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Eight beautiful Bavarian day trips you can’t miss

Bavaria’s beauty is unrivalled: from Alpine lakes to quaint medieval towns, the most southerly Bundesland has it all.

Eight beautiful Bavarian day trips you can't miss
A couple goes on a gondola ride in Bamberg. Photo: DPA

Whilst all of Germany’s Bundesländer (states) offer a range of sites of natural and man-made beauty, the combination of the Bavarian Alps, a long-tradition of wealth and stunning architecture means that Bavaria possesses of some of Germany’s most beautiful destinations.

As such, Bavaria – Germany’s geographically largest state – has countless day trips to offer for visitors of all ages and interests.

Walchensee

 
 
 
 
 
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Nestled in the Alps, Walchensee is a gem of sparkling turquoise blue waters which stand in contrast to the dark green of the surrounding alpine forests. During the winter, the snow-capped mountains provide visitors with the chance to partake in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. In summer the lake offers windsurfing and sailing and WWII aircraft wrecks in the depths of the lake make it a popular spot for keen scuba divers.

If you would rather stay high and dry, walks on the mountainside provide stunning views of the lake and the surrounding alps. Walchensee’s own rickety Herzogstandbahn (gondola lift) takes you to the top of the mountain, from where you can embark on a number of walks. Alternatively, soak up the sun and gaze at the sapphire waters below whilst enjoying a beer and Kaiserschmarrn at the restaurant on the mountain.

Bamberg

 
 
 
 
 
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Located in the Upper Franconian region of Northern Bavaria, this quaint Bavarian town provides picturesque views and uncommon beer.

As well as its romantic cobbled streets and timber framed buildings, Bamberg is famous for the speciality of Rauchbier (smoked beer). This beer gets its named from the distinctive smokey aftertaste caused by the specific brewing process.

Another unique aspect of this town is the Altes Rathaus (old town hall), half of which features a baroque fresco and the other half is a timbered building, with both parts located directly on a bridge. Although this town is quintessentially German, along the river fishermen’s houses from the 19th century make up the so-called Klein Venedig (Little Venice).

Linderhof Palace

Just like the world-famous Neuschwanstein castle, Linderhof Palace was built by the eccentric Bavarian monarch, King Ludwig II, in 1886.

Like Neuschwanstein, Linderhof Palace is also located in the Alps, providing the castle with a backdrop of stunning mountains. However, less well-known than Neuschwanstein, Linderhof is not packed with tourists, and tours of the castle last longer and cost less than at Neuschwanstein.

The rooms inside the palace are as majestic as the natural surroundings making it easy to see why this was Ludwig’s favourite residence.

Salzburg

 
 
 
 
 
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Whilst not technically in the southern German state, Salzburg is easily reachable from much of Bavaria, and well worth hopping over the border to Austria for. Named Salzburg (salt fortress) after the salt mountains which funded the city’s opulent buildings, this city combines natural and man-made beauty.

A visit to the Hohensalzburg fortress delves into Salzburg’s past and also offers the best views of the city from above. Schloss Mirabell’s Mirabellgarten is famous for its feature in the Julie Andrews classic ‘The Sound of Music,’ and is well worth a wander through in the spring or summer to see the wonderful fountains and the garden’s beautiful flora.

Head to Café Sacher, at the Hotel Sacher, to indulge in the typically Austrian Sachertorte. Eduard Sacher, the hotel’s founder, was the son of assumed inventor of the original Sachertorte, Franz Sacher. As such, it would seem rude to not sit down at this hotel on the banks of the River Salzach and enjoy the delicious chocolate cake.

Partnachklamm gorge

 
 
 
 
 
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Garmisch Partnachklamm is the ideal place to don your best hiking gear and grab your walking sticks. Famously, Partnachklamm is the site of the 1936 Olympic ski jump, however it also boasts of one of Germany’s most breathtaking sites of natural beauty.

Partnachklamm’s shaded gorge is the starting point for a plethora of alpine walks and wandering under the ragged rocks as water flows through the narrow gorge is an indescribably magical experience.

Whether you visit in the winter when stalactites and stalagmites dramatically blanket the sides of the gorge, or in summer when the hazy sunlight filtering through the gorge gives the rushing water an ethereal quality, you will be sure to return home raving about this site’s natural beauty.

Bavarian Forest National Park

 
 
 
 
 
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The Bavarian Forest National Park is Germany’s first and largest national park and the range of activities on offer reflect the park’s size. Wander through the Treetop Walk to see the forest from a different perspective and end at the 44m high tree tower which gives visitors extensive views of the forest and, on a clear day, the Alps.The entirety of the tree top walk and the tree tower is suitable for wheelchairs and prams.

Another unique experience is the Tierfreigelände (free animal area), where 40 domestic animal species including bisons, wolves, wild boars, lynxes and bears, live in a sprawling animal enclosure which closely resembles the animals’ natural habitats. The lack of visible barriers means its as close as you will get to seeing these animals in the wild in Germany.

Of course, it would not be Bavaria if there were not a number of hiking trails. A significant amount of the dense forest is untouched by man, making it a must-see for nature lovers.

Zugspitze

The Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany and the panoramic view from this peak shows the alps in four different countries.

Even in the height of summer the Zugspitze is covered in snow, but walks up to the peaks are manageable. If you don’t fancy hiking up the 2,962 metres above sea level peak then the Seilbahn (cable car) will you transport you directly to the top. During the winter months it is possible to partake in a number of activities such as tobogganing, snowboarding and skiing. For an even more spectacular view, take to the sky and paraglide over the hundreds of mountain peaks which are visible from the Zugspitze.

Regensburg

This small town in Bavaria is renowned for its Christmas markets as well as its preserved Medieval façades which have earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. With its well-maintained architecture from the 12th century, walking through Regensburg can really feel like a step back in time.

When in Regensburg, a visit to ‘The Historic Sausage Kitchen’ is a must. This restaurant does what it says on the tin and apparently sells 6,000 sausages daily. It is rumoured to be the oldest continually open public restaurant in the world having served sausages to its guests for over 870 years.

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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