Germany is somewhere that each traveller must visit at least once in their lifetime. The country has countless spectacular landscapes and cityscapes to offer, ready and waiting for new tourists to visit, photograph and admire them in their full glory. Divided into multiple Bundesländer (federal states), Germany is a country with a rich and wide-ranging history. Each of the 16 states has its own unique traditions, scenery, and even dialects.
The first article in this series exploring Germany's Bundesländer begins in the South East, in Bayern - known among English speakers as Bavaria.
Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. Photo: Gerhard G. via Pixabay
For tourists passionate about nature, the Bavarian Forest is not to be missed. This national park is a favourite destination among Germans, thanks to its pristine nature and recreational activities such as hiking and camping. Then, up in the Alps, Mount Wetterstein boasts Germany’s highest peak: die Zugspitze. Tourists can reach the Zugspitze by cable cars, which go as high as 2,962 meters. Once you arrive at the top, the panoramic view across the Alps is a simply unforgettable sight.
In the southwestern part of Bavaria, in Allgäu, lies a magical, 19th-century castle. Known as Neuschwanstein, it was built according to King Ludwig II’s sketches. Tegernsee, one of Bavaria's most beautiful lakes, is also a must-visit for travellers exploring the alpine region.
Neuschwanstein. Photo: Adam Derewecki via Pixabay
Despite their magnificence, the state of Bavaria is still far more than just its Alps, mountains, hiking trails and castles. The simple mention of 'Bayern' is enough to trigger a lightbulb moment - “Ah, where FC Bayern München play! Bundesliga!”. Indeed, the football team, with an impressive international fanbase, has helped the state to become so well-known.
Of course, another key association is Munich's Oktoberfest. The 18-day festival is the most popular of its kind in Germany, where people from all over the world come to drink beer and enjoy dressing up in traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen. Aside from eating, drinking and dancing, a ride on the Riesenrad (the Ferris Wheel) is also a must! Dating back to the 19th-century - 1810 to be precise - the Volksfest is rich in tradition and takes the name Oktoberfest from the month of October, the original start date. Over time, authorities have decided to move the festival's launch forward to mid-to-late September, as October was often too cold for the event's outdoor location.
Oktoberfest beer hall. Photo: holzijue via Pixabay
Munich, or München, is the state's capital and most populous city. Known for its prosperous economy and world-renowned universities, it has a lot to offer. The English Garden - over 300 hectares of green space in the very centre of the city - deserves a top spot on any city guide. It is a great place for socialising and relaxation, and you can even spot surfers (yes, surfers!) riding the waves of the so-called Eisbach.
Marienplatz (St. Mary's Square) is the centre of the city and tourists can catch a fantastic view over the city by climbing either the tower of the New Town Hall or St Peter's Church.
It is safe to say that Bavaria is a top spot for those looking to visit Germany - whether it's partying at the Oktoberfest, relaxing in nature or taking in the city sights, there is certainly something for everyone in this wonderful and diverse federal state.