More commonly known for its historical significance, Germany is also home to abundant natural beauty and a longstanding tradition of wellness practices. To experience the best of both, head straight for Bavaria.
For a seamless trip there, look no further than United, which offers more service to Munich than any other U.S. airline. The airline has also gotten rid of change fees for most international travel originating in the U.S. and allows you to fly standby on an earlier flight the same day for ultimate flexibility.
Once you book your flight, head to United’s Travel-Ready Center to confirm up-to-date travel restrictions and COVID-19 testing requirements. You can even schedule a test through the center and upload your results to the site, so you arrive at the Munich airport in Bavaria knowing you have everything covered. Thanks to the United CleanPlus℠ program—an industry-leading approach to cleanliness—you can also trust that the airline puts your health and safety first, helping you enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
In Bavaria, you’ll find everything from expansive forests and towering mountains to wellness resorts and spas with six types of thermal pools. Exploring the area through these outdoor spaces and health-focused destinations will not only help you relieve stress, but also rejuvenate your body and mind for a truly restorative trip.
Read on for the five best places to relax and increase your wellbeing throughout Bavaria.
Bavarian Forest Nature Park
Founded in 1970, Bavarian Forest Nature Park is Germany’s first national park and the largest closed woodland area in central Europe. Located on the border of Germany and the Czech Republic, the lush, mountainous area is beloved for its pristine landscapes and biological diversity, as well as the atmospheric towns that sit just outside its limits. Come here to experience the splendor of nature on 300 kilometers of hiking paths and cycling routes, many of which follow the same historic trails used by early salt traders.
You could also take a walk around one of the many sparkling lakes, or climb to the top of the wooden, dome-shaped Treetop Walk, which offers sweeping views over the forest. Once you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, explore villages like Regen, Frauenau, and Zwiesel, where life takes a gentler pace and local museums detail how residents have interacted with the landscape over time.
July and August are lovely times to visit, as all the flowers are in full bloom and you’re more likely to spot native animals like bears, wild boars, lynx, sea otters, and the extremely rare three-toed woodpecker. Winter is equally pleasurable, however, bringing peaceful valleys, snowcapped mountains, and activities like skiing (downhill and cross country), snowshoeing, and tobogganing.
The Garmisch-Partenkirchen Region
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the AlpspiX viewing platform sits atop Osterfelderkopf mountain in the Bavarian Alps, affording breathtaking views of Zugspitze, the Waxenstein, the north face of Alpspitze, and the Höllental Valley below. Its two steel beams form a floating X over a 3,280-meter vertical drop, extending for some 80 feet with glass panels at the end. Take the Alpspitzbahn cable car to the top of Osterfelderkopf and AlpspiX is just above the station. After experiencing the incredible panoramas, walk the adjacent Pleasure Adventure Trail or the slightly more strenuous Summit Adventure Trail to explore the mountain summit.
For even more hiking, as well as cycling and skiing, explore further in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A particularly popular route, the Königsweg trail leads from the parking lot near Elmau Castle across green meadows and up Schachen peak to the King’s House—the royal hunting lodge of Ludwig II, located just above the tree line and surrounded by rugged mountains.
South of Regensburg, near Kelheim, lies the Danube Gorge, a particularly scenic section of the mighty Danube River. Declared a natural monument in 1840 by King Ludwig I, it’s one of the oldest nature reserves in Bavaria, lined by lush forest and 100-meter-high rock faces that used to attract aristocrats and wealthy citizens to the region in the 19th century. More than 150 million years ago, the area was covered by a flat, sub-tropical sea and vast limestone reefs. It’s no less impressive today though, with its towering limestone cliffs and range of recreation, from hiking to biking on the Danube Cycle Route.
Housed in a 300-year-old farmhouse that sits 1,000 meters above sea level on a sunny side of the Gunzesried valley, Waibelhof Resort is built around rest and relaxation. Here, guests enjoy simple pleasures like healthy air and time in nature, helping them slow down, disconnect, and rejuvenate. The hotel is also certified in and recognized for the Kneipp Cure, a method developed by an Allgäu priest more than 200 years ago that incorporates hydrotherapy, nutrition, herbal remedies, exercise, and balance to naturally heal the body. On offer are activities like water affusions, whey baths, sauna circuits, and dew treading, during which guests walk barefoot in damp grass to boost the immune system and reduce stress.
At the indoor-outdoor Therme Lindau on the shores of Lake Constance, there’s a giant hot tub hidden in a cave that fits 30 people; a spring basin enriched with minerals; and a central outdoor pool with lake and mountain view, plus underwater stools where you can sip a cocktail from the pool bar. Perhaps the most impressive, however, is the brine floating basin, which features such a high salt content that you can float effortlessly on the surface. It’s illuminated by underwater lights that change colors and underwater speakers play meditative sounds to help you further relax.
Then there’s the Sauna World with a mirrored, candlelit sauna; a sauna cathedral with a calming skylight; and a fire sauna, with views of a fire just outdoors. Also included are more traditional saunas, a steam room, a gym, and spa treatments. If you’re hungry, three different restaurants include one where you can dine in your bathrobe.