With its fairytale castles dusted with snow and medieval villages lit up with Christmas lights, Bavaria is an enchanting place to pass the winter months. You can’t visit Germany in wintertime without stocking up on festive goods at one of Bavaria’s traditional Christmas markets and there are plenty to choose from. Munich is host to over 20 Christmas markets and some spectacular lights displays, including the Christmas Village at the Royal Palace, the Tollwood Winter Festival and the historic Christkindl Markt in Marienplatz. Alternatively, the huge Nuremberg Christmas market is one of Germany’s oldest and biggest, with festive huts dotted throughout the Old Town; Rothenburg ob der Tauber hosts a medieval-themed market; and the Bamberg Christmas market is renowned for its local crafts.
With millions of colored fairy lights brightening up the cities and the snowy peaks of the Bavarian Alps in the background, Christmas is an enchanting time to visit Bavaria and the southernmost state wastes no time in getting in the festive mood. With so many seasonal events and atmospheric Christmas markets taking place around the state, Bavaria’s Christmas spirit is infectious, so warm your hands on a cup of Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and brush up on your carol singing, before setting out on the ultimate Christmas shopping trip.
It might be over 800km to the nearest ocean, but landlocked Munich hasn’t let that stop it from becoming the surf capital of Bavaria. A unique tradition dating back to 1972, surfing the waves of the River Eisbach has become a popular pastime in the Bavarian capital, with crowds of thrill seekers congregating at the bridge next to the Haus der Kunst all year round.
As the summer heat clears, autumn offers an ideal climate for sightseeing in Bavaria and the fall months host some of the year’s best festivals and events. Here are some ideas for where to go in Bavaria in autumn.
In many of the alpine villages of Bavaria, the end of the summer is marked not by the shorter nights and cooler climes, but by the clanging of cowbells and clacking of hooves, as hundreds of cows are herded down from the mountaintops. A long-standing tradition among the alpine villages of the Allgäu region, the Viehscheid or Almabtrieb is celebrated at the end of summer each year, as the prized dairy cows – taken high into the hills to graze on the lush summer pastures – are brought back down into the villages.
Still surrounded by its original city walls and bisected by the River Pegnitz, Nuremberg’s Old Town is an ideal spot for a walking tour and the omnipresent tower of Nuremberg Castle makes it easy to find your bearings. Wander through the labyrinth of cobbled streets and discover one of Germany’s most photogenic medieval towns, faithfully rebuilt after the destruction of WWII and dotted with beautifully restored timber-fronted houses and historic churches.