Maybe it's the changing weather or the sad fact that another Oktoberfest just has passed us by, but whatever the reason, we can't stop daydreaming about taking a vacation to Germany's largest state: Bavaria. As the largest state, it's also one of the most regionally diverse, with sprawling picturesque meadows, impeccably preserved medieval towns, heaven-high Alps, and bustling yet quaint cities. Oh, and we can't forget the pretzels and the beer, which fuel you through all that city and castle-hopping.
What we're trying to say is that Bavaria is the destination to visit if you want to experience storybook kitsch in all its glory.We're not the only ones dazzled by this European fairytale-like kingdom, as many of the sights here were Walt Disney's inspiration. Here's a glimpse of all the magic that lives in Bavarian cities and towns—get ready to feel like you were transported to another era, where the fairy tales come alive.
1. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
You don't know quaint until you go to Rothenburg, where winding cobblestone roads abound. Because the conservation laws are super strict here, everything is impressively well preserved, which makes you feel like you've entered a time gone by. Given its undeniable charm, it's one of the destinations on the Romantic Road (the tourist name for the road between Würzburg and Füssen dotted by picturesque towns, breathtaking view, and castle landmarks). It's considered more of a town than a city with a population of 11,000, though there's definitely enough going on here to stay for a while.
Munich is the largest city and capital of Bavaria, and though it is indeed a big city (the population is 1.5 million people), it still has much of the charm you'd expect from a smaller town. You'll feel like you'd just stepped into a time warp, but look a little closer and you'll see the cutting-edge design, fashion-forward boutiques, and many delicious eateries everywhere you look. Munich really does give old-world luxury a new meaning.
Slightly smaller than Munich but still bursting with all that quintessential Bavarian character, Nuremberg is a must on your tour of Bavaria. Every street is dotted with architectural wonders, but it's also full of history, dating back to the Roman Empire and stretching into devastating and darker periods, like the Nuremberg trials. The canals winding throughout the city add some extra visual delight, too.
Just a little south of Rothenburg lies Dinkelsbühl, a town in northern Bavaria that's also celebrated for being incredibly well-preserved. It was established in the 9th century and still maintains its medieval aesthetic and feel despite the many wars and bombings that happened in Germany, especially during WWII. Come here to gawk at the German interpretation of Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo architecture. The structures are truly mesmerizing.
This is the last town on the southern end of Bavaria's Romantic Road. Though Füssen is a town (not technically a city), it's definitely worth visiting for an evening of relaxing and mosying around the charming streets after a day of castle gazing and hiking. Speaking of which, you definitely need to head to the village of Hohenschwangau while you're here. It's just outside of town, and here you'll find Neuschwanstein Castle, which inspired Sleeping Beauty. Framed by forested mountains, it's truly magical.
Come to Regensburg for the baroque architecture, wine, and a lively nightlife scene. It's one of Bavaria's mid-sized cities, with a population of 140,000. The entire Old Town district is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. Like many Bavarian cities, it's still like a window into the past thanks to the beautifully preserved streets, buildings, and bridges along the Danube River. It's also home to one of the oldest sausage factories in the world, earning it some extra points in our books.