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City Guide

Berlin is a city that is popular on most “euro trip” itineraries, which is why it might be a bit surprising to hear that I just visited the German capital for the first time this past August. A city full of grit and history, it has been on my radar forever. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get there, but I am glad I did because as a more immature traveller I am not sure I would have really appreciated it. I always knew I would like Berlin, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Berlin is incredibly unique – like no other city in the world – which means that there are so so many unusual things to do in Berlin. And while we only scratched the surface of things to do during our three days in Berlin, it just means I have a really good excuse to go back.

If you only have three days in Berlin like us and are looking to eat and see the city beyond touristy spots like Checkpoint Charlie, this list of unusual things to do in Berlin will help you dive a bit deeper in this quirky city.

a few quick facts about berlin:

language | german
currency | euro
population | 3.76 million
diversity | over 190 nationalities are represented in berlin
size | 891.8 km² (that's 9 times the size of paris!)

15 unusual things to do in Berlin

Pay your respects at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Pay your respects to the murdered Jews of Europe at this important monument.

Constructed from 2003-2004, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a massive  19,000 square metre memorial. It is located on a piece of land where part of the Berlin wall used to stand right in the centre of Mitte, Berlin. When choosing the location and size, it was important for the city that the memorial be noticeable – this is not a part of history the German’s wanted to hide. So, it sits in the city centre as a constant reminder of the past.

The artist never revealed the meaning behind the monument, as he wanted to leave it up to interpretation of visitors. We heard a few different interpretations while we were in Berlin, however I’ll let you to visit and reflect on the meaning behind the design of the memorial.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Visit the world's Longest open air gallery: East Side Gallery

While most of the former Berlin wall was torn down, a portion of the wall still remains to be visited. Alongside this portion of the wall you’ll find an urban art project filled with paintings and murals. What used to be a divisive barrier between East and West Berlin is now the longest open-air art gallery in the world. 1.3 kilometres to be exact along the east side of the wall.

It is also one of the most popular tourists spots in the city. But still, it can’t be missed.

Scroll through at a few of my favourite shots:

Take a historical Berlin bike tour

Think you know a lot about Berlin? Think again…

If you want to check off a few of the “must sees” in Berlin and hear stories about Berlin’s past of war and communism, the best way to do this is on a Berlin bike tour.

Berlin is a huge city and it would be almost impossible to see everything you would want to on a walking tour. That’s why a bike tour is the way to go! Stop by tourist favourites like Brandenburger Tor, Museum island, and the parking lot where Hilter’s bunker used to be. Hear about the untold stories of Berlin’s past, including lots of communism tales. 

We did this tour with Berlin on Bike and I could not recommend it enough. The 3.5 hours “Highlights Bike Tour – Berlin’s Best” was the highlight of our time in Berlin. We left the tour in awe of the legacy of Berlin, and with a better understanding of why the city is the way it is – and what makes quirky Berlin unlike any other city in the world.

Snap a Quick Photo of Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) ... And then move on

Is it touristy? Yep! Will you need to be on the look out for giant stuffed animals trying guilt you into taking photos with them? Mhmm.

But it’s also the most iconic symbol of Berlin and has been a part of many historical moments in the city, including being closed in connection to the Berlin wall. So go ahead – don’t be ashamed to have your touristy moment under the gate.

On the note of touristy, if you’re looking for things to skip in Berlin – skip Checkpoint Charlie. Sure it is a historically relevant spot, but the attraction has been recreated, is mega-touristy, and is surrounded by fast food restaurants. Plus, you have to pay to take photos with actors dressed up as soldiers…

Brandenburger Tor
Bar-Hop at the best bars in Kreuzberg

It’s no secret that Berlin is known for its nightlife. I am not much of a nightlife-seeker personally (I’m more of a “in bed by 10pm” kinda person). Even still, given the global disruptions in August 2020, all night clubs were closed.

However, the Berlin nightlife scene is more than its famous nightclubs. I really appreciated the cosy hole-in-the-wall bars and speakeasy cocktail scene in Kreuzberg, Berlin. Here’s a few of my favourite spots!

Café Luzia: In the heart of Kreuzberg, this minimalist hipster Berlin bar was a great spot for a beer or cocktail. They often have live music, too.

Das Hotel Bar: Around the corner from the popular Paul-Lincke-Ufer Street, this was perhaps my favourite Kreuzberg bar. In fact, we loved it so much we went back two nights in a row to sit at one of the tiny sidewalk-side tables. Inside, you’ll find a small living room style bar area with a great drink menu.

Schwarze Traube: Looking for a cocktail bar in Kreuzberg? This low key speakeasy is known around the city for its outstanding cocktails. The menu changes every day, and the bartender will explain in details the daily options – which come served in the most perfectly paired antique glasses to round out the whole experience.

Santa Maria Berlin
Das Hotel Berlin
Berlin Food Guide: Experience Berlin’s trendy food scene

On the tail end of our trip through Bavaria, we were so over Germany food. Luckily, Berlin set us up to end our trip on a high note culinary-wise.

Choosing the best restaurants to visit in Berlin in only three days is a tough task. Especially since there are loads and load – and I mean LOADS – of amazing food options. And while donar kebab from a hole-in-the-wall shop may be the most “popular dish” in the city, Berlin is a in reality a city made for foodies.

Which meant, I was a happy girl. Here’s my mini Berlin food guide:

Mogg: Located in a former predominatly Jewish neighbourhood, Spandauer Vorstadt, Mogg is a must-visit. This NYC Jewish Deli-inspired joint is your spot for traditional matzah ball soup, massive pastrami sandwiches, and authentic New York-style cheesecake. Located in a historical brick building, this space used to be a Jewish girls school. Make sure you make a reservation at this tiny spot to guarantee a table.

Santa Maria: Located in Kreuzberg, this is a popular local spot for Mexican-style tacos and some insanely good margaritas. You’ll probably see a long queue out front but don’t be alarmed. The line moves pretty quick, so give them your name and head across the street to Luzia Cafe for a drink while you wait.

Ilsebill: We stumbled across Ilsebill while we were wandering the Kollwitzkiez area looking for a beer garden that suggested to us after a long bike tour in the sun. We were so starving and the beer, burgers, and cute interior looked too good to pass by. So, I did a quick search to make sure the reviews looked ok and we popped in. I opted for the veggie burger, and paired with an ice cold beer on the patio it was the perfect lunch spot in Berlin.

Kulturbrauerei: Around the corner from Ilsebill, you’ll find this former brewery turned arts space with restaurants, patios, and other exhibits. It’s a great spot to grab lunch in the sun.

Zola: This popular Kreuzberg pizza restaurant was another stumble-upon. With a range of pizzas options, topped with tons of unique ingredients, this is a great spot to go to if you’re into trendy pizzas.

Eismanufactuktur: Looking for the best ice cream in Berlin? I’m convinced that this Graefekiez ice cream shop is it. They have a huge range of delicious vegan ice cream flavours (and non-vegan, too). Take one to go and walk around the Graefekiez neighbourhood. This area ended up being one of my absolute favourites in Berlin. (Tip: Take a look at the location on my map below, because there are a few spots with similar names in Berlin).

A Never Ever Ending Love Story: Looking for the best brunch in Berlin? I loved this spot. I can especially recommend their chai latte (with oat milk), Mexican Breakfast Bowl, and pancakes.

NENI Berlin: Full disclosure, we didn’t eat here. However, we did eat the location in Munich (with an almost-identical menu) and it was great. Most of the dishes are Middle Eastern and Israeli-inspired. And as a bonus, the restaurant is located at the top of Bikini Berlin with optional outdoor seating and incredible views of the city.

Shown above: Reuben sandwich at Mogg; ice cream at Eismanufakturer; brunch at A Never Ever Ending Love Story: interior at Santa Maria: interior at Ilsebill: interior at Mogg
Snap a photo at one of the most instagrammable Places in Berlin (and then grab dinner!)

Adding to my Berlin food guide, House of Small Wonder deserves its own spot because not only is it an amazing restaurant, but it also one of the most instagrammable spots in Berlin.

Tourists and locals alike flock to the spiral staircase to snap photos. So you’d think that the restaurant must be a tourist trap right? Wrong!

The House of Small Wonder menu offers a number of unique Asian-influenced dishes. The owners used to work in the NYC restaurant scene and brought their innovative food concepts to Berlin.

Make sure you make a reservation here for lunch or dinner – it’s very popular.

House of Small Wonder Berlin
House of Small Wonder Berlin
Admire the best berlin street art at RAW Berlin and Urban Spree Berlin

RAW Berlin and Urban Spree Berlin are located right next to each other in what was formerly East Berlin. This is where you’ll find some of the best Berlin street art.

RAW Berlin is a formal industrial site, used throughout the late 1800s and through the 1900s. Many of the historical industrial buildings remain, and you can see the old train tracks running through the property.

Today, RAW Berlin is a cultural hub full of street art, music venues, galleries, restaurants, clubs, and bars. While it is known to be a pretty wild party scene in the evenings, it is a really fun place to roam and admire the pure grittiness of Berlin.

Next door to RAW, you’ll find Urban Spree. Urban spree is a similar open space hosting concerts, restaurants, art exhibits, and a biergarten. Similar to RAW, it is known to be a popular nightlife attraction in the evening, but during the day you can find lots of fun exhibits or visit the Urban Spree Galerie to admire some urban art.

Scroll through a few of my favourite Berlin street art shots:

Visit the best photoautomat Berlin locations to snap a photo

These vintage photobooths, called Photoautomats, are scattered all over the city. They are a fun little throwback and the perfect spot to get a photo souvenir from Berlin.

If you’re looking for the best Photoautomat Berlin locations, you’ll find several of them scattered around Kruzberg. Here’s the Photoautomat Berlin locations of a few of my favourite ones:

Kulturbrauerei Photoautomat: This one is bright pink and is located in the Frannz Biergarten.

RAW Berlin Photoautomat: You’ll actually find two photobooths in RAW Berlin. One outside “Pizza Dealer” at the entrance of RAW Berlin. And the other one is inside RAW Berlin, out front of Cassiopeia.

Urban Spree Photoautomat: This double photobooth is close to the entrance of Urban Spree along Waschaurer Street.

Kottbusser Tor Photoautomat: This one is located next to Supermarket Kaisers at the popular Kottbusser Tor station (which you will likely get off it when visiting Kreuzberg).

Visit the iconic Reischtag Dome

The Reischtag Dome offers an incredible 360-degree-view of surrounding Berlin. It sits atop the Resichtag and you can see the parliament hall below.

I was so eager to visit the Reischtag Dome, but was so sad to find out that the tickets were sold out. I guess it just gives me a great excuse to get back to Berlin soon (not that I needed one).

So, my biggest tip for this hotspot: Make sure you get your Resichtag Dome tickets way ahead of time.

Learn about berlin's history at the Berlin Wall memorial

The Berlin Wall Memorial shows a section of the Berlin wall in its original construction. You aren’t totally able to grasp the concept of this wall, and how it was constructed, until you visit this memorial. Here, you can see the inner and outer wall, as well the construction of mounts, spikes, and electrical fences between them that made it nearly impossible for people to escape East Berlin.

If you take a tour, like the Berlin on Bike one I recommended, they will likely take you hear and explain this in depth. Either way, it’s worth a visit.

Visit Berlin’s most beautiful book store: Umbras Kuriositatenkabinett

Direct translation: Umbras Cabinet of Curiosities.

And I truly don’t think I have ever come across a shop more perfectly named.

This spot was a complete stumble upon in the Graefekiez neighbourhood and I’m so excited to share this secret spot with you! If you’re a fan of books, or book stores, Umbras Kuriositatenkabinett has books stacked floor to ceiling. The books were almost exclusively in German, but that doesn’t take away from just how cool this space was.

Stay at the coolest Hotel in Berlin – with views of the Berlin Zoo

If you’re wondering where to stay in Berlin, I have the best recommendation: 25hours Bikini Berlin! This was one of my favourite hotels, ever. Our hotel room even had a hammock overlooking the Berlin zoo.

I wrote a blog post all about this hotel. Check it out here.

Visit Berlin’s Quirkiest Neighbourhoods: Kreuzberg and Graefekiez (the ultimate Berlin Photography Spots!)

If you’re looking for the best neighbourhoods in Berlin to roam, Kreuzberg and Graefekiez are located right next to each other and are a great spot to do this.

Kreuzberg is Berlin’s hipster haven, full of vintage clothing shops, antique stores, cafes, bars, restaurants – and so much more. It’s gritty and artsy and weird and so quintessentially Berlin in every way. Roam around long enough and you’re bound to come home with a cheap and unnecessary trinkets that you just “had to have.”

Technically part of the Kreuzberg neighbourhood, you’ll find Graefekiez on the south side of the Landwehr canal. A bit more polished and posh, but really cool in a totally different way. This was my favourite neighbourhood in Berlin and the one I would want to live in (anyone else do this when they are travelling, or just me??). It’s filled with unique sustainability-minded shops, florists, cafes, and restaurants.

Berlin was an urban photographer’s dream! I had so much fun wandering the streets and snapping photos. Scroll through this gallery for some of my favourite Berlin photography shots from these two neighbourhoods:

Grab a bite to eat at Markthalle Neun Erste (Market Hall Nine)

You’ll find tons of food vendors in this historical 120-year-old Kreuzberg Markthalle Neun. This is a great spot to grab a quick lunch or snack, or an afternoon coffee. Keep in mind when planning your visit that the market is closed on Sundays.

Markthalle Neun Berlin flower shop
Markthalle Neun Berlin

Need help finding these unusual things to do in Berlin? Here's a map!

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What do you think about when you first think of Germany? Before I first visited Bavaria in 2015, the stereotypical 1-litre steins of beer, magical castles, and men wearing lederhosen first came to mind (and the history, of course). And while my perception of Bavaria has evolved quite a bit after returning for the second time on my recent Bavaria Germany road trip, these three things – and what they represent in Bavarian tradition and culture – are still some of the things I still love most about Bavaria, Germany.

After spending several weeks in this area over the past five years, I have fallen hard for the deep-rooted culture, traditions, and beauty of this region. If you’re looking for quintessential Germany, Bavaria is where you want to go. And I’m sharing all my favourite things to do in Bavaria, and some of the fun things I learned about this region, in this comprehensive Bavaria Germany road trip itinerary. Let’s go!

Bamberg Germany town hall
Nuremberg Germany rooftops

recommended bavaria germany road trip itinerary

5-7 days | 5 destinations

Munich: 2-3 days
Neuschwanstein Castle: 1-2 days
Rothenburg ob der Tauber: half day
Nuremberg: 1 day
Bamberg: half day

Munich, Germany

First up on your Bavaria Germany road trip is Munich, a place with generations-old culture and lots of history. Many people visit Munich for Oktoberfest, but the city is so much more than this iconic festival and is a must-visit for history buffs and fans of unique cultural experiences.

I always assumed that lederhosen-clad men and steins of beer were more of an Oktoberfest tradition, but truthfully, you can find this walking stereotype wandering around Munich on a Monday afternoon. So you can definitely visit outside of Oktoberfest and get to experience true Bavarian culture, which is deeply engrained in Munich.

The best time to visit Munich: Munich is the perfect summer city, when the temperatures are warm and the city is bustling. But, if you’re a fan of Christmas markets, the Bavaria region is also home to some of Germany’s famous Christmas markets, and easily some of best Christmas markets in Europe.

How many days in Munich? For a first time visit, I would recommend three days in Munich. However, if you’re schedule is a bit tight, you can see a lot in two days.

things to do in munich

Take a history tour

Munich is a city filled with history and stories. Many of these stories would be impossible to uncover if you toured the city on your own. Because it was such a history-rich city, we knew it was important to enlist the experts. We signed up for two different tours with Sandeman’s Walking Tours Munich and we were so happy we did. If you’re looking for free things to do in Munich, this is a great option!

Free Munich Walking Tour: This free walking tour of Munich is the best Munich walking tour to get to know the highlights of the city. You’ll spend 2.5 hours learning about different historical buildings, hearing their stories, and learning all about Munich’s history. If you’re only going to do one tour, this one is the one to do. And, it’s a tips-based tour, which means you pay what you think the tour is worth.

Munich Third Reich Tour: If you’re interested in learning about Nazi history in Munich, this is the tour to take. On this 3 hour tour, you will stand directly in some of the most historical spots of this era, hear stories of the rise of National Socialism and Nazi reign, and visit memorial sites. Tour cost is 15 euros.

the best munich beer garden in Munich

Beer halls and beer gardens are synonymous with Munich. Here you’ll find both tourists in locals hanging out, drinking steins, and eating pretzels and bratwurst. You’re sure to see local friend groups visiting in their traditional clothing, and it is truly the best place to immerse yourself in the Bavarian beer culture.

Fun Fact: All local German beers are required to follow the “Bavarian purity law,” which was enacted in 1516.  This laws means that you can only use four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast, and water – to brew beer. As a result, all beers are to be brewed to the same standard, so you’re going to find almost identical beers at each beer garden. However, each beer garden or hall has their own history and unique atmosphere that makes them special so I’d definitely visit more than just one!

What kind of beer will you find at a Munich beer garden? At each beer garden or hall, you’ll typically have a choice of two or three types of German beer: Helles (a lager), Radler (also known as a shandy), and maybe a Weissbier (wheat beer). Some will also serve a Dunkel, which is a dark Garman lager.

You’ll find them scattered all over the city, but here’s a few of the best:

  • Augustiner-Keller Beer Garden: My personal favourite, this central spot seats over 5000 visitors. Situated in a massive green space lined with picnic tables in the middle of the city, this spot is so much fun in the evenings for a massive German pretzel and Augustiner beer.
  • Chinesischer Turm Beer Garden: This beer garden in the English Gardens is a favourite with tourists and students, and is the perfect spot to stop for a beer on a hot summer day which exploring the park. With seats for over 7000, this is Munich’s second-largest beer garden.
  • Hofbräuhaus Beer Hall: A traditional beer hall with an outdoor garden space, Hofbräuhaus is the most famous beer hall in Munich – and probably in the entire world. Founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, it has a rich history in Bavarian beer culture and has been home to many historical events over many centuries, including hosting Hitler’s first speech (and many subsequent speeches).

In true Bavarian tradition, opt for a 1-litre stein of Helles beer, the most common German beer. If you are looking for something a bit lighter, a Radler blends lemonade and beer.

Take a Dachau Concentration Camp Tour

If you’re looking for a very sobering history experience, a visit to Dachau Concentration Camp is a way to pay your respects to the victims of Nazi Germany. While I think it is very difficult to put this experience into words, because it is something that should be experienced, I can recommend you great tour company to make the most of this experience.

In Their Shoes Dachau Memorial Tours is one of the best historical tours I have ever been on. Tour guide and owner James came to Munich because of his interest in WWII history, and knows so much about Dachau history, the people involved, and many other untold stories. He is truly one of the best tour guides I have ever had.

From my experiences visiting both Dachau and Auschwitz, I can say that while visiting a concentration camp memorial is a difficult experience (and certainly not for everyone), they are best visited with a knowledgeable and respectful tour guide. I can’t recommend James’ tour enough if you are planning to visit Dachau Concentration Camp.

Visit the Englischer Garten (English Gardens Munich)

Located in the centre of Munich, Englischer Garten (or English Gardens) is a great place for a walk or bike ride through the city. The park is huge – 3.75 square kilometres to be exact, which makes it bigger than Central Park! The gardens are beautiful, and here you can also stop at the Chinesischer Turm Beer Garden for an afternoon beer, which I mentioned above. 

In the summer months, you can’t miss the Munich surfers who take their boards out for a ride in the Eisbach River. At the spot where the river begins near Haus der Kunst, you can find large crowds admiring and cheering on the surfers of Munich.

Fancy taking a dip on a hot day? You can go for a swim in Munich along the Eisbach River. You’ll notice that the locals who aren’t keen on surfing will often choose to hop in and float down the river – and you can do this too!

English Garden surfers in Munich
marienplatz

Marienplatz is home to Munich’s “New Town Hall,” Neues Rathaus, which is arguably the most iconic building Munich. A stop by this spot is a must to marvel in the stunning neo-Gothic building. The building was spared from destruction during WWII because it was used as a orientation landmark in the centre of the city.

The best time to visit Marienplatz is at 11:00 am or 12:00 pm all year round, or at 5:00 pm between March and October only, when the iconic Glockenspiel loudly chimes while small figurines dance telling a story of Munich’s history. This daily tradition dates back to 1908!

Marienplatz Munich
Marienplatz Munich
Climb to the top of St. Peter's Church Tower Munich

Looking for the best views of Munich? Climb to the top of St. Peter’s Church and you’ll be greeted by a never-ending sea of orange rooftops. 

St. Peter’s Church Munich Cost: The church itself is free to visit, but it costs 2 euros to climb to the top of St. Peter’s Church Tower.

Shop Around at Viktualienmarkt

Located in the old town centre, Viktualienmarkt (Victuals Market) is one of my favourite spots in Munich. Here you’ll find many vendors set up selling food and other local goods. It’s a great place to grab lunch or pick up souvenirs. There’s also a popular beer garden located in the centre of the market.

Viktualienmarkt Hours: Open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (closed on Sundays).

Viktualienmarkt Munich
Viktualienmarkt Munich
Marvel at Asam Church

I can’t recommend Asam Church in Munich enough! This over-the-top baroque style church is arguably the most unique church I have ever seen. Built in the mid-18th century the interior of the church is small, but the details and quirks of the design will blow you away. 

Asam Church Munich
Asam Church Munich
Visit the Munich Residenz

A former royal palace, the Munich Residenz is a must see. It is home to an impressive museum, and the interior is extravagantly beautiful. If you don’t feel like visiting the interior, it is at least worth stopping by the palace grounds. the courtyard and gardens are stunning.

Where to stay in Munich?

I’ve stayed at two different properties in Munich – both budget-friendly and a bit of a splurge – and would highly recommend both of them. The are both located right around the corner from each other near the Munich central station, and are within close walking and biking distance from most main attractions.

Best Hostel in Munich: Wombat’s City Hostel Munich is honestly one of my favourite hostels, ever. It is modern, has a great onsite bar, and many activities scheduled activities for making friends with other travellers. I really recommend attending their beer hall tour. It was such a highlight of our time in Munich.

Best Hotel in Munich: I recently stayed at 25hours Hotel Munich The Royal Bavarian and it blew me away. I loved it so much I wrote a detailed blog post about the property. You can check it out here!

Neuschwanstein Castle

Next on this Bavaria Germany road trip, head from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle.

A visit to the famed fairy tale castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is a must. This place is seriously magical and belongs on every Germany itinerary. Neuschwanstein Castle is often typically a day trip from Munich, but I would recommend staying for at least one night if you have the time. Not only is the town of Füssen charming, but the alps region surrounding the castle is stunning.

I wrote all my tips for visiting Neuschwanstein in this Bavarian Alps Guide. Check it out!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

From Neuschwanstein Castle by car, you can head up the famed Romantic Road toward the magical town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Along the Romantic Road, you’re bound to find may stop offs en route. And it is a beautiful drive.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably the most popular Bavarian town. Sure, it’s a bit touristy. But even still, you cannot miss this spot in Bavaria. Upon arrival, you’ll probably find it hard to believe that this town with its narrow streets and dozens of Christmas shops is real. Because it truly looks like a movie set. 

On the topic of movies, I was SUPER excited to visit this town because this famed town was one of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang locations – which was one of my favourite childhood movies! If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recognize these iconic narrow streets from the terrifying scene when the kidnapper is searching for the children while they hid in the basement of an old house.

How much time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber? This town is quite small, and can be visited in a half day.

things to do in rothenburg ob der tauber

Truly the best thing to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is just wander. Ideally, early in the day is best. We arrived around 9:00 am and had the streets to ourselves. Here’s a few spots that you shouldn’t miss:

  • Plönlein: Want to get that famed Rothenburg Instagram photo where the road forks? This is your spot!
  • Town walls: The old town walls cover four kilometres around the town and offer many stunning lookout points.
  • Rathaus: Also known as the Rothenburg Town Hall, Rathaus is a stunning Baroque-style building located in Marktplatz.
  • Burggarten: The gardens are beautiful and here you’ll find a lookout point with stunning views of the valley that sits below the town.
  • Go Christmas shopping: Rothenburg is home to a huge assortment of Christmas stores selling ornaments and other decorations. The most famous is Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Shop.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany

Nuremberg

From Rothenburg ob der Tauber, head to the next stop on your Bavaria Germany road trip: Nuremberg. There are plenty of things to do in Nuremberg, and many hotel options, so I’d recommend spending a night here. Nuremberg is a famous tourism spot for history enthusiasts interested in WWII, but it is also home to a super charming old town, and is filled with history. In fact, the city was once regarded as the unofficial capital of The Holy Roman Empire.

While one day in Nuremberg is typically enough, if you find yourself wanting to day many things on my list, you may want to allocate more than a day to Nuremberg.

things to do in Nuremberg

Nuremberg is so much more than just WWII history. Wondering what to do in Nuremburg? I’ve got you covered:

  • Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds: One of the most popular spots in Nuremburg, this is something you shouldn’t miss. Early National Socialist rallies took place in Nuremberg and is a good place to go to learn more about the Nazi’s rise to power in Bavaria.
  • Nuremberg Trials Museum: This famous location – specifically Courtroom 600 – was used to convict high-profile Nazi’s in the late 1940s. On the top floor of the building you will find the museum, which details the trials and convictions. Then, you can head down to Courtroom 600. Keep in mind this is an operating courtroom and on some days, it may not be possible to visit the room itself, but you can look through the windows
  • Kaiserburg: Nuremberg’s castle sits atop of Nuremberg Altstadt (Old Town) and dates back to the 14th century. While it admittedly wasn’t the most beautiful castle I saw in Germany, it is full of history and offers lovely panoramic views of the city.
  • Visit the many Nuremburg churches: I’d recommend St. Sebaldus Church and St. Lorenz Church.
  • Albrecht Dürer’s House tour: Take a tour of the half-timbered home previously owned by Germany’s most famous painter, Albrecht Dürer.
  • Wander the Nuremberg Altstadt: The old town of Nuremburg is beautiful, so make sure you take some time to just wander the canals and admire the old architecture.
  • Visit a beer garden: If you’re looking for a beer garden in Nuremberg, Restauration Kopernikus Biergarten is a great option!
  • Orrrr, a wine bar: If you’re feeling a bit tired of beer, Il Disperato Prosciutteria Weinbar was a favourite spot of mine and they served the most delicious charcuterie platters.
Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremberg, Germany

where to stay in nuremberg

I’ve stayed at two different properties in Nuremberg that I can recommend and both are fairly budget friendly. Both are located within or near the Altstadt and Central Station, and are within waking distance from many attractions.

Best Hostel in Munich: Five Reasons Hostel is a low key and clean hostel. Don’t expect a party vibe here, but the facilities were practical, the location is great within the old town walls, and it is very affordable.

Best Hotel in Munich: I recently stayed at Park Inn by Radisson Nürnberg and was the perfect spot for a short stay in Nuremberg. It’s located right outside the old town walls, offers parking, and the rooms were spacious and clean.

Bamberg

Let me just start off by saying that out of all the small Bavarian towns, Bamberg just may be my favourite. It’s incredibly charming, full of terraces and patios and canals, and is home to the famous Bamberg smoked beer. If you have to choose one town, I would (perhaps a bit controversially), tell you to visit Bamberg.

If you’re wondering how long to stay in Bamberg, I’d say a half day is enough. Here’s some tips of things to do and some photos to inspire you!

Bamberg Germany

things to do in bamberg

  • Try Bamberg’s famous smoked beer: Schlenkerla Smokebeer is a historic smoked beer brewery in Bamberg dating back to the 1400s where the beer is brewed according to centuries old traditions involving open fire that gives it the smokey taste, It is brewed in 600-year-old-cellars and Schlenkerla is one of only two breweries left in the world making beer in this traditional way. While the beer was very smokey and just not really my thing, it was super cool to try.
  • Bamberg Cathedral: Founded in the 11th century during The Holy Roman Empire rule, this church is truly stunning. Inside you can visit the tomb of Henry II and his wife, who were buried in a tomb that took 14 years to carve.
  • Altes Rathus: Perhaps the most easily recognized building in Bamberg, this fresco-covered “Bamberg town hall” building sits over one of Bamberg’s canals. It dates back to the 1300s and is Bamberg’s most popular building for a reason – it is beautiful!
  • Neue Residenz: This palace sits on top of the city, and has beautiful gardens (called Rosengarten). The grounds of the palace also offer the best view of Bamberg’s orange-roofed skyline.
  • Try some unique ice cream flavours: We loved the unique ice cream flavours at Cafe Riffelmacher, like rose, orange basil, and cucumber. Just don’t make the mistake we made and take your ice cream to go. They charge a sitting fee and we were shocked when we got the bill.
  • And when in doubt, just wander: Similar to other Bavarian towns, you’ll find the most charming gems by just wandering. Try to leave the most touristy streets and head for some of the back alleys.
Streets in Bamberg Germany
Bamberg Rathus
Schlenkerla Smokebeer Biergarten

where to stay in bamberg

If you’re looking for an affordable and central hotel in Bamberg, a great choice is Ibis Styles Bamberg. While the hotel itself is mostly no frills, the rooms are modern and clean room, it offers onsite parking, and it sits in a great location within walking distance of all main attractions. I highly recommend choosing this hotel as home base in Bamberg.

A few more tips for visiting Bavaria

I had a few questions that came up consistently while I was on my Bavaria Germany road trip, and so I thought an extra little Q&A was in order to address them. Here’s a few of the most common questions.

Can you visit Bavaria by train? During my two trips to Bavaria I have travelled by both car and train, and I can confirm that both are very efficient ways of visiting the country. On my first trip, we travelled exclusively by train and in many ways, it was faster than having the car because we didn’t have to worry about finding parking. However, the car gave us a lot of flexibility to make stops, and stumble upon some hidden gems. 

What is it like driving in Germany? Well, let me start by saying that I wasn’t the driver. But Sebastian found driving in Germany quite easy. German’s are fantastic drivers, the road conditions were perfect, and the road signage was truly impressive.

How much does it cost to visit Germany? To travel in Bavaria, and Germany in general, I would suggest having a moderate budget. From my personal experience, Germany is a lot cheaper than most western European countries I’ve visited. A decent private hotel room cost us about 70 euros a night, a half-litre of beer ranged from 3-5 euros, and you could typically find a meal for around 10 euros. Of course, there are many ways to save too by choosing cheaper accommodations, grabbing drinks at the grocery store, or eating street food.

Can you use credit cards in Germany? This is one thing that was not guaranteed. Coming from an almost cashless country, I couldn’t believe that Germany is largely cash-based. While we were able to use card at our hotels and some restaurants, there are many restaurants, beer gardens, and tourist attractions that are cash-only. Even the machines to pay for parking were cash-only in many cases. So moral of the story… Make sure you always have some cash on you.

Bamberg Rathus

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Cochem Germany

Germany wine country was something I didn’t know much about prior to planning our summer 2020 trip to Germany. I stumbled upon the Mosel Valley while drafting our German road trip itinerary from Sweden down to the German Alps, and I began looking at the best places for us to stop along the way. I had heard about the towns of the Rhine Valley, but I had never heard of the Mosel Valley before. However, the more I looked into it I was convinced that we must spend a couple days here and began putting together a Mosel Valley itinerary.

I mean… Wine and vineyards and quintessentially romantic German villages? Count me in!

I was a little bit skeptical to share this magical gem, because I feel like it is still largely off the main tourism trail. While we were there, it seemed that many locals had caught on to how special this sleepy region is, but it seems to still be off the radar of international tourists.

For those of you hearing about this region for the first time, the Mosel River runs through central-western Germany and is home to he most perfect little towns. You could spend days and days town-hopping along the Mosel River and admiring the almost-90-degree vineyards that scale the side of the river. But, if you only have a couple days like us, I’m going to give you the details on all the places you can’t miss!

Cochem Germany

SUmmary: OUr two-day mosel valley itinerary

Day 1: Spend the afternoon in Cochem

We arrived in Cochem on our first day around lunchtime. We spent a half-day wandering around Cochem, visiting the Cochem castle, wine tasting, and just enjoying the scenic town.

Day 2: Sunrise at Burg Eltz

A trip to Burg Eltz Castle cannot be missed when visiting the Mosel Valley. We opted to get up early at 5:30am to visit Burg Eltz for sunrise. However, if you aren’t an early bird, you can visit on your first day in the Mosel Valley before arriving in Cochem.

Day 2: Town-hopping in the Mosel Valley

After we returned from Burg Eltz, we checked out of our hotel and spent the day driving from town-to-town along the Mosel River. Keep reading to learn about my favourite towns!

Day 2: Spend the Night in Bacharach 

At the end of the day, we headed back to the Rhine River to spend the evening in the sleepy historic town of Bacharach.

Burg Eltz
Bacharach Germany

The best Mosel Valley towns

There are so many charming towns along the Mosel River to include in your Mosel Valley itinerary, you could get lost in back alleyways of half-timbered houses for weeks. The most picturesque part of the Mosel Valley lies between the area of Cochem and Traben-Trarbach. Here was a few of the best towns to visit in the Mosel Valley.

the most popular town: cochem

Cochem Germany

If you only have time to visit one town, Cochem is the best town in the Mosel Valley. And while it may be the most popular too, this is for good reason. It is home to stunning views of the Mosel River, is littered in hundreds-year-old half-timbered houses, and has a castle sitting atop of the town.

If you’re looking for the where to stay in the Mosel Valley, Cochem is a great home base. We stayed at Haus Christiane, a cosy little family-owned pension in the centre of town, with free parking and an amazing homemade breakfast included.

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Cochem, here’s some of my top recommendations:

Visit Cochem Castle: You can’t visit Cochem without going up to Cochem Castle. To get there, you’ll follow signs through narrow half-timbered alleyways and vineyards to the top of the town. From there, you can visit the castle grounds and you’ll also be welcomed by beautiful views of the town below.

Wine Tasting in the Mosel Valley: The Mosel Valley is home to German Mosel Valley Riesling wine, and doing a tasting in the region in a must. Around Cochem, you’re sure to find lots of spots to stop in for a tasting.

Indulge in German Food: Full disclosure, I really struggled with the food in the Mosel Valley. It was very meat-heavy and fried, which isn’t my thing. But, we enjoyed the atmosphere at the Alte Wein Wirtschaft “Wine Terrasse” and I was able to indulge in some pretty decent vegetarian Flammkuchen (Germany’s take on “pizza”).

Wander Without a Plan: This town is made for wandering! Make sure you take some time to cross the bridge and explore both sides of the town. Plus, you’ll find the absolute best views of Cochem from the bridge (especially at sunrise and sunset). 

ernst

We really loved Ernst because it felt more local. Historical homes with children playing outside. Winding cobblestone streets. And if you want to the backside of the town, there are plenty of vineyards you can wander through and explore! You don’t need much time here, but the parking along the main road is free, and I found it to be really charming.

Ernst Germany
Ernst Germany

beilstein

Beilstein was an easy favourite for me! This town is one of the best-preserved in the Mosel Valley, it looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale. The small settlement dates back to 800 AD and atop the town you can visit the ruins of an old castle. The narrow streets are perfect for wandering, and you’re guaranteed to find a whole lot of places to take photos.

Make time to visit the ruins of Castle Metternich, which was constructed in the 1200s. There is a small fee to enter, but it is absolutely worth it and the views of the Mosel River from the top are stunning.

I would recommend you spend 1-2 hours in Beilstein.

zell

We didn’t spend much time in Zell, but we did make a stop here for a wine tasting. Zell is home to Zeller Schwarze Katz, or “Zell’s Black Cat.” The photo of the towns black cat mascot is on every bottle of wine, and has origins on folklore tales of the town. While wandering through Zell, you’re bound to come across many variations of black cat statues, sculptures, figurines souvenirs, and paintings of the iconic black cat (usually holding a glass of riesling).

I’d highly recommend stopping into this town for a tasting like we did. Although the black cat obsession may seem a bit silly,  we loved the wine sourced from “black cat mountain” so much we bought a few bottles to bring home.

traben-trarbach

The last stop on my Mosel Valley itinerary is Traben-Trarbach, which dates back to 830. And this one is really charming! This is a great place to unwind at the end of your day Mosel Valley town-hopping, and you’re guaranteed to find a great glass of wine here. For hiking enthusiasts, there are some great trails around here too that take you into the vineyards.

Traben-Trarbach Germany
Traben-Trarbach Germany

looking for all these spots?
i've got you covered with a mosel valley map!

How to get around the Mosel Valley

Mosel Valley by Car: In the interest of time, we opted to drive around the Mosel Valley. Driving alongside the Mosel River was beautiful, and we found the region easy to navigate by car. You’ll normally find Mosel Valley parking lots along the river side at the foot of each town. In less popular towns, parking is typically free. However, you’ll have to pay a small amount in more popular towns, like Cochem or Beilstein, so make sure you have change for the parking meters. 

Mosel Valley by Bike: We saw many people biking in the Mosel Valley from town-to-town. If we had more time, I would have loved this option. There were bike paths alongside the river connecting the towns, which meant it was easy and safe to bike.

Mosel Valley by Foot: If you’re feeling adventurous and have a lot of time to spend in the regions, you’ll find lots of Mosel Valley hiking paths leading through the vineyards and connecting the towns.

Things to Do near the mosel valley

burg eltz castle

Burg Eltz Castle

If you are going to do ONE thing when you’re in this region, this is it. I absolutely love Burg Eltz. Dare I say it may even be my favourite castle in Germany?

My biggest tip for visiting Burg Eltz Castle: Go early. We arrived at the Burg Eltz parking lot around 6:00 am, paid for parking,  and walked about 20 minutes through the forest trail to get to the castle. We were so happy to have the castle grounds all to ourselves, and to be greeted by the most perfect morning light.

If you want to visit the castle interior, Burg Eltz opening hours are from 9:30-5:30 for tours, and you can take a Burg Eltz shuttle to the castle if you don’t want to walk. If you are interested in taking a tour, please check the Burg Eltz website for language availability, as most tours are done in English.

Burg Eltz tour price: 11 euro for adults

Burg Eltz Castle
Burg Eltz Castle
Burg Eltz Castle

visit the town of bacharach

Bacharach Germany

Want to be transported directly into a Brothers Grimm story? The sleepy town of Bacharach looks like a real life Hansel and Gretal fairytale. Bacharach was named after Bacchus, the god of wine. To this day, the town is known for having great local wine and attracts wine enthusiasts from around the world.

With narrow streets filled with half-timbered houses, the best thing to do in Bacharach is just to get lost with a camera in hand. However, here’s some other must-do things to do in Bacharach:

  • Burg Stahleck: Atop of Bacharach sits a castle, Burg Stahleck. You can walk up to the top of the castle and take in beautiful views of the Rhine River from above. The castle is also home to Bacharach’s most unique hotel.
  • Go wine tasting at Weingut Fritz Bastian: If you’re looking to sample some local wines, this wine terrace is a great place to do a wine tasting. I’d also recommend having lunch or dinner here on a sunny day.
  • Altes Haus: Admire the oldest house in town that dates back to the 1300s!
  • Go for a hike: There are plenty of hiking trails surrounding the town Bacharach. The Rheinburgenweg (Rhine Castles Trail) leads you through vineyards, and past historical sites and castles.
  • St. Peter’s Church Bacharach: It would be impossible to miss St. Peter’s Church, with stands tall in the centre of Bacharach. This church can be admired from many viewpoints in the town, but don’t forget to take a look inside too!

get ready to fall in love with german's wine country with this mosel valley itinerary!

I was so pleasantly surprised by the Mosel Valley and I hope you use this Mosel Valley itinerary to have the best time in German wine country!

Heading down to German Alps? Check out my guide!

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Mosel Valley Itinerary
Things to Do in the Mosel Valley - Germany's wine country
Tips for Visiting the Mosel Valley & Burg Eltz
Mosel Valley Guide
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Geroldsee

When you think about The Alps region, what countries do you think of. Often Switzerland comes to mind first… Then probably Austria and France, maybe even Italy. But often the German Alps are an overthought. This was my second time visiting the German Alps – also commonly known as the Bavarian Alps, because of it’s location in the Bavaria state of Germany. The first time I visited was earlier in my travelling days where just about everything seemed magical. And while I am still often very guilty of romanticizing travel experiences and enjoying every small detail, I was a bit worried that my return to Germany just wouldn’t be quite as special as it was the first time. Luckily, I was wrong.

As a more seasoned traveller, my summer trip to Germany focused on travelling a bit deeper in the country. I knew I wanted to return to the Alps. The last time I was in Germany, I visited to two locations that are typically at the top of every tourist itinerary: Berchtesgaden and the Füssen area (which is home to Neuschwanstein Castle). This time, my mountain adventures took me to the area of Garmisch Partenkirchen. A popular winter skiing destination in Germany, this area is home to Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze, as well as many beautiful lakes, trails, and scaling mountains. So there is plenty of things to do in Garmisch Partenkirchen in the summer.

While this guide will focus mainly on things to do in Garmisch Partenkirchen (also known as GaPa … which is much easier to pronounce), I’ll also share some tips about things you must do in some of my other favourite Bavarian Alps regions.

Eibsee Germany

THINGS TO DO IN Garmisch Partenkirchen

The Garmisch Partenkirchen area is a stunning mountain regions along southern Germany, hugging the Austrian border. It is about an hour south of Munich by car.

While GaPa, as locals so affectionately call it, is a popular winter sports destination, it is also an amazing place to visit in the summer months to enjoy the hiking and biking trails, and breathtaking mountain views. Here I’ll break down some of my favourite things to do in Garmisch Partenkirchen.

Karwendelspitze Hike

zugspitze: the highest peak in germany

I’m going to start off with the biggest attraction in GaPa, Zugspitze, which is the highest point in the German Alps. This peak can (literally) not be missed while you’re exploring the GaPa region, as it cascades over the towns. It really is quite impressive.

Now, full disclosure, we opted not to go up to the summit of Zugspitze. After talking to a few locals, and reading some forums, we arrived at the decision that the large price tag was simply not worth it to us. In fact, many people said that Zugspitze is best seen from the ground or other surrounding mountain summits (I’ll dish the details on some of these spots in my next recommendations).

Is Zugspitze worth it? This is a difficult question to answer for someone who didn’t go up to the summit. However, I have heard the views are incredible and many people seemed thrilled with their visit. One thing you’ll want to consider is what the weather is like on the day you plan on visiting. I have heard of many people going up on a clear day, only to discover the top of the mountain is covered in clouds and they are unable to see anything. I would highly recommend checking out this link to see the current cloud coverage and weather conditions. This should help you make the right decision for you.

How much does Zugspitze cost? You’ll pay 59.50 EUR per person for an Adult to venture to the top (prices are reduced for children). You can check out the latest prices here.

Want to know the best Zugspitze alternative? I’ve got you covered…

take a cable car to the top of karwendelspitze in mittenwald

If you’re looking for a Zugspitze alternative, this is it. In fact, I would visit this mountaintop either way because it was truly fantastic. Karwendelspitze is the second-highest peak in Germany, and from the top you can get a panoramic view of the German and Austrian mountains below. At the top you’ll find hiking trails suitable for families and beginners with many lookout points and a restaurant to grab a beer or food.

Similar to my Zugspitze recommendations, this spot is best visited on a clear day. You can check out the live cam here to view current weather conditions. When we visited Karwendelspitze, it was the most perfectly clear day. And, ironically, you could see Zugspitze covered in clouds in the distance. When considering what to wear to Karwendelspitze, it is important to remember this is a mountaintop, and temperatures are much chillier than they are on group. In August, I needed to wear a sweater.

How to get to Karwendelspitze peak: To get up the peak, you’ll want to hop on the Karwendelbahn cable car. From there, it takes around ten minutes to get up to the summit.

How much does the Karwendelbahn cable car cost? It is significantly cheaper to visit Karwendelspitze vs. Zugspitze, with the price tag of 32.50 EUR per adult (check here for latest prices).

Karwendelspitze Hike
Karwendelspitze Hike
Karwendelspitze Hike
Karwendelspitze Hike

enjoy sunrise at lake eibsee

Lake Eibsee at Sunrise

Lake Eibsee is a top attraction in the GaPa region and when you see it, you’ll understand why. This lake is the perfect hue of turquoise, with a stunning view of Zugspitze sitting atop the lake.

The best time to visit Lake Eibsee: While Lake Eibsee is beautiful at any time of the day, it can get quite busy in the afternoon with tourists. For that reason, I suggest getting up at sunrise like we did. We ran into a few early risers and photographers, but mostly had the area to ourselves. And the lighting over the lake was almost surreal.

Just take a look at these photos and dream of visiting Eibsee.

Where are the best Lake Eibsee photography spots? I wanted to know where to go to get the perfect shot at Eibsee and stumbled upon this blog post. Check it out for all the best photo spots, and other details about visiting Lake Eibsee.

Cost to visit Lake Eibsee: Free! But if you’re arriving by car, you’ll need to pay to park your car at Hotel Eibsee. The cost for early risers was slightly discounted to 2.50 EUR, but this can vary depending on the time of day you visit.

Lake Eibsee at Sunrise Photography
Lake Eibsee at Sunrise Photography
Lake Eibsee at Sunrise Photography

the best hiking in Garmisch Partenkirchen

Since we arrived in GaPa in the middle of an August heatwave, we weren’t feeling too ambitious to go on an overly complicated hike, so we were mainly focused on easy hikes. Many people choose to hike on the Zugspitze side of the mountain range, but because of mudslides a few days prior, we were recommended to opt for the mountain range opposite the highest peak.

Our hotel concierge recommended the St. Martinshütte hike and we were off. Along the route to this alpine rest stop you’ll come across beautiful nature, churches, and other stumble upons. If you’re feeling more ambitious than us (or perhaps if the weather is a bit cooler), continue up toward Eisenkanzel for a beautiful viewpoint. Just make sure you stop at the restaurant at St. Martinshütte for an ice cold beer (or water) on the way.

Another great location for beginner hikes is the trails behind the Olympic Ski Jump. To get there, head to the famed ski jump and follow the trails that lead behind. 

For more GaPa hiking trails, click here.

St. Martinshütte hike

explore gapa by bike

Biking Trails GaPa

There are many mountain biking trails surrounding GaPa, and you can read about some of these trails here

We opted for a bit of a more leisurely bike ride (however I use that term lighting because there were SO many steep hills) and rented e-bikes from our hotel. We had a blast riding the e-bikes through the mountainside trails. For a leisurely ride and beautiful views, explore the bike paths south of the town of GaPa, along the Olympic Trail. This historical path starts at the Olympic Ski Jump and heads west toward Grainau (you can see the views from this ride in the photo below). Here’s a map of the route.

Additionally, if you want to bike into the mountains instead of hiking, you can take your bikes to St. Martinshütte, which is the location I recommended for hiking,

Garmisch Partenkirchen valley

visit partnach gorge

Partnach Gorge is another beautiful location located near GaPa, and is easily one of the most popular tourist hot spots of the region. We didn’t visit this spot because it was actually closed due to high water. In the days prior to our visit, the region was experiencing 30-40 mm of rain a day. Luckily we just missed it and were greeted with perfect weather.

Even still, I’ve heard this place is absolutely beautiful so I still wanted to include it on the list.

Read more about Partnach Gorge here.

be blown away at geroldsee

Geroldsee

Once of the most breathtaking spots we visited was Geroldsee, a lake located in the tiny town of Gerold, near GaPa. The lake is a popular swimming spot, but is also a dream location for photographers who are looking to capture that perfect “The Sound of Music”-inspired moment. It was easily one of my favourite things to do in Garmisch Partenkirchen.

How to get to Geroldsee: Head to the town of Gerold and park your car in town. From town, you’ll see signs to hiking paths and the lake. Follow these signs and you’ll be greeted by these insane views of Geroldsee with mountains cascading in the distance.

Tip: If you’re having trouble locating Geroldsee on a map, look up Wagenbrüchsee, which is another name or the lake.

Geroldsee
Geroldsee

relax at a garmisch partenkirchen spa

The region offers many alpine spas to relax and unwind with beautiful views of the mountains. We stayed at Hotel Staudacherhof, a spa hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and it was the perfect place to unwind after a long day. Onsite the spa had indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, sauna, showers, and plenty of spots to lounge in the sun. You can also book onsite treatments, like massages and manicures.

Check out a list of other GaPa spas here.

Staudacherhof Spa
Garmisch-Partenkirchen

trying to locate all these amazing things? i've got you covered.
here's a map of things to do in garmisch partenkirchen!

Looking to extend your trip?
Here's some Other towns in the Bavarian Alps to consider.

There are so many towns in the Bavarian Alps, it can be overwhelming to know which ones to visit. While I still have many spots in The German Alps to visit, here’s a couple of my other tops pics for first time visitors!

Füssen to see Neuschwanstein Castle

No trip to the German Alps is complete without visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. The famed castle is said to have been a huge inspiration for Walt Disney, and the parallels between this popular tourist spot and Cinderella’s Castle are uncanny. It is truly magical, and is only an hour away by car from GaPa, which makes it easy to visit both.

A few quick Neuschwanstein Castle tips:

  • Arrive early, ideally as early as sunrise (or alternatively at sunset). This spot gets VERY busy with day trip visitors from Munich and is best experienced during these quiet hours,
  • Make sure you take a tour! The stories of King Ludwig II were so interesting, and the interior is so special.
  • Stay overnight in Füssen or Schwangau and enjoy the region. This area has so many more gems than just Neuschwanstein Castle to explore. Hohenschwangau Castle is another castle nearby, and although I didn’t do a tour, it was fun to explore the grounds. Schwansee and Alpsee are also really gorgeous lakes. And if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill in the mountains, the summertime luge tracks in Schwangau are really fun!
Neuschwanstein Castle

Berchtesgaden

The Berchtesgaden region is stunning. I really wanted to visit this spot again, but we simple just did not have time. However, if you are looking to extend your trip in the Bavarian Alps, this spot is amazing. Here’s a few things to do in Berchtesgaden:

  • Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest: This historical spot is a really interesting piece of history that I would highly recommend visiting (especially on a clear day).
  •  The Berchtesgaden Salt Mines: We visited this spot a few years ago, and quite honestly, I wasn’t blown away. It was interesting, but I could take it or leave. However I figured I would mention it since it is a popular spot for visitors.
  • Königssee and Obersee: These lakes have become VERY Instagram famous in recent years, so it’s a popular spot for photographers. With that being said, they are gorgeous and I’ve heard the boat ride across Königssee is a great experience.
  • Parish Church of St. Sebastian: This pretty white church sits in front of the most beautiful mountain backdrop and has a turquoise river alongside it. It’s no wonder people love to visit it!

ready to head to the bavarian alps?

Now that I have told you all my favourite things to go in Garmisch Partenkirchen and The Bavarian Alps, are you feeling eager to visit? This area is such a gem that I am surprised more people don’t visit. If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway in nature, this spot absolutely needs to be considered.

Heading to Munich? Check out my post on my favourite Munich hotel!

Bavarian Alps
Bavarian Alps

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Things to Do in Skane

Skåne, Sweden … My home away from home. Simple and quintessentially Swedish in almost every single way. Before moving to Sweden, I had a lot of preconceived notions about Scandinavian countries. I’m sure you’ve head the stereotypes, too. Diverse nature. A great work-life balance. An environmentally-conscious, socialized, progressive culture. And these things are all true. But Sweden is so much more than just these stereotypes. And there are so many reasons why I love living in Sweden. And with so many wonder local things to do in Skåne, I feel like I could truly never get bored.

Skåne is a largely undiscovered paradise that many people still don’t know that much about. But I am convinced it is just a matter of time before this region becomes a booming travel destination. From the pristine beaches to the sprawling hiking trails, and a cutting-edge Nordic culinary scene, there seems to be never-ending things to do in Skåne. And after spending a whole lot of time travelling locally this year, I am ready to dish all the details on what Skåne has to offer.

the highlights: places to visit in skåne

» historic university town: lund
» stenshuvud national park
» skanör-falsterbo beach
» ven island
» hoganås, arild & mölle
» the best skåne farm shops
» ystad saltsjöbad spa
» holy smoke bbq
Lund University Wisteria
Ven Island Bike
Wisteria at Lund University (left); Bike on Ven Island (right)

sweden travel costs

Sweden – and Scandinavian countries in general – are notorious for being a bit expensive to visit. With taxes of 25% and high minimum wages, visiting Sweden doesn’t come cheap. However, I think many people are very intimidated by the cost to visit Sweden. However, it doesn’t have to be expensive if you know what to do – especially in Skåne. And good news! The Swedish krona is currently quite weak versus the euro and US dollar, which means now is a good time to visit.

Accommodation Cost in Sweden: Hotels in Skåne can be a bit expensive – but this depends on what you’re looking for. A typical farm hotel in Skåne countryside can set you back at least 120-150 EUR a night (although they often include breakfast). An Airbnb apartment to save money (especially if you just rent a room). Alternatively, hostels are a great options with beds as low as 25-30 EUR per night in Malmö. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, Sweden’s ‘Right to Roam’ law means you can set up a tent virtually anywhere in nature, as along as you aren’t interfering with private property or disturbing the environment around you. That makes camping in Skåne a really great option for cheap accommodations. . For more of saving money on hotels, check out this post.

Food Cost in Sweden: Eating out at restaurants is arguably the most “overpriced” part of living in or visiting Sweden. It can be a bit of a challenge to find a cheap meal in Sweden – but it is far from impossible. With the average dinner ranging from 15-20 EUR per person, the cost of food can add up quickly. A coffee typically costs 3-4 EUR. Good news is groceries are reasonable, if you’re keen on making your own food or picking up snacks. I’d recommend going to Willys – it is typically the cheapest grocery option. Pressbyrån is also a convenience store that offers some quick hot food options. And finally (my favourite) – street food! Did you know that you can find some of the best falafel in the world in Malmö for as little as 3 EUR? Read about my favourite restaurants in Malmö here.

Alcohol Cost in Sweden: Alcohol in Sweden is a luxury, and often one of the most expensive ticket items. A beer in a pub will typically set you back anywhere from 7-10 EUR, with a glass of wine typically starting at 9-12 EUR. Cocktails are often even more expensive, so normally I skip these options (unless it’s a special occasion). It is important to know that Sweden has an alcohol monopoly, which means you cannot buy alcohol with over 3.5% alcohol content in Swedish grocery stories. To buy your own alcohol, you’ll need to visit a Systembolaget location. Make sure to check the hours online (stores are closed on Sunday and have very limited hours on Saturday).

Activity Costs in Sweden: Activity costs, like everything else, can add up. The good news is that many of the best things to do in Sweden involve nature – and nature is free. Swimming at the beaches in Skåne, wandering around the charming towns in Österlen, hiking the Skåneleden trail – all free.

suggested moderate daily budget for visiting skåne: approx. 100-150 EUR per person

Rapeseed fields in Skane

things to do in skåne

visit the best farm shops in skåne

Skåne is home to all kinds of wonderful “Skåne gårdsbutik” or farm shops. These spots often grow, harvest, and make their own products and sell them in their shops. They are the perfect spots to pick up some unique products, and are great for souvenir shopping. Many farm shops also have wonderful restaurants attached so you can indulge in a meal made from locally-sourced ingrediants. Here’s a few of my favourites.

Ängavallen: Located just outside of Malmö in Vellinge kommun, Ängevallen is home to a farm shop, bed-and-breakfast, restaurant, and a beautiful property with animals. In the Ängevallen farm shop, you will find an assortment of goods made right on the farm – jams, cheeses, milk, and bread to name a few. I suggest staying for lunch and enjoying the farm-to-table experience. The ingredients are so fresh!

Hallongården: Also nearby Malmö, and minutes away from Ängevallen, you’ll find Hallongården (translation: raspberry farm). At this farm, you can visit in the late spring/early summer (around May and June) to pick your own raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Then, head to the farm shop to indulge in a treat made from these local products. You can also take home jams and other goodies made from their farm-grown fruits.

Österlenkryddor: A favourite of mine in Österlen. “Kryddor” means “spices” in Swedish, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this shop. With a huge assortment of spices made in their on-site spice factory, Österlenkryddor is a must-visit. And in July, it is also home to the popular lavender fields in Skåne. Make sure you stop in for the award-winning lavender ice cream around this time of year.

Osterlenkryddor
Hallongarden fika
Hallongarden
Angevallen
Clockwise from top left: Österlenkryddor; poppies in front of Hallongården; Ängavallen farm; fika at Hallongården

indulge in skåne's booming culinary scene at the best restaurants in skåne

Copenhagen may be the original food capital of Nordic cuisine, but just across the bridge to Skåne you’ll find a innovative and unique Nordic culinary scene. In recent years, Swede’s have been moving to the Skåne countryside to start small organic farms, while chefs are flocking from larger cities to open up boutique hotels with next-level farm-to-table dining experiences. 

In Malmö, you can indulge at Bastard, a leading restaurant that uses local in-season ingredients to creative a unique tasting menu. But in the countryside is where things get real good. We recently stayed at Talldugens Gårdshotell (more on that here) and had one of my favourite Nordic meals ever made with only locally-sourced ingredients by a couple who left Stockholm to open a farm hotel. 

If you’re looking to splurge, Daniel Berlin Krog is another tiny but famous Michelin star spot hidden in the quiet village of Skåne-Tranås, where the head chef hunts and grows most of his own ingredients. Or you can head to Vollmers in Malmö for a Nordic Michelin star experience.

Breakfast at Talldungen
Dinner at Bastard Malmo
Breakfast at Talldungen (left); Dinner at Bastard (right)

the most picturesque villages in skåne

It’s hard to know where to even begin when recommending villages in Skåne to visit because there are so many beautiful ones that look like they are straight out of a fairy tale. Here’s a few of my can’t miss favourites.

Mölle: Mölle is a charming harbor town located on the northwest coast of Skåne. Stay at the iconic Grand Hotel Mölle, which sits atop the town, and use this spot as a home base for other charming towns, including another favourite of mine: the fishing village of Arild. And don’t forget to visit Kullaberg Nature Reserve for a beautiful hike and a swim at Josefinelust. In the afternoon, you must visit Holy Smoke BBQ for amazing, authentic southern BBQ in Skåne.

Ystad: Along the southern coast of Sweden, Ystad is a cost and picturesque town. Stop in to roam the historic streets, and pop into the many shops along Stora Östergatan. If you’re looking for a lunch, the popular Söderberg & Sara Ystad offers fresh baked good, tasty coffee, and on select days, stone oven pizza!

Simrishamn: Simrishamn is a lovely beach town along the Skåne east coast. It is home to tons of lovely local shops and a beach with orange-hued sand. Simrishamn is a great spot to enjoy a traditional Swedish lunch along the coast. And while you’re there, check out Barnens Bokhandel, which was the first specialty book store in Sweden for children. 

Kåseberga: Also along the southern coast, Kåseberga is a popular vacation spot for many locals. Here you’ll find a quaint fishing village, with the best seafood in Skåne. From the town, you can walk to reach Ales Stenar, which is said to be the remains of an ancient viking shipwreck. From Ales Stenar, you’ll also be able to take in some incredible views of the sea. You’re also sure to see lots of people paragliding around this area (which you can try too if you dare).

Arild Sweden street
Simrishamn Sweden
Kaseberga Sweden
Molle Sweden
Clockwise from top left: Streets in Arild; Poppies in Kåseberga: Mölle harbor; Shop in Simrishamn

 

the best beaches in skåne

Did you know that Skåne is often called the Swedish Riviera? I wrote a post all about my favourite beaches in Skåne, including Sandhammaren Beach, Simrishamn Beach, Skanör Beach and more. You can read the full post here.

Skanor Beach
Sandhammaren Beach

things to do in österlen

The Österlen region is truly, in my opinion at least, the biggest gem in Skåne – which is why I am dedicating a full section to it. And others living in Sweden seem to agree, with many northern-dwellers owning a summer house in this area. There are endless things to do in Österlen, and I am going to share a few of my favourites.

Österlen Choklad: A lovely chocolate factory in Österlen with homemade chocolates and maybe the best hot chocolate I have ever tried.

Ales Stenar: An ancient viking shipwreck that can be equated to a mini Stonehenge, alongside a jaw-dropping scenic coastal background.

Stenshuvud National Park: A eastern coastal national park with beautiful walking trails, and diverse landscapes and views. You can read about my experience visiting Stenshuvud National Park here.

Kivik Musteri: An apple orchard and apple museum in Skåne, featuring lots of locally made apple goods. The best time to visit Kivik is in the fall during apple harvest season. I wrote about my autumn in Österlen experience here.

Hike & Bike: Biking or hiking in Österlen is an amazing way to get around. Visit Skåne shares a full guide to the Skåneleden Trails in Osterlen. Some of my favourite trails are located in Brösarps Backer (a hilly region near Brösarp) and Prästaskogens naturreservat (where you can find extremely rare twisted beech trees that look like they are from a fairytale).

Visit an Österlen Loppis: “Loppis” is the Swedish term for flea market or antique store. There are many of these scattered around Österlen, and the best way to find them is to just drive around and stumble upon them. However if you’re looking for a list, you can find one here. We loved the ones we found in central Brösarp, which had antiques dating back to the 1700s.

Osterlen Choklad
Twisted beech trees
Hiking in Skane
Osterlen Loppis
Clockwise from top left: Österlen Choklad; hiking at Brösarps Backer; Österlen antique shop: Twisted beech trees
Skåne Hiking Tip: Hiking trails around Skåne are well marked. You can visit the Skåneleden trail website for route maps, and then keep an eye out for markers like these ones (as well as spray paint markings on trees) to make sure you stay on track. While travelling around Skåne, you’re likely to run into these markers a lot. If you’re feeling spontaneous, just start following the path and see where you end up!
Skåneleden trail marker
Skåneleden trail

best fika in skåne

Olof Viktors: Located in Österlen, this is possibly the most famous cafe in Skåne – and for good reason. This award-winning bakery make all their baked goods and breads from scratch, and the quality is high. On a nice day, you’ll find a lovely courtyard where you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee.

Flickorna Lundgren: On the northwest coast of Skåne, you’ll find Flickorna Lundgren – a cafe that looks like it is straight out of a Pippi Longstocking novel. This historic cafe has been named best fika in Sweden before, and it is well deserved. The gardens of the property are beautiful, complete with farm animals and a pond, and the coffee and cakes are perfect.

Söderberg & Sara: With locations in both Malmö and Ystad, this is a local favourite. Their homemade breads are delicious, and they have some of my favourite coffee that I’ve tried in Sweden (and that’s saying a lot, because Swede’s love coffee).

Looking for the best fika in Malmö? Check out my Malmö Food Guide here.

Soderberg and Sara Malmo
Flickorna Lundgren
Söderberg & Sara (left); Flickorna Lundgren (right)

wineries in skåne

You might be surprised to know that Skåne is actually home to a few wineries. The winery scene is still quite new in Sweden, but there are a few spots that I would suggest checking out if you are interested in trying Swedish wine.

Organize a Kullaberg wine tour and visit Arilds Vingård, Kullabergs Vingård, and Södåkra Vingård in the Kullaberg region. And if you’re in Österlen, Nordic Sea Winery is a must visit.

best hotels in skåne

Best hotel in Malmö: Clarion Malmö Live is a relatively new hotel right in the city centre of Malmö. The rooms offer beautiful views of the harbour, and the service and facilities are premium.

Best Österlen gårdshotell (farm hotel): Talldugens Gårdshotell (check out my blog post on this spot)

Best Skåne spa: Ystad Saltsjöbad Spa is the place to go if you’re looking for a traditional Scandinavian spa in Skåne. It’s located along the water, has the most beautiful, clean facilities filled with hot tubs and saunas, and the dinner experience is lovely, too.

Most unique hotel in Skåne: Falknästet (Falcon’s Nest) in Mölle OR Glamping at Arilds Winery (in case traditional camping in Skåne isn’t your thing).

Stay at a castle in Skåne: Kronovalls Vinslott (translation: wine castle!). I haven’t been here yet, but if the interior is anything like the stunning castle grounds, then you are in for a real treat. If you don’t end up staying here, you should at least stop by. You can see some photos from my visit to Kronovalls here.

Kronovalls slott

Ready to Visit SKåne?

I’ll keep updating this post throughout the summer as I continue to enjoy my “hemester i Skåne” (staycation in Skåne). Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter for all the latest updates. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for all my day-to-day adventures in Skåne.

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If you liked this Things to Do in Skåne guide, you should check out my other Sweden posts here.
Things to Do in Skane Sweden
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Ven Island Sweden has been on my radar since I moved to southern Sweden last year. This small island between Sweden and Denmark is a place where time stands still. With only 1300 residents, Ven island is home to kilometres of biking and trekking paths, cliff side landscapes, pebbled beaches, and diverse wildlife. It is easily one of the most beautiful places in Sweden, and a true hidden gem with a vast history that is largely unknown outside of Scandinavia.

If I had to recommend one day trip from Malmö (or even a day trip from Copenhagen), Ven island would be at the top. In fact, when we visited recently, we left feeling eager to visit again … and even talked about how it would be a great place to take visitors *hint hint.*

Ready to fall in love with Ven? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this beautiful Swedish island.

OKAY FIRST, A FEW KEY THINGS TO KNOW.

where is ven island sweden?

Ven is located between southern Sweden and Denmark. In fact, when you visit the island you will be able to see both coasts on either side. The closest major cities to Ven are Malmö and Copenhagen, with Landskrona being the closest Swedish town to the island.

how to get to ven?

Getting to Ven island is easy! From Malmö or Copenhagen, you’ll first need to get to Landskrona. the town of Landskrona is about 30 minutes north of Malmö, and easily accessible by public transit or car.

Getting to Ven by Public Transit: From Malmö, you can catch a train from Malmö to Landskrona from Malmö Central Station. Then from the Landskrona train station, you’ll take a bus (City Bus 3) to the ferry terminal. The easiest way to navigate this is to to put the final destination Landskrona Skeppsbron into the Skånetrafiken app

Getting to Ven by Car: If you are going to Landskrona by car, you put in the same destination (Landskrona Skeppsbron) and there is free parking at the ferry terminal. Alternatively, some people bring their cars onto Ven island. However, it isn’t a very car-friendly island so I would not recommend this. Plus, the island is so small it really isn’t necessary. If you’re staying overnight and worried about getting to your hotel, I’d suggest discussing options for a pickup at the ferry terminal with your hotel.

Ven Island Ferry: Once you have arrived at the ferry terminal, you can take the ferry from Landskrona to Ven. I would recommend booking your ticket online ahead of time, especially during the busy summer months. Ticket cost is 180 SEK (about 17 EUR) round trip per person.

ven bike rental

The best and most popular way to get around Ven is by riding one of the iconic yellow bikes. At the Ven bike rental shop, you’ll find a bunch of bikes to choose from: single bikes, tandem bikes, Christiania bikes – and tons of options for kids! Once you get off the ferry on Ven island, turn left and head up the hill to the bike shop, which is located at the top.

You can either rent a bike upon arrival, or reserve a bike ahead of time. Reserving a bike is a good option during peak season (July and August) or on public holidays.

Ven bike rental cost: 110 SEK for a standard bike (and 60 SEK per additional day if you are staying for multiple days). You can read more about bike prices here.

If biking isn’t your thing, there are plenty of people who walk or hike around the island, too!

THINGS TO DO IN VEN

Truly the best things to do in Ven are wandering (biking) without a plan. The island is home to 7.5 square kilometres of nonstop nature, surreal cliffs, and beaches, and the best things are often just stumbled upon. With that being said, there are a few highlights you won’t want to miss! I’d recommend grabbing a map at the bike shop and using it as a guide while you wander.

When you leave the bike shop, you have the option option to turn right or head left back down the hill toward to the ferry. You’ll notice many people turning right, but I’d recommend starting left. From there, head toward the harbor and bike through the small path between the restaurant and the ice cream shop. This quiet little coastal path was one of the best we found on the island.

Below you’ll find a few must-sees.

alpaca farm

Easily a highlight for me, the local Alpaca farm is home to a bunch of these adorable furry animals. When we passed by mid-morning, we were greeted by the owner who told us all about the alpacas … who had just received their summer haircuts. After talking to the owner, it seems as if the alpacas aren’t always there alongside the fence, so I think we got a bit lucky. But, she also said that she does alpaca treks around the islands with guests. So if spending some time with these cuties is high on your list (and it should be), you should check out Ven Alpaca Trekking. In the main harbor, you’ll also find a store where you can purchase homemade goods made from the alpaca wool.

sankt ibbs gamla kyrka

Sankt Ibbs Gamla Kyrka in Ven (St. Ibb’s Old Church) is a beautiful 13th century medieval white church that sits atop one of the highest points on the island and looks out over the water. Here, you can visit the church and walk around the grounds, which we were shocked to see had tombstones that dated back hundreds of years.

Stjerneborg observatory

Ven island has a deep-rooted history that dates back many centuries. In mid-1500s, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe owned the island and built two observatories. Although Tycho Brahe was often famous for some of his outlandish antics (including getting his pet moose drunk), he also made some pretty revolutionary discoveries and it is really cool to see his reconstructed observatory in person. If you are interested in learning more about Brahe, you can also visit the Tycho Brahe museum.

Side story: I wasn’t super familiar with the Tycho Brahe story, but Sebastian and I went to a live taping of the comedy podcast The Dollop in Copenhagen last year, where their entire sketch was based on this crazy story. If you are looking for some entertainment, there is a recording of the podcast we attended here.

spirit of hven distillery

Spirit of Hven is a distillery operating on the island. It uses local products to distill it’s own Hven whiskey, and you can visit for various different tasting tours. The property is also home to a hotel, and pub/restaurant.

still need some convincing? here's some of my favourite ven island shots:

hotels in ven

Ven island is small, but it is still home to quite a few accommodation options, ranging from hotels and bed and breakfasts, to Airbnbs and camping. Next time we visit, I would love to stay overnight and if your schedule allows it, I would highly recommend considering this option. Here’s a few properties to check out:

  • Spirit of Hven Hotel: As I mentioned above, this popular distillery is also home to a hotel. Book a weekend package and make the most of this awesome spot with a locally-sourced dinner and whiskey tasting.
  • Camp Ven: Ven camping is another great option if you’re looking for an affordable and fun experience. While I haven’t stayed here, we rode by and the space looked great and was right by the sea. Choose from traditional camping, cabins, or – if you’re not much of a traditional camper like me – glamping!
  • Airbnb: Ven island is home to a bunch of Airbnb properties. After biking by so many charming cottages, I would absolutely look at this option.

Ven Sweden is one of those places that photos will never, ever do justice. As I continue to explore more of my own backyard in Sweden, I am continuously amazed that this place has been largely off the radar of most tourists. And Ven island is no exception. If you’re inspired by this content, don’t forget to check out some of my other Sweden blog posts.

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