Scenes of old Bavaria







National Park sign

Man reads sign in Bavaria



Bavarian Alps






Entering the Bavarian woods

Ranger in the Bavarian forest

Wald tower





Nuremberg church

Nurmberg castle


Bavarian men in traditional garb

Boys in uniform






Barrels of wine in Bavarian

Bottles  of Bavarian wine





Bavaria scene
The red-domed chapel of St. Bartholomä was once the summer residence of the prince abbots of Berchtesgaden.



And it's not just the beer and sausage....

By Don Heimburger
Photos by the author

Mention the word “Bavaria” to nearly anyone who has either traveled abroad or read about traveling abroad, and you'll likely receive a big smile and a comment something like, “That's a great place to visit” or “We spent a week there and loved the culture, the beer and the food.”

Bavaria comprises about 27,000 square miles in southeastern Germany, is the largest of 16 federal states, and is Germany's second most populous state. It's said to know how to brew a perfect pint of beer, but there's something else going on in this region that is bringing tourists here in droves.

My reasoning is that it's a combination of a more laid-back atmosphere, several more layers of Gemütlichkeit (meaning agreeably pleasant people and atmosphere), excellent culinary opportunities, an abundance of cultural and scenic attractions, and beer. But not necessarily in that order.

According to Petra Hedorfer, chief executive officer of the German National Tourist Board, “Destination Germany as a brand is excellently placed in the top tier of European travel destinations...and we are continuing to provide further growth stimulus to Germany's inbound tourism industry.”

Since 1993 the number of overnight stays by foreign visitors to Germany rose by 46.1 million, and Bavaria alone in 2016 saw 17.5 million overnight stays, more than any other federal state. Many visitors see the landscape and scenery, cities and towns, and cultural opportunities as a major reason to visit Bavaria.

Two very important areas in Bavaria for tourism are Berchtesgaden National Park and the Bavarian Forest.

National Parks in Bavaria

Germany's only alpine national park near the Austrian border, Berchtesgaden is dominated by “King” Watzmann at nearly 9,000 feet high, and the superstar peak of Berchtesgadener Land is used in many regional tourist and product logos. Below it are the so-called Watzmann “children peaks” that help make up the beauty of the area.

The principle aim of this national park “is to allow nature to follow its own course,” reads a park brochure. About 1.5 million guests visit the park every year. There are 160 miles of walking paths in the park, many steep mountain trails you can climb, and 26 mountain huts you can rent if you're adventurous.

Lake Konigsee

At emerald-green Lake Königssee, Germany's deepest and cleanest lake, visitors can arrive at the other side of the lake from Salet by quiet electric boats to soak in the beauty of this mountain hideaway. You can spend several pleasant hours here hiking, having a good meal and taking some treasured photographs. The red-domed chapel of St. Bartholomä stands next to the water's edge: a perfect postcard shot. At one time it was the summer residence for the prince abbots of Berchtesgaden.

Other parts of Bavaria also draw many tourists. In the Bavarian Forest National Park near the Czech Republic border, opened in 1970, visitors can hike or bike on the many marked trails. Nearly all of the territory is forested, and you'll find glacial lakes and swamps, meadows and pastures throughout the 60,000-acre park.

Hikers in Bavaria Bavarian flowers Hikers in Bavaria Bavarian flowers

Alluvial spruce forests, mountain spruce forests, interesting boulder fields, and a host of wild animals such as red deer, lynx and wolves inhabit the area. Camping by tent or trailer is also allowed in the park.

A new 144-foot-high Treetop Walk allows visitors to view the forest from a different perspective. On clear days, the view can be as far as the northern flank of the Alps. The Treetop Walk is wheelchair accessible.

Bike riders in Bavaria


For big city adventures in Bavaria, Nuremberg is one of the highlights. A bustling Old Town, the imposing Imperial Castle, the beautiful maroon and white half-timbered house of Germany's most famous artist Albrecht Dürer, and the Nuremberg Zoo with a special Dolphin lagoon are big draws.

River in Bavaria

The sizable marketplatz next to the Gothic-style Frauenkirche, the annual Christmas Market which draws hundreds of thousands beginning in Advent, and the Deutsche Bahn Museum with as many as 40 large prototype trains to see, are additional attractions of the city and Bavaria.

Deutsche Bahn Museum trains

With numerous international music and cultural events, the Nuremberg State Theater and close-by Franconian villages such as Castell and Iphofen and its quaint family-run vineyards, Nuremberg is in the heart of the action.

Bavarian vineyard

And finally, the local breweries and the distinctive, well-known Nuremberg Rostbratwurst (famous sausages about 3-1/2” long), are perennial food and drink favorites.

Church in the vineyards

All of these I think are strong reasons for the booming tourism in Bavaria today. Prosit, and please pass the sausage.

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The 2017 German Travel Mart was held recently in Nuremberg where it was revealed that by 2030 Germany's in-bound tourism industry could reach 121.5 million overnight stays. The USA is considered the most important overseas market in 2030.


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