Ludwig's Castles (including Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Hohenschwangau).  And of course, there was Munich -- self-proclaimed as the world's largest town and home to the world-reknowned Oktoberfest.

But there was a lot more to Bavaria in the north that one should not overlook.  The Romantic Road, for example, stretched through western Bavaria and connects dozens of charming little medieval towns, some of which had maintained medieval traditions.  Tourists by the millions flocked to Rothenburg, but sometimes when we didn't want the crowds there were plenty of alternatives.  The cities of Franconia, including Bamberg, were majestic with huge colorful palaces and Cathedrals.  Each town and city had a unique history.  Then, there were the cities of the Danube River and its tributaries and canals:  from the big cities of Nuremberg and Regensburg to the small towns like Traunstein.

My "list" of places yet to visit in the region is long, and sorting it is difficult.  High among them is Coburg near the border of Thüringen, an often-recommended palace city in the Franconian hills; the Chiemsee lake region (another place I visited briefly in Christmas Market season but want to do in depth); the Eagle's Nest (Hitler's hideout) in Berchtesgaden in the far southeast, the Allgäu in the southwest that included the resort town of Oberstdorf; the western cities of Kempten, Memmingen, and Landsberg am Lech; and the upper Isar and Inn River valleys including Burghausen and Bad Toelz.  Oh yeah, there was also the Bayrischer Wald in the far east, the royal town of Bayreuth in the northeast, and .... so on and on.

Travelogues by Region.  The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different regions in France, as shown below.  

Dark Green:  The Koenigschloesser (6 Chapters).  King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a celebrated madman for his time who loved opera and French architecture, spending lavishly on a series of Neuschwansteinimmense and majestic palaces dotted around southern Bavaria.  The best known of them is Neuschwanstein (pictured above), which was unfinished but unforgettable.  Nearby was the castle where Ludwig grew up, the Hohenschwangau.  Hidden away to the southeast was the Linderhof Linderhof(pictured below), a very popular draw with its fabulous gardens and artificial grotto.  On the Chiemsee was the massive unfinished palace of Herrenchiemsee which was Ludwig's answer to Versailles.  Finally, the city of Munich had in the downtown the Nymphenburg, Ludwig's birthplace.

PURPLE:  Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria).  The number one tourist draw in the region -- it is a year-round attraction for snow bunnies in the winter time and water sports and castles in tGarmisch-Partenkirschenhe summer.  Picturesque in many ways, both in its natural beauty and in the colorfully-painted facades of the downtowns.  Four travelogues are offered here -- Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where most travelers base from, the famous "Top of Germany" (pictured below) of the Zugspitze that is close by, and the gorgeous Alpine town of Mittenwald.  For those of the Catholic faith, there are a couple additional locations that ought to be on your itinerary, such as Oberammergau that hosts the Passion Play every ten years, and the massive monastery at Ettal.

BLACK:  NUREMBERG (5 Chapters).  Nuremberg was the site of Germany's largest Christmas Market and some of its most recognizable structures.  TheseFrauenkirche in Nuremberg included the Kaiserburg Castle, the Frauenkirche (the Church of Our Lady, pictured), the Lorenzkirche, and the Marriage-go-Round Fountain.  Nuremberg was truly one of the most enjoyable cities around.  Separate chapters are available on the Kaiserburg, the Sebald district where most of the downtown festivals and markets were held, the Lorenz district that contained most of the shopping, and the Dutzendteich district to the southeast with the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds.

GREEN:  MUNICH (5 Chapters).  The "world's largest town", as it was described to me, Munich was a true must-see for anyone visiting the southeast.  Downtown Munich had huge beautiful churMunich town hallches (like the Marienkirche) and the enormous Rathaus (pictured) with its moving figurines that signal in the hour.  The travelogue is broken out into chapters covering the Marienplatz in the center of town, the Munich Residenz in the north, amd the Isar River zone.  The city (or huge town) was best known for its Oktoberfest celebrations during harvest season, but its Christmas Market is also worth a visit. 
RED:  The Romantic Road.  Probably the third-most popular region of Bavaria were the locations of theRothenburg ob der Tauber on the Romantic Road Romantic Road, a stretch of roadway connecting a number of "romantic" locations through most of Bavaria.  For the purposes of this website, I focused on the three Bavaria cities that were particularly attractive -- the three that still have their medieval city walls virtually completely intact.  One of them, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (offered as a 4-chapter travelogue), was aDinkelsbuehl tourist trap of major proportions, hosting medieval celebrations year-round, such as the Wittmontag (White Monday) celebrations I happened on one day.  The other three here were less touristy, but still very pure -- Dinkelsbühl being tucked away about a half-hour drive south of Rothenburg, Feuchtwangen wes nearby on a major Autobahn intersection, and Nördlingen with its well-preserved city wall was further south. BLUE:  Franconia.  Franconia could be loosely described as the stretch of mountains across northern Bavaria.  It was among German'sBamberg most productive wine regions, using the valleys of the Main River and its canals and tributaries.  It was also among some of the most unique and beautiful cities apart from the Alpine regions.  Included here were Bamberg (pictured above), a lovely Cathedral town with the Dom and St. Michael's monasteWuerzburgry overlooking the Regnitz canal. Aschaffenburg and  Würzburg (pictured below) to the west are dominated by the fabulous four-towered castles overlooking the Main River like the Marienburg Castle shown.  Würzburg also had the wonderful Residenz Würzburg that was one of the most impressive of Bavarian palaces.  Close to the Czech border lay the small town of Flossenbürg, once the site of a Nazi concentration camp, that was preserved as a holocaust museum.
TEAL:  Danube Valley.  The Danube River had a number of famous old cities dating back from Roman times.  I hit several Christmas Markets along the Danube and its tributaries, hitting two of tRegensburghem sufficiently in depth to provide travelogues here.  By far, the best known city among these was Regensburg (pictured) with its signature stone-arch Steinerne Brücke (Steiner Bridge).  Upriver from Regensburg was the city of Ingolstadt, with its brilliant white new palace and wonderful churches.  Going the other way toward Austria were two cities near river confluences -- Straubing near the Isar and Passau on the Inn.   ORANGE:  Bodensee.  Bavaria owned a little slice of the northeast coast of Lake Constance, and what a wonderful little slice it was.  First there was the fabulous island town of Lindau amLindau am Bodensee Bodensee (shown) that sat at the eastern edge of Lake Constance.  Lindau was a pretty and decorative town whose marina is marked with the beautiful Lighthouse and Lion Tower.  A few miles on the coast to the west was the little town of Wasserburg (am Bodensee) with its Halbinsel (half-island) that hosted a picture-perfect castle and church.
BROWN:  Lech, Isar, and Traun Rivers.  (The Miscellaneous category).  Here are three cities on three different Danube tributaries below the Alps.  First there's the Lech River city of Augsburg (shown) which has a massive market square and was also the home of the Fuggeree, a city-within-a-city that was built for humanitarian purposes by its founder, Jacob Fugger.  Also included is the 800-year old city of Landshut, with its colorful city streets and impressive castle Trausnitz overlooking the Isar River.  Then on the smaller Traun River is the little town of Traunstein which has a very Austrian flavor.  

Stories and Features:

Wittmontag -- "White Monday" took place the day after Pentecost at the end of the Easter Rothenburg's White Monday celebrationsseason, and is a major celebration across the cities of the old Holy Roman Empire.  Some cities still hosted major White Monday parades, and among the most colorful and famous was the celebration at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, complete with medieval costumes, traditional dance, old-time markets, and music galore! Oktoberfest -- This was Germany's world reknowned harvest festival held annually in MunFest Tent at Oktoberfestich.  A showcase for Bavaria's finest music, cuisine, and libation, the Oktoberfest ran over three long weeks of rock-solid partying and celebrating.  Hundreds of thousands of Germans and other tourists flocked there every year to try a "Maß" (liter mug) of beer and to dance on the tables!
Bavarian Christmas Markets -- Three chapters in my seven-chapter feature series on Christmas Markets Rosenheim Christmas Marketfocused on Bavaria.  One covered markets across the northern section known as Franconia, while a second focused on Lower Bavaria along the Danube, and a third on the ones in Upper Bavaria toward the Alps.  

LinksThe below links connect you to external sites in a new window.  All links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated.  These links will open to the German-language home page, which will offer an icon or link to an English-language section (normally limited content).  Most of these pages use a British or US flag icon as the link to English content, while others will use the word "English".  Otherwise, look for "tourismus" which should link you to English-language content.  Links updated 18 January 2006.

Country Links:

bullet US Embassy to Germany
bullet US Consular Sheet for Germany 
bullet Germany Embassy to US 

 

State and Regional Links:

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Bavaria Tourism Page

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Romantische Strasse Home Page

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Bavarian Castle Page

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Lake Constance Home Page (in German)

City and Town Links:

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Aschaffenburg Home Page

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Augsburg Home Page

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Bamberg Home Page

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Dinkelsbühl Home Page

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Ettal Home Page (German only)

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Flossenbürg Home Page (German only)

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Füssen Home Page

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen Home Page

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Ingolstadt Home Page (German only)

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Oberammergau Home Page

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Lindau am Bodensee Home Page

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Mittenwald Home Page (German only)

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Munich Home Page

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Munich Oktoberfest Page

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Nördlingen Home Page

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Nuremberg Home Page

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Prien am Chiemsee Home Page (German only)

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Regensburg Home Page 

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber Home Page

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Schwangau Home Page

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Traunstein Home Page (German only)

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Würzburg Home Page

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Zugspitze Home Page

 

   
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