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Bavaria, Germany: The underrated European holiday destination with fabulous forests and brilliant beer

Simon Calder’s Travel

Tucked into the southeastern corner of Germany, bordering Austria and the Czech Republic, is Bavaria, a region of enchanting landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture.

While many stop at visiting the busy metropolis of Munich, step away from the city and you will find alpine landscapes, fairytale castles, tranquil lakes and dense forests.

I am here for a weekend break to see what a place once jokingly described by Germany’s former head of state, Roman Herzog, as the ‘land of laptops and lederhosen’ has to offer.

I arrive at Wellness Hotel Hofbrauhaus, in the hilltop town of Bodenmais. Set against a serene backdrop of lush forests, it is a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation.

My room features a balcony, with panoramic views of the valley, and overlooks one of the three pools this state-of-the-art wellness and spa facility has to offer. I waste no time in taking advantage and head straight for a dip.

A traditional beer house
A traditional beer house (Bernhard Huber/PA)

The Bavarian Forest is a natural paradise in the summer months for hikers, cyclists and wildlife lovers, with an extensive network of trails. In the winter months, the region transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering excellent opportunities for winter sports.

I meet Tobias Wolf from Bodenmais Tourism for a guided hike through the forest to Riesloch Waterfalls.

With well-marked yet sometimes perilously narrow paths, the trail is moderately challenging, but the incredibly fresh air spurs me on. At one point, as we make our final ascent, I find myself crawling up the rocks.

These waterfalls are the highest in the Bavarian Forest region and as they cascade down the rugged terrain. The sight and sound of them has me transfixed.

The trail back down is far less challenging, giving the chance to appreciate the beauty and nature of the forest. I even spot a salamander casually crossing my path.

After a refreshing night’s sleep, I wake with a spring in my step, ready to head to the nearby Drumherum Festival.

Bavarian folk music and dance are integral to the region’s cultural fabric and traditional music, often performed by oompah bands, and accompanies many local festivals and events.

Musicians at the Drumherum Festival
Musicians at the Drumherum Festival (Kirsty Masterman/PA)

Taking place every two years, Drumherum is a free festival that has been around since 1998. More than 350 musicians and singers come from all over Bavaria…

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