21 min read

Hiking in Bavaria: A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking in Bayern

VIew of lake Walchensee from the Herzogstand summit
Hiking in Bavaria is without a sombre of a doubt a memorable experience every single time. A privileged location for anyone who loves the outdoors, Bavaria offers a wide variety of options and trails to choose from, from hillwalking to trail running to summit chasing. Whatever it is, you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy. Here is a compilation of some useful information and resources to plan your next adventure hiking in Bavaria. And don’t forget to check out this list of some of the best hikes in Bavaria to get inspired.

Besides the countless available hiking trails in Bavaria, it is important to note the care and quality of the vast majority of them. All trails are maintained to a certain point unless otherwise stated on the signage you’ll see on the paths. Some will be cleared all year round and others will only be maintained during the good weather season, so it is always a good idea to check ahead of time the seasonability of your chosen route.

Resources to Plan Your Hike in Bavaria

A great resource to inform yourself about anything related to your chosen route is the DAV (“Deutsche Alpenverein”). They are the largest climbing and mountain sports association in the world with coverage in over 300 sections throughout Germany. They are also the body in charge of rating the difficulty of the different paths (see table below) and offer a wide variety of courses and training options for both members and guests.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTYMARKING GERMAN ALPINE CLUB (DAV)
T1  HikingBlue
T2  Mountain hikingBlue or Red
T3  Challenging mountain hikingRed
T4  Alpine hikingRed or Black
T5  Challenging Alpine walkingBlack
T6  Difficult Alpine walkingMostly Unmarked

They also run many of the available mountain huts (directly or in partnership with the owners). If you are planning a hut-on-hut hike in the Bavarian Alps, the DAV website and guides may be an invaluable resource.

Besides the DAV resources, there are many apps and websites to help you find your dream hiking trails in Bavaria. Most of the routes you will find in these online resources are created by other hikers with different levels of information available. In this case, it is recommendable to search the same or a similar route by different people and contrast the information given as the difficulty ratings and descriptions may vary from person to person. The comments left by other users who have done the route may also shed some light into the true nature of the desired route. And most of them will provide a downloadable GPX file so you can import it into your desired tracking app.

Our top picks for planning and tracking apps and websites are:

ViewRanger / Outdoor Active:
This is a (mostly) free planning and tracking app. Recently merged with Outdoor Active, they are the largest outdoor platform in Europe and many local tourism organisations use them. Easy to use on desktop and mobile, there’s the option to bookmark routes and the GPX files are compatible with both. Besides that, ViewRanger also has a Buddy Beacon functionality and doesn’t use up much battery while running in the background. The basic map views are included but for more detailed or specific styles you have to pay a small fee.

Komoot:
Similar to ViewRanger, Komoot is a planning and tracking app with an extensive user base. Komoot has a great set of tracking options, however, to unlock the different regional maps you have to pay a small fee (from 3.99€).

Hoehenrausch (in German):
It is a web-based compilation of hiking, climbing and ski tours all over Europe run by the outdoors guide book publisher Kompass. Each route includes information about the difficulty, starting points, and any other important information to plan your hike.

All Trails:
This app and website is the international version of Komoot and Outdoor Active with routes and trails from all over the world. This can come in handy while searching for hiking trails in Bavaria in order to compare and contrast, but for the most part, the ones mentioned above would have you covered. Of all three apps mentioned, All Trails is comparatively the most expensive of all with a function-based subscription model starting at 2.50€/month when billed annually.

Hiking in Bavaria: View from the top of a mountain

Hiking in Bavaria: The Different Regions

Bavaria is the largest region in Germany with over 70 km² of terrain. With such a large surface it is to no surprise that the available hiking trails in Bavaria are so diverse and can cater for all tastes and moods. To make your research a bit more manageable, here is an overview of the different regions for hiking in Bavaria:

  • Allgäu: Located in southwest Bavaria, it borders with Austria.
  • Tegernsee-Schliersee: about 1 hour south of Munich, they describe themselves as “the (secret) heart of Bavaria”.
  • Bavarian Swabia (Bayerisch-Schwaben): In the southwest of Bavaria it borders with Baden-Württemberg, Austria and has access to Lake Constance (Bodensee).
  • Bavarian Jura: on east Bavaria, the landscape in this region is the leftover of a gigantic sea dating back to the times when dinosaur still roamed the earth.
  • Bavarian Forest (Bayerischer Wald): It is a wooded low-mountain region in the Bavarian regions of Lower Bavaria and Upper Palatinate bordering with the Czech Republic where it becomes the Bohemian Forest.
  • Bavarian Land of Golf & Thermal Baths (Bayerischen Golf- und Thermenland): Ever since the Romans this Lower Bavarian region has been cherished for its thermal and healing baths. Today it offers a wide variety of cycling and hiking options along the picturesque towns and landscapes.
  • Brechtesgadener Land: This region in the southwest of Bavaria is full of impressive peaks, romantic landscapes and picturesque little towns that invite to dream.
  • Chiemgau / Chiemsee-Alpenland: Halfway between Munich, Salzburg and Tirol this area is known as the Bavarian sea.
  • Fichtel Mountains (Fichtelgebirge): These medium-range mountains in the northwest of Bavaria offer a wide variety of unforgettable experiences.
  • Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz): Besides its beloved Dolomite rock formation mountains, Franconian Switzerland is known for its caves and grottos.
  • Franconian Wine Country (Fränkisches Weinland): As its name clearly states, this is the wine epicentre of Bavaria with fine walks along the many wineries.
  • Romantic Franconia (Romantisches Franken): In west Bavaria, you’ll find this region along the romantic road. Here you can even stay overnight on a farm.
  • Franconian Forest (Fankenwald): Is a mid-altitude mountain range in the north of Bavaria in Upper Franconia which connects to the Fichtel Mountains and the Thuringian Forest.
  • Haßberge Nature Park: The landscape in this natural park in the north of Bayern gently undulates down to the wide meadow valleys and mixed forest surrounded by historic vineyards.
  • Altmühltal Nature Park: About 100 km north of Munich, this nature park is known as the “green heart of Bavaria” and it is outdoors’ enthusiasts heaven.
  • Nürnberger-Land: Hiking in Bayern surrounded by medieval picturesque towns is what this area in mid-Franken offers its visitors.
  • Obermain-Jura: Known as the Garden of the Gods this region of upper Franconia offers kilometres of hiking, climbing, lakes and more.
  • Upper Palatine Forest (Oberpfälzer Wald): Bordering with the Czech Republic, this mountain range is also part of the Bohemian Massif.
  • Odenwald: It is a low mountain range partially in the Lower Franconia region.
  • Pfaffenwinkel: This is a large chunk of southwestern Bavaria covering from Schonau to Starnberg.
  • Rhön: A mid-altitude mountain range in lower Frankonian known for their wellness and health qualities.
  • Spessart mainland: A low wooded mountain range in the Lower Franconia region of Bavaria.
  • Steigerwald: Low mountain range in the wine region in the northwest of Bavaria.
  • Tölzer Land: Like out of a fairy tale, the Upper Bavarian region home to the deepest lake in Germany is a place you’ll fall in love time and time again.
  • Region of the Zugspitze (Zugspitz-Region): This region is one of the most visited in all of Bavaria with incredible hikes in the alps including Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, and the picture-perfect Eibsee.

There are so many regions like stars in the sky. This means, that it can be a bit overwhelming to decide where to go. However, a trick that may help make the search easier is to know that generally if you want to do go towards high-mountain und alpine hiking, chances are you should look anywhere from Munich south (Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria & Bavarian Schwabia) and for low and mid-height mountain ranges you should go from Munich north (Upper Palatine & Franconia).

Other Useful Information

Berghütten & Gästehäuser: Accommodation While Hiking in Bavaria

Besides the many options for day hikes available in Bavaria, there are nearly as many routes for multi-day hikes and long distance trips. In which case, it is important to consider where you are going to sleep, as wild camping is technically not allowed in Germany and should only be used as a very last resort in case of emergency.

As mentioned earlier in this post, the DAV runs and/or works together with most of the mountain huts throughout the Alps and their website should be the first resource you check to find the different options available on your chosen route.

Two of the search criteria that differentiate the various mountain shelters are whether it is self-catered or managed by someone. In most cases they are fairly simple rooms with hostel-style bunk beds. However, in certain cases you may find a hidden gem.

Alternatively, while doing your route research, most trail descriptions also mention if there is a Berghütte along the trail. Knowing that you can dig a bit deeper and check if there’s an option to sleep there.

View of a tree on a small lake island

Travelling to your desired route

Bavaria is very well connected when it comes to public transport. Be it train or bus, the network is quite extensive, including, regional, national and international connections on various price categories. In Germany, the train company (Deutsche Bahn / DB) also covers terrain by bus on routes where the train infrastructure doesn’t exist. Besides the Deutsche Bahn, Bavaria has its own fleet of trains coordinated by Bahnland Bayern, providing extra connections to areas where the Deutsche Bahn doesn’t.

They both have their own ticketing system with various offers. However, the most commonly used ticket in the region, the DB’s Bayern Ticket, is also valid on most of the Bahnland Bayern connections.

Beside the train companies, long distance bus companies such as Flixbus also offer connections to some of the hotspots in the region such as Garmisch-Partenkirchen at fair prices.

That being said, all the above-mentioned Bavarian hiking and walking trails are easily accessible via public transit with a Bayern Ticket for as little as 25€ per day. The furthest of them will take about 2 hours to reach by regional train and most train connections run hourly or every half hour.

Buying equipment for your hike

Lastly, in case you are missing some equipment or need an upgrade (while in Munich), Sporthaus Schuster next to Marienplatz is a local authority and the service is par to none. Alternatively, in Isartor you’ll find Globetrotter, a fine outdoor and adventure shop with highly skilled employees ready to help you with anything you may need.