Oh, Bavaria, I think I’m in love with you. We went to this part of Southeastern Germany six years ago and decided to make a week-long trip here for Christmas, and I had the most magical time. It was the perfect way to kick off the festive cheer – what with the Christmas markets, snowy mountain peaks, and mystical castles. Here’s how we spent 7 days in Bavaria during the winter season.
Day 1 – Hohenschwangau and Füssen
We had a very early start and landed in Munich at around 10am, followed by a 2-hour drive down to the south of Germany near Schwangau. My tired eyes didn’t notice the steadily growing amount of snow that covered the rolling landscape until we were about a half-hour away from our hotel. I couldn’t stop videoing the little German cottages that were covered in snow, and almost scrambled out of the car when I noticed my dream castle – Neuschwanstein – nestled in the mountains, surrounded by snow-tipped trees. It truly was a magical, winter wonderland!
We had the most amazing schnitzel in Ludwigs Stüberl before we checked into our hotel that was just a bit outside of Hohenschwangau called Haus Alpenrose. It was the cutest hotel that I’ve ever stayed in and looked like a traditional German cottage (made cuter by the snow and the fairy lights on the balcony). After that we went for a gentle walk in the nearby town of Füssen before it got dark and ticked off seeing the main old street (Altstadt Von Füssen) and Lechfall. We had dinner at Steakhaus Füssen near Lechfall before calling it an early night (having woken up at 3am that morning!)
Day 2 – Linderhof Palace, Plansee, Buchenberg Alm and Forggensee
Sunday is the quietest day of the week (because of it being Rest Day) so we headed through Austria to go see Linderhof Palace. Unfortunately the outside gardens was closed due to maintenance and it being winter, and photos weren’t permitted indoors but it was so beautiful! 24 carat gold was used in all of the ornaments and house furnishings, and my eyes couldn’t stop darting around as they tried to take in the sheer amount of detail in each room. It was heavily inspired by the French Rococo period, so you can imagine what each room was like!
We stopped off at the lake Plansee on our drive back for a few moments before taking the most treacherous drive to Buchenbergalm, a restaurant located at the top of the mountain near Füssen. I was screaming inside as we slowly drove up the snow-covered single road, praying that there wasn’t another car coming the other way. I sighed with relief when we made it to the top, but it was well worth the ride – the view was breathtaking.
We were pretty tired by that point, so after a walk around another lake (Forggensee) we had some Asian food at Asian Food Palace in Schwangau as I didn’t really want schnitzel again. It was really good and super cheap! Probably the cheapest dinner we had haha.
(Even though we didn’t get a chance to visit it this time, I would highly recommend popping to Oberammergau if you’re visiting Linderhof Palace. It’s a pretty little nearby town with beautiful paintings on the building walls!)
Day 3 – Neuschwanstein Castle
Oh gosh I was so excited for this day because we were going to see Neuschwanstein Castle! I couldn’t really sleep well as my mind was whirring with all of the photos I wanted to take… But it wasn’t meant to be. The mountain was shrouded in fog and it was beginning to snow, so we could barely see the castle in the mountains. I would like to say that this didn’t bother me but I was incredibly upset as I had been dreaming about this day since booking our flights. The Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge) was also closed due to maintenance and weather conditions, so we couldn’t see the beautiful shot of the castle from up above like they do in all of those instagram pictures.
But the inside was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It’s the only castle I’ve been to that is beautiful on the outside and in. All of the furnishings, paintings, and architecture was out of this world and it made me respect King Ludwig’s taste. Again, photos aren’t permitted, but I would highly recommend you going (although maybe not in winter!) After the tour we headed back down to Ludwigs Stüberl for lunch before driving to Munich.
Day 4 – Munich: Deutsches Museum, Hofbräuhaus, Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), Odeonplatz, and the Medieval Market
We visited the Deutsches Museum in the morning, which is the largest science and technology museum in the world! There were so many floors and exhibitions and you could easily spend the whole day there – we only went to see about 5 exhibitions and it was already past 12pm when we left to head to central Munich. Only downside was that they didn’t really have that many English translations, so I had no idea what was going on for most of the time.
Marienplatz, though, was a dream, and I only caught a glimpse of it as we headed over to Hofbräuhaus for some lovely German beer. I had a non-alcoholic version paired with the biggest pretzel I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately the beer wasn’t really my thing, but I devoured the pretzel! They also had live music there which was lovely to listen to in the background.
We decided to try and chase the sunrise by going all the way up to the top of Neues Rathaus (aka the New Town Hall), where we captured some of my favourite photos. I bought this gingerbread heart from the Christmas market down below and it summed up how I’ve been feeling about this magical Bavarian holiday so far. We knew we wanted to spend more time in the Marienplatz Christmas market another day, so popped over to the Medieval Christmas Market, passing Odeonplatz on the way, where I ate the most delicious roasted almonds (Maldeln)!
Day 5 – Rothenburg ob der Tauber
We woke up bright and early to head to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is a 3-hour drive from Munich (which was pretty intense to be honest…) so got there just around lunchtime. We passed the first landmark I wanted to see called Plonlein but the sun was pretty strong at that point so we decided to head towards the town centre instead and come back later. We didn’t really have a solid plan as such but I knew I wanted to go to the Christmas museum – which is open all year around! I was unable to take photos (I see a theme here) but it was so nice to learn about the history of Christmas trees and ornaments. The shop was spectacular; it looked as if there was a Santa’s grotto inside with a tree that reached the top of the ceiling (and the room was two floors tall). I had to do my best not to give in and buy all of the Nutcrackers!
We then went to the Christmas Market, which started in the main town square and weaved its way down a couple of the side streets. The things there were surprisingly cheap, and my hot chocolate was only €1.50 (€3.50 including the mug). A man dressed up as Santa played a large musical box at various points in the market, creating a lovely Christmas vibe.
As soon as I was done gulping down the hot chocolate we went to the outskirts of the old town to walk along the walls that encircle the whole place. It was quite a long walk, but lovely to see the pretty town at a different point of view! We stopped off at various points to take pictures of the buildings below and that’s when I spotted the next building I wanted to see, Gerlachschmiede!
By that point our feet were tired and so we decided to head on back to our hotel.
Day 6 – Munich: The Residenz and Christmas Market
Our legs were still pretty dead from all the walking we did the day before so we had a late start, and headed back into central Munich to explore the Residenz. It was quite quiet which allowed us to take our time wandering around the place. I took so many pictures as every room was beautiful, but my favourites were the Ornate Room, the Green Gallery and the Antiquarium.
We spotted a Christmas market in one of the courtyards of the Residenz and decided to check it out once we were done wandering around, and that’s where I tried Kürtȍskalács, Chimney Cake, which originated from Romania, and is getting quite big over in Germany around Christmas time. I wasn’t too sure what to make of it (and still don’t) but hey, gotta’ try something new every now and then!
After having the largest schnitzel known to man – it was so big that my hubby and I shared one and we were still full! – we headed over to Marienplatz to go to the Christmas market and oh my gosh I gotta tell you, it was amazing. It was busy, sure, but I didn’t feel like I do when I go to the one in Birmingham; I actually liked it. Everything was incredibly expensive (especially in comparison to the one in Rothenburg) so we didn’t buy much apart from a Christmas ornament and some Glühbrause, which is like a warm fruit tea. They had a live choir singing from the New Town Hall singing Christmas carols, and I could’ve stayed there forever if it weren’t for my legs.
Last Day – Up in the Brauneck Mountains
It was our last full day and I was feeling low because I didn’t want it to end! So we decided to take a cable car up to the top of one of the mountains nearby, Brauneck, which is a popular ski resort and we spotted a few people skiing as well as paragliding there! The silence was almost deafening, and was a lovely break from the towns we were immersed in a few days prior. We took in the views whilst eating apple strudel in Panoramarestaurant Brauneck before heading back down and taking a gentle walk around a nearby lake, Kochelsee.
And that’s how we spent a magical winter in Bavaria, Germany! This side of Germany has really captured my heart and we only visited a small portion of it. I would love to go back to this place when I’m older to take a road trip down the Romantic Road, just like we did six years ago!
Are you thinking of going to Bavaria during the winter? What places do you want to tick off?