Bavaria is Germany’s largest state, covers most of the country’s south east and shares borders with Austria and the Czech Republic.
But it’s also one of the easiest areas to visit from the UK and just about perfectly designed for family holidays.
Whether you want wild outdoor fun on lakes and mountains, historic medieval towns and villages, thrilling cities or magical castles, Bavaria does them beautifully and sincerely welcomes you to enjoy everything, effortlessly.
Direct, low-cost flights from London to Nuremberg and Munich all year round with less than two hours flying time.
The 421km long Romantic Road runs through Bavaria and includes fairy tale Schloss Neuschwanstein, the medieval walled town of Noerdlingen and magical, Alpine Fuessen.
Munich’s Oktoberfest (usually in September) is the world’s biggest beer festival and packed with fantastic events for families and kids.
From ancient Fasching (carnivals) in January to Christkindlmarkt in every city, town and village at Christmas, Bavaria is the land of legendary and spectacular festivals and events.
Contains both the Bavarian Forest and Berchtesgaden National Park and 11 nature parks.
All of Germany’s highest mountains, including mighty Zugspitze, are in Bavaria and the country’s best skiing is also here.
Bavaria has dozens of glacial lakes with stunning beaches and water sports. Chiemsee and Konigssee are enormous and have summer water temperatures of up to 30˚C.
Where to go
From gorgeous five star city centre hotels in Munich and Nuremberg to restored medieval farmhouses along the Romantic Road, mountain spas, forest lodges and lakeside chalets, Bavaria has accommodation to fit every budget. Travelling around the area is an amazing experience and multi-centre adventures are effortless to organise. Plus, short flights from the UK all year round, make Munich or Nuremberg great bases for short breaks or even just a Christmas or New Year weekend.
Modern, traditional or a mix of both, the Bavarian capital is astonishing. Much admired for beer gardens, beautiful architecture, gardens, museums and quality of life, Munich’s also less than half-an-hour from lakes, mountains and forests, close to skiing in winter and a good base for touring the Romantic Road.
Home to the BMW Museum, the English Garden, Olympiapark, Hellabrunn Geo-Zoo and St. Jakopsplatz Jewish Museum.
Birthplace of the legendary German beer gardens – the ones in the north are pale imitations.
Named as the city most Germans envy for its quality of life, good looks, green space and warm, lively atmosphere.
Nuremberg will always be associated with the Nuremberg Trials, but this ancient city was also home to Albrecht Dürer, has one of Germany’s most sensational Christmas markets, the country’s largest cultural museum and one of the loveliest medieval old towns in Europe.
Nuremberg traces its history back over 950 years and even the local Youth Hostel is part of a 15th century castle.
The city’s annual Christkindlmarkt is one of the largest in Germany and nets over 2 million visitors every year.
Nuremberg is known for its long tradition of toy making and the city’s charming toy museum is one of the world’s finest.
The 410km Romantic Road runs from Würzburg in northern Bavaria to the most famous German castle of all, Schloss Neuschwanstein, on the Austrian border. Almost every delectable medieval town in the country is on-route and planning the entire journey yourself is quite simple or you could catch a bus and just see a bit, it’s all enchanting.
Expect walled towns, palaces, half-timbered houses, unspoiled farming villages and acres of cobbled streets, archways, monasteries, cathedrals and churches.
Travels through Bavaria’s wonderful countryside and is especially pretty in spring and summer.
If you’re interested in the history of beer, this is the route to find traditional breweries and older than old bars and restaurants.
What to do and see with kids in Bavaria
Schloss Neuschwanstein Normally it’s forbidden to mention Disney in the description of Europe’s fairy tale castles but, since Schloss Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle, here it’s fine.
Berchtesgaden National Park If ever there was a place to wear lederhosen and a jaunty, feathered cap it’s on a Berchtesgaden ramble. This 210km² national park has the best hiking in Germany (easy trails and expeditions) and it’s also home to magnificent Lake Königssee.
The English Garden, Munich Larger than Hyde or Central, the English Garden is one Europe’s largest urban parks and the place for cycling, sailing, exploring and marvellous summer beer gardens.
Bavarian Forest National Park Sitting on the Czech border, this spectacularly untamed forest is an outdoor adventure holiday in itself. Or you could just visit for the day, ski, walk, climb and spot everything from lynx to otters.
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich Germany’s biggest modern art museum is really four in one and contains the enormous State Graphic Collection (so many drawings, they’re exhibited in rotation), works by Klee, Kandinsky and Picasso, the country’s Architecture Museum and an outstanding collection of classic modern design – early Macs to amaze the i-generation.
Freizeit-land Geiselwind Bavaria’s top theme park is less than an hour north of Nuremberg and home to terrifying rollercoasters, cute animals and over 400,000m² of outrageously exciting family fun.
National Museum of Germany, Nuremberg From prehistory to the present day, this huge and comprehensive museum covers German culture like no other. The building is almost as remarkable as the vast collection and demands at least half a day to even scratch the surface.
Hellabrunn Zoo, Munich The world’s first geo-zoo was opened in 1911 and is now one of the biggest and wildest in Europe. Over 5000 animals are in permanent residence and the excellent breeding programme means plenty new babies, almost guaranteed.
Bayern Park, Fellbach From white-knuckle rides to white water rafting, this all-round family theme park is just over an hour’s drive east of Munich and as delightfully pretty as it is thrilling.
Educational value for kids
Bavaria has some of Germany’s best museums including the incredible Deutsche Museum in Munich and Nuremberg’s Albrecht-Dürer-Haus.
Catch one of the day cruises on lovely Lake Königssee and learn all about the magnificent landscape that shaped extraordinary Bavaria.
Visit at least one of Bavaria’s national parks, they’re wilder than you’re used to and a fantastic learning experience for kids.
Munich’s Oktoberfest is the world’s biggest beer festival and has a tradition of Family Afternoons, funfairs, citywide parades and fantastic dress-up – definitely not just for grown ups.
Visit at Christmas and Bavaria has some of the cutest and most historic festive markets in Europe – Munich and Nuremberg are huge and colourful but don’t miss the smaller towns and villages for quaint customs and wonderful local food.
Bavaria is the land of performance cars and Munich’s BMW Museum is fascinating. But take the kids to BMW Welt next to the city’s Olympiapark and they can design their own vehicles, see stunts and possibly plan a future in auto-engineering.
A hop-on-hop-off bus tour of the Romantic Road covers all 410km, lets you stop and explore when you want and has free travel for under 16s.
Getting about with kids in Bavaria
Unsurprisingly, the home to BMW and Audi is made for driving. Travelling the many tourist routes like the Romantic Road and the Crystal Road are good by car or you can catch one of the hop-on-hop-off coaches – excellent value.
Wild national parks and mountain regions all have superb road networks. And Bavaria is the land of walking and hiking, so getting about on foot in spring and summer (even with young kids) is a wonderful experience.