9 Day Trips From Munich Into Bavaria

Cerubs on the grounds of Schloss Linderhof. Frommers.com Community
By George McDonald

Mountains, lakes, spas, and medieval towns lie within an hour of Munich, and the landscape is dotted with castles, villas, and Alpine resorts. Here's where to go.

Photo Caption: Cerubs on the grounds of Schloss Linderhof. Photo by Mr. Fred/Frommers.com Community.
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A boat docked on Starnberger See. Alex Kuruz
This is a very popular holiday resort, partly due to the excellent connections to and from Munich, and offers many leisure activities such as sailing, windsurfing, boating and diving. The adjoining villas, with their beautiful gardens, enhance the general holiday atmosphere around the Starnberger See. The parish church of St. Josef was built between 1764 and 1766 in the rococo style. The high altar built by Ignaz Günther is flanked by statues in white marble, and the interior seems filled with light, enhanced by its lofty position.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, "playgrounds of the rich" popped up in Europe, and Starnberg claims to be one of the first. In 1663, the Elector Ferdinand invited 500 guests to a gondola party on the lake -- with 100 oarsmen in charge of the boats. Now there is a yacht harbour, and more modest sailing regattas during the summer. A Heimatmuseum (local museum) advises on local activities during the past and present, and a notable picture gallery features works by painters of the Romantic period.

Photo Caption: A boat docked on Starnberger See. Photo by Alex Kuruz/Flickr.com.
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Part of the castle at Berg. Frommers.com Community
Berg is infamous as the place where King Ludwig II met his tragic death in 1886. Having been certified insane and deprived of the throne, Ludwig was sent to Schloss Berg and kept under medical supervision. An outing in a small rowing boat proved fatal for him and his doctor: both bodies were found next to their boat in shallow water at Possenhofen, the lake's main bathing beach. The exact circumstances of their deaths remain a mystery. Ludwig drained Bavaria's coffers to build the extravagant castles which are a monument to him. A cross in the lake marks the spot where the bodies were found; a Memorial Chapel stands on the shore.

Photo Caption: Part of the castle at Berg. Photo by C.L./Frommers.com Community.
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View of the lake from Seeshaupt. pwever
Seeshaupt, on the southern end of the lake, is less crowded than the northern shores and is a good base to explore the nearby Osterseen, a group of numerous tiny lakes dating from the last ice age. It is of special interest to ornithologists because of the ideal nesting conditions in the tall reeds for all kinds of birds. Geologists find the soil and rock formations of interest.

Photo Caption: View of the lake from Seeshaupt. Photo by pwever/Flickr.com.
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A paraglider enjoys the bird's eye view of the alps in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Frommers.com Community
Two adjoining towns, united in a double name, are best known as the major German winter sports resort and host to the Winter Olympics of 1936. One of Germany's busiest resorts, it offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountain ranges, especially the massive Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain at 2,963m (9,718 feet). Get to the top of the Zugspitze first by cogwheel train to Eibsee, then by cable-car or by a more leisurely route, continuing by train to Schneefernerhaus, followed by a short ride by cable-car to the top. The latter route avoids the very sudden change in altitude of about 2,000m (6,560 feet) in 10 minutes. Glacier skiing is practiced on the top all year round, and if you wish to venture into Austria, there is a tunnel link between the two countries, with windows cut into the rocks so that passengers may enjoy the views over the mountains.

Photo Caption: A paraglider enjoys the bird's eye view of the alps in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Photo by DGC/Frommers.com Community.
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Winter descends on Schloss Elmau. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wm_archiv/2702660603/" target="_blank">Allie Caufield/Flickr.com</a> Allie Caufield
Still owned by the family who built it during World War I, this stately home offers a sort of English house-party atmosphere with a mixture of cultural and intellectual pursuits on a residential basis for paying guests. Meals are taken communally and guests can enjoy painting, music and dancing classes, concerts and music weeks, sometimes attended by famous musicians. A visit to the Schloss is worthwhile, even for day visitors who do not wish to stay. The feeling of space in the big halls and corridors, and the elegance of days gone by, are combined with modern comforts.

Photo Caption: Winter descends on Schloss Elmau. Photo by Allie Caufield/Flickr.com.
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Decorated building in Mittenwald, Germany. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=d079be6b-eb22-4a1b-aed8-b542579fd65c&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">Tambo/Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
This name, which means "in the middle of the woods," describes the beautiful surroundings of this health and winter sports resort, situated in a valley between two massive mountain ranges, the Karwendel and the Wetterstein. The town flourished in the Middle Ages, when it was a staging point for trade between Venice and northern Europe, and reminders of this boomtime can still be found in the marketplace. In 1684, Matthias Klotz founded the town's specialist industry, which continues to this day: violins, violas, cellos, zithers and guitars are all made here, often using local wood. The descendants of Matthias Klotz continue the family business.

The Geigenbaumuseum offers more insights into local history and crafts. At the Geigenbau, it may even be a descendant of Klotz who demonstrates the art of violin-making. All the work is done by hand. Numerous excursions can be taken from Mittenwald. The western peak of the Karwendel Mountains can now be reached by cable-car and offers a magnificent panorama of the Bavarian and Austrian Alps and beyond. Chair- and cabin-lifts take you to other peaks in the region.

Photo Caption: Decorated building in Mittenwald, Germany. Photo by Tambo/Frommers.com Community.
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Photograph of the Benedictine Basilica located between Garmisch and Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=289805a3-3561-4cd8-9eba-14e3e25903b5&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">wcgross/Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
Visitors are attracted to the Benedictine Abbey, a monastery founded in 1330 by the Holy Roman Emperor for his knights and monks. It is called kloster, which means convent, although only monks live here. The Gothic building took 50 years to complete, and contains an enormous fresco 25m (82 feet) wide. Today, the abbey houses a school and the monks distil a special liqueur, called Klosterlikoör, which is made from health-giving herbs in accordance with a centuries-old recipe, which is, as you would expect, a secret.

Photo Caption: Photograph of the Benedictine Basilica located in Ettal between Garmisch and Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany. Photo by wcgross/Frommers.com Community.
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The grounds of Schloss Linderhof near Oberammergau, Germany. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=3092ba80-4ad9-45f3-9f47-c6abaf563a64&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">Bubba/Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
A charming, comparatively small castle built for Ludwig II, this is idyllically set, surrounded by woods, mountains and a small lake. The lavish interiors reflect the King's desire to emulate the grandeur of Louis XIV of France. The Hall of Mirrors is said to represent Ludwig's dream world. There is a collection of paintings portraying French celebrities during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV. The extensive gardens are in harmony with the landscape, with waterfalls fed by mountain streams tumbling down rocks. There is a grotto dedicated to Venus, and many fountains, notably the Neptune Fountain, its great jets of water rising higher than the top of the castle itself. A Moorish pavilion was brought here straight from the Paris Exhibition of 1867.

Photo Caption: The grounds of Schloss Linderhof near Oberammergau, Germany. Photo by Bubba/Frommers.com Community.
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Domestic architecture in Oberammergau, Germany. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=b7ab1deb-06f5-464d-a8e1-8765f3f89553&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">C.L./Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
Oberammergau is famous the world over for its Passion Plays, which have been performed since 1634, and in 10-year cycles since 1680. The houses in the main streets are decorated with colorful frescoes showing that woodcarving is the local industry here. The Passion Play Theatre should be visited, even when no plays are taking place. The impressive auditorium seats around 5,000 and the stage is open-air, with remarkable acoustics. Woodcarvers are at work at all times, and the variety of their products, mainly religious objects, can be seen in shop windows all over the town. The parish church was built by the famous Joseph Schmuzer and the frescoes are by Matthäus Günther. Oberammergau also offers a variety of recreational facilities, including tennis, swimming, hang-gliding, canoeing, and, of course, walks through the countryside. Or take the chairlift to the Kolbensattel or the cable-lift to the Laberberg: both offer panoramic views over the countryside.

Photo Caption: Domestic architecture in Oberammergau, Germany. Photo by C.L./Frommers.com Community.
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